MSHA Emergency Unit Wins International Mine Rescue Skills Competition

The U.S. Department of Labor announced the department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration’s “Mine Emergency Unit” bested competitors from around the world and finished first at the International Mines Rescue Competition, held Sept. 11-16, 2022, in Beaver, W.Va.

After a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic, the biennial event resumed at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy where highly skilled teams from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Colombia, Finland, India, Poland and Zambia competed.

The competition included knowledge and skills challenges based on emergency scenarios, including mine fires and roof collapses. During the events, teams simulated rescues, fighting fires, high-angle rope rescue, first aid, team theory, and technical and team skills. In addition to testing understanding and abilities, the event provides comprehensive learning opportunities for teams to develop greater mine rescue skills and maintain response readiness.

“Mine rescues competitions are demanding tests for highly trained first responders who may face mine emergencies,” explained Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson. “These events help prepare mine rescuers and ensure that first responders remain safe even as they selflessly risk their lives to save others.”

Among the event’s top finishers were Consol Energy’s “Bailey Blue Team” from Pittsburgh, Doe Run Company’s “Maroon Team” from St. Louis, and Genesis Alkali’s “Blue Team” from Green River, Wyoming. In all, this year’s competition included four teams from the United States.; five from Canada; three teams from Australia, India and Zambia; two from Colombia; and one each from Poland and Finland.

“The employees of the Mine Safety and Health Administration are dedicated to supporting the commitment and sacrifice of mine rescuers,” Assistant Secretary Williamson added. “We are very proud that our own Mine Rescue Unit has been recognized as the world champion, and look forward to defending our crown in Colombia in 2024.”

This marks the second time the MSHA MEU Team has finished in the top spot. The MSHA team previously won the first International Mines Rescue Competition in Louisville, Kentucky in 1999. The contest began following the 1998 deaths of six Polish miners at the Niwka-Modrzejow coal mine in Sosnowiec.

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