INA, Ill. - Rend Lake College is one of six nationwide projects selected for funding through the Brookwood-Sago Mine Safety Grant administered by the Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration.
U.S. Sen. Roland Burris (D-Illinois) made the announcement today that RLC will receive $50,000 toward the reestablishment of its mining technology program. A majority of the funding will be used by RLC for curriculum development to train 160 miners in mine rescue skills.
RLC Applied Science and Technology Division Chair Terry Wilkerson said mine rescue training is another key component in the college's booming mining technology program, which already features a unique underground mine simulator inside the new 20,000 square-feet Coal Mine Training Center on campus.
"We are excited about being awarded this grant," Wilkerson said. "Live mine rescue and fire training is becoming more on the forefront. We are working hard to develop an appropriate curriculum that will serve the needs of the industry."
He added that college officials will be consulting regularly with industry experts to identify critical components of what mine rescue teams need to know. From these meetings, RLC will have a major source of content to design a training schedule for existing mine rescue teams, those being established at new operations and students in RLC's degree and certificate programs. The curriculum will be between 48 and 96 hours, and will be available in a variety of formats. Those who sign up will be able to choose consecutive eight-hour days, on weekends or as part of their class schedule toward a RLC degree or certificate.
This curriculum will work hand-in-hand with a mine rescue and safety training facility, which is currently in the design phase and expected to be a part of the mining tech program by Fall 2010. Training in mine rescue will begin as early as next Spring with curriculum becoming a part of the degree that Fall.
"This grant will go far in helping us develop a quality training program and a great recruitment tool for the next generation of mine rescue personnel," said Lisa Payne, RLC Vice President of Career Technical Education.
In a release sent out today, Senator Burris stated, "I am pleased to see that these awards are being directed to Illinois mining activities. These projects will assist in implementing and improving important miner training and safety programs throughout Illinois."
In addition to RLC, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Office of Mines and Minerals in Benton received $100,000 through this grant for development of DVDs and online training materials on the use, care and maintenance of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus and the roles and responsibilities of Mine Rescue Team members.
The Brookwood-Sago grants program was established through a provision in the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006, according to the DOL. Training grants are awarded for a 12-month project performance period, and applicants must be states or nonprofit entities.