Last week concluded the 37th annual Mine Rescue Competition hosted by Missouri S&T and the Missouri Mine Rescue Association. A four day competition designed with the purpose of simulating a mine emergency, the Mine Rescue Competition took place at Missouri S&T’s Experimental Mine. Missouri S&T entered two teams of students into the rescue. These teams competed with students from the South Dakota School of Mines as well as professional mine rescue teams including Central Plains Cement, Doe Run Gray, Doe Run Maroon, Eastwood Fire Dogs, Gateway, Lafarge POWC, Martin Marietta, Martin Marietta Blue, Martin Marietta Granite, Martin Marietta Indiana, Mississippi Lime, Vulcan Materials Blue, and WIPP Red for a total of sixteen teams competing. The Missouri S&T mine rescue team has been competing against professionals since 1984 and was originally the only collegiate team to do so. Missouri S&T is one of the few universities to consistently maintain a Mine Rescue team and has done so for nearly 30 years.
The two Missouri S&T teams were the Gold Team and the Black Team. Gold team members are all seniors in mining engineering and include Meena Lahiri, Ethan Kerr, Zach Griffie, Joshua Schoonover, Rob Wymore, Chris Hudak, and Creighton Miles. The Mine Rescue Team is not exclusively for mining engineers and currently has a diversity of majors including mechanical and aerospace engineering students. The Black team consists of senior in mining engineering, Chris Urban, senior in mechanical engineering, Jessica Klein, senior in aerospace engineering, JD Johnson, juniors in mining engineering, Dustin Peterson and Corey Staudinger, and sophomores in mining engineering, Regan Pazdera, Josh Dierking, and Nicole Wagoner.
The competition is made up of three parts; one written skills test and two underground simulated mine disasters. The written test contains a team technician section and a first-aid section. Hands-on CPR and first-responder challenges are also included in the competition as well as gas instrument and breathing apparatus testing and damage control.
DeWayne Phelps, the engineering technician II for Missouri S&T’s mining engineering program stated that “The Missouri Mine Rescue Association is one of the strongest in the nation consisting of ten teams. The competition is known in the industry as the ‘Little Nationals,’ since many of the best teams come here to compete.”
Phelps is not alone in his praise of the Missouri S&T Mine Rescue competition. Many teams enter into the contest not only to win the prestigious title, but to learn, practice, and increase safety in the mines. Kyle Clark of Mississippi Lime stated, “In the end, this competition isn’t really about the medals and achievements. One of our main goals is to look out for our fellow employees and rescuers and keep them safe in times of emergency.” Steve Batts of Doe Run expressed similar sentiment stating “Our mine rescue teams dedicate a lot of time to train and compete in these events to prepare them to help their fellow miners in the event of an emergency”. Safety is the principle on which the event is based.
The competition is judged by the Missouri Department of Labor’s Mine and Cave Safety division as well as the United States Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration Division.