KNOX COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – The Vectren Corporation, which owns a coal mine operated by Black Panther Mining Corporation, touted the quick actions exhibited by miners Tuesday, in an effort that officials say likely saved a man’s life.
Coal miners on Monday cut a man free from a piece of machinery, officials stated, after he became trapped while crews attempted to move a conveyor belt.
The staffer, who Vectren officials would not identify, was airlifted to an Indianapolis hospital following the accident. A spokesperson said the staffer sustained injuries to the chest and sternum early Monday morning during a routine procedure where miners move a conveyor belt; the belt itself had been switched off and was not operating at the time of the incident.
In what could be a very dangerous situation, coal mine experts explained to News 10 that miners are trained for all types of dangerous scenarios, including underground injury.
Greg Gibson, director of Vincennes University’s Miner Training Program, said coal mines typically will train staffers from their hire date, through their career.
Experts stated, analyzing an injury underground requires reactive thinking.
“The most critical factor is to get there as quick as they can and get the situation assessed and obviously the care taken care of,” said Gibson. In many cases, Gibson noted, underground miners can be between 500 to 1,000 feet away from the mine’s entry point.
However, because of the underground limitations, all miners receive training that allows them to assess an injury well before the injured makes it to the surface.
“These people known as the seal teams of the mines, they’re trained vigorously,’ said Gibson. “They watch each others back and obviously the best thing they can do is to work safe and come out alive.
The quick thinking action of the injured miner’s colleagues would also come into play.
Vectren Corporation’s Director of Corporate Communications, Chase Kelley, told News 10 miners addressed the situation in a matter of moments.
“They worked very aggressively as soon as they heard him, they worked to cut him free, and certainly probably helped lessen his damages or potentially saved his life,” said Kelley.
Gibson told News 10 Vincennes University as well as Mine Operators, train staffers continuously as the mining industry continues to evolve.
“In a dangerous environment to begin with, you have to have that kind of credentials, they know what to do, how to do it, when to do it and they’re really good at it,” said Gibson.