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  1. #1
    Sr. Information Officer NJFFSA16's Avatar
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    Question Methane explosion-and the Rescuers

    I just don't know what I would have done....mine shafts are certainly out of my realm of expertise.

    CAMERON, W.Va. (AP) - When no one else volunteered to plunge
    into an exploded air shaft at a Marshall County mine early
    Wednesday morning, two sheriff's deputies descended 940 feet into
    the earth to rescue three injured workers.
    A methane explosion at about 1 a.m. Wednesday killed three
    workers and injured three others as they dug an air shaft for an
    underground mine operated by a Consol Energy Inc. subsidiary,
    officials said.
    "Nobody would get the guys out, so we had to jump in," Deputy
    Brent Wharry said. "We just did what we do every day. This one is
    just blown out of proportion."
    Wharry and Deputy Steve Cook entered the air shaft an hour after
    the explosion after local emergency workers said they did not have
    proper training for such a rescue. The emergency workers said they
    wanted to wait for a mine rescue team to arrive, Wharry said.
    As smoke wafted out of the 25-foot-wide hole, the deputies
    descended to the shaft's bottom in a 5-foot-wide bucket attached to
    a crane. The deputies made one descent into the shaft, and pulled
    crew boss Richard Brumley, Benjamin Bair and Aaron Meyer into the
    bucket.
    Wharry, traumatized by the scene, declined to discuss specifics.
    "It was a long trip down and a long trip back, but what
    happened in between was something you can't describe," Wharry
    said. "The whole deal, going in there, I just don't want to talk
    about it. I just wish anybody would do that if it was me."
    The victims were identified as David Abel, 47, of Belmont, Ohio;
    Richard Mount, 37, of Shadyside, Ohio; and Harry P. Roush III, 23,
    of Clover, Pa., said C.A. Phillips, deputy director of the state
    Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training.
    The bodies were removed at about 1 p.m.
    The father of Meyer, 28, of Moundsville said his son had been
    treated and released from Reynolds Memorial Hospital in Glen Dale.
    "I saw my boy was OK and that's all I needed," said Paul
    Meyer, who lives about a mile from the site of the explosion and
    arrived on the scene around 3 a.m.
    Brumley, 51, of Waynesburg, Pa., and Bair, 23, of Pentress were
    being treated at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh.
    Dr. Alain Corcos, a trauma and burn surgeon at Mercy Hospital,
    said Bair was in critical condition Wednesday afternoon. Bair was
    being treated for second-degree burns, multiple fractures, internal
    injuries and smoke inhalation.
    Brumley is in serious condition but isn't expected to be
    hospitalized long, Corcos said. He has second-degree burns,
    puncture wounds to his left thigh and knee and a concussion.
    Tests conducted Wednesday indicate that the explosion was caused
    by methane, though state and federal investigators haven't
    determined what ignited the explosion, Phillips said.
    State and federal officials, along with representatives of both
    Consol and Central Cambria Drilling of Ebensburg, Pa., a contractor
    hired to dig the air shaft, planned to investigate the site
    Thursday morning.
    Investigators also hope to interview Meyer on Thursday.
    The McElroy mine, which employs about 400 people, produces coal
    from the Pittsburgh No. 8 seam, which "is known to release
    methane," said Terry Farley, administrator of the state office of
    Miners' Health Safety and Training.
    "Whether they had penetrated the coal seam at the time ... I
    don't know."
    The air shaft being dug was not finished. About 60 feet remained
    between the bottom of the shaft and the coal seam, said Thomas
    Hoffman, vice president of investor and public relations for
    Pittsburgh-based Consol Energy.
    "The mine itself is not in the area; it's several thousand feet
    away. There is no physical connection between the bottom of the
    shaft and the coal mine," Hoffman said.
    The mine was not affected by the explosion.
    The three deaths are the first mine-related fatalities in West
    Virginia this year, Farley said. Last year, six people were killed
    in mine accidents in West Virginia.
    ---
    On the Net:
    Consol Energy: www.consolenergy.com

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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  2. #2
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    Alert the cop bashers...here we go again!

    It is very difficult to figure out all the details of this incident from this article. So, in general...

    No one should attempt a confined space rescue without the prope training and equipment. We know that no one on the scene had the proper training. But what we don't know is if the rescuers were wearing any type of PPE or breathing apparatus. I would assume that they did because they are alive.

    Regardless of the outcome of the rescue, my bet is that some agency like OSHA is going to have a field day with this one.

  3. #3
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    First off, Kudos to the Officers, Great job!!!!!

    Secondly, you are right George, NIOSH is the appropriate organization to deal with whether what was done was right or wrong. Let's keep discussion to maybe some similar experiences that others may have had.

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    MembersZone Subscriber CJMinick390's Avatar
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    I would like to commend the deputies. They were brave guys who stuck their necks out and they had a positive outcome to their actions. I also have no problem with anyone who refused to go down there without the proper training and equipment. I certainly would not have done it.
    Chris Minick, P.E., Firefighter II
    Structures Specialist, MD-TF 1

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    You guys kill me. You want to crucify a cop who took a ladder to rescue people off a balcony, but you glorify acops who violate every confined space regulation in the book.

    Can you say hypocrite?

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber CJMinick390's Avatar
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    Hey George, FYI I wasn't one of the guys who had a problem with the police using a ladder at the other incident you're referring to. I don't appreciate the broad brush statement and being labelled a hypocrite. Enough about that.

    If someone believes they can make a rescue with acceptable risk to themselves (and the individual has to make that judgement for themselves), they should go for it regardless of who they are and what training they have. I do get concerned about people who get out of control and end up adding to our problems. Obviously this did not happen in either of these situations.

    There is a certain element of the firefighting community (we all know some of them) who have problems when a "civilian" performs a rescue because it deprives these folks of the oppurtunity to "be a hero."
    Last edited by CJMinick390; 01-24-2003 at 09:38 AM.
    Chris Minick, P.E., Firefighter II
    Structures Specialist, MD-TF 1

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    Commendable or plain stupid, we cant really tell from the article, but how many times in the past have we heard of rescue workers being overcome and losing their lives trying to rescue victims from wells, tanks, silos etc. I agree with George on this one, Those cops are certainly brave to have done this, and nobody would disagree with that......BUT, did they have SCBA? ithey did then fine, but if not, then they are very lucky to still be here

  8. #8
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    George,
    You really need to make the targets of your comments more precise than "you guys". Many of us in the cops 'n ladders thread (including me) supported giving the officer the ladder.

    My perspective is this: if you need help and there is someone there who is reliable and can help with a pretty good expectation of safety and a good outcome - use them. A cop laddering the outside of a building meets that criteria most probably. I'm a lot more cautious about entering a confined space with a known hazardous atmosphere. Quotes from the news will never contain the level of detail we'd like to have to really evaluate the specifics of the circumstances.

    Very simply, your life and health is precious, as is everyone's. I'm going to be protective of it whether you were a cop, firefighter, or a civilian that day. I'm going to be conservative about risking it unless I know that training, protective equipment, or something is going to give you a clear edge over the dangers. Also, I want to know that there's at least a fair chance of some good outcome: salvageable victim, ability to stop major property damage, etc.

    PS: the best bashing I did of a cop was with a 1 3/4" when he made some smart ***** comments during training. It's amazing how wet a cruiser and cop can get in the time it takes for an electric window to go up. Wish it had been a foam line......
    Proud to be honored with IACOJ membership. Blessed by TWO meals cooked by Cheffie - a true culinary goddess. Expressing my own views, not my organization's.

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    I would just like to say that Bravery is a form of madness because as we call them here in nj the blue canarys are usually the best indicator of what is going on. As being confined space rescue certified, i fell as though without the proper training these police officers are just doing the John Wayne. The proper way to handle the situation would have been to wait for the proper teams to arrive and take care of the problem with the proper training and equipment. These people took their lives into their own hands and i commend them for that, but in my opinion it was irational and down right stupid. If anyone else is faced with a situation like that just think about if you want to go home that night or if you want to become one of the growing statistics that we in the Fire/Rescue service have to see all to often.
    What are the irons? Is that a Hillside thing?

  10. #10
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    Lightbulb Headlines....

    The headlines in the newspaper might read something like this...

    "SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES SAVE 3 IN DARING MINE RESCUE"
    Local rescuers wait for mine rescue team...


    First off, Congrats to the deputies on the rescue!

    A big hand is also in order for the officer who made the decision to decline the rescue attempt because of the lack of training. The fire service needs officers that can make the hard decisions when it really matters. This must have been an extremely hard call to make. But it was the right one!!

    Let's look at the situation,

    -Methane gas explosion 900+ feet underground.
    -Ignition source unknown
    -Atmosphere unknown...More methane? Oxygen deficient? smoke/fire?
    -Structural stability of shaft unknown...Collapse hazard?

    Oh Yeah, I almost forgot...RESCUERS NOT TRAINED FOR MINE RESCUE!

    I guess some might believe that the officer was simply covering his *****. Others, myself included, choose to believe that he took his responsibility to heart and put his people first. "Everybody Goes Home". You have to decide for yourself.

    Mine rescue is about as specialized as it gets. and no rural fire/rescue department can pull together the money and resources to cover the expense and training requirements to do it properly. Mine rescue teams exist for this reason. When you call them, they show up as fast as possible with the knowledge, experience, training and equipment to get the job done. But this is not a five minute ride in a BIG RED TRUCK. It takes several hours to get a team deployed and in place.

    Here come the deputies...

    Local Fire/Rescue is on scene and has determined that they do not have the resources in place and have requested the response of a mine rescue team.

    Deputy Brent Wharry looks around and doesn't see the local fire/rescue folks rapelling down the 900 foot shaft like he saw on a rerun of EMERGENCY! as a kid, and declares that "Nobody would get the guys out, so we had to jump in." Next thing you know, the deputies are being lowered down the shaft in a bucket by a crane.

    We don't know what they had for PPE, Someone here asked about SCBA. Would you REALLY want to be lowered 900+ feet down a shaft with a 30 minute bottle?? NOT ME!! Air samples? Structural integrity of shaft walls? Oh Yeah, Same problem...DEPUTIES NOT TRAINED IN MINE RESCUE!

    The headlines in the paper might have read something like this:

    TWO SHERIFFS DEPUTIES DIE IN MINE RESCUE ATTEMPT
    Mine Rescue Team Was Enroute





    Just My Take on Things,

    Stay Safe,

    Jim
    Last edited by AVFR452; 01-24-2003 at 09:50 PM.

  11. #11
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    because as we call them here in nj the blue canarys are usually the best indicator of what is going on.
    Who's we? The only people in NJ who use that term are disrespectful vol. FF.

  12. #12
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    I admire their bravery. They were successful in the rescue, had they been unsuccessful and perished they would have been dead right. I may not agree with what they did but George I think you know me somewhat enough that I am not a hypocrite nor a cop basher.

    I wasn't at the scene, don't know the circumstances. Would I have done it myself? Probably not. As I said, NIOSH will deal with them far more appropriately than we ever could here.

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