Montana Technological University will host a hands-on mine safety competition Sept. 24-25 at the Montana Tech Underground Mine Education Training Center and the World Museum of Mining. Mine rescues teams from Montana Tech, Colorado School of Mines and South Dakota School of Mines plan to compete.
“We are looking forward to hosting the very first mine rescue competition on campus,” noted Paul Conrad, professor of Mining Engineering at Montana Tech and the team’s advisor. “Participating on a mine rescue team can give a person a great feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment from having helped someone caught in a situation of great potential harm or even potential loss of life.”
A speedy and safe rescue effort can mean the difference between life and death for trapped miners when danger strikes, according to a press release. Adequate training is essential, as rescuers must be available and ready to respond at a moment’s notice.
Mine rescue contests are designed to sharpen skills and test the knowledge of team members who would be called on to respond to a mine emergency. The contest requires team members to solve a hypothetical problem while being timed and observed by judges while following complex rules.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration requires all operating mines in the United States to have mine rescue procedures in place should an incident occur.
For several years, the Montana Tech Mine Collegiate Rescue team has traveled and participated in collegiate mine rescue competitions against teams from other schools, such as the Colorado School of Mines. Most recently, in May, they visited Kellogg, Idaho, for the Central Mine Rescue Competition, and in February 2020, the team took first in gas and second in first aid and benching with an overall second-place finish at the Society of Mining Engineers collegiate competition in Phoenix.
Along with learning life-saving techniques, competitions provide the opportunity to make lifelong relationships. Conrad said he believes that one of the best parts of the competition is the camaraderie.