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Kentucky Coal Academy Mine Rescue team member Taber Tichenor was recently named the 2015 National Mine Rescue Bench BioPak Champion after competing in the National Mining Association s Coal Mine Rescue, First Aid, Bench and Preshift Competition, which was held Sept. 14-17 in Lexington.

Tichenor, also of Armstrong Coal Company, Inc., Kronos Mine, was one of 43 individuals competing in the Bench BioPak 240R Competition, where miners are given 30 minutes to inspect and ensure self-contained breathing apparatuses work properly.

"I always appreciate the opportunity to compete in these type of events so I can be best prepared to protect the safety of myself and my mining community," said Tichenor. "Miners share a strong bond, and as many of us work closely on a daily basis and become like family, it s important we test our skills and knowledge so we re there for one another if called upon in a real-life emergency situation.

During the four-day event, 65 teams from 12 states also competed in individual first aid and preshift competitions, as well as the two-day mine rescue team competition, all administered by the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The last thing we ever want to experience is a disaster, but we do have to consistently test our emergency preparedness skills in case we re faced with a worse-case scenario, said Danny Knott, Mine Rescue director. National competitions are valuable because they allow us to compare our skill set with the entire nation. We are blessed to have competent reliable coal miners on this team to give their best effort in all rescue situations.

The Kentucky Coal Academy s Mine Rescue program, which operates out of Madisonville Community College, is made up of individuals working in western Kentucky area coal mines operated by Armstrong Coal Company, Inc.; KenAmerican Resources, Inc.; Pennyrile Energy LLC; and Thoroughfare Mining LLC.

For more information about the Kentucky Coal Academy s mine rescue services, please call (270) 824-1774 or (270) 871-0672.