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Hutchinson, Kan – Carla Monroe, training specialist for Underground Vaults and Storage (UV&S), is also a member of the award winning Hutchinson Salt Mine Rescue Team. Monroe, the only female in the state of Kansas on a rescue team, along with seven other team members from the Hutchinson Salt Company has placed first in both first aid and field competitions four consecutive times this season.
Monroe explained that mine rescue teams, “are used to rescue survivors that are trapped in mines and to recover mines so normal operations can resume.” The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) require that all mines have 2 fully equipped and trained teams.
When asked how she became interested in joining a team, Monroe stated “At a previous job, I typed up information for the mine rescue team. One day, I asked my boss if I could take one of the written tests. After that, I was hooked.”
Being a member of the Hutchinson Salt Mine Rescue Team requires dedication. Each team is required by MSHA to participate in four hours of training on a monthly basis. The Hutchinson Salt Mine team requires 8 hours each month in addition to outside time for textbook studies. A typical competition consists of 4 main parts. These include a written test for underground, a field test for underground, a written test for first aid, and a field test for first aid. Monroe pointed out that “All results are based on how the team as a whole scores. The most challenging thing for me is the pressure I put on myself to not let the team down when doing my part.”
The knowledge and skills that members of the Hutchinson Salt Mine Rescue team have are critical in emergency situations. Monroe stated that “having these skills can minimize the number of lives that are lost in a true mine emergency. Knowing how ventilation works, where to build barricades, and how to make airlocks to maintain good air are all important when trying to rescue someone trapped underground.”
Employees at UV&S are also trained on what to do in a rescue situation. Monroe said employees are “trained on the evacuation plan, ventilation controls, and the self-rescuer. They are also taught about issues with working underground and the uniqueness of our situation.”
The Hutchinson Salt Mine team is looking toward the future. Monroe proudly pointed out that “We are working toward winning the trophy for the best Kansas team.”