KCA Hosts State's First Regional Skills Competition

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System’s Kentucky Coal Academy (KCA) will be hosting a Regional Skills Mine Rescue Competition in July, the first of its kind to be offered in Kentucky. The competition will take place at the KCA’s Mine Emergency Response Academy (MERA) in Madisonville, and will be overseen by members of the nationally award-winning KCA-Madisonville Mine Rescue Team and the team’s director, Danny Knott.

“We’re excited to offer this,” Knott said. “It’s another competing tool we can use to sharpen the skills of our mine rescue team members across the nation. A Regional Skills Competition is somewhat different than your traditional mine rescue competition in that more specialty elements are added such as actual firefighting.” According to Knott, contests that are a part of the planned event include firefighting, calibration of breathing instruments, administration of first aid while under a breathing apparatus, assessing the conditions of smoke-filled areas, as well as written tests. A “control burn,” which is a fire under supervised conditions, will also take place at the MERA facility as part of the Regional Skills Competition. “This is a great way to utilize MERA,” Knott said. “A training facility like MERA goes a long way in making miners more prepared if a disaster like a mine fire erupts. Having the almost real environment that MERA creates will make miners who undergo fire brigade training and take part in our Regional Skills Competition better equipped and super prepared.”

While Regional Skills Competitions have taken place in locations such as Beckley, West Virginia, and in Pennsylvania, Knott said he felt the competition could be greatly utilized in Kentucky as well. Knott visited similar out-of-state competitions and lent his assistance with the planning and execution. Now, he said, he was bringing the competition “home” for Kentucky’s coal miners. “Our guys – members of the Kentucky Coal Academy Mine Rescue Team - will help with judging and other competition logistics,” Knott said. “We’re really looking forward to this and being the first to host a Regional Skills Competition in our area. The winners at our competition will also qualify for the 2012 National Mine Rescue Skills Championship in Beckley, West Virginia.”

MERA opened in March of 2011. Located at 150 School Avenue in Madisonville, MERA was established because of the need in the Western Coalfields to have more coal miners trained in combating mine fires. MERA offers state-of-the-art training to coal miners on how to react to and extinguish fires erupting in confined spaces. MERA can also be utilized by any fire department needing training in combating structure fires. It was funded through the Kentucky Coal Academy in partnership with the West Kentucky Workforce Investment Board.

The Kentucky Coal Academy’s Regional Skills Competition is scheduled for Tuesday, July 31. For more information about the event, contact Danny Knott at 270.824.1774.

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