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2020 DMME Mine Rescue Team
Pictured (L to R): Back Row: Virginia Mine Chief Randy Moore, Chris Whitt, Dennis Honaker, Danny Mullins, Spencer Lee, Hunter Atkins and Vernon Johnson, Jr. Front Row: Anthony Sturgill, Ken Johnson, Joey Musick, Andy Sawyers, Willie Cochran, Sidney Crabtree and Rusty Ward.
Photo credit: Tarah Kesterson
The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy started a mine rescue team in 2016. It is the first state team in the Commonwealth's history and will provide emergency response to all underground coal mines in Virginia. Services will also be offered to mineral mines. Watch Video »
What does a Mine Rescue Team do?
Over 250 mine rescue teams are certified to perform rescue operations across the United States. These teams are called upon for some of the most difficult emergency response situations across our country. They must travel underground, in the dark, perhaps crawling into danger they cannot see, avoiding poisonous gas, explosions and debris, to find and retrieve their lost and fallen comrades.
The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act) requires that "every operator of an underground mine shall assure the availability of mine rescue capability for purposes of emergency rescue and recovery" of trapped or injured miners. More »
Mine operators are required, except where alternate compliance is permitted such as for small operators or special circumstances, to establish or enter into an arrangement for services of atleast two teams, within a two hour radius, which are available at all times. These teams are always ready to deploy when needed!
Mine rescue stations must be fitted with special equiptment so that the team can safely breathe, communicate and navigate in dangerous, dark, remote spaces. All of this equipment must be maintained regularly.
2020 Buchanan Mine Rescue Contest
Photo Credit: Tarah Kesterson
Virginia now has the best in communication with the purchase of an IWT system thanks to grant from the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The system syncs to MSHA's. In addition, the mine rescue team has added R-2 to their ranks for quicker response time. Watch Video »
Who is on these mine rescue teams ?
Each mine rescue team shall consist of five members and one alternate, who are fully qualified, trained, and equipped for providing emergency mine rescue service. The members must be employed in an underground mine for atleast one of the last five years. These men and women must be in prime physical condition to endure the challenges of this resposibility, including a physican's certification of medical fitness!
Each team member must meet stringent requirements for training, including initial training and annual refreshers with real-life experinece with breathing apparatus, undergroudn conditions and procedures.
Why does the mine rescue team compete?
The Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 (MINER Act) amended the 1977 Mine Act and, in part, made more stringent requirements for the mine rescue teams, including requirements for semi-annual competions for mine-sposored teams, contract-teams, as well as state-sponsored teams like ours.
Mine rescue teams train and compete, using MSHA-recognized rules, across the United States, culminating in a national competition. Mine rescue contests are essential to the training of a rescue team. The team receives realistic hands-on exposure to scenarios they might encounter during an actual crisis. It is important that the team hone their skills so that they are prepared in an emergency! Watch Video »
2020 DMME Mine Rescue Competition
Photo Credit: Tarah Kesterson
Mine Rescue Day
October 30th is national Mine Rescue Day. This date was set aside in 2013 to recognize those who voluntarily put themselves in danger for the safety of their fellow miners. Join us in proudly honoring these men and women.