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Mine Rescue Teams

The Bureau of Mines and Mine Safety oversees one composite state Mine Rescue Team, and contracts with other private teams throughout the state to provide the required two team coverage for the four Indiana underground coal mines. The state composite team consists of dedicated volunteers from the Sunrise coal Company's Oaktown Fuels #1 Mine, Gibson County Coal's Gibson South Mine, and Peabody Midwest Mining's Francisco Mine.

The Indiana State Team is a composite team for Sunrise Coal’s Oaktown Fuels #1 Mine and Peabody Midwest Mining’s Francisco Mine.

The Indiana State Team is contracted by Sunrise Coal Company’s Oaktown Fuels #2 Mine and Gibson County Coal’s Gibson South Mine.

The Indiana State Team is also contracted by the following metal/nonmetal mines: Elliot Stone’s Eureka Mine (dimensional limestone), US Gypsum’s Shoals Mine (crushed gypsum), Martin Marietta’s Kentucky Avenue Mine (crushed and broken limestone), and Indiana Limestone’s Victor Mine (dimensional limestone).

The State of Indiana has a fully equipped mine rescue station located at Vincennes University under the supervision of the Indiana Bureau of Mines. This Mine Rescue Station is housed in a mobile mine rescue van that is prepared to service all mine rescue equipment. The van is equipped to outfit and maintain two mine rescue teams.

Mine Rescue Team

  • Joby Johnson (Indiana Bureau of Mines) – 2007 to Present
  • Michael Hersel (Sunrise Coal – Oaktown Fuels #1 Mine) – 2011 to Present
  • Chad Smith (Sunrise Coal – Oaktown Fuels #1 Mine) – 2011 to Present
  • Derek Smith (Sunrise Coal – Oaktown Fuels #1 Mine) – 2017 to Present
  • Nathan Stevens (Gibson County Coal – Gibson South Mine) – 2017 to Present
  • Mitchell Stuckey (Peabody Midwest Mining – Francisco Mine) – 2020 to Present
  • Steven Staley (Peabody Midwest Mining – Francisco Mine) – 2020 to Present

Team Trainer

  • Joby Johnson (Chief Mine Inspector, Indiana Bureau of Mines)

Volunteers Assisting in Training

  • Terry Phigley (Team Trainer, Sunrise Coal – Oaktown Fuels #1 & #2 Mines and Carlisle Mine)
  • Tony Wilson (Team Trainer, Peabody Midwest Mining – Francisco Mine)
  • Kevin Hills (Director, Vincennes University Mining Program)

Other Mine Rescue of Indiana

There are three more private mine rescue teams in Indiana: Sunrise Coal’s Mine Rescue Team, Gibson County Coal’s Rescue Rhinos, and Peabody Midwest Mining’s Francisco Mine Rescue Team. Each of these teams would be ready to assist the other Indiana teams in the event of an emergency. The Indiana state composite and contract teams would likewise assist these teams if necessary to save lives. Mine rescue work is demanding and dangerous, but it is capably staffed by brave and skillful volunteers in Indiana.

Indiana Bureau of Mines has consolidated some Suggestions and Considerations for mines in developing their own Emergency Response Plans.


The state mine rescue team competed in two mine rescue contests in 2020, including:

Indiana in State Contest at the Sunrise Coal Mining Complex in Oaktown IN.

  • This consisted of two contest held the same day for the teams in Indiana to comply with federal regulations. The IN State team finished 3rd and 2nd in the contests.
  • Mock mine disasters ranged from mine fires, explosions, floods, and roof falls. The teams are judged on how safely they respond to each mine emergency and trophies are awarded to top performers.

The Indiana Mine Rescue Team exceeded minimum training requirements this year. To comply with federal regulations, teams are required to have 96 hours of training annually. Training included mine scenario disasters, working in smoke, fighting fires, hose management, maintenance of breathing apparatuses, Hilti gun training, and CPR, first aid, and hazards of blood pathogen transfer in emergency situations. The team meets monthly to service equipment and for training updates.

In 2018, the Indiana State Mine Rescue Team participated in a mine incident involving an inundation of gas in one of the mines it covers. Although the incident was minor in the realm of mining accidents, it was a great opportunity for the team to work alongside several other teams from Indiana and Illinois. This incident gave the teams the opportunity to see firsthand how federal, state and company officials work together to solve problems with the input from team members. The operation went smooth and the mine was back running partial production in just a couple days, with full production within a week.