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721Pattiki mine rescue team seeking national honors

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  • Rob McGee
    Sep 17 9:04 PM
      Pattiki mine rescue team seeking national honors
      The Carmi Times

      Team Pattiki, the White County Coal rescue team, recently took first place at the Illinois State Mine and Rescue Competition for the second year in a row.

      This week, the team--comprised of Brad Dean, Jason Belford, Todd Blair, Lonnie Garrett, Brock Patterson, Tommy Steele, Phillip Kittinger, Sean Batty and team captain Mike Emery--is competing in Louisville, Ky. for the national title.

      The local team has joined more than 40 mine rescue teams to test its skills in the 2003 National Mine Rescue, First Aid, Bench and Preshift Contest, which runs through Friday at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center.

      "These exercises are as close as you get to the real thing, and the teams that compete treat them as such," said Dave D. Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "The men and women who volunteer as members of our nation's mine rescue teams exemplify some of the best qualities you would seek in a miner, and in a human being: hard work, self-sacrifice, humility, bravery and team spirit. They practice for many hours, often on their own time, to ensure that if a real mine emergency occurs, trapped and injured miners have the absolute best chances of being rescued."

      Mine rescue competitions require teams to solve a hypothetical mine emergency problem, such as a fire, explosion or cave-in, while judges rate them on their adherence to mine rescue procedures and how quickly they complete the specific tasks. For the first time, there will be a preshift competition, in which an individual miner must examine the mine layout prior to his shift, identify existing hazards and take the appropriate actions to eliminate the hazards.

      In other phases of the competition, benchmen--those who maintain rescue equipment--must thoroughly inspect breathing devices that have been purposely tampered with and must correct the defects as quickly as possible. In the first aid contest, participants must demonstrate the correct method of caring for an injured miner.

      Mine rescue training began in the United States in 1910, the year the U.S. Bureau of Mines was created. Joseph A. Holmes, the bureau's first director, sought a training vehicle that would provide the mining industry with a cadre of mine rescue specialists who would be prepared to respond to mine disasters. The training efforts evolved into local and regional competitions and, a year later, a national contest.

      The local team beat teams from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Alabama during last month's competition to earn the right to compete at this week's national contest.