Rescue system on trial at Consol's Harvey mine

NEW rescue systems developed through an initiative by the US Mine Safety and Health Administration have been put to the test during a recent rescue drill at Consol Energy’s Harvey coal mine in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Lou Caruana

MSHA's mine emergency unit and rescue team worked with Consol's eight rescue teams, the state of Pennsylvania’s Department of Deep Mine Safety, and the Pennsylvania Special Medical Response Team (SMRT) in a series of drills that featured injured miners and smoke-filled tunnels, while their movements were tracked on computer screens in a mobile command centre.

MSHA assistant secretary Joseph Main in 2010 launched an initiative to identify and fix gaps in mine emergency readiness.

With the involvement of mine rescue teams and trainers and representatives of industry, labour, and other government agencies, the initiative has already led to advances in mine rescue, including state-of-the-art technology that enables direct communication between the advancing mine rescue teams and the command centre, while back-up rescue teams and others are kept in the loop.

The improvements will enable faster and safer rescue operations, and greatly reduce the potential for miscommunication, which ultimately translates into a safer work environment for the nation’s miners, according to MSHA.