Technologies for today's mine emergency responders.
Conti RS; Chasko LL
Contingencies, emergency, crisis, and disaster management: emergency management in the third millennium--Proceedings of the Seventh Annual Conference of The International Emergency Management Society, Orlando, Florida, May 16-19, 2000. Oslo, Norway: The International Emergency Management Society (TIEMS), 2000 May; :105-121
This paper describes technology that has been identified for underground mine emergency responders. Mine rescue teams are often called upon to save lives during an underground emergency such as a fire, explosion, roof fall, or water innundation. It is extremely important that team members are provided with adequate exploration equipment and that they are properly trained in the use of that equipment. A series of mine rescue training, in-mine smoke training, and mine emergency response development (MERD) exercises, was developed, conducted, and evaluated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in cooperation with state agencies and companies. The training exercises were held at NIOSH's Lake Lynn Laboratory and operating mines during 1995 to the present. This effort resulted in improved technology and training for mine rescue teams, fire brigades, first responders, and miners in general. For example, existing technologies were identified to help responders during exploration and recovery operations. These included various chemical light shapes, strobe lights, light vests, and laser pointers to identify team members. Most of these devices may be used to mark underground areas and certain mine materials. Also, strobe lights were used for mapping out escapeways and lasers were used to negotiate travel through smoke. Thermal imaging systems allow rescue personnel to see in darkness and through dense smoke and easily locate missing or trapped personnel and heated areas. A hands-free communication system showed potential for enhanced communications between team members, the fresh air base, and command center. A new team lighted-lifeline allows for flexibility in movements of team members during routine tasks and allows them to easily find their usual position on the lifeline. Of all the technology evaluated by underground personnel, laser lights and lifelines were most beneficial in leading personnel to safety and out of the mine in smoke-filled passageways. A positive-pressure inflatable escape device (IED)/airlock, was used to isolate the "hazardous" environment from fresh air and allow rescue team members to traverse through. An inflatable feed-tube partition that can rapidly block large openings, such as underground passageways or tunnels, and simultaneously provide a feed-tube for high expansion foam generators was also deployed during the simulations. These technological advancements can improved the state of readiness for rescue personnel and increase the chances of survival for personnel escaping from underground emergencies.
Emergency response; Emergency responders; Mine disasters; Mine rescue; Mining industry; Underground mining; Underground miners; Occupational hazards; Environmental factors; Environmental hazards; Work environment; Training; Simulation methods;
Author Keywords: Emergency response; smoke training; mine rescue; response technology
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, P.O. Box 18070, Pittsburgh, PA 15236, USA
Contingencies, emergency, crisis, and disaster management: emergency management in the third millennium--Proceedings of the Seventh Annual Conference of The International Emergency Management Society, Orlando, Florida, May 16-19, 2000