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Beaver’s National Mine Health And Safety Academy Hosts The International Mines Rescue Competition.

Beaver, WV – (WWNR) – Emergency workers from around the world gathered in Beaver this past week for the International Mines Rescue Competition, hosted by the National Mine Health and Safety Academy.

The event was originally scheduled for 2020, but had to be delayed for two years due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

“We have 22 teams that are working mine rescue simulation problems” said Lincoln Selfe, Superintendent of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy. “We have a mine rescue problem, a first aid problem, a mine rescue skills problem, and a team challenge, which is a number of skills that they do. We also have a rope rescue being conducted out at the (Beckley) Fire Department.”

The teams practiced their skills in various simulations, including first aid. The WV School Of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg assisted with some very lifelike mannequins.

“These are what we call high fidelty mannequins,” said Angie Amick, Simulation Program Coordinator for the WVSOM. “They have the ability to sweat, cry, blink and breathe. You see visible chest rise, they have pulses. We can put them in abnormal heart rhythms and cause them to go into cardiac or pulmonary arrest.”

In addition to onsite simulations, teams could also work in virtual reality, with equipment provided by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

Jennica Bellanca, a biomechanical engineer with NIOSH, said “We have a setup of different computers. They’re paired with the Occulus Quest 2 headsets. Each team member has to put them on and they’re immersed in the virtual environment. They use controllers to be able to interact with objects in the environment. And then we present them with a mine rescue scenario, and they actually have to complete the scenario, just like they would in the competition.

While teams from the US, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Finland, India, Poland and Zambia tested their skills against each other, they were also able to learn from each other and make each other better.

“They’re all good people, no matter where they’re from,” said Steve Setzer, captain and trainer of the Doe Run Company’s Maroon Mine Rescue Team from Missouri. “We’re all here for the same reason, protecting the other miners that we work with. I’ve met some great people through the years doing this.”

The International Mines Rescue Competition wrapped up Friday with an awards cermony at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.