WVPA Sharing

WVU team sweeps international mine rescue competition


By Brittany Furbee, Communications Specialist

Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.— The Mine Rescue Team from West Virginia University’s Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources were crowned champions of the 2023 Intercollegiate Mine Emergency Rescue Development.

The event was held on Feb. 22-24 in Idaho Springs, Colorado.  

This MERD is an international and intercollegiate competition that is hosted every other year by the Colorado School of Mines. This year, the competition included seven teams from the United States, Canada and Germany.  

“The achievement is significant for our students, the mine rescue program and Stater College as the mining industry recognizes the commitment to excellence by all involved,” said Josh Brady, director of mining and industrial extension. “If a young adult wants to learn about mining emergency response, WVU has set the standard. We don’t take a break in reaching our goals.” 

Throughout the competition, teams were challenged to compete in four categories. The first was a team mine rescue exercise where students had to compete underground in the Edgar Experimental Mine to search for missing miners, provide first aid to injured miners and rescue a simulated miner that was stranded two stories in the air by using high angle rope rescue techniques.  

The next two categories were the induvial BG-4 bench and 240-R bio bench. These skills competitions measured the abilities of individual team members to trouble shoot issues with types of breathing apparatuses typically worn by mine rescue teams, including broken or bugged equipment.  

The last category was first aid, which challenged teams to respond to a simulated mine explosion that was organized by the host organization. Actors were used in the simulation to play victims and mine rescue teams had to utilize their training to respond appropriately during the emergency to save those in distress.  

Members of the WVU’s Mine Rescue Team beat out the competition to win first place in every category and become the overall competition champions.  

“The success of Mountaineer Mine Rescue is our work ethic,” said Brady. “No one out works us. We practice longer, study harder and want it more. You have to remember for Mining Extension, emergency response is the backbone of who we are. This is a way of life and its personal.”  

“Mine Rescue competitions are more than a game to our WVU Mine Rescue teams,” said John Helmick, mining and industrial extension agent and mine rescue trainer. “Our students see the application to their upcoming careers and practice like professionals.”  

Students on the WVU Mine Rescue Team include mining and civil engineering majors Joshua Riffle, Megan Sibley and Brian Welsh, mining engineering majors Dawson Apple, Dylan Shilling and Justin Waybright, biology major Troy Whiton and geology major Thomas Spotloe.  

“I’m impressed and humbled by the commitment from every student involved,” said Sean Rhodes, mining and industrial extension agent and mine rescue trainer. “Who else practices at 6 a.m. three days a week? No one! Our students want to be the best and continue working hard for it.”  

Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit