What is self-escape competence? Webster's dictionary defines competence as "having sufficient knowledge, judgment, skills, or strength for a particular duty." Ennis (2008) defines competence as "the capability of applying or using knowledge, skills, abilities, behaviors, and personal characteristics to successfully perform critical work tasks, specific functions, or operate in a given role or position. Personal characteristics may be mental/intellectual/cognitive, social/emotional/ attitudinal, and physical/psychomotor attributes necessary to perform the job." We refer to the knowledge, skills and abilities miners need to have in order to evacuate from their mine quickly and safely as self-escape competencies. It is very important that every coal miner is capable of independently getting out of the mine in an emergency. Why are miners' self-escape competencies so important? In the aftermath of mine emergencies, time is of the essence. The longer it takes for miners to exit the mine, the lower their chances of survival (Galvin 2008). For various reasons, it often takes many hours for mine rescue teams to locate and extricate miners from underground work areas. If miners must wait for rescue teams to reach them, it is often too late. Over the years, several miners, such as those involved in the Sago and Darby mine explosions, have survived an initial disaster but perished before they could escape or be rescued (Gates et al. 2007; Light et al. 2007). As part of a recent study by Ounanian (2007), U.S. coal mining accidents from 1970 to 2006 were reviewed. The review identified 37 events during this time period in which at least one miner was killed by an ignition, explosion, fire or inundation. Of the 252 fatalities caused by these events, 67 miners died while attempting to escape, and another 17 died after deciding to barricade and wait for rescuers. In other words, one-third of the 252 victims survived the initial event, but died before they could escape or be rescued. Since the coal mine disasters of 2006, several groups of mine safety experts have published reports that identify significant gaps and deficiencies in miners' emergency response training (Mine Safety Technology and Training Commission 2006; West Virginia Mine Safety Technology Task Force 2006; McAteer et al. 2006a, 2006b; GAO 2007). These experts recommended several significant improvements to the content and methods of escape training, as well as the evaluation of miners' self-escape competencies.