Bevill State Community College has received a Brookwood-Sago Grant in the amount of 77,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to develop Virtual Mine Emergency Training (VEMT).
VEMT will fill a safety gap for underground coal mines initially in Alabama and for mines across the United States at full implementation by providing safety training through video technology to mine emergency command center personnel, mine rescue teams, and a larger mine workforce.
“Bevill State’s mine training program is known throughout the Southeast for its training expertise,” said Bevill State President Anne McNutt. “Specialized training projects such as these are costly and we are very fortunate to have received several grants to assist in producing this mine safety training. We appreciate that our leaders recognize the importance of mine safety by supporting our programs through funding and grants for single mothers.”
The VEMT project will extend the training opportunities for miners that the College established in 2008. The Project Mine Emergency Command Center Training (MECCT) was developed as part of the Brookwood-Sago program and trained over 200 individuals. MECCT established a unique training opportunity between command center personnel and mine rescue teams to rehearse their actions in the event of a mine disaster. The program allowed these two groups to practice disaster scenarios together simultaneously and build communication and trust that is critical in the early stages of an emergency.
Through the VEMT program, safety videos will be created that can be shown either as one whole training video or utilized as 10 to 15 minute segments and shown in safety meetings or at other appropriate times.
“The MECCT training program was a huge success,” said Ken Russell, Director of Mine Training at BSCC and Project Coordinator of MECCT and VEMT. “However, we were limited to the number of employees that could be trained on-site. We felt by offering the training in a virtual environment, by the use of DVD or through the Internet, we could ultimately help improve safety for many others across the Southeast and ultimately the nation.”
Russell explained that the limitations of on-site training such as geography, the costs associated with transporting individuals from other states to Alabama for training, and the number of trainees that could be trained on-site, prevented much needed training for the larger mine workforce.
VEMT will take the concepts developed in MECCT and expand them by developing video-training modules that can be shown to critical response staff as well as the entire mine. Content for VEMT will be developed and then piloted to the workforce in seven mines in north Alabama.
VEMT will train over 2,500 miners who would be directly involved in a mine emergency from seven mine operations in Alabama. The project will develop training and safety videos along with a Training Manual with appropriate policies and procedures and a sample checklist of responsibilities for each person involved in an emergency situation. The manual will be provided in electronic format to the administrators of the mines participating in the simulation training.
BSCC is well-established throughout the mining community. The mining department is the home of the Alabama Mining Training Consortium and the Alabama Mining Academy, which has provided the state’s training for new and existing miners for over three decades.