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Emergency Preparedness

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Underground Rescue: Equipped for Every Emergency

Every mine is different and yet they all have one thing in common: if an emergency occurs, the goal is to get everyone to safety quickly. Mining rescue plans depends on a variety of factors including whether the site involves an open-pit mine, above or underground rescue, metal/non-metal mines. The mining rescue equipment and solutions you use will be as unique as your own mine.

Emergency Escape

Emergency escape man in mining

Safe escape plan in an emergency

Within the scope of the risk assessment, the specific risks associated with a particular method of mining and the type of resource mined must be analyzed. This assessment forms the basis for the escape and rescue concepts to be used in the mine.

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Solutions for escape and rescue concepts in the mining industry overview mining

Solutions for escape and rescue concepts in the mining industry

Application and functionality of Draeger Oxy 3000/6000

Application and functionality of Dräger Oxy 3000 / 6000

Draeger mine refuge chamber solutions interview chamber

Dräger Mine Refuge Chamber Solutions

7 steps to an optimum emergency escape concept

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Know and understand the situation and conditions

  • Mining method/mined product
  • Geographical location
  • Official and corporate regulations (SOPs)
  • Number of miners (incl. contractors) per shift
  • Length and condition of rescue routes
  • Location of escape shafts and fresh-air bases
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Take natural hazards into account

  • Temperature/humidity
  • Water ingress/flooding
  • Dust development
  • Mine gas/firedamp
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Identify activities involving risks

  • Fueling/handling of hazardous substances (fluids/transportation)
  • Storage of explosives
  • Blasting
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Account for unexpected incidents

  • Ventilation failure
  • Gas eruption and leakages
  • Sparks/friction
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Describe potential hazards/risks

  • Mechanical obstacles
  • Oxygen deficiency
  • Fire
  • Explosion
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Perform a risk assessment

  • List, assess and prioritize hazards/risks
  • Check risks
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Develop an emergency response plan

  • Prepare an emergency plan
  • Provide emergency equipment
  • Ensure appropriate emergency training

Effective Escape Planning


Underground - Self-escape or rescue mission?

If a serious incident occurs underground, a decision must be made within minutes of whether self-escape is possible or whether a mines rescue team should be deployed. How is that decision made?

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Self-escape in Coal Mines

Self-escape means: Victims of incidents are able to get themselves to safety and back to the surface without any additional help. This is almost always the case when emergency escape distances are short enough to be managed on foot. Keeping in mind that the escape route has to be open. So, when an incident occurs, there is no flooding, collapses or rockfalls blocking the way. Read on to find out more about examples of self-escape underground and the appropriate methods and equipment.


If coal catches fire: it's time to get out – fast!

Depending on the kind of coal being mined and the conditions at the face, a fire can take hold fast, intensify, and burn for a long time. Due to this, self-espace is the usual and best option.
In the following graphics, we show you what self-escape plans look like around the world’s coal mines – and how South Africa handles exceptions.

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Sufficient breathable air

When escape routes are long, a switch to compressed air breathers may make sense, but limited air capacity is a drawback. Breathing air cylinders can be quickly and simply replenished at refilling stations like the Dräger ChargeAir.

Metal/non metal

Some extraction projects in the international mining industry extend to almost gigantic lengths and depths. Deep mining aptly describes mining at ever increasing depths – today, mining is carried out at depths that would have been unimaginable, not all that long ago. It also means that escape routes are longer and that there is no way to complete an escape entirely without any third-party assistance. Read on to find out more about escape planning, equipment and strategies for deep mines.


Escape in metal mines: don't panic – stay calm!

In ore and mineral mines, underground escape routes are often long and steep. Here, the key priority is to stay calm, find a safe refuge – for instance in a refuge chamber – and wait for rescue team organized at the surface. This is illustrated in exemplary form by escape plans for mines rescue, like those from South African gold mines.

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Mine Refuge Chamber Solutions

Two chamber concepts, various opportunities, one goal: Maximum safety. Dräger has decades of experience in the development of refuge chambers and have built them specifically to meet all safety and mine requirements, and local standards.

FAQ escape chamber

Rescue Chambers FAQ

In case of an emergency in an underground mine, the escape way to the surface or a meeting point might be blocked or the conditions underground too difficult to initially escape. Refuge chambers provide mine workers access to clean air and temporary protection until they can be rescued. This list of FAQs offers a few facts to consider when incorporating refuge chambers in your emergency response plan.


Self-escape or rescue mission?

Above ground, emergency response plans generally anticipate self-escape and the provision of designated assembly points for mine personnel. Risk analysis provides information about potential risks or hazards involved. In downstream processing facilities, particularly with toxic hazards or the risk of explosions. Third-party rescue becomes necessary when personnel are unable to rescue themselves by escaping to a safe location.

Appropriate escape or rescue equipment depends on the results of risk assessment and the emergency response plan. The relevant criteria here are the degree of contamination with hazardous substances, the length of escape routes, possible oxygen deficiency, or fire.

8 points you should consider

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Hazardous substances

Which hazardous substances (gases, vapors, particles) might occur? What are the limit values? Which maximum concentrations are to be expected during an incident? Could there be a lack of oxygen?

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Fire and explosion risk

How high is the risk of a fire or explosion? Does the rescue device require ATEX approval? Will it need to offer protection against flammable gases? Does the material have to be flame-resistant?

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Protection factors

From the determination of the potential hazardous substances, the applicable limit values and the hazardous substance concentrations during the worst case, the value of the protection factor is derived, which the rescue device must have in order to provide adequate protection during an evacuation.

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Evacuation time

The emergency protection plan defines the time frame available for an evacuation during specific emergency scenarios. The rescue device must be able to operate during this time frame (minimum).

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Rescue location

Is it possible to escape to a safe location? Might the users have to wait at a protected location for further evacuation?

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Maintaining proportionality is also important: A user must carry his tools and other equipment. In some cases, he is already exposed to severe physical strain due to tight spaces, conditions such as heat, high humidity and poor visibility. The rescue device must adequately cover the calculated risk - but at the same time, its weight and impact on breathing should be kept as low as possible.

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Ease of use

Intuitive and quick handling can save valuable seconds during an alarm and save lives. The more comfortable a rescue device is, the lower the risk of user errors.

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Cost efficiency

In addition to the acquisition costs, there are other criteria for the cost efficiency of a rescue device: service life (durability during storage), re-usability, utilization options also during regular respiratory protection events, maintenance intensity and cleaning effort.


Emergency management at your side
Emergency management at your side

We invest in training and equipment. It pays off when something goes wrong.



Getting out safely our escape solutions
Getting out safely – our escape solutions

At Dräger, we know that sudden and fully unplanned situations with hazardous substances can occur within seconds and that no escape scenario is the same.



Panic or cool calm and collected
Panic – or cool, calm and collected?

Three myths about human behaviour during emergencies

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Emergency Response

Emergency response equipment firefighting team at mining entry

Emergency response and mines rescue

When an alarm goes off, everything runs at top speed: from the search for source of the alarm to the communication with the emergency control center. Safety management must quickly decide what options within the mine emergency plan are viable and, if necessary what escape or rescue measures for effected mine workers should be taken. High levels of knowledge and experience are needed, as well as the optimal provision of reliable safety and rescue equipment.

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Deep mining rescue vehicle

Deep Mining

Mines change and evolve. They become longer and deeper, more complex. These changes need to taken into account, when engineering new processes but it is also a challenge for mines rescue teams. In case of a mine emergency, they gain an overview of the situation, evaluate potential risks, examine different scenarios and then decide – based on the specific mine emergency response plan – on the optimal rescue mission.

Deep deeper deepest mining infographic

Deep, deeper, deepest

The international trend of “deep mining” continues: Increasingly deeper seams are being mined, with the result that escape and rescue routes are becoming longer.

This has implications for the mine emergency response concept: Strategic planning of fresh air stations, refill stations for breathing air and refuge chambers are becoming more important. It is obvious that: Mines rescue teams have to travel longer distances to reach the incident site with only a limited amount of time available.

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Challenges of mines rescue in expanding mine operations
Challenges of Mines Rescue in Expanding Mine Operations

Success begins with getting rescue teams to the action quickly and safely. As mining operations develop, the underground workings extend farther from the shaft or portal, and become more complex as they continue to expand. Travel distances and time increase.



Portrait no fear of great depths kent armstrong
Portrait: No Fear of Great Depths

Kent Armstrong, Global Business Development Manager of Mining, is something of an institution in this industry. He has been working in the mining industry for 42 years.



MRV 9000

Mines Rescue Vehicle - Dräger MRV 9000

The Dräger MRV 9000 is the answer in an ever-changing mining environment. Innovative and customer driven – this Mine Rescue Vehicle is a unique solution in the field of mines rescue worldwide.

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Mine Safety Solutions

Your safety, our solutions - perfectly linked together.

Mining Safety Equipment team goes into mine

Mine Equipment

We develop mining equipment to produce innovative solutions to meet even the latest demands.

Get in touch with Dräger


Dräger South Africa (Pty) Ltd.

Johannesburg: 2 Ruacana Street, Waterfall Commercial District, (cnr Beatty Street), Buccleuch, 2090

+27(0)11 059 4200

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4676 Rivonia, 2128 Republic of South Africa  

Dräger South Africa (Pty) Ltd.

Cape Town:  Unit 2, 7 on London, 7 London Circle, Brackengate Business Park, Brackenfell, 7561

+27(0)21 552 6713

Postal Address: P.O. Box 3677 Tygervalley 7536

Dräger South Africa (Pty) Ltd.

Durban: 17 Thynk Industrial Park Cnr Brickworks and Queen Nandi Drive, Briardene, Durban North, 7561 

+27(0)31 812 7900

Postal Address: P.O. Box 40554 Redhill 4071