SULLIVAN, Ind. -- As part of a surface mine emergency team at Peabody Energy's Bear Run Mine, Jason A. Bradbury has trained to remove people off of heavy mining equipment in the event of a medical emergency or injury.
It's not an easy task.
"In a surface mine, we are dealing with trucks and equipment that have (operator) cabs that are 20 feet or 25 feet in the air, with ladders or walkways designed for one person to walk up and down but are not designed to carry someone down," Bradbury told the Tribune-Star (http://bit.ly/1A93Y87 ).
That's where a new device - the JB1 Extrication Slide - invented by Bradbury makes a medical or injury rescue far safer, easier and faster than lowering someone in a basket using ropes.
Bradbury's steel, light tubular frames align with a typical "Stokes Basket," a caged basket often seen in mountain or other high altitude rescues, allowing the basket to be lowered like a slide off of heavy equipment. And sections can be added or removed to adjust to various heights of different mining equipment.
"It really saves us a lot of effort because before we just had ropes and as the basket broke over the top, over the plane, the basket would rock," said Brian Schroeder, day shift surface mine emergency team commander at Bear Run Mine and an emergency medical technician for the Carlisle Fire Department.
"This JB1 is a more stable platform for the (basket) to ride down and it is a lot quicker. I can use less rope and get the same job done. It is safer for both my guys on the team and the patient," Schroeder said. "This is a vast improvement. Anytime you can do anything to make a job safer and still get the same outcome, you've done something great."
Peabody Energy's Bear Run Mine in Sullivan County is the largest surface mine east of the Mississippi River, currently generating 8.5 million tons of coal annually. Machinery includes "standard" coal hauling trucks, each carry 240 tons of coal.
"The (operator) cabs are in a really confined space and if you have to get somebody out of there, you have to start taking doors off and handrails off, but with this, we can take a person out the passenger door and put them in the basket and go," said Tom Collins, a mining truck driver and member of Bear Run's SMET. "It's nice knowing that we have that option" of using Bradbury's invention.
Collins added that if required, medical equipment can be placed in the basket and easily brought up the JB1 to the cab for the patient. "It's a vast improvement for our (SMET) team," he said.
Bradbury first thought of the device in 2013, getting a provisional patent and bringing it to a regional SMET team competition that included miners from several Peabody Energy mines. But it wasn't smooth sailing. "We had issues with different equipment, different brands and sizes of equipment," Bradbury said.
That sparked him to work to fix those issues. He reconfigured how the slide attaches to handrails on mining equipment. He replaced a hook with a square channel, which uses pins to lock the device in place. It fits on any handrail, despite the manufacturer of the mining equipment. He also worked to develop sections that allow the slide to adjust to various heights.
"The company allowed me during training days to test it out and work with my SMET team on this," Bradbury said. Now, a model that will meet welding and strength certifications is being developed at PDF Manufacturing in Brazil. Bradbury intends to obtain a full patent on the JB1 this year. Bear Run Mine will be the first buyer of the device, one Bradbury hopes to market to miners worldwide.
Bear Run Mine has about 120 people working per shift. Of those, about 75 people operate equipment where the JB1 Extrication Slide would be utilized.
"Our biggest value here is safety and our people," said Brandon Risner, general manager of Bear Run Mine. "That is what that in-house surface mine emergency team is all about and is capable of extricating guys off of any piece of equipment out here. These SMET guys are pretty innovative and Jason did this all on his own, developing it with his own materials and time," Risner said.
"In an emergency, we have to get a guy off quick and this device that Jason has come up with is pretty handy for that."
Information from: Tribune-Star, http://www.tribstar.com