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Juneau Hosts Mine Rescue Competition
Published: 05/26/2011 03:39:35
When mining accidents happen, specialized Mine Rescue Teams are tasked with getting everyone out safely.

The Central Mine Rescue group holds a competition every year to put team's skills to the test. This is the competition's 27th year, and last week it came to Alaska for the first time.

Joshua Murrell of the POGO Mine Rescue Team, based just outside Fairbanks told us about the event: "We have teams from Idaho, Washington, a team from Russia this year, 3 teams from Alaska.
Our role in mining; we're all miners, but we kind of volunteer our time so that if something ever goes wrong; we're the first ones in, last ones out. That's kind of the motto for most teams."

The competition sends each team into a simulated scenario that puts all their skills to the test.

Tim South is the Captain of Coeur's Mine Rescue Team. He explained how the teams work: "This exercise we go through, I have to check the area and make sure it's safe for my team to enter, entering smoke; making sure that all apparatus is operating properly in smoke, and general safety of the team; that's my first priority. And my 2nd priority is recovering any people, or bodies. And 3rd would be to extinguish all fires and recover the mine.

Teams set it up the way they like it; my map man is right behind me, mapping everything we come encounter with. Behind him would be the gas man, he just helps me read all the gas readings and makes sure that we don't come in contact with any toxic gases. The 3rd man in line would be my medic, who would, if I have somebody that's going down; a victim, a team member; he'll check them, take care of them. And last is the co-captain who would bring up the rear and take my place if something happens."

The teams also have members stationed above ground to help the team below with a 2nd map and other tasks like checking gas readings at vents.

Mine rescue teams train regularly so they are ready at a moment's notice.

"We do this because it's a good opportunity for all the teams in this area, Central Mine Rescue; to get together, get to know one another, in case one of our mines anywhere in the north-west has a problem, we can all come together and work together and save anybody we can" South said.

By: Mikko Wilson -