Montana Technological University Mine Rescue Planning Competition

The Reed House located on the Montana Technological University Campus
Past and present Montana Technological University Mine Rescue Members including
from back to front Cooper Knoll, Austin Sisson, David Wuellner, Ethan Stephen,
Matt Dailey, Riley McConnaha, Alex Davis, Joyce Karaj

Montana Technological University has a long tradition of providing hands-on experiences well beyond what you can learn in a traditional classroom. The Montana Technological University Mine Rescue team is proud to continue that legacy as they plan a Mine Rescue competition during Homecoming week on September 24 and 25, 2021 at the Montana Tech Underground Mine Education Center (UMEC) and the World Museum of Mining in Butte, MT.

When danger strikes, a speedy and safe rescue effort can mean the difference between life and death for trapped miners. 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 according to complex rules.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) requires all operating mines in the United States to have mine rescue procedures in place should a disaster occur at their operation. This requirement can be met in different ways. One way is for the mine to have a rescue team consisting of employees who are trained in first aid and emergency rescue procedures. MSHA requires that these mine rescue teams be re-certified every two years to demonstrate competency in meeting MSHA requirements. To meet the recertification requirement, MSHA permits mine rescue teams to compete against each other in rescue competitions that simulate a mine disaster. These competitions are both competitive and popular among the members of the mine rescue teams.

Rod Alne from the PEAK, Inc. instructs Montana Technological University Mine Rescue member Cooper Knoll how to place someone in a stokes basket for transport.
Rod Alne from the PEAK, Inc. instructs
Montana Technological University Mine Rescue
member Cooper Knoll how to place someone
in a stokes basket for transport.

Dr. Paul Conrad, the team advisor, shared, "The concept of training college students in mine rescue procedures has caught on and collegiate mine rescue competitions are now held throughout the United States each year. Many Montana Tech graduates who are members of our mine rescue team will go to work at mining operations and become involved in their operation’s rescue teams. The mine rescue competition that we are planning for September will give the students who participate experience in mine rescue procedures and hopefully give them the desire to participate in future employer’s mine rescue teams."

For years the Montana Tech Mine Rescue team has traveled and participated in competitions. Most recently in May, they visited Kellogg, Idaho for the Central Mine Rescue Competition, and in February 2020 the team took first in gas, second in first aid, and bench with an overall second-place finish at the SME competition in Phoenix.

The team is looking forward to hosting the very first Mine Rescue Competition on campus, where student mine rescue teams from programs around the United States will be invited to Montana Tech to compete against each other by demonstrating the first aid and rescue skills required to be a member of a certified MSHA mine rescue team.

Montana Technological University Mine Rescue team members<br />practice first aid for severe upper arm injury.
Mine Rescue team members
practice first aid for
severe upper arm injury.

According to Conrad, inspiration for the competition is as close as our backyard, "When you think about Butte, MT, what do you think about? Mining. It makes sense to conduct a mine rescue competition in a community that was built on mining. At Montana Technological University, we have three things that make us an ideal location to host a collegiate mine rescue competition. We have a Mining Engineering program, an Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) program, and the Underground Mine Education Center (UMEC) on our campus. We produce Mining Engineers who will work in the mining industry and we produce OSH people, many of whom will manage rescue teams if they work at a mining operation. Finally, with the UMEC and the World Museum of Mining, we have the logical facilities, side-by-side, to host a mine rescue competition."

The team is working with industry partners to help format and judge the competition and there are corporate sponsorship opportunities available.

Along with life-saving techniques, the competitions provide the opportunity to make life-long relationships. Conrad believes that one of the best parts of the competition is, "Comradery. The world is a big place, but the mining industry is a small world. Students who participate in mine rescue competitions work hard, have fun, and build friendships that will continue throughout their working careers."

Mine Rescue members David Wuellner, Cooper Knoll compete in Underground Mine Rescue Competition as rescue event judge looks on.
Mine Rescue members David Wuellner,
Cooper Knoll compete in Underground
Mine Rescue Competition as rescue event
judge looks on.

The equipment needed for mine rescue competitions is both specialized and expensive. In cooperation with the World Museum of Mining, a grant was approved for purchasing equipment for the competition, but the Montana Technological University Mine Rescue Team must raise the $30,000 for the equipment purchase before the museum can be reimbursed from the grant. The faculty and students are working hard to secure the funds to host this year's competition and If you would like to support the Montana Technological University Mine Rescue Team you can do so here.

For questions and corporate sponsorship information about the Montana Technological University Mine Rescue Competition, contact Dr. Paul Conrad at pconrad@mtech.edu or call 406-496-4262.


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