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WVU finishes first, third in national mine rescue contest

A picture of the Gold mine rescue team with trophies.

Members of the Gold Team pose with their trophies. Pictured (front row, from left): Ed "Smurf" Rannenberg, Jack Pappano, Erin Brooker, Cavan Rooney, Greg Parker, Amber Adkins, Jeremy Diehlmann, Brenna Cole; (back row) Jim Dean, John Sabo.

West Virginia University sent two teams to the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration–Eastern Collegiate Mine Rescue Organization National Mine Rescue Contest in Beckley, October 27-28. Both ended up on the winner’s platform.


The competition tests the teams’ ability to locate and rescue three missing miners.

“The scenario simulated a mine fire/explosion on a longwall section,” said Joshua Brady, associate director of mining extension at WVU and an advisor/trainer with the team. “They had to re-ventilate the contest area to provide fresh air to the location where the miners were found alive so they could be rescued safely.”

The second component of the competition featured a smoke exercise.

“The teams worked in a simulated mine lab that was filled with water-based theatrical smoke,” Brady said.  “This smoke is used to simulate a mine fire and greatly reduced visibility.”

The Gold Team, which featured mining engineering majors Cavan Rooney (Doylestown, Pennsylvania), Jeremy Diehlmann (Crofton, Maryland) and Jack Pappano (Burke, Virginia), mining/civil engineering dual majors Greg Parker (St. Clairsville, Ohio), Erin Brooker (Wilmington, Ohio) and Amber Adkins (Sherrodsville, Ohio), and geology major Brenna Cole (Ellicottville, New York), finished first in the event, which also included teams from Virginia Tech, University of Kentucky and Penn State University.

The Blue Team—Dan Nash (Mount Airy, Maryland/mining engineering/WVU Honors College), Aaron Malecki (Sarver, Pennsylvania/geology), Matt Green (Jefferson, Maryland/civil engineering), Chase Reel (Richwood/civil engineering), Keegan Patrick (Winfield, mining/civil engineering dual major), Thomas Hohenwarter (Lancaster, Pennsylvania/mining engineering) and Erica McCauley (Minerva, Ohio, mining/geology dual major)—finished third.

“I am very pleased with the efforts of both teams,” Brady said. “They have done everything we have asked of them both professionally and for this contest. The staff in Mining Extension has been training the team for the past two years and have tried to show them that hard work, dedication and passion will deliver positive results in life.

“We have a very unique situation here at WVU to have an experimental mine to train them in and the results are now showing,” Brady continued. “Because of our outstanding training facility at the Academy for Mine Safety and Energy Technologies, our teams are able to practice under these conditions on a regular basis.”

Joining Brady as trainers are Mark Gouzd, Ed Rannenberg and John Sabo, who was recently inducted into the National Coal Mine Rescue Hall of Fame.



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