Harrison County Gets New Mine Training Center

Photo by Dylan McKenzie A mine rescue team trains at the new Mine Safety Training Center in Cadiz, dragging a stretcher to simulate rescuing an injured miner.

Miners in Ohio have a new place to learn how to handle disasters with the opening of a new Mine Safety Training Center in Harrison County.

The opening of the new facility, located on Industrial Park Drive in Cadiz, was attended by a number of state, county and village officials. James Zehringer, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, welcomed everyone and thanked them for the hard work they put into this project. He gave credit to the Harrison County commissioners, the Cadiz and Harrison County Community Improvement Corp. and Cadiz Mayor Ken Zitko.

“We are committed to the safety and training of miners in the state, and we hope that this facility only reinforces that commitment,” Zehringer said. “This training is necessary to keep our miners safe.”

Zitko and Commissioner Dale Norris also spoke to the small crowd, again thanking those in attendance for their support. Zitko, who is a former coal miner himself, said he knows firsthand the dangers that can come from working in both underground and surface mines, and he is happy that area workers now have a facility where they can train to save lives.

Officials took a brief tour of the facility as mine rescue workers began a training session. The facility consists of a number of narrow hallways that are painted black.

Members of the rescue team checked their gear, including packs that can hold up to four hours’ worth of oxygen. They then moved out, assessing the conditions of the simulation and dragging along a stretcher to simulate an injured man being pulled to safety. Smoke was pumped into the room to help heighten its resemblance to a real mine, where visibility would be very limited.

Butch Dyer, the mine safety manager, said the new training facility can help prepare miners for a number of different scenarios, including fires, cave-ins and other potential situations that might crop up in a mine. Dyer said mine rescue teams have to attend 96 hours of training each year and must attend two mine rescue competitions to stay qualified. He added that ever since the Sago mine disaster in West Virginia — where, in 2006, 12 miners lost their lives after an explosion trapped them underground — mine rescue training and technology has advanced.

“The self-contained self-rescue training has gotten a lot better,” Dyer said, referring to portable oxygen sources made available to miners to help them survive until a specialized rescue team can reach them.

Dyer added he is also looking forward to the second phase of the project, which involves classrooms and storage buildings being built on site to allow for a greater variety of classes and training to occur.

The training facility is not just for miners — firefighters, paramedics, police and others can use the building for their own drills and training scenarios as needed.