Mine rescue teams from throughout the country practice skills in Pikeville

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Traveling many miles to sharpen their mine safety skills. Teams from as far away as New Mexico spent the past few days at Bob Amos Park in Pikeville for the 2nd annual Hatfield and McCoy Mine Safety Competition.

Nineteen teams spent the day navigating a field set up with various gas and ventilation procedures.

Booth Energy's team captain, Phillip Conley says,"These fields are set up with certain problems and gives you ideas and things to look at in an actual event."

Sharpening their skills in case of an actual rescue.

Tony Casebolt says, "The coal industry today is much, much safer than it was in years gone by."

However, Casebolt who spent decades in the coal industry and in mine rescue says it is crucial to be prepared for the events that can occur.

"Miners are unique in the fact that they are one of the few industries that resuce their own," says Casebolt.

Rescue teams from all across the country participating in the event that city officials say they are proud to host.

Tourism Director Larry McGaughy says, "Coal is a big industry in the region and we need it and we want to continue the pride of the coal miners."

Bringing well over 100 folks in, team members say that number is down from other competitions.

"There is not near as many mines in the area as there used to be and just the cost of mining, the funds aren't there for the mine rescue teams ... it costs a lot to have these," says Conley.

Officials are still very pleased with this years competition.

Norman Page, with Mine Health and Safety District 6 says, "We've had a pretty good turnout for how the coal industry is in Eastern Kentucky this day."

While some teams will go home with trophies, officials say everyone who attends this competition including the judges wins.

"You learn something new everytime you come on the field, every one of these contests is a learning tool," says Conley.

Taking away knowledge and skills to improve safety for them and their fellow miners.


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