Physical Training Prepares Miners for Rescue

Monday, September 27, 2010

SANTIAGO, CHILE – After nearly two months trapped in a collapsed copper mine, 33 miners begin training Monday for the final chapter of their underground odyssey: escape. As three simultaneous rescue operations slowly drill through 2,250 feet of solid rock, the men are receiving detailed instructions on the latest plans to haul them out one by one next month inside a torpedo-shaped rescue capsule dubbed “The Phoenix.”

A series of minor failures with drilling equipment and the challenge of carving out the nearly half-mile-long rescue tunnel have made the entire rescue operation uncertain. If the current three rescue operations fail, a Plan D calls for the men to climb ladders for hundreds of feet, a physical task so daunting that a personal trainer has been hired to coach the miners.

Jean Christophe Romagnoli, an adviser to both the Chilean military and professional athletes, has spent the past two weeks teaching the men light calisthenics in preparation for more strenuous phys-ed classes that begin Monday. “They have a two-kilometer stretch of tunnels; the men are walking the tunnels, and some of them are jogging as a group. We are using the U.S. Army fitness training as a model, so the men sing while they jog.” Romagnoli said the singing was a safety precaution to make sure the men kept their heartbeat between 120 and 140 beats per minute. “We know that if their heart rate goes above 140, they can’t sing and jog at the same time.”

Despite numerous challenges to training the men via videoconference from above, Romagnoli said the men were enthusiastic about the new routines. “One of the advantages we have is these guys are strong, they are accustomed to working their arms and upper body. This is not a sedentary population we are dealing with; they will respond quickly.” While rescue procedures call for the men to spend just 20 minutes inside the rescue cage, Romagnoli is preparing the men to stand immobile for as long as an hour. “Ideally we leave them with an ample margin of error,” he said.

Over the weekend, Chilean navy engineers delivered the first of three rescue capsules to the mine to start testing the custom-built cagelike structure. The Phoenix, painted with the colors of the Chilean flag, weighs just under 1,012 pounds and is equipped with WiFi communications and three oxygen tanks that allow the men to breathe for as long as 90 minutes. The capsule also has two emergency exits for use if the tube becomes wedged in the rescue shaft. In a worst-case scenario, the miner will be able to open the floor of the capsule and lower himself back into the depths of the mine.

Once the rescue tunnel is complete, two people – “a miner and a paramedic with rescue training” – will first be lowered into the hole, Jaime Manalich, Chile’s health minister, said as he outlined what he described as a 500-person rescue operation. Once lowered into the hole, the paramedic will administer medications and intravenous hydration to the men. Sedatives will be used if necessary to calm the men before the ride to the surface.

Using health charts and interviews, the rescue coordinators are classifying the miners into three groups: the able, the weak and the strong. The miners will be evacuated in that order, allowing the first group to serve as a test case for the more critical second group. The fittest men will be taken at the end of the operation, which is expected to last nearly two full days.

About the author: Jonathon Franklin is a special correspondent for the Washington Post, where this article was posted on September 27 .
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Tower Work and Rescue at Roco Training Center

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tower Work and Rescue at Roco Training CenterRoco Chief Instructor, Pat Furr teaches a three-man team from Anchorage, Alaska. This Tower Work & Rescue course was conducted at the Roco Training Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Despite the summer heat of the deep south, team members Tom Savage, Nathan Munford and Jeremy Waltz learned some great skills and had a memorable time. Thanks for choosing Roco for RESCUE!


 
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Fort Worth Firefighters Quickly Switch Gears to Perform Trench Rescue

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tom Vines, rescue author, shares this incredible report posted on FireFighter Nation.

Firefighters often arrive at the scene of a rescue only to find that the situation is completely different from what the 911 call reported.

This was the case on June 2, when the Fort Worth (Texas) Fire Department responded to a 911 call that reported a fallen construction crane with persons trapped. Although this wasn’t exactly what responders found when they arrived on scene, the incident shows how with the right training and preparation, it’s easy to switch gears and successfully handle any situation.

Read more at FireFighterNation.com
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Firefighter and Worker Die in Confined Space Incident

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Firefighter and Worker Die in Confined Space IncidentTARRYTOWN, NY (WABC) — A fire department official says oxygen levels were dangerously low in a manhole where a sewer worker and a firefighter died.

No cause of death has been established in Monday’s deaths of sewer worker Anthony Ruggiero and Tarrytown firefighter John Kelly. At firehouses throughout Tarrytown, there are the ceremonial displays that no department ever wants to have to put up: black and purple bunting and flags at half staff.

Inside the headquarters there’s a memorial for one of the fallen men, John Kelly. “Our prayers all go out to the families of these two men, who were doing their jobs,” Tarrytown Mayor Drew Fixell said. “One of them a firefighter, acting heroic and trying to save the other one.”

Ruggerio was trying to clear a backup of sewage as part of his full time job in the village’s Public Works Department. He was overcome by fumes and collapsed. Kelly had tried to save Ruggiero, but also the fumes overwhelmed him as well.

Assistant Fire Chief John McGee said Tuesday that a hazardous materials team measured the oxygen level at 14 percent. The normal amount of oxygen in air is about 21 percent. He said he did not know if other, deadly gases were detected. Those are life threatening conditions that may have taken the men by surprise.

Village Administrator Michael Blau said neither of the men who died had put on a protective masks before entering the manhole. He said autopsies were planned. The deaths were being investigated by federal, state and local agencies.

“It’s very, very sad,” resident Susie Poore said. “I’m speechless, because…I don’t know even what to say. I don’t know what to say, other than I must have said ‘Oh my God’ 100 times already.”

Both victims spent over 20 years as volunteer firefighters. Ruggerio was a supervisor in the DPW by trade. Kelly worked as a state Department of Transportation worker.
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Delayed Rescue Response Cited in Fatal Tunnel Fire

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Here’s another deadly reminder of the importance of a capable and timely response to confined space emergencies. Five people were killed in this fatal tunnel fire. According to OSHA, the case involving Xcel Energy and RPI Coating is not being tried until next year. After reading the official Chemical Safety Board report, here are some key findings…

    1. Did not have adequate technical rescue services standing by at the Permit Required Confined Space.       “911″ was listed on paperwork. Took the rescue team 1 hr and 15   mins to arrive at the site.
    2. Confined space was assessed as Non-PRCS even though the inability to self rescue and the introduction of MEK.
    3. RPI did not have an adequate confined space program.
    4. No hazard analysis was conducted.
    5. Not recognizing that 10% LEL or higher is an IDLH condition.
    6. Workers were located over 1400 ft away from where atmospheric monitoring was being performed.

Article below written by: P. Solomon Banda, Associated Press Writer

DENVER – The U.S. Chemical Safety Board slammed Xcel Energy Inc. on Monday for the company’s handling of the aftermath of a tunnel fire that killed five workers at a hydroelectric plant, as well as for a host of “troubling episodes.”

The board cited the electric and gas utility’s failure to cooperate in the agency’s probe and said that investigators had to turn to the U.S. Attorney’s Office Civil Division in Denver to compel the company to turn over information. “Xcel Energy believes it has always cooperated and acted responsibly and continues to be fully committed to safety as a core value and an operational priority,” the company said in a statement.

The board, an independent federal agency that investigates serious chemical accidents and makes safety recommendations, plans to release its final report and recommendations Wednesday. That report comes about two weeks after Xcel decided to release a draft version after initially trying to block it. The company feared it would be released close to the criminal trial in the case, possibly influencing jurors.

Xcel, contractor RPI Coating and RPI executives Philippe Goutagny and James Thompson each are charged with violating U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards. They’re expected to go on trial next year. The safety board said the report wasn’t complete that it had instructed Xcel to keep the draft confidential. Xcel also said it wanted to release the draft report because the company wanted to show that the board excluded findings of a gap in OSHA standards.

Xcel and the board are at odds over whether OSHA regulations were sufficient or clear enough to ensure worker safety. The board says the utility should have had a specially trained rescue crew on-hand in emergencies, rather than calling 911 as directed by Xcel’s plan. The tunnel fire started when flammable vapors ignited on a machine that was being used to spray a coat of epoxy sealant on a portion of a 4,000-foot-long water pipe, trapping five of nine workers inside the pipe.

Specially trained rescue crews didn’t arrive until an hour and a half after the fire started. Donald Dejaynes, 43, Dupree Holt, 37, James St. Peters, 52, Gary Foster, 48, Anthony Aguirre, 18 – all from California – ultimately died from smoke inhalation.

In the letter sent Monday to Xcel CEO Richard Kelly, the board said Xcel’s “unprecedented” legal action to block the report delayed its release and diverted resources from other investigations. “In the wake of the corporate responsibility concerns raised by the Big Branch Mine accident in West Virginia and the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, I strongly urge Xcel to renew its focus on safety and to swiftly implement the CSB’s recommendations,” wrote Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso.

This link is from an online magazine:
http://www.hazardexonthenet.net/article.aspx?AreaID=2&ArticleID=36075

This link is the official 145 page CSB report:
http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/media/site36/2010/0816/20100816_021722_Xcel%20Energy_Plant_Report.pdf
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