Mining Publication: New Simulated Gas Detector Offers Realistic Training for Mine Rescue Teams
The United States is trending away from traditional mine rescue contest training toward hands-on skills training that focuses on being better prepared for an actual mine emergency response. New technologies and engaging training exercises are providing more realistic experiences to mine rescue teams. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in partnership with LightsOn Safety Solutions (LightsOn SS), has just completed the first phase of a research investigation of a multi-gas simulated gas monitor system (GMS). This endeavor is designed to add a higher level of realism during mine rescue contests and training exercises. The GMS is a wireless simulation tool utilizing a personal computer, wireless local area network, and simulated gas detectors. It is designed to assist mine rescue team members to learn about gas detection, understand the significance of gas concentrations, and encourage subsequent decision-making actions by team members. Moreover, it eliminates the static practice of using printed gas readings on a cardboard placard (placed on the ground during training or contests) and replaces it with a more realistic method of receiving gas concentration readings using a simulated hand-held gas detector. In 2009, NIOSH tested the LightsOn SS GMS technology with twenty-three mine rescue teams during two separate field trials. The first was during mine rescue training in the presence of dense theatrical fog that simulated smoke. The second integrated the GMS into a mine rescue contest held in a simulated mine. The research objective was to determine if the GMS technology could be used by mine rescue teams instead of placards, whether the teams would accept the new device, and if its functionality was suitable, reliable, and practical. This paper provides a brief history of the development and testing of the GMS, a description of the GMS functions for this initial phase, and the plans for the next phase of research.