36 teams are competing in the annual Post 5 Mine Rescue Competition. Each team will work on several tasks during the two day competition, including an 80 minute mine rescue operation.
"It's not so much that they're competing against one another, they're competing against the problem to see which team can work the problem in the fastest manner with the least amount of mistakes," said Greg Fetty, from the Mine Safety and Health Administration in Morgantown. "What we try to do is create a scenario that would be closest to an underground experience."
Placards are turned over when the teams are completing the operation to show them what they are faced with.
Teams wait far enough away from the course so they don't know what they will be up against.
"We're in lock up., it's an isolation area," said Justin Scott, the captain of the Federal No. 2 Mine Rescue Team. "All the teams that are waiting to work the problem are waiting in here. When the teams out on the field are finished they'll call us one by one to go work the problem."
Teams are kept away from the problem to make dealing with it as real as possible. The tasks are meant to be team building and to get as close to a real problem solving situation as possible.
"I don't think anything really prepares you for a real life situation," said Fetty. "I've been involved in a couple of those myself, and it's very tense. As far as the simulation of the problem, that part is correct. I don't think you could ever simulate a real life situation with a real life disaster because it's total chaos."
Mine Rescue Teams are comprised of volunteers.
"Grab a hold of your hoses, inhale, exhale, make sure you got a good seal," Scott said as he checked his team's equipment before the Mine Rescue Competition began.
The teams are required to compete in at least two competitions each year.
"The more time you spend together training, the more prepared you are," said Scott. "You know what your buddies going to do before he does it, and the more time you spend with each other the better you are ready for that."
The winners will be announced Thursday evening after the First Aid Competition.