Mine rescue

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Mine rescue is the specialized job of rescuing miners and others who have become trapped or injured in underground mines because of mining accidents, roof falls or floods and disasters such as explosions caused by firedamp.

Background[edit]

Mining laws in developed countries require trained, equipped mine rescue personnel to be available at all mining operations at surface and underground mining operations. Mine rescue teams must know the procedures used to rescue miners trapped by various hazards, including fire, explosions, cave-ins, toxic gas, smoke inhalation, and water entering the mine. Most mine rescue teams are composed of miners who know the mine and are familiar with the mine machinery they may encounter during the rescue, the layout of workings and geological conditions and working practices.[citation needed] Local and state governments may have teams on call ready to respond to mine accidents.

Rescuers and equipment[edit]

U.S. mine rescuer, c. 1912

The first mines rescuers were the colliery managers and volunteer colleagues of the victims of the explosions, roof-falls and other accidents underground. They looked for signs of life, rescued the injured, sealed off underground fires so it would be possible to reopen the pit, and recovered bodies while working in dangerous conditions sometimes at great cost to themselves. Apart from safety lamps to detect gases, they had no special equipment.[1] Most deaths in coal mines were caused by the poisonous gases caused by explosions, particularly "afterdamp" or carbon monoxide. Survivors of explosions were rare and most apparatus taken underground was used to fight fires or recovery of bodies. Early breathing apparatus derived from under-sea diving was developed and a crude nose and mouthpiece and breathing tubes was tried in France before 1800. "Gas masks" of various types were tried in the early 19th century: some had chemical filters, others goat skin reservoirs and then metal canisters, but none eliminated carbon dioxide rendering them of limited use.[2] Theodore Schwann, a German professor working in Belgium, designed breathing apparatus on the regenerative process in 1854 and it was exhibited in Paris in the 1870s but may never have been used[3][4]

Henry Fleuss developed Schwann's apparatus into a form of self-contained breathing apparatus in the 1880s and it was used after an explosion at Seaham Colliery in 1881.[3] The apparatus was further developed by Siebe Gorman into the Proto rebreather. In 1908 the Proto apparatus was chosen in a trial of equipment from several manufacturers to select the most efficient apparatus for use underground at Howe Bridge Mines Rescue Station and became the standard in rescue stations set up after the 1911 act.[5] An early use of the breathing apparatus was in the aftermath of an explosion at the Maypole Colliery in Abram in August 1908. The six trained rescuers at Howe Bridge then trained men at individual collieries in the use of the equipment and at the time of the Pretoria Pit Disaster in 1910 several hundred trained men participated in the operation.[1]

Mine rescue teams are trained in first aid and the use of a variety of tools, and the operation of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) to work in passages filled with mine gases such as firedamp, afterdamp, chokedamp, and sometimes shallow submersion.

From 1989 to 2004 the SEFA backpack SCBA was made. Rescuers used it and its successors the Draeger rebreather and Biomarine. Narrow spaces in mines are often too constricted for bulky open circuit sets with big compressed-air cylinders.

In 2010 an all-female mine rescue team was formed at the Colorado School of Mines.[6]

British Mines Rescue Stations[edit]

The Grade 2 listed building housing Houghton Le Spring Mines Rescue Station opened in 1913 and is still part of the British Mines Rescue Service

Colliery manager, W.E. Garforth suggested using a "gallery" to test rescue apparatus and train rescuers in 1899 and one was built at Altofts Colliery in West Yorkshire at a cost of £13,000.[3] He also suggested the idea of a network of rescue stations.[7] The first mines rescue station opened at Tankersley in 1902. The building is grade II listed. It was commissioned by the West Yorkshire Coal Mine Owners Association.[8][9]

In the United Kingdom a series of disasters in the 19th century brought about Royal Commissions which developed the idea of improved mine safety. The commissions influenced the Coal Mines Act of 1911 which made the provision of rescue stations compulsory.[10] By 1919 there were 43 stations in the UK but as the coal industry declined from the last quarter of the 20th century many were closed, leaving six as of 2013, at Crossgates in Fife, Houghton-le-Spring in Tyne and Wear, Kellingley at Beal in North Yorkshire, Rawdon in Derbyshire, Dinas at Tonypandy in Glamorgan and at Mansfield Woodhouse in Nottinghamshire.[11][12] The Mines Rescue Station at Houghton-le-Spring opened in 1913 is one of the six surviving British rescue stations which are operated by Mines Rescue Service.[13] It is a Grade II listed building.[14]

Mines rescue featured in the 1952 film The Brave Don't Cry which was a testimony to the Knockshinnoch disaster. Mine rescuers have often been recognised in Britain by the award of gallantry medals.

In Britain mines rescue teams may be called to investigate holes in the ground that have appeared because of land surface subsidence into old mineshafts and mine workings.

First World War[edit]

During World War I the British army mined underneath enemy lines in occupied France, and mine rescue training was required for the soldiers, often skilled coal-miners who undertook the work as part of the Tunnelling companies of the Royal Engineers. Much documentation on military mining activities was classified information until 1961.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ a b Davies 2009, p. 134
  2. ^ Preece 1981, p. 80
  3. ^ a b c Preece 1981, p. 81
  4. ^ Minerescue, therebreathersite.nl/, retrieved 4 December 2013 
  5. ^ Davies 2009, p. 133
  6. ^ Colorado School of Mines Student Mine Rescue, Colorado School of Mines, retrieved 4 December 2013 
  7. ^ Preece 1981, p. 82
  8. ^ Rescue stations, Heroes of Mine, retrieved 4 December 2013 
  9. ^ English Heritage, "Tankersley Mine Rescue Station (1376008)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 3 December 2013 .
  10. ^ Houghton Mines Rescue 100 Years and Still Serving the Community 1913–2013 by Mines Rescue Service Limited, Houghton le Spring, 2013 p8
  11. ^ Then and now: The Mines Rescue Service, The BBC, retrieved 3 December 2013 
  12. ^ In pictures: Training with the Mines Rescue Service, The BBC, retrieved 3 December 2013 
  13. ^ Training Centres, Mines Rescue Service, retrieved 4 December 2013 
  14. ^ English Heritage, "Houghton Mines Rescue Station (1268411)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 3 December 2013 .
  15. ^ Clifford, Philip, Mines rescue and the Great War, Heroes of Mine, retrieved 5 December 2013 

Bibliography

  • Davies, Alan (2009), Atherton Collieries, Amberley, ISBN 978-1-84868-489-8 
  • Preece, Geoff; Peter (1981), Coalmining, a handbook to the History of Coalmining Gallery, Salford Museum of Mining, City of Salford Cultural Services 

Further reading[edit]

  • Celebrating 100 years of the Mines Rescue Service A Collection of Articles and Press Extracts by Brenda Graham, Mines Rescue Service,Houghton le Spring, 2013.
  • Houghton Mines Rescue 100 Years and Still Serving the Community 1913–2013 by Mines Rescue Service Limited, Houghton le Spring, 2013.
  • THE TRAINING OF OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE TUNNELLING COMPANIES OF THE ROYAL ENGINEERS IN MINE-RESCUE WORK ON ACTIVE SERVICE IN FRANCE, by G.F.F. Eagar published in the Transactions of the Institution of Mining Engineers Vol. LVIII- 1919-1920 by Strzelecki, Percy (ed.)

External links[edit]