Mine rescue competition brings hundreds to Harlan County

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

Hundreds of people from a variety of states are in Harlan County this week for a mine rescue competition.

Tourism officials said Harlan County has not hosted an event like that in 15 years and that almost every hotel room in the county is full.

It's a competition that gets rescuers ready to go underground when needed.

"We got put on call in Upper Big Branch. It's a different feeling when they call and tell you that you are on standby. You may have to go in. You know, we hope we never have to," said Michael Johnson with Cumberland River Mine Rescue.

More than twenty teams are involved in this safety competition. They assess a number of scenarios created by MSHA.

Then they are judged and timed.

"It's basically who can work it the fastest to come in the first, second, and third places," said Tracy Bailey, with Cumberland Tourist Commission.

Bailey said all these people are bringing a boost to Cumberland's economy.

"They're eating in our restaurants and bringing people into the community," said Bailey.

Leaders hope it is the first of many similar events that will bring people to the area. But most importantly this event trains those who will answer an important call.

"If the time comes, and they give us a call - we are all ready to go on and save a fellow worker," said Johnson.

The winners will be announced on Thursday.

Most of the competition was outdoors Wednesday so teams took extra steps to stay safe in the heat.

This event is part of a larger celebration in August to celebrate 100 years of coal in Harlan County.

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