Pennsylvania-based Draeger's training unit, the Oxy K Trainer, has been available to workers along with the Oxy K Plus S (PN 6302001) and training mouthpiece without heat (PN 6303646) for about five years. Relatively new to the product line-up, company representative Bill Dedig told International Longwall News, is the Draeger Practice Simulator (PN 6304699) that was released last February.
"The ability to duplicate [the emergency] environment is an extreme advantage when training personnel on how to use the SCSR," the company said.
"When the individual is able to experience the actual operational conditions of the SCSR during training, they are better able to understand and react to the product during usage."
This experience is also vitally important for new miners. Two common shortcomings, a lack of information and training, and a skewed outlook on a situation because of greater panic, can begin to be rectified with the practice simulators, which provide the sensations of emergency breathing long before it is encountered in a real scenario.
The simulator unit, Dedig noted, is a very light 4.05 ounces (0.13kg), and that is even when full of 1.8oz (50g) of an inert, inorganic granulate material that produces heat upon interaction with exhaled breath. The material is not hazardous and is non-toxic.
Its associated components, right down to its nose clips, have also been designed to be realistically accurate, according to the supplier.
"The mouthpiece has been constructed to provide both characteristics of an actual SCSR, heat and resistance," the company said.
"The Draeger simulator is designed to replicate the standard mouthpiece found on the OXY K Plus and the OXY K Plus Training unit ... for consistency within actual operations and training."
Once the one-time-use practice unit is activated, heat will be maintained in the unit for about 15 minutes, and will reach a 115F temperature for inhaled air within the first 60 seconds. After the first quarter hour, it will drop to 102F, while constant breathing resistance is applied.
"The Draeger simulator may be used as a stand-alone device to accomplish the heat and resistance simulation, or may be attached to the OXY K training unit to provide training in the complete operation of the SCSR," the company said of the device.
The use of it for all three aspects of training - opening, donning and breathing simulation - offers the most effective and most life-like experience.
"The Draeger training unit simulates the actual Oxy K product so the user experience and training will be the same in a real life situation," Dedig said of the training unit's advantages.
"The Draeger Practice Simulator is designed to closely emulate the operation of the OXY K Plus S unit in actual physical characteristics and in the breathing resistance and heat generation."
Draeger did meet some challenges in the design of the practice simulator, most notably the cost of manufacture.
"[It] needed to be an economic training tool," Dedig said.
"The ability to minimise cost to the operators was a serious challenge, [and] designing heat simulation with the same physical constraints of the Oxy K Plus S mouthpiece was our greatest challenge."
Dedig also said that the heat-producing portion of the device was actually added as a result of the MINER Act's outlined rulings.
Mines still in need of training units can count on the company, officials told ILN, as the Draeger Practice Simulator, Heat Exchange Mouthpiece and Oxy K Plus S Trainer are presently in stock. Also, about 4000 OXY K Plus S SCSR units are ready for delivery immediately.