By Bill Archer
For The Register-Herald
Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. announced on Friday that the Mine Rescue Team from the Pinnacle Mine in Wyoming County took first place at the 2013 National Coal Mine Rescue Competition. The bi-annual competition, sponsored by the National Mining Association and administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration, was held this week at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. Started in 1910 by the U.S. Bureau of Mines, the competition is the largest of its kind.
“This is the second time that a mine rescue team from the Pinnacle Mine has won the national championship in the past 8 years,” Jim Kosowski, spokesman for Cliffs said Friday during a telephone interview from his office in Beckley. “It’s quite an accomplishment.”
“Winning the National Mine Rescue Championship is a great accomplishment for the Pinnacle Blue Team,” David Webb said. Webb is Cliffs’ senior vice president of global coal. “Winning the National Championship is the goal of every one of the teams that took part in this year’s competition. To take home this prize proves that our employees are truly among the very best in the industry and that their work and dedication pays off. It also is a reflection of our entire organization’s focus on being among the national leaders in safety, production and efficiency. Cliffs appreciates the effort of all of our rescue team members.”
This is the second time that a Pinnacle Mine rescue team has won the national championship. In 2005, a Pinnacle Mine rescue team also was named national champion.
“I’m proud of everything that this team has accomplished,” Mike Plumley said. Plumley was a member of the Pinnacle Mine’s 2005 national championship mine rescue team. “They represented West Virginia well in this competition. Plumley is the director of Bluefield State College’s National Mine Rescue Association competition jointly sponsored by Welch Post 1, NMRA, the “Smoke Eaters,” as well as the Southern West Virginia National Mine Rescue Association competition recently held at Glade Springs.
“Mine rescue teams are the backbone of our readiness for mine emergency response,” Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor mine safety and health was quoted as stating in a Cliffs press release. “The testing of mine rescue skills and preparedness the teams undergo in the national competition is invaluable. Thanks to those who participated and congratulations to those who topped the competition!”
The Pinnacle Mine Blue Team completed both days of team events without a single error and achieved the fastest problem solving time on the second day of competition.
In its 101st year, the four-day competition had events ranging from first aid, bench, and pre-shift to the more complex simulated mine rescue scenarios that involve hypothetical emergency situations and test the rescue and safety abilities of the competitors. More than 80 rescue teams from 12 states competed.
Mine Rescue Team members are volunteers who devote an extensive amount of time at training and competitions so they can continually improve and be ready to handle real life rescue situations if they should occur.
— Bill Archer is a writer for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph