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Coal Mine Safety and Rescue Skills Put to the Test June 7-8

May 25, 2016

More than 100 coal miners from around the region will assemble to compete in a variety of safety and rescue exercises at Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg, Illinois, on June 7 and 8 during the fifth annual Mine Rescue Skills Competition. 

Rescue teams at area coal mines train in a variety of skills they hope to never have to use, readying themselves for fires, cave-ins, and various other potential underground disasters.

This event is a chance to put those skills to use, get additional practice and learn from mistakes in a safer, yet competitive environment. 

“Our event attracts both regional teams from within the state as well as from our neighboring states of Indiana and Kentucky,” stated Dr. Karen Weiss, Dean for Career & Technical Education at SIC.  “We expect a fierce competition again this year among the teams who will be participating – many of which are returning teams.” 

This year’s teams competing on Tuesday, June 7 include American Coal Company of Galatia, Illinois; Foresight Energy from MaRyan/Patton Mine in Hillsboro, Illinois; Gateway Mine in Coulterville, Illinois; Hamilton County Coal, LLC in Dahlgren, Illinois; Knight Hawk Coal in Cutler, Illinois; and Prairie State Generating Company in Marissa, Illinois.

Competing on Wednesday, June 8 will be Foresight Energy from MaRyan Patton Mine in Hillsboro, Illinois; Foresight Energy South from Mach-Viking Mine in Marion, Illinois; Kentucky Coal Academy’s Madisonville Community College Mine Rescue Team from Madisonville, Kentucky; Pattiki Mine in Carmi, Illinois; Sunrise Coal Mine Rescue Team from Oaktown, Indiana; and Wildcat Hills Mine in Harrisburg, Illinois.

The event features competitions in first aid scenarios, equipment use, burn tower search and rescue, hose management, field search and rescue, and fire suppression in the college’s state-of-the-art burn tunnel facility.  Trophies will be awarded each day to the top three teams upon completion of the competition. 

Weiss also mentioned that in addition to the traditional placement awards this year, a new award will be added to honor the late Tim Kirkpatrick, who was a long-time advocate of mine safety.  Kirkpatrick, who lived in Johnston City, worked in the coal industry for over 41 years and was a member of the Illinois State Mining Board.

“Tim Kirkpatrick was a major player in bringing this mine safety event to Southern Illinois, and we thought this would be a great way to honor him,” said Weiss.

Officials from Illinois Eastern Community Colleges – which administers all coal mining classes offered at SIC – as well as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Office of Mines and Minerals, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, and a large number of volunteers from SIC will all serve together as judges, guides and more to make this a successful event. 

The competition runs from approximately 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.  Competition rules can be found at www.sic.edu/miningcompetition.  For more information, contact Karen Weiss at 618-252-5400, ext. 2300.

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