TOUGH TRAINING - A bead of sweat hangs from the nose of team captain Todd Stubblefield as he leads the White County Coal - Pattiki Mine Rescue Team through a disaster scenario. The heat index soared above 100 degrees Wednesday at Rend Lake College when 20 teams competed in the Illinois Mine Rescue Association's 2010 Land of Lincoln state mine rescue contest. CLICK HERE for a larger image.
TOP TEAM - Webster County Coal - Dotiki Mine was named champion of the 2010 Illinois Mine Rescue Association annual state mine rescue contest, held Wednesday at Rend Lake College in Ina, Ill. SEATED, FROM LEFT are; Steve Morgan, Jeff Capps, Jan Chambliss and Gary Mitchell. STANDING, FROM LEFT are; Jeremy Walker, Chris Gunn, Chris Dexter, David Ferguson, Mark Turner and Jeremy Hackney. In addition to being the overall winner, the team took home the Tommy Steele Memorial award and 1st place in Bio-Marine Revelation. CLICK HERE for a larger image.
TOP ILLINOIS TEAM - The team from Big Ridge - Willow Lake finished third and was the top Illinois team at the contest. SEATED, FROM LEFT are; Mike Cummins, Kevin Rice, Bob Wiman and Issac Craig. STANDING, FROM LEFT are; Rick Henry, Ray Boon, Shawn Miller, Josh Stacey, Jeremy Fletcher and Tom Patterson. CLICK HERE for a larger image.
Overall, the IMRA handed out 13 awards. The one pictured above is the benchman award for first place in the Bio-Marine division. CLICK HERE for a larger image.
INA, Ill. – Twenty mine rescue teams converged on the Rend Lake College campus Wednesday to brave the sweltering heat for their shot at being the top team in the Illinois Mine Rescue Association’s 2010 Land of Lincoln state mine rescue contest.
Like last year, the team count was up from the previous year with some travelling great distances to compete. And like last year, a team from outside Illinois took home the trophy.
Webster County Coal - Dotiki Mine out of Nebo, Ky., didn’t log the fastest time in completing the mine disaster scenario set up by officials, but was under the average time of 57 minutes and 35 seconds and only had four discounts. The discounts judges gave teams are like golf strokes. A lower number of discounts equals a better score. The average discounts handed out were 36.8 a team, with the highest being 132. Dotiki’s team, captained by Jan Chambliss, had only four, which was two less than runner-up and returning champ Gibson County Coal (Princeton, Ind.). Dotiki’s time of 43:30 was five minutes faster than the Rescue Rhinos from Gibson County. The fastest time was 42:56, set by Peabody Energy’s Gateway Mine (Coulterville) which came in seventh.
Two Illinois teams finished in the top five – Willow Lake Mine from Equality in third and Knight Hawk Coal from Percy in fifth. Peabody’s Twentymile Coal (Oak Creek, Colo.) was the other top-five team with a fourth-place finish. Illinois teams made up 40 percent of the overall field. There were five teams from Kentucky, five from Indiana and one team each from Colorado and Alabama.
“We are happy with the way all teams competed, but our [Illinois] teams are making a lot of progress with their skills and we are happy with today’s results,” said IMRA President Chad Barras.
While every team would like to be able to display championship hardware back home at the mine, there is a greater goal in competitions like the IMRA state contest.
“The real mission is to get our skills to the point that, in a disaster, we would be able to handle the situation with whatever is thrown at us,” Barras said.
“Any time you go to a mine rescue contest, it’s good training if you had an incident,” said Bill Sanders, safety director for Knight Hawk Coal in Cutler, which came in fifth Wednesday. “... I think these contests are very good for them and they learn a lot from them.”
Requirements state a team must compete in two contests each year. The Knight Hawk team trains at about five contests each year, Sanders said. The roster stays pretty much the same, which makes these exercises important tests of rescuers’ ability to work together as a unit, he explained.
“Their lives depend upon each other. They got to have camaraderie. They’ve got to depend on one another and they’ve got to trust one another.”
Sanders, who is responsible for training the team at least once a month – they typically train four to five times that monthly requirement – said team members are required to have a minimum of one year experience working in an underground mine and 20 hours on each breathing apparatus they use, in addition to the monthly training exercise.
“It’s usually the guys who are go-getters,” he said of those who sign up. “It’s a lot of hard training. They have to put a lot into this to get to this point.”
Back to the hardware.
The IMRA handed out 13 awards in all. The top four teams received trophies, three travelling trophies were sent off to their new home, the top teams in the combined mine rescue and bench categories were honored, and four benchman trophies were awarded.
The travelling awards included Best Illinois Benchman to Seth Tate of White County Coal - Pattiki Mine (Carmi), Best Illinois Mine Rescue to Big Ridge Willow Lake Mine and the Tommy Steele Memorial to Webster County Coal – Dotiki Mine.
In the combined mine rescue and bench teams category, Gibson County took home 1st place in the Bio-Marine division and Webster County - Dotiki won the Bio-Marine Revelation division. First in the Bio-Marine Revelation benchman contest went to Robbie Meadows of River View Coal (Waverly, Ky.) with Todd Watson of Hopkins County Coal - Elk Creek (Madisonville, Ky.) as the runner up. The top benchman in the Bio-Marine division was Zach Brown of Gibson County and Tate was second.
This is the second straight year the IMRA has partnered with Rend Lake College as the site of the annual contest. And while the college’s central location makes it appealing, Barras added that location alone doesn’t produce a successful event.
“Rend Lake [College] has worked hard at accommodating this contest,” he said. “... They’ve went out of their way to help our association. I can’t say enough good things about it.” Barras added that there was a lot of hard work put in by individuals behind the scene and the association appreciates that.
“From the college to the vendors, to the state and federal workers, it took a group effort.”
The lion’s share of RLC’s responsibilities fell on Mining Instructor Dave Colombo, Industrial Maintenance and Technology Professor Chris Nielsen and Applied Science and Technology Division Chair Terry Wilkerson.
“The IMRA and [Illinois Mining Institute] choosing Rend Lake College for their annual meetings really puts our college on the map,” Wilkerson said. “We hope the hard work we put into making them a success will serve as a demonstration of our commitment to quality training for the industry.”
Complete results from the Illinois Mine Rescue Association 2010 Land of Lincoln state mine rescue contest are available online at www.rlc.edu/aca/as/miningtechindex.php.