Mine rescues are serious business, and mining industry professionals make sure they are prepared for disasters. But so do mining engineering students at the University of Missouri-Rolla.
A mine rescue team from UMR — the only university to have such a team — will compete in the annual Mine Rescue Contest Oct. 6-8 at UMR’s Experimental Mine on Bridge School Road in Rolla.
“It’s always us versus industry,” says John Combs, a senior in mining engineering from Arnold, Mo. “We’re like a college team playing against professionals. Last year, we beat about half the teams, though.”
The UMR students will compete against industry teams in a simulated mine disaster situation, which will be set up and judged by representatives of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
“We’ve got a large stockpile of problems from previous contests to practice on,” says Combs.
In the competition, the teams will be rated on how well they follow the basic rules and regulations of the underground rescue problem, and they’ll be graded on a written exam. The competition also features events involving first aid, gas testing and maintaining a complex self-contained breathing apparatus.
Combs says fires are probably the most common disasters in underground mines, but he adds that modern mining in the United States has become very safe.
The mine rescue contest is sponsored by MSHA and the mining and nuclear engineering department at UMR.
The students are advised by the supervisor of UMR’s Experimental Mine, Jim Taylor, who says this is one of the best groups he’s worked with over the years.