Hundreds of coal miners from around the country are in Pike County for the Annual Mine Safety Rescue Competition.
In a coal-producing area like southeastern Kentucky, mine safety is especially magnified. That's why 46 teams from eight different states are here at Bob Amos Park in Pikeville.
The purpose of the event is to simulate an actual underground mine disaster, giving rescue teams a chance to stay sharp in the event of an actual emergency.
“The skills that we use in this practice and these competitions, it hones us in case we're ever needed underground or if there ever is a disaster. We pray there never is and that we're never used, but if there is, we're gonna be ready,” Chris Williams said.
These courses are set up to mimic the layout of an underground mine. Teams are forced to confront issues like gas leaks, ventilation, and missing miners.
“It's a guide to helping us do things underground correctly. Because underground in a real situation you could actually blow a mine up when you're underneath there,” Danny Knott said.
Each team is comprised of five oxygen wearers and a briefing officer.
“With mine rescue it’s different than an accident that doesn't happen at a coal mine. Like an earthquake or something like that where you have a multitude of people coming together to do this. If you have an event at a coal mine, only coal miners can save coal miners,” Daven Hoskins said.
Making this competition extremely important.
This is the fifth year that Pikeville has hosted the competition.
Officials say layoffs in the coal industry prevented about ten teams from competing this year.