In the mines rescue you are trained to use the breathing apparatus under water
In the mines rescue you are trained to use the breathing apparatus under water.
You have a practice every two years in a swimming pool. It is an experience and shows how good the equipment is. In the practice you wear a diver's belt to help you get under the water.
The first test is just wading without the BA under the water and then you slowly walk to deeper water. You can feel the resistance with your breathing the more submerged the BA goes. It is hard to force the air out.
After a lap of the pool, the hard work starts. You have to swim to the bottom of the pool and do half a lap touching the bottom. I feel exhausted thinking about it! I don't know why but I found it harder than the rest and seemed to be swimming like mad to keep to the bottom.
One of the other tests was to drop your weight belt to the bottom of the pool and retrieve it! Doing all this in darkness would be something else mind.
The funny thing however is, although we are trained to go under water we are not allowed to. If the water reached the bottom of the SEFA unit we have to pull back. I think if it was possible to go on with not much danger i.e if the water dropped away immediately we had gone through, I think all these decision would be taken by the men in charge.
I have heard of a rescue that has been done under water once with North Sea divers being involved. They only got so far and gave up with the darkness. Some rescue men, led by two from Houghton, who are professional divers, managed to make it further than the North Sea divers! I am not sure what happened after this. I think in most cases today pumps would be used to simply pump the water away.
All told it was good to see the American miners all come out safe and well. As I have said before the water is really cold and can take your breath away.
The next time I send you some news I will let you know of the entrapment procedure we did in our training.
Mines Rescue Entrapment.(Saturday 24th August 2002)
My mines rescue pager was finally handed back, thankfully never used and so ends a short time in the mines rescue, although I hope will come in handy in the future. I still need to go back for my first aid refresher every three years so I will still keep in touch with the station.
The entrapment procedure we went through was fairly simple. If ever we got trapped our selves we had two options.
The first option was to dig like crazy but bearing in mind the amount of oxygen we had left in our packs. The more work you do the quicker it gets used up. It would all depend on how big the fall was.
The second option would be to wait for help. The only trouble is you only have 2 hours (+20 %) of air in a full charge. So you would have to hope help comes quick.
You can make the packs last longer than this, up to 24 hours and maybe longer.
What happens if you are trapped with a group would be to calm people down. Use your cap lamp on the secondary bulb or only have one light on.
The next part is a bit scary. On the packs is the knob to switch the air on and off. You reach down the side of the pack and switch off, and wait till you use all the oxygen up. It is not a nice feeling at all struggling to get air. Very scary.
The worst bit however was turning back on. Some of the knobs are hard to turn on and when you go for that twist and cannot seem to get it to turn it is frightening and all this is happening when you are fighting for air in the darkness. After a while however you get used to the turning on and off but not a nice experience at all.