When an emergency occurs at a mine, the first few hours after the emergency are the most critical and will determine the successfulness mine rescue and recovery operations in saving miners and mine property. How well organized and prepared a mine rescue team is, is critical to any mine rescue and recovery attempt.
Teamwork is essential not only between the mine rescue teams themselves, but also among those on the surface: company administrators, mine personnel, and federal and state officials who comprise an entire rescue network designed to direct and support the tire operation, particularly the rescue teams, during a mine disaster.
Cause of these factors, a chain-of-command must be in place and an emergency notification plan established to designate what necessary personnel must be contacted during a mine emergency.
The time the mine rescue team arrives on-site, rescue and recovery operations will already be underway on the surface. Several officials and mine personnel will have been called to the mine to assume their ties as part of the chain-of-command.
This training manual on surface organization is designed to familiarize the rescue team members on how to organize and manage a rescue and recovery operation, and to understand the role each team plays in relation to the overall organization.
II. Notification of a mine emergency
a. Callout procedure- When an operator is under agreement with the commonwealth, the operator will notify the Bureau of Deep Mine Safety of a related mining emergency.
The bureau then calls each individual mine rescue team member under the covered agreement. The team member should notify his/her employer that he/she is participating in an emergency.b. Travel to emergency site- Although an emergency is occurring in the mining industry, at no times shall the team member speed or violate Motor Vehicle Codes while enroute to the emergency.c. Arrival at emergency site- Upon arrival at the scene, the team member shall follow the affected companyís policy concerning checking in or reporting to a security station.
Once on company property, attempt to locate the Mine Rescue Vehicle to check in with the state instructors, or if the truck has not yet arrived, check in with the mine office.
III. Notification PlanAll metal and non metal, and surface and underground coal mines are required by law to post a Mine Rescue Notification Plan which instructs what mine rescue team members will be needed to assist in the rescue and recovery operation. This mine Rescue Notification Plan may be part of the Mine Emergency Notification Plan.
Each mine should have an Emergency Notification Plan for notifying necessary personnel when there is an emergency at the mine. This plan lists the various supervisors, administrators, and government officials who must be notified of the mine emergency.
Mine rescue team members are to familiarize themselves with the mineís emergency notification plan which will include the following persons or agencies, their names, addresses, and home and office phone numbers. Those suggested for immediate notification of a mine emergency include:
General Mine Manager
General Mine Superintendent
District Inspector (state and federal)
Chief, state department of mines
District MSHA office
District union office
Law enforcement agencies
Medical personnel, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles
Hospital to be alerted
The above list should be tailored to meet individual mine job titles. The mineís emergency organization is a plan of action, designed to restore order at the mine site and supervise emergency efforts. The mineís notification plan could also include other support personnel who would provide services at the mine site. Such persons who may be needed could include: security personnel, police officers, supply clerks, clergy, telephone operators, and coroner.
IV. Establishing a Chain-of-CommandBecause many persons will be doing many different jobs during rescue and recovery operations, it is important to establish a clear chain-of-command in order that surface arrangements can be handled smoothly and rescue and recovery work is well-coordinated.
Located at the top of the list of the chain-of-command is the mine superintendent who may delegate the responsibility of other jobs to other reliable company employees. Employees assigned these responsibilities must know in advance exactly what their duties and responsibilities are, who they are to report to, and who in turn, is to report to them. These duties and tasks may be divided.
V. Making Surface Arrangements
a. Suggested Facilities and Arrangements-Surface arrangements cover a wide range of activities and require the coordinated efforts of many persons.
Surface arrangements include such tasks as establishing a command center where all of the decisions are made, providing an adequate information center for releasing information to the public, and for obtaining the necessary supplies and equipment.1. Command Center- The command center is the most important surface facility and will be the hub of the mine rescue operation. Those in charge will be stationed at the command center to plan and direct the rescue and recovery operation.
The command center will house communications equipment connected to the underground phones and to other surface phone lines. It will contain mine maps to follow the progress of the teams, and to mark findings and plan rescue strategy.2. Waiting Area for Teams- Another area that is needed is the waiting area for the incoming rescue teams so they have a central location to prepare for rescue operations.
As mine rescue teams arrive at the mine site, they are to check in and be assigned to a team area. If team members carry Mine Rescue Team identification cards, they should present their cards when checking in at the mine site.The Safety Director, or whoever is in charge of teams, should prepare a rotation schedule for deploying all of the rescue teams who are called to the mine site, and designate which team is to be the exploration team, backup team, and standby team. The rotation schedule is to be posted in the waiting area, and lists each teamís status during the rescue or recovery operation.3. Bench Area for Apparatus- A bench area, where water is available, should be set aside as an apparatus room where the apparatus can be cleaned, tested, and prepared for the benchmen or by the team members themselves. If convenient, the Mine Rescue Station can be used as a bench area for the apparatus.4. Security- Establishing good security at the mine is essential in order to keep the roads open for mine or emergency personnel, and to ensure that curious bystanders do not hinder rescue efforts or get injured while on mine property. All roads and paths leading to the mine should be secured and guarded by assigned company personnel or police officers.
Incoming traffic on the roads leading to the mine property should be regulated by authorized personnel to keep unnecessary vehicles off the roads and keep these roads open for essential personnel, needed supplies, and emergency vehicles.
State and federal officials will arrive on-site to advise and observe. Federal officials may take charge of the operation if they decide it is necessary, but usually they consult and advise company personnel on the best way to perform rescue and recovery duties.
The rescue team is part of the chain-of-command linkage. The team captain directs and supervises the rescue team, and also deals with the Safety Director or another designated official who is responsible for the rescue teams.5. Information Center- An area with available space should be established on the surface as an information center. The information centerís director will be there to authorize and issue, and have control of the accuracy of the information being released to the public.
The information centerís director may be a company official, or could be a federal or state official who is authorized and qualified to answer questions from minersí families or friends, or from the news media. The information center should contain two separate rooms, one to be used as a waiting area for families, and another separate room for the news media. 6. Waiting Area for Families and Friends- The family waiting room should be away from any rescue activity and away from the newsroom. The information centerís director should try to periodically inform family members of rescue and recovery operations, and be authorized and qualified to answer questions from minersí families or friends.7. Newsroom for the Media- The newsroom is the only area where the news media should be given any information. News reporters should be restricted to this room to prevent them from interviewing minersí families or rescue teams, or from attempting to film family members or rescue workers, and from wandering about mine property.
Copies of all news releases should be given to the news media and reporters to prevent any confusion or misconstrued information from being released as facts. Additionally, a copy of each news release bearing the date and time of issuance, is to be kept on file for future reference and as company record.8. Food and Sleeping Quarters- Often it is necessary to feed and house mine personnel during a mine emergency. Arrangements may have to be made for a caterer or nearby restaurant to bring in food. Sleeping quarters can be arranged at a nearby motel, or if none are available, sleeping quarters will be set up at the mine.9. Laboratory- It will be necessary to test samples of the mine air during the rescue and recovery operation. A laboratory with suitable air analysis equipment should be set up at the mine to quickly obtain the results of the samples taken from the mine atmosphere. If it is not possible to set up a laboratory on-site, mine rescue vans with mobile laboratories can be called in to do quick air analyses. As a last resort, air samples can be sent off-site to a commercial laboratory.10. Medical Facilities- Some medical services and facilities have to be available. If no one is trapped underground, a simple first aid station for rescue and recovery personnel who may get injured may be sufficient. However, in a disaster where several miners are trapped underground, or where injuries are substantial after an explosion, roof fall, or fire, it may be necessary to staff a temporary hospital. Stand-by ambulances, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) may be required also.11. Temporary Morgue- In critical situations where bodies are being recovered from the mine, a temporary morgue will be necessary.b. Suggested Personnel and Their Duties- Many people will be required to perform various rescue tasks, and some duties may seem more important than others since some assignments will range from ordering necessary supplies and seeing that they go where they are supposed to, while others will include actual rescue procedures. It is essential, however, that each rescue team staff member be able to perform his or her described duties correctly and quickly in order for the rescue and recovery operation to run efficiently.
Listed below are personnel who may be involved in the surface organization during a mine emergency, along with their duties. This is a suggested plan for dividing emergency tasks among personnel, but the actual assignments will vary from mine to mine, and depend on available personnel.1. Mine Superintendent-The mine superintendent is in charge of the entire mine emergency operation. The mine superintendent is responsible for establishing the command center and overseeing all aspects of the rescue and recovery operation. The mine superintendent delegates the responsibility for various aspects of the operation as necessary according to a prearranged plan. If the mine superintendent for some reason is unavailable, someone designated by a prearranged plan should take charge of the operation.
It is suggested that the superintendent establish an advisory committee comprised of company and federal representatives and state and union representatives to serve and advise during each shift at the command center.
This committee, along with the mine superintendent, could act as a briefing and debriefing committee to inform teams entering the mine and gather information from teams exiting the mine.
The superintendent should designate an official to serve as the fresh air base coordinator for each shift, plus an advisory committee to serve and advise the coordinator during each shift at the command center. The superintendent should designate someone to direct the information center and issue news releases.
The superintendent should delegate personnel to:
Notify the families of any trapped miners. Notification should be done in person, if possible;
Notify the families of any miners or other personnel authorized to stay at the mine site as emergency operations personnel:
Monitor the underground phone circuit continuously whether or not it appears to be operational; and
Obtain gas samples from the main returns.2. Mine Clerk- The mine clerk is usually designated to be responsible for all necessary communication coming into and out of the command center.
Duties of the mine clerk are:
Notify all persons listed on the notification plan and inform them of the emergency; Attend the telephone at the command center; and Assign people for errand duty.
3. Chief Electrician-The duties of the chief electrician are to:
Pull and immediately lock out all electric switches controlling the electricity to the mine, when authorized by the person in charge; Provide the materials for extra telephone communications as needed; and Arrange for any needed assistants.4. Chief Mechanic or Mechanical Foreman-The duties of the chief mechanic are to:
Check explosion doors (for exhausting fan) or weak wall (for blowing fan) for damage. Make sure explosion doors are closed or the weak wall is repaired;
Check fan. Instruct an electrician or machinist to make tan repairs if necessary;
Monitor the operation of the fan and the atmosphere in and around the fan house if the fan is exhausting. With an exhausting fan, proper precautions should be taken to avoid asphyxiation or an explosion in the fan house; and
Alter ventilation only when ordered to do so by the person in charge5. Outside Foreman- The duties of the outside foreman are to:
a. Arrange for guards and state or local police to:
Rope off and guard all mine openings; Guard all roads and paths leading to the mine;
b. Designate a person as a checkman to monitor people entering and leaving the mine. The checkman should:
Attend the assigned station within the roped off area;
Allow no one to go underground except persons authorized by officials in charge; Examine each person (entering the mine) for matches and smoking materials, making no exceptions; Check off each person by name and number, and record the time that they enter and leave the mine;
c. Set up an eating area and make sure that ample food and beverages are available for the rescue teams and other personnel; and
d. Set up medical facilities (first aid room, triage center, emergency hospital), restrooms, arrange for sleeping quarters, and a temporary morgue, if necessary.6. Safety Director-The safety director is usually responsible for the mine rescue teams. The safety directorís duties are to:
Assemble mine rescue teams and first aid crews; Provide facilities and equipment for testing, cleaning, and recharging the breathing apparatus;
Assign personnel to issue, record, and return mine rescue equipment;
Consult with the superintendent regarding plans for the rescue and recovery operation; and Establish a rotation schedule for the rescue teams.
The rotation schedule should be designed to show the clear order of team usage with backup teams always available. Adequate time must be allotted to permit teams to rest, clean, test, and repair the apparatus. It is recommended that there be three rescue teams ready and available at the mine before any rescue operation begins.
7. Chief Engineer- The duties of the chief engineer are to:
a Supply the command center with copies of maps showing the regular flow of air and the location of the ventilation controls, doors, pumps, substations, machinery, and the electrical system with the control switch locations;
Alert adjoining mines if they are connected underground with the affected mine;
Obtain maps of adjoining mines, if needed; and Make arrangements to furnish drilling rig equipment if needed.8. Supply Clerk- The supply clerk is responsible for obtaining and distributing all of the equipment and supplies used for the emergency operation. The duties
of the supply clerk are to:
Prepare an inventory of the existing equipment and supplies;
Contact other mines and suppliers to obtain other needed supplies and equipment; Provide the following items for immediate use: nails, brattice cloth, hatchets, axes, saws, picks, boards, telephones, wires, any needed gas-testing equipment, sledge hammers, slate bars, shovels, suitable roof supports, lifting jacks, stretchers, batteries, and first aid cabinets; Provide the following items for authorized personnel: coveralls, safety shoes, gloves, caps, flashlights, safety glasses, and lamp belts; and Keep a record of all equipment issued and returned.9. Lampman- The lampman is responsible for issuing all cap lamps, self-rescuers, check numbers or tags. The duties of the lampman are to:
Check that each person receiving a lamp is approved by the superintendent;
Record the equipment issued and returned; Give a check number to each person going underground; Record the name and number of each person going underground in a book.10. Mine Foreman- The duties of the mine foreman are to:
Organize underground operations for each shift in cooperation with the person in charge, federal inspectors, and state inspectors (if involved), and union representatives, and Provide suitable transportation for people and supplies, as needed11. Other Company Personnel- The duties of the other company personnel are to:
Assemble organizations according to the prearranged plan, and stand by until ordered to assist or leave.