Rescuers, such as those shown here in an exercise outside of the then-Bureau of Mines experimental mine, put in numerous hours of practice to master the many mine rescue procedures and processes that must come as second nature when needed. All of these hours of work are logged on top of an already demanding miner’s schedule for the nation’s many mining operations.
Perhaps the hardest part of any mine rescue team member’s job is when fatalities occur. The hard-working crews who dropped everything to be on the frontline of the rescue and recovery effort at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, where 29 miners lost their lives, know this feeling.
Those rescuers may not have saved lives over those heartbreaking April days, but they were able to givetheir fellow miners the dedication, respect and dignity which every lost worker certainly deserved.
Photo courtesy United States Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) National Mine Health and Safety Academy Technical Information Center & Library, Bureau of Mines Collection.