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Coal companies using new technology despite decline in industry

By: Michelle Heron Email
By: Michelle Heron Email

PERRY COUTNY, Ky. (WYMT) For the men that make up rescue teams, competitions aren’t about a first place trophy, but saving lives.

Marvin Hoskins is the field office supervisor at the Mine Safety and Health Administration office in Hazard.

“This sharpens their skills on ventilation, knowing what is dangerous, what is explosive, mixtures and evidence of a fire and if they find them, they have to retreat,” Hoskins said.

The ropes that make up the course on Hazard High School’s football field simulate a coal mine deep underground.

Teams compete to keep their skills sharp and for if and when they are needed in a disaster.

MSHA requires rescue teams to compete in two contests a year.

Hoskins has seen the effects of layoffs trickle all the way down to this football field.

“We had eight teams from a company that came last year that due to cut backs aren’t allowed to come this year,” Hoskins added.

But companies aren’t letting negativity keep them from moving toward a safer environment underground

Barry Rowe is a mine rescue member with Arch Coal. He’s helped change the way teams communicate through digital mapping.

“It’s one of those things you’ve just got to continually evolve,” Rowe said.

MSHA is pushing companies to use the Microsoft software called Visio by allowing teams to use it at local competitions.

“They work well with this industry in trying to move along with the technical side of the mine rescue,” Rowe added.

To keep the men underground as safe as possible.

The competition continues through Thursday.

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