Sago: A Survivor's Story

By Shaunda Rauch on August 20, 2013 from Emergency Services Blog via

Twenty-nine coal miners went underground at International Coal Group’s Sago Mine near Buckhannon in Upshur County, West Virginia, on the morning of January 2, 2006. At 6:26 a.m., a methane ignition in a recently sealed area of the mine triggered an explosion that blew out the seals and propelled smoke, dust, debris and lethal carbon monoxide into the working sections of the mine. One miner was killed by the blast. Sixteen escaped. Twelve were unable to escape and retreated to await rescue behind a curtain at the face of the Two Left section. Mine rescuers found the trapped miners approximately 41 hours later. By that time all but one had succumbed from carbon monoxide asphyxiation. 
Tonight, the City of Bridgeport is honored to host our “Emergency Reach Out” event in memory of these fine men.  Eric Hess, a Sago Survivor who escaped the mine that morning and a Safety Professional for Arch Coal, Inc. Sentinel Mine, will be here to recount his experience in the Sago Mine Disaster, talk about Life Shelters and Lifeline and other training to keep prepared for an emergency or disaster.  This session will be the first in a series of Emergency Reach Outs dealing with Hazardous Materials and Shelter-In-Place/Evacuation procedures. 
Choosing to take shelter is necessary in many emergencies.  Taking appropriate shelter is critical in times of disaster.  Sheltering is appropriate when conditions require that you seek protection in your home, place of employment or other location when disaster strikes.  There may be situations, depending on your circumstances and the nature of the disaster, when it's simply best to stay where you are and avoid any uncertainty outside by "sheltering-in-place".  Do I stay?  Do I go?  How will I know what is the best decision for me and my family?  Mr. Hess, like all twenty-nine miners that went underground that fateful January morning, had to assess the situation and determine should he evacuate or shelter-in-place.  Someday that decision may be yours to make.    
Please come out and join us tonight [Tuesday, August 20] at 6:45, in the City Council Chambers at the Bridgeport Municipal Complex – 515 West Main Street for this special session of our Emergency Reach Out events. 
Don’t forget to bring your kids.  We will be conducting “Ready Kids” for our younger participants where they will be learning disaster preparedness tips and techniques as well.
This event is FREE. 
No need to RSVP.
Tonight each participant will receive a FREE Family Safety & Preparedness Expo t-shirt. 
For more information please contact Shaunda Rauch, Director of the Bridgeport Emergency Services Department at or (304) 842-8200 x252. 

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