"Obama's An Idiot" is where my political bitches now live. Go ye thereto and read.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Mine Rescue Summary

I wanted to post the entire story, in case the link went away. Worth a read.
Mine Rescuer Recounts W.Va. Recovery

By JIM SUHR, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 19 minutes ago

ST. LOUIS - When Brett Bushong emerged from the Sago Mine, he saw a floodlit army of ambulances, a swarm of medical workers and anguished expressions on onlookers' faces.

The lone survivor of the Jan. 2 explosion had just been brought to the surface barely alive, but Bushong and the other members of the Illinois-based mine rescue team didn't have the other 12 missing men.

"Everyone was looking at us as if saying, `Where's everyone else?' My heart drops to the floor. I couldn't look them in the eye," Bushong told The Associated Press.

"I felt like we let everyone in the nation, and the families, down. I feel good that I aided in the rescue of the one survivor, getting him out and getting him care. But it does bother me that we couldn't bring the other guys out."

Bushong, 26, recounted publicly for the first time Thursday what the crew from the Viper Mine in central Illinois witnessed at the Sago Mine. A month after the explosion left 12 miners dead and one clinging to life, the images are still vivid in his mind.

As an emergency medical technician and volunteer firefighter, Bushong, who works as a diesel mechanic, said he was accustomed to handling trauma victims. Mine-rescue training and competitions had prepared him for duty, but Sago was the first time he was called.

Hours after the explosion, Bushong and others on the Viper team were whisked by private jet to West Virginia, learning along the way that 13 miners were trapped deep inside the mine.

The next day, the team was sent in to retrieve the first body found — Terry Helms, who had been killed by the explosion. Farther inside the mine, the search continued for the rest of the men.

The crew was about to remove Helms when a federal mine-safety inspector shouted to them to come quickly. Another crew had found a survivor — Randal McCloy was clinging to life with labored breathing and an elevated pulse. Bushong and a crewmate hustled to help him.

"I didn't think he had much of a chance," Bushong said by telephone from his home in Athens, Ill. "His life was leaving his body pretty rapidly."

McCloy was rushed to the hospital, and the crew came to the surface to regroup, he said. About 20 minutes later, they were sent back into the mine to retrieve the other 12 miners.

"We were told we were going to be doing the dirty work," Bushong said. "We took it upon ourselves that it had to be done."

Bushong said the remaining miners were found cloistered together, looking as if they were on break. Some were sitting upright against the mine's craggy wall, others were lying down, he said. One had his hands folded, apparently in prayer as carbon monoxide slowly put him eternally to sleep.

Bushong meticulously went to each twice, gently feeling for a pulse. All of them were cold, their bodies stiffening.

"What bothered me was that it looked like the way it is when I'm at home, when we have down time and everybody in our unit would all get around in a central point and all talk about things, joke around," Bushong said.

Accompanied by two federal mining inspectors, the crew logged the name and
Social Security number on brass tags each of the dead had on his belt, as required by federal law for identification purposes. The crew noted how and where the bodies were found, then gently placed them in body bags and carried, then carted, them out.

Bushong and others in his group helped retrieve notes each miner had scrawled, left on their bodies or in their lunch boxes.

"None of us read it. We didn't want to tamper with it," Bushong said. "We just wanted to respect them."

McCloy came out of a coma just last week and is recovering at a Morgantown, W.Va., rehabilitation hospital. Doctors have said he might have suffered brain damage from the carbon monoxide poisoning, but the extent of the damage is not yet known.
It had to be a hard thing for these guys to do.

1 comment:

curmudgeon said...

It was a gut wrencher I'm sure.