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1467Mining event creates competition, teamwork

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  • Rob McGee
    Jul 16, 2004
      Mining event creates competition, teamwork
      7/13/2004 10:34 pm

      Nearly 30 mine rescue teams from across the nation tested their skills at Tuesday’s 2004 National Metal and Nonmetal Rescue Contest at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.

      Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration, the three-day competition allows teams to practice solving emergency situations in a competitive atmosphere.

      “It’s a good experience,” said Steve Roberts of the General Chemical mine rescue team from Wyoming. “We like coming here to compete and we learn from different teams about their procedures and what they do. It’s fun.”

      Five Nevada teams are competing: Barrick Goldstrike Mine, Newmont Eastern Nevada Operations and two from Queenstake Resources Ltd., all of Elko, along with Bechtel SAIC Co. from Las Vegas.

      One category is the field competition, where six-man rescue teams must solve a mine emergency problem. Teams have 21/2 hours to extinguish or seal any fires, account for missing miners, and explore and map the mine.

      Red curtains and metal poles simulate a Roman pillar mine. Signs on the floor signal a drop in oxygen levels or other barriers. Judges grade the teams on their procedures and quickness.

      Victor Harrell, Newmont’s team trainer and health/safety representative, said teamwork is vital in rescue situations.

      “If you’re not going to work as a team, you might as well not be here,” Harrell said. “Everybody is learning as a team, working together as a team.”

      Two other contests are first aid and benchman: For benchman, individuals must inspect breathing devices and gas equipment in a timed environment. In the first-aid competition, teams will be judged on their response to a medical scenario.

      The top 12 teams will compete in the finals. The winners will be announced at Thursday night’s awards banquet at the Peppermill Hotel-Casino in south Reno.

      Although each team is vying for first place, that doesn’t spoil the camaraderie.

      “It’s a tight-knit group,” Harrell said. “If any team forgets something, another team would give it to them. We’d give them the shirt off our backs if we had to.”

      United States Mine Rescue Association