Miners from all over the Ohio Valley competed in the 34th Annual Mine Rescue Contest at the former West Virginia Penitentiary on Wednesday.
Teams from more than 20 different mines in four states were in Moundsville Wednesday to sharpen their skills in case an emergency were to unfold at work. It was a contest so there was some intense competition, but in the end it was all about the miners safety.
Dozens of miners worked together in Moundsville Wednesday to so their team could come out on top, both metaphorically in the contest and literally if there ever would be a time their rescue skills would have to be put to use.
Federal regulators mandate mine rescue crews perform this sort of training at least twice a year. However, it is a contest after all.
“It gets pretty competitive, it’s almost like a sporting event, just like two NFL teams out there competing against another,” Mine Rescue Contest President Robbie Roberts said. “They want to win. Everybody wants to do good for their company and just for bragging rights, but also they give trophies for first and second place finishers.”
Mike Doane’s team at Hopedale Mining has walked away with a few of those trophies over the years and Scott Tomblin of the Mountain Laurel Mine has seen success in more than seven years of mine rescue experience. Both know how important the training from Wednesday’s contest is for anyone that is working in the mining industry.
“When you do go in, you don’t go in as a team, they break it up so if everybody’s trained the same, you get in and get the guys out faster,” Doane said.
“If you have an event at your mine, you want to be well-trained to go in and get your fellow employees,” Tomblin said. “You don’t want to put yourself or your other teammates in danger.”
The contest continues Thursday in the South Yard of the former West Virginia Penitentiary before wrapping up with an awards banquet and dinner at 7 p.m. in the Technology Showcase Building.
Locally miners from the Century Mine and Murray Energy’s mines in Marshall and Ohio Counties along with Tunnel Ridge and Hopedale took part in Wednesday’s training contest.