Callie On The Job: Mine Rescue - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Callie On The Job: Mine Rescue

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MARION -- Mining is a part of the culture in southern Illinois, so it's no surprise that hundreds of miners from across the midwest meet in Marion to compete in the annual Illinois Mine Rescue Competition. 

News 3's Callie Carroll takes to the field to see what the competition consists of in this week's Callie on the Job.

Nearly 125 years, ago the Illinois Mining Institute was created. Now the IMI supports mining research and education along with coordinating mine rescue competitions. At these competitions, miners practice what they would do in the event of an underground mine emergency.

Don McBride, Assistant Professor for Mining Technology at Rend Lake College says, "Everyone else is trying to get out, but these guys are trained to go in and give assistance and rescue to anyone who possibly can't get out."

These miners have all voluntarily gone through extra training and do these competitions on their own time.

"Hats off to these guys. The trainers, the mines, this is not cheap. The mines have to put a lot of money into this to have teams ready and hats off to the team members that go through it all. They go through extra training that most regular coal miners don't go through," said McBride.

The field represents a section of a coal mine that has had a disaster. The simulation is filled with problems you would face during an emergency rescue, such as a collapsing roof, gas leaks, flooding and explosive gases.

"They have a very detailed rulebook and every condition they encounter they have to address that condition according to the rules and you get discounts for every mistake you make and the team that comes off the field at the end of the day with the fewest amount of discounts along with the best time will end up being the winner," said McBride.

Each team is made up of six people on the field and one person that's at the fresh air base. Teams usually spend an hour or more exploring the simulated mine, then figuring out a safe way to ventilate before the final part of the mission, rescuing and accounting for all missing people. 

"If something happens, you don't have time to train people after the event happens, you have to have people that are ready. It's kind of like an army. You train your army in peace time so if something happens you have something ready. These guys have to be ready all the time," said McBride.

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