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National Mine Rescue Association Hosts Mine Safety Contest at Mylan Park

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MONONGALIA COUNTY -

The West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training said that there are 30,000 direct jobs provided by the coal industry in our state alone. That makes mine safety extremely important.

The National Mine Rescue Association Post 5 contest brings in teams from all over the region.

The contest allows miners to learn safety techniques. Knowing these techniques can be the difference between life and death.

"Whenever you have other people's lives and livelihood in danger and you want to be the first guy down there to help them to recover, save their lives, or recover their mines," said Dave Cass, of Bailey Mine Rescue. "So everybody's families in communities can still strive because when a coal mine is out of work there's a lot of people that suffer.

Monday was the set up for the contest. The competition lasts three days at Mylan Park in Monongalia County.

"They get a problem and then they work through it and its in a contest situation but it's also problems that they could run into an emergency situation as well," said Tina Lashbaugh the Assistant Director of Mine Rescue.

Yellow ropes mark off the mine walls, each wooden box is where the briefing officer stands to direct his team through the mine. There are also red markers that hold a plaque that describes various scenarios that the miners will be walking into. whether it be an explosion or a caved in roof.

"This is the way of getting recognized for the hard work that they do and their families, as well," Lashbaugh said. "Because they're like to put on the line as well in emergency situations so its really nice that they recognize them this way."

The teams also learn first aid.

Dave Cass from Bailey Mine Rescue said it's a great way to practice for the real thing, and earn some bragging rights.

"You always want to be the first place team," Cass said. "When everybody else looks our way and they see us they think, 'There's Bailey Mine Rescue. They're the first place team, we want to be that someday. We want be the first place team.' That's what everybody shoots for."

The competition is set up so the miners have no idea what scenario they're walking into.