Revenue-Virginius Mine Disaster

I write This is True (and edit the submissions of the contributing writers) each Sunday. On Mondays I write the surrounding material, like the Honorary Unsubscribe. It’s a fair amount of material, and it’s almost always possible to get it done in two days.

But not this week.

Some of you have seen an “incident” in the news this weekend — on Sunday: an accident at a mine in Ouray, Colorado. Ouray is our county seat. A lot of what came out in the media was simply incorrect: things that were misheard, misinterpreted, and/or misreported.

The accident wasn’t caused by an explosion; no one was “injured” and no one was “trapped” in the mine by any sort of “collapse” — no matter what you read or heard in the news.

The First Alert

Most of you know my wife and I are volunteer medics in the county. We’re also on the emergency management team, so I’m often called out on big incidents even if there are no injuries. So either way, I was destined to roll on this one.

I’ll set the record straight as much as I can from my point of view, and without revealing any private (such as health care) information. The details included here have been released by the county, or is non-medical information that I observed myself that will not violate anyone’s privacy.

It started at about 7:20 a.m. Sunday with a call for a miner 8,000′ (2,440m) inside a mountain, unconscious. Serious, to be sure, but outside my response area for a simple call.

Then the update: there “may” be six other miners affected. That’s now a serious “MCI” (as emergency responders term it: a Multiple Casualty Incident) that needs a significant out-of-routine emergency response. Which also made it no longer outside my response area!

Different Roles

I knew it was unlikely they would need me as a medic. First, unless specially trained, regular medics don’t go into mines to rescue miners — and none of us are specially trained. That goes for firefighters and our extremely good Mountain Rescue team, too.

Yet all of us were paged out for the incident: EMS (for any victims needing medical help — and there were at least one of those, and maybe seven), two fire departments (because they have air packs), and our Mountain Rescue team (because they have the best offroad emergency vehicles in the county).

Naturally, the sheriff’s department was also called out: in Colorado, the sheriff has responsibility for on-the-scene management of emergencies.

Limited Resources

In our county we have two ambulance crews on call. If those two are used, we can usually wrestle up two more crews to respond too — we have a total of four ambulances to cover the county’s 550 square miles (population about 4,500). By the time I got rolling, all four ambulances were manned and en route.

But it’s not that easy: mines tend to be in the mountains, not in town, and this case was no exception. The Revenue-Virginius Mine, which originally opened in 1876, is 6-7 miles southwest of Ouray, up quite a steep dirt road. The mine is at over 12,000′ (3,658m) elevation, in Governor Basin.

It’s a rich mine: by 1896 its mill was processing 300 tons of ore per day, and generated more than $300,000/year profits (in 1890s money!) for years. At its peak at the turn of the century, 300 miners lived in boarding houses on the property — buildings lighted by electricity, and equipped with heat and indoor plumbing.

By 1921, the mine had produced more than $28 million worth of gold and silver, but its mill burned down in 1920. It never recovered from that, and shut down in the 40s. There were many attempts to reopen the mine over the years, but silver prices wouldn’t support the economics of the idea — until 2011, when Star Mining took over operations; new mining started in February after a lot of setting up. By the time of the accident, more than 100 miners were working underground 20 hours a day, seven days a week, which provides a nice boost to the local economy.


The path into the mountains from Ouray to the mine.

Not Rushing In

On the way up, our EMS Chief, in a four-wheel-drive ambulance, chose a good wide spot in the road for a staging area, and ordered the following ambulances to stop there. It was a good choice: there were good radio communications between there and the mine, and between there and dispatch. It was reasonably close to the mine so that victims could be brought there in Mountain Rescue’s vehicles, but not so high up in the mountains that it would be difficult to get big, boxy ambulances to that spot.

When I got to town, I traded in my vehicle for the sheriff’s Communications Van, which has lots of radios as well as a warm place to put people if needed (and it was).

When I got to the Staging area, one of my EMS buddies, Greg, had already set himself up as Transport Chief: it was his job to figure out how to transport all of the victims to the hospital, as well as coordinate with the local hospitals to be sure they could take the number of victims we had. If all seven victims were severely injured, could one hospital handle them all? If not, then what?

That was going to be my job, but Greg had volunteered for it, and that was fine: I became his assistant.

Always Changing

Things got better, as well as worse: First, the closest hospital said they could handle all the victims we had. Second, there were no physical injuries, but rather the miners were victims of “gas.” Best of all, most were not in bad shape.

Sounds good, but the bad news was, there weren’t seven victims, but more like twenty. That made it the biggest MCI I have ever worked.

But we weren’t going to see victims very quickly: they were as much as 8,000′ in (well over a mile), and it would take awhile to get them out — and they can’t be all brought out at once.

Staging Area: My Comm Van on the left, and three of the ambulances in the Staging area, ready to transport victims.

So while we waited, Greg and I, as the Transport team, had to figure out something else: with every ambulance in the county on this call, what if someone else in the county calls 911 for a serious medical emergency? Who will handle that?

In our county, EMS is a separate agency from the fire departments — but one of the fire departments had called for help from the next county: since they didn’t have any airpacks anymore (they were all sent to the mine), they couldn’t safely handle fires. They asked Montrose Fire Department to cover their fire calls. Montrose FD also does EMS, so they sent an engine and an ambulance to cover any calls, fire or medical. Our first problem was solved before we could even ask for them to head our way.

How to Rescue Miners

OK, if medics, firefighters, and Mountain Rescue all don’t go underground to rescue miners, who the heck does? Mine Rescue. Usually miners themselves, they have special training and equipment needed to go in after their brother (and yes, sometimes, sister) miners to get them out.

Of course, not all need rescue: if they’re not badly injured or ill, they can often get out themselves the same way they get out when their shift is over. So part of our job there at Staging was to stop every vehicle that came up the road and see who they were. Those just out for a scenic drive were turned back: we didn’t need any congestion on that road as it got narrow.

Special Equipment

But it was a relief to see truck after truck of Mine Rescue teams come in with their special equipment. They didn’t use the fire departments’ air packs: they’re great for fighting fires, but only last about 40 minutes before they need a new air bottle. That’s not enough to get 8000′ into a mountain, let alone enough to grab a fallen miner and then get 8,000′ back out. No, they have “rebreathers” that clean up the air and allow them to stay in bad air for hours, if necessary. It was a good idea to think of the fire department packs, but now we know they won’t work.

We heard from the mine that first group of miners was out, and one was serious enough that the medics on scene decided to fly him out on a chopper. We have three medevac choppers in the area, in Montrose, Durango, and Grand Junction, and we had already called in the first one to stand by.

Our medical chopper pilots work in the mountains, and they’re pretty darned good at knowing where they can go. And they could go practically all the way to the mine entrance. Choppers are great for someone seriously ill or injured that really needs that sort of transport. But they’re very expensive, and in very short supply. They were reserved for those who really needed them.

So while one was flown out, Mountain Rescue brought the rest of the first load down in a truck to Staging so they could be taken out by ambulance. By then we knew there were at least 20 possible victims, but at least this group was stable: walking, coughing, on oxygen — and definitely in need of medical checkups. Greg and I decided they could all pile into one ambulance and go.

Extra Hands

But there was a minor hitch: the medic in back was worried that with an ambulance full of big guys with respiratory issues brought on by “gas” exposure, what if one (or more!) took a turn for the worse? Could she have a second medic go along? I asked one of the Mountain Rescue guys, who I knew was an EMT, if he could go with her. Yep! He jumped in, and they took off.

I turned to Greg: I’ll bet every ambulance crew will want to have an extra medic for these transports. Let’s get some extras here. How? I asked dispatch to put out a page not for ambulances (they were all here already!), but to all off-duty medics to come to Staging.

Seconds later, my pager went off. A half-hour later, the first one arrived. Then two more, and then another. One of the guys on my First Responder squad. A medic from the Mountain Rescue team who is a midwife by trade. An off-duty emergency room nurse who has a pager for big emergencies. Well, this was a big emergency! But we now had an extra medic for every ambulance, plus a spare to provide relief for anyone who got tired out. We used them all.

Diagnosis

The hospital then called us to say what the “gas” was: carbon monoxide. CO can be absolutely deadly, and it’s sneaky, since it doesn’t really give the victims any real symptoms. They fall asleep …and wake up dead.

We had already been giving the miners oxygen, but that was reinforced: the only way to really flush out CO is to use lots of oxygen. Ambulances have a limited supply, but we raided the ambulance base and got all of the extra portable oxygen bottles we had. That still may not be enough, we worried, so we had the Montrose ambulance and fire engine drop off all their spares too, so that ambulances passing by could pick up a couple if needed. They did.

But now that the nearest hospital knew what the primary problem was (and finding out how many victims there were!), they let us know they really couldn’t accept all of the patients, as previously thought. They wanted some to go to the next hospital down the road, in Delta, 65 miles away, and another group to go to the next hospital farther than that, in Grand Junction — more than 100 miles away.

That didn’t really faze us: that’s pretty standard for MCIs. Greg and I divvied up the patients among the ambulances and sent them on their way as they arrived. All told, there were 22 in need of hospital treatment. One went by air, and 19 by ground via our four ambulances to the three hospitals. Only four of those actually needed to be admitted to stay the night, all in “fair” condition.

We were eight hours into the incident, and there were still two victims: the ones deepest in.

Could They Still Be Alive?

The Mine Rescue team got all the way in to the original miner who called for help in the first place, and (my guess — I don’t have any confirmed information on this [but see update, below]) another who I think tried to rescue a buddy. But it was too late: they were dead.

Nick Cappanno was 34; Rick Williams was 59. I didn’t know either one of them myself, but many in town definitely did. (When I got back into town later to clean up, things were pretty quiet.) But before we could wrap things up, we still had an important job to do.

By that time the first ambulance was back, but everyone needing hospital transport was gone. Yet that ambulance was still needed: there were two men left in the mine, the two who the Mine Rescue team were called in for. They brought their brothers out, and gave us the bodies. Another chopper was standing by just in case, but it left empty: they only take the living.

We brought the two bodies down to a temporary morgue in a solemn procession. It was led by the sheriff’s deputy who was Incident Commander for the rescue, followed by our EMS Chief, followed by the ambulance with the bodies, and I took up the rear. We all got out at the edge of town and helped to gently unload the bodies and present them to the waiting coroner, who soon declared the cause of death: carbon monoxide poisoning.

You often hear about great rescues. You rarely hear about the down and dirty part: recovering the bodies so they can be returned to the families. Yet that’s an important part of the job to be done with sensitivity and dignity.

The Rumors Start Immediately

During a lull period, I had looked at my smartphone (yes, amazingly I had 3G data service at Staging!) and saw there was already a Google news alert for me — I have them send me alerts of any news with the word “Ouray” in it.

I looked at the lineup of stories. “Mine Blast Kills 2 Colorado Miners, Injure 20” several of the headlines blared.

Wait…. Blast? What blast?

I knew there had not been an explosion. But it was easy to figure out what happened: the mine told dispatch that they had done blasting the day before and maybe there were “gasses” left over from that which could be an issue. Some reporter listening on a police scanner when dispatch relayed that information to us obviously heard it and made an assumption — a bad one.

That erroneous conclusion got picked up by another newspaper, and then a TV station, and then another and another like a badly played game of telephone. Mine disaster that killed two and 20 more sent to hospitals? Well, that has to be due to injuries, right? And a “blast” fits! Run with it!

Except there were no injuries unless someone bumped their head or scraped their knuckles on their way out. I didn’t hear anyone complain of even a minor “injury.”

Miners had to be rescued? Then obviously they were trapped! There thus had to be a collapse of the tunnel! Nope: no one was stuck underground, and there was no collapse. It was just a long way out, and two of the guys couldn’t get out by themselves — someone had to go after them: the very definition of rescue.

A few of the news headlines showing the pattern.
I roll my eyes at the news media: what they told the world was misheard, misinterpreted, and/or misreported. This is exactly why they aren’t trusted. They failed to do the very basics of their job: Get the Facts Right!

What Really Happened?

What caused the CO buildup? Simply, we don’t know. It could have been the explosives from the day before. It could have been that they broke a seal into a different tunnel that had “bad air” that had been there for decades. It could have been something else entirely.

But it doesn’t do much good to guess, like the news media did: that’s why the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration is investigating, along with the Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety. That’s their job. I’ll patiently await what they find out, because that sort of investigation is important: it will tell us what needs to be done in the future to help keep it from happening again. Our smartphones and computers and HDTVs and other everyday tools that we take for granted need the metals that come from hard rock mines like the Revenue-Virginius.

So That’s How I Spent Sunday

I spent my entire day on this one incident — and then helping to clean up and get the ambulances stocked up and back in service. Our oxygen generator has been running constantly as we fill up our tanks again.

Having been paged out of bed, I didn’t have any breakfast. The thought of food didn’t occur to me until someone coming up the hill dropped off a big box: “Want a sandwich?” It was about 2:00 p.m. Local grocery stores, restaurants, and residents sent up food and coffee and soft drinks — even candy bars — to feed the rescuers. “And anytime you need it, let us know — anytime.” There was so much that when we gathered today at noon to debrief — what did we learn? What can we do better next time? — there were plenty of leftovers to feed us all again.

I’m extremely proud of the community for coming together, and of all the responders, medical and otherwise, who pitched in to make this happen, and incredibly smoothly at that. An MCI with 22 victims, and we took care of our own, by ourselves, without calling for others to help — because we didn’t need to. There’s no shame in calling for help, and as it turned out the Montrose crew ran two calls for us while we were busy, but they didn’t need to take anyone to the hospital. I’m extremely proud of our crews.

Anxious Spouses

Since I did have phone service during the incident, I was able to keep tabs on my bride: she had been out of state for a few days, and was driving home on Sunday. I checked on her now and then as she moved along. She knew not to call me, since I could be busy at any time, so I called her a couple of times.

I finally got home barely before dark — just 20 minutes before she did. I collapsed into bed and slept hard, but woke up before I wanted to. And got a shower, caught up on email, and then headed to town for the debriefing.

And that’s why I didn’t write this week’s issue, or edit the stories from the contributors. So, my apologies to the Premium subscribers who didn’t get an issue tonight. Now that I have this load off my chest, I’ll work on stories tomorrow and the Premium edition will almost certainly be done and come out tomorrow night. I’m fine: just very, very tired; I’m confident you all understand!

Update

The Premium edition of This is True came out Tuesday night. 🙂

The Telluride Watch (the same local newspaper that started the erroneous reports, which were picked up by the Denver Post and other outlets), is really making up for things with lots of updates. This week they reported that the four miners who were admitted to the hospital were all discharged by the next day.

Further, based on a preliminary report from MSHA, they confirmed my “guess” about what happened to the two who were killed: the younger miner, Cappanno, was the first who got into trouble. He had only been working at the mine for “a few weeks,” the paper says. The older miner, Williams, had recently been promoted to foreman.

“When [Cappanno] did not emerge, the shift foreman went in search of him,” the MSHA report said. “Eventually they were both found by other miners working in the area, and those miners immediately evacuated the mine.” Which, of course, helps explain how the other miners were exposed to the carbon monoxide. They tried, but failed, the Watch reported, to save the two other men.

Not the Only Ambulance Call

Alas, but the mine incident was not to be last tragedy in Ouray this week. Wednesday afternoon, Zina Lahr, 23, went missing. She had gone out for errands, and didn’t come home. She still hadn’t been heard from by morning, so our Mountain Rescue team was mobilized to find her.

I was listening to the police channel as they checked her known hangouts — and then a hiker on a trail above town called 911 to say he had found a body. Lahr was recovered by medics after apparently falling. If that’s not tragic enough, consider this story — the lead story in the 2 January 2011 issue of This is True:

Make Time

Colorado State Senator Suzanne Williams, 65, may be facing criminal charges after a car crash near Amarillo, Texas. Williams was driving a compact SUV that drifted over the center line and smashed head-on into a large SUV. A passenger in the other vehicle, a 30-year-old pregnant woman who grew up in Colorado, was killed; her baby was delivered by C-section and is in critical condition. Williams says she “didn’t remember” the crash and doesn’t know how it happened. As vice-chair of the senate’s Transportation Committee, Williams has pushed for improved driver safety during her time in office, including stricter seatbelt laws. When asked why her son and two grandchildren were not seatbelted in her car at the time of the crash (two were ejected), she said she “didn’t have time” to discuss it. (RC/Amarillo Globe-News, KUSA Denver, Westword) …Let’s just say her political career is also on borrowed time.

That happened the day after Christmas 2010. Zina died just under three years later, the week before Thanksgiving. The irony isn’t just that the senator’s victim, Brianna Michelle Gomez, is also a native of Ouray, but also that she and Zina are sisters. Another crushing blow to her family, as well as her extended family — the residents of Ouray.

What criminal charges did Sen. Williams face? Three misdemeanor counts, according to the Denver Post: one count of driving on the wrong side of the road while not passing, and two counts of seatbelt violations over not belting in her grandkids. She pleaded no contest to the first charge (the seatbelt charges were dismissed!); she paid a $200 fine plus $68 in court costs, and is unfortunately still a Colorado State Senator.

Brianna, left, was killed by a Colorado  state senator in 2010; Zina, right, was killed in a fall while hiking.

October 2014 Update

The U.S. Department of Labor fined Star Mine $1.077 million in the death of Nick Cappano and Rick Williams — and more may be coming.

“It doesn’t mean the investigation is entirely closed,” said Joseph Main, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health. “We’re holding out the possibility that further actions may be taken.”

“There are a number of mines all across the United States that have implemented sound safety habits — this is the mine that did not,” he said. “They had a number of opportunities to take action, but they failed to follow basic safety procedures [and] we believe these deaths were entirely preventable.”

According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the miners were briefed on November 13, 2013, about how to dispose of 1,600 pounds of old explosives: they were told to call the manufacturer for advice, and not detonate them underground in an “open air” burn. On November 16, the report says, the explosives were detonated underground in an “open air” burn without talking to the manufacturer first. There was not proper ventilation to clear the smoke, and the next day, the miners were overcome by the carbon monoxide from the detonation.

MSHA’s final report on the accident has not yet been issued.

Star Mine Operations has apparently gotten out of the mining business: this summer, it sold the Revenue Mine to Fortune Minerals of Canada for a $14 million down payment, plus $36.8 million in deferred quarterly installments depending on yield over time.

(Source: Denver Post, Telluride Watch)

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89 thoughts on “Revenue-Virginius Mine Disaster

  1. Randy, in light of what you do in your real job (helping people), I’ll gladly wait as long as it takes to get my newsletter.

    Thank you so much for being a helper of others in need!!

    Well, my “real” job is This is True, in that’s what pays the bills. Being an emergency responder just sometimes takes priority, even though it’s a volunteer position. Still, I know what you mean! -rc

  2. It’s worth the wait for the premium issue, Randy. Thanks for sharing the story with us, it’s good to know what really went on.

  3. Great job by you and all involved. Thanks again for all you do as first responders. And terribly sorry to hear of the loss of two hard-working members of the hard-rock mining community. Finally, of course we will wait (perhaps a bit impatiently, but yet) for our premium This Is True.

  4. I’ll wait till next week if need be. Having incident control and similar training I enjoyed the behind the scenes report of the logistics behind the incident. I also enjoyed your accurate, concise reporting so unlike the vast majority of media hype these days, although most people, these days, have an attention span more suited to twitter, rumor and innuendo than to Woodward and Bernstein or Walter Cronkite. Keep up the fine work.

    You won’t have to wait until next week. I just need more rest before I can squeeze out the creativity needed to do TRUE well. I’m pretty sure that will be tomorrow. Thanks, though! -rc

  5. Reporters and news media hasn’t changed in 50 years. Many years ago in Viet Nam, my family sent me news clippings from actions my outfit was in. You had to have ESP to figure out which event the reporter was talking about because the reported story had so little relationship to the actual event.

  6. Thank you! I don’t know how else to say it but thank you to you and all the other people who sacrifice time and energy to save people’s lives or, when that isn’t possible, to get them back to their loved ones.

    I know I don’t realize how much fire and EMS people do but stories like this shine a spotlight on the wonderful ways you guys take care of our communities.

    I’m planning another blog post later about “how much fire and EMS people do” — you’ll be shocked how much our role has changed in recent years. The public has very little idea. But, that’s later! Rest and catching up with publishing comes first. -rc

  7. I saw the initial news headline and thought “wtf” there is no explosive gas in those mines, there is no soft rock in those mines to fall. I had no idea what had happened to those people who were in trouble.

    Thank you for a complete and honest update.

  8. Geez Randy, when you have and reason for delay you REALLY have a reason for a delay! If I was wearing a hat right now I’d take it off to you and all the rescue team, sounds like you all have a very professional level headed approach for a such a large group and it’s a credit to you all.

  9. Great post about a horrible accident. It’s nice getting an insider’s look at how these things work though so thank you for that.

  10. Thanks for the story Randy. I’m a HAM operator who is on the City ACS emergency services team here. We aren’t medics but provide backup communication. I’m always proud of friends who also participate in Emergency Services. I am also a retired containership Chief Engineer. We would have loved to have had the services you provide in our industrial environment out at sea, but, of course, had to provide them for ourselves. Your story reminds me of some incidents at sea. Thanks.

  11. Sharing your experiences, writing about them clearly with some emotion without getting emotional, and then providing us with our “True” all in a few days is an accomplishment of Olympic proportions.

    Thank you — for “True”, for your volunteer work, and for sharing that volunteer work with us.

    I don’t remember how I got started with “True” but I need to remember who got me started and thank that person also.

  12. Personally, I’m rather glad you chose to work on something like a rescue effort. First responders just never get enough recognition for the efforts that they make, usually at the expense of their personal life. Again, thanks to you and all responders everywhere for being you!

  13. Far too many people don’t have their priorities in anything like the right order. You and your comrades do. I wouldn’t even think of being upset about a delay in getting my fix of “This Is True”, because I knew it must be due to something big like this!

  14. Great reporting; interesting and informative. As a retired Army fire marshal around the world, I have always found firemen and EMTs to be among the best people around. It’s nice to know how mountain and mine rescue is preplaned and staged.

    I know your work is appreciated.

  15. Having acted as home support for emergency personnel (making sure they take breaks, get fed, hydrated, and rest where possible) I know how important emergency responders are.

    Waiting on the premium issue is not a problem at all. Keep up the good work both with your volunteer job, and your “real” job of This is True.

  16. Great job and great reporting, Randy! I will be sharing the Facebook post to my wall, as well as to our Pikes Peak ARES group (Amateur Radio Emergency Services).

  17. It’s really nice to “hear” a story about non-stupid, clear thinking for a change. “This is True” usually documents the jerks of the world, so it’s nice to have some balance.

    I have no problem waiting for my premium newsletter. You clearly have your priorities right — take care of the emergency, then take care of yourself, then on the the less essential job that pays the bills (necessary) and entertains me (pleasant).

    Congratulations on a job well done, to you and all the others involved.

  18. Thanks not only for your avocation — helping others in need — but for your devotion to your vocation and providing the “This is True” account of what happened at the mine. Please continue to set the correct priorities as you have demonstrated with this incident. I’ve spent the last 40+ years working in oil refineries and have been faced with similar incidents where lives have been lost. Our hearts go out to the two men who lost their lives in the incident.

  19. All emergency services no matter what country do a fantastic job and put others before themselves.

    As a person that has had a little bit to do with media, How could they report without checking facts first? I remember when I had to do interviews with the media I always had a clause in that they couldn’t publish without sending me their full story that was to be published before it went to the publisher.

  20. Good on yer, Mate!

    Glad to hear you are still at it. I lived in CO for 10-12 years and I think it’s great that you pass over the fact that you were up a snowy mountain road, doing a hard job well and more concerned for the victims than for all the faithful, magnificent volunteers that pulled off that rescue. I’m proud to have even a slight association with such people!

    No sweat on this weeks’ edition. I lived most of my life without it. A few more days won’t make me bleed!

  21. As one who once had need of first responders, I just don’t care how late your ‘real job’ is. What is important is that there are people who are able and willing to put their lives on hold and help out in crises.

    Thanks so much for your, and others like you, services.

  22. Of course we’ll wait for the next “this is true” message. You did what should be done, and everybody should laud you, and all the others who responded to this disaster. A great job!
    Also, you did a great job telling what went on, why decisions were made, actions taken, etc. That’s exciting to know, but most importantly, it was all accomplished.

    From here in So. CA (where I know you have roots), I again think of the local MRTs that continue to do much the same, and continually read of their efforts from time to time.
    Thanks, I’ll wait for the next This is True missive, patiently.

  23. I volunteered for a mountain rescue team in Southern California for five years while in grad school, and I somberly remember the recoveries as well as the rescues, the “bad” with the “good”. I always felt that solemn obligation to provide closure for the families of those who had died, sometimes tragically. I still feel that empathy for those who are unable to rescue those in distress, but instead can only provide the remains of a loved one… it’s that empathy that stays with me the older I get, now that I’m past my prime. God bless you in the work you continue to do to assist those in your community.

  24. Thank you for that awesomely well written write-up!

    Thank you to you and all the other Heroes who did jobs no one else could do. I hope you will forgive, me, but I put the URL out in a tweet, and on my FB page.

    Not trying to steal your thunder, but trying to show my little audience, that, when the chips are down, there are still some pretty amazing people in this old world.

    And also, my condolences for the two guys who did not make it out, but since we do not yet know all the details, may have in their own actions, somehow been heroic, and helped make it possible for everyone else to come out ok.

    Well, there’s even a button on this page to tweet it, so certainly that’s fine! The idea is to get the true story out, even though I’ll never get the record corrected with everyone who saw the bogus news stories. Thanks for helping that mission. -rc

  25. Having some knowledge of the area, the media reports sounded “off” but I had no way of knowing why. Please update us with the official cause of the CO gas when it’s finally reported in 6 months or so. I doubt any media beyond Grand Junction will bother. But it is important to the survivors and the families, and to any who work in tight spaces. Thank you.

  26. I am sure (almost) all us premium subscribers realize your priorities need to shift for a big emergency. Even so, we got a good fraction of a “This is True” edition with a fine example of how even major media outlets can jump to a conclusion which is way wrong. Also, we got some real first hand reporting which was an informative improvement on the regular news, which is one reason I subscribe anyway.

  27. You people are why Thunderbirds and Superman aren’t needed. Just imagine how it would be… oh dear, they’re 8000ft in, we’d better blow the whole mountain away to rescue them! Oops, that’s just caused billions of dollars in collateral damage, created risks for thousands of other people whose homes are now being threatened by the blown-up mountain, but hey, we did the job! Now, no cameras, just let us go off and be heroes somewhere else.

    No, what we have in this world is teams of dedicated people who get lots of work and not much glory. Twenty lives saved, no injuries, a job well done.

    Also, thank you for telling your Premium subscribers about the delay. I’m not the sort of person to complain about delays anyway, but it’s still very helpful to be told about the delays.

  28. My condolences to the victims and families affected by the tragedy. I hope that the authorities will investigate the incident thoroughly so that we’ll know what caused the carbon monoxide build up that snuffed out the life of those two miners. Perhaps they can initiate additional safety measures to reinforce the one already in place. I recall reading somewhere that miners in the olden days used to bring a canary into the mine to detect poisonous gas, though I’m sure now they don’t use that method anymore. 😉

    You certainly deserved the rest, Randy. You have certainly opened my eyes to the trials and tribulations of an EMT volunteer. Well done.

  29. What? News agencies letting facts get in the way of a story??? Naw! 🙂

    Great job reporting, Randy. And thank you for your service to your community.

    I wonder why miners don’t carry CO detectors, given the danger that gas poses with its lack of telltale indicators.

    Keep up the great reporting!

  30. As I sat here trying to find out information on this early Sunday, I did not even think of contacting you directly till later, I KNEW you would be there, and I wrestled with that text message for quite a while. As I sat here and read your account of what REALLY happened, I was crying. And still am, having worked underground at West Elk coal, we joked about our practice drills. But now I realize how important they were.

    So as I sit here in my hospital bed at 4:30 am, I want to thank you from the bottom of my broken heart for what you do.

    For the readers, I was not involved, I am fighting cancer, and I so appreciate yours and the wife’s visits.

    And of course, I finally upgrade and my first full “true” is late!! j/k. Take all the time you need. Love you guys!!

    Yeah, it is classic that your first issue would be late. Keep fighting that bastard, cancer, and get out of there so you can work with me again! (James happens to be in one of the hospitals where we took victims.) -rc

  31. It always gets me how awful the general media reports an incident. I’ve often said that unless you are there yourself, the event or speech reported by the media is often incorrect, inaccurate, or downright lies. Nothing ever reported by the general media is chronological. It is most often reported to heighten THEIR agenda and not report the facts.

    Thank you for your service Sunday.

    The media’s reports aren’t meant to be chronological. They’re taught to put the “most important” facts first, and then fill in with details. It’s useful, but not very compelling writing. -rc

  32. As one of the thousands of volunteer FF/EMS personnel, I understand that helping people comes before the paying job many times and I am willing to wait for the highlight of my week (This Is True).

    I am glad that everything went as smoothly for you as it did and I love hearing the back story that never gets printed in the media. Or if it does, it is because something went wrong. My department is a semi-rural career/volunteer department with plenty of surrounding mutual aid, but I do not think that we would have pulled off the operation as smoothly as your team. 22 patients is overwhelming for most agencies. My hat’s off to your team.

    We of course couldn’t have done it with 22 critical patients without calling in mutual aid, but as you probably know, there are few resources to call upon when you’re in a rural area. We all just have to do the best we can. -rc

  33. It’s not completely true that CO is odorless, there are a few people out there who can smell the stuff — the ability is most commonly found among people who are mildly autistic.

    Interesting! I’ve never heard that before. -rc

  34. What an amazing and interesting story. It makes waiting for the next issue worth it.
    When you do post the blog entry for how much the fire and EMS people do, I’d love to read that. I hope you mention it in a Premium edition so I know it’s been posted and ready to read.

    I definitely will. -rc

  35. Thanks for the update — and the detailed story to go along with it. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy reading your stuff: you are an excellent wordsmith!

    I understand your frustration with the media. It seems in the digital world of Facebook/Twitter/24hour news that the main job of the media seems to be “get the story out FIRST and we’ll check facts later (maybe)”. We had a similar situation last year in Indy when a house exploded at 11pm on a Saturday. The media reports were “Plane Crash”, “Multi-House Explosion with multiple deaths”, (I even heard one report of a drone strike!) It was hours before the ‘true’ stories came out on what happened. But still, in their zeal to be FIRST, there were hours of ‘speculation’.

    Thanks for all you do. Like everyone else said, we’ll gladly wait for the Premium Edition. I’m sure everyone involved was happy you were onsite, instead of sitting in front of a keyboard.

  36. This note of gratitude came from one of our community members, who is also a dispatcher for your area. I asked if I could pass it on to you.

    “Thank you so much for the article on the mine accident. As a dispatcher that worked that incident that day we don’t usually get any details. We knew the crew involved as well. Sad day but I’m glad to be one of the angels like you all that gets to help out in these situations. Thanks again for the article.” –Kari McClanahan

    As the county comm guy, I’m well acquainted with the dispatch center’s manager and supervisors, and when I can catch a breath I’m definitely going to get in touch with them and close the loop. When we finished the incident (on our way down with the bodies), I did get on the radio and cleared us from the scene — and thanked our dispatcher profusely. Chelsea, Amber, and Kari did a fantastic job, never getting flustered, taking care of everything we asked (and we asked a lot!), and giving us priority. It really helped things go smoothly.

    On another note, it’s good to have an “in” now with the Colorado Wildfire Info team! -rc

  37. This is one of the best “This is True” stories that I’ve ever read. Kudos to you and the rescue people and keep up the good work.

  38. I hope you get some rest — some real rest — before you work on the next Premium issue; we can wait. This was a very fascinating read in that it’s interesting to see a “behind the scenes” look at how incidents like this are handled. My condolences to the families of the men who died.

  39. Thank you for your service to the community and the inside story. Being a fellow Coloradan and having spent more than a few days in your neck of the woods, I know the area and I have to say one of my first thoughts when I heard the news was would you be responding to it. Get the issue out when you can, helping your neighbors absolutely comes first.

  40. I’ll be waiting by the mailbox for my refund. These delays are unacceptable! 😉

    Seriously though, that was very interesting to be given the ‘inside’ on this event. I would not feel cheated if that recounting had been substituted for this week’s True edition. Thank you for what you do.

  41. Great post about the incident. I’ll be happy to wait until you get caught up. I am not sure if your blog is one of the things on the new server, but I noticed that the date stamps on the comments seem to be in the future.

    Yeah, I mentioned in my note to Premium subscribers that we upgraded the server over the weekend. Well, I didn’t notice the new one had the date set wrong! Even this post was originally dated November 20! (It has since been fixed to the actual date, November 18). I had to get my admin involved in fixing the comments, since they were all screwed up. I think they’re now in correct order, even if their date stamps aren’t necessarily correct…. -rc

  42. Hey, TRUE is about commenting on the news and getting people to think about it. I would consider this a Special Report that did just that, and very effectively. I know you won’t take the week off like people have been telling you to do, but maybe take off another day or two. Nobody will complain.

  43. Thank you, for your service and for your first-person account of this tragedy.

    We have family in Ouray and love the people & place that couldn’t be further from the Boston area & way of life.

    Our hearts are with your community, the lost, the injured and their loved ones.

    Your narrative will serve history, when this mining tragedy is relived through the years. Amazing gift to those involved, including first-responders and all who supported your efforts.

    Thank you for giving us your story (we heard all the news ‘hype’ of explosions, cave-ins etc…) and thank you for capturing a word-picture so clearly from first call through the respectful transfer of those lost. I could see the procession coming down 550 in my mind’s eye.

  44. Thank you for publishing This is True, for letting us know why this issue is late so we don’t have to worry about your health/safety, for letting us know what really happened at the mine, and for all you and your fellow responders do for those in need.

  45. Having been a reserve EMT in a local fire district, I remember how the news services made up details. If it bleeds, it leads.

    Keep up the good work!

  46. Thanks for the post, and especially for your service, and your respectful treatment of the deceased. These are stories well worth telling.

    I know CO is supposed to be tricky, but I’m puzzled how a mining crew would be unprepared to detect it to the point where 2 people died. I would have assumed they have CO detectors and breathing equipment in easy reach — given there was no explosion, cave-in, etc. that put them in a crisis situation? Maybe it’s just too early to know what happened?

    That’s part of what I don’t want to speculate on, since I don’t know — what equipment they’re supposed to have, what equipment they did have, whether something failed (in equipment or procedures), etc. When the final report comes out, I’ll put an update on the post. -rc

  47. Wow! What a story. So glad it worked out as well as it did. It really speaks to you and your ‘co-rescuers’ for their professionalism. I’ll gladly wait.

  48. I’ve copied your blog entry in its entirety and mailed it to myself at my work email address — I know that the people at my shop will have misinformation and it will be good to back up my counters to their assertions with hard data/information of my own. However, we cannot go to your site at work (management reasonably expects us to use the internet connection for work, not play and you are considered a ‘play’ site).

    I’ve also cc’d you on the email I sent to myself, so If I’m out of line on this, please let me know.

    I’m definitely fine with you printing this entry out and posting it at your work. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to object, but I don’t! -rc

  49. I’ve always found it amazing that people will read/hear a news story where they know the situation and point out all the inaccuracies, misquotes, and plain made up ‘facts’, and then go on the next story and accept it as absolute truth.

    And to take the idea one step further, very early on I asked and answered an important question on True’s Sources page: “Is Each Story Really ‘True’?” It directly applies here. -rc

  50. When I heard the news, I recalled you discussing Ouray before. I had no doubt you and your wife (if she would have been home) would have responded, and the Monday night issue would be delayed. Instead of reading True Monday night, I scanned news headlines, and like always, wondered what the real truth would be in the end. Sadly, I hate how our media thrives upon traumatic incidents and creates an emotional response in the public with what I term as “emotionally charged language.” Thank you for what you choose to do, not only the response team, but promoting thought instead of blindly following main stream medias’ dramatization of life.

  51. First, thank you for the service you provide — many areas are served by volunteer emergency responders. Thank you for that.

    I heard of the mine incident from your initial post on facebook. Saw other reports on it later and thought about how much of what I saw was real and how much was hype, speculation, and unconfirmed rumor. Thank you for providing the real story from a vantage point few can — someone on the scene in a position of authority.

    So what if my premium issue is late. Although that is your ‘real’ job, it is not necessarily your most important one. The service you provide to your community as an EMS and emergency management volunteer sometimes must take priority. This was certainly one of those times. When my issue arrives, I will read it. Whether it is today, tomorrow, or next week. Sometimes your ‘job’ is more important than your work.

  52. You’ve got to be kidding. Apologizing for helping others? You do a great job in all the areas, both medical and in writing. Please take your time on the This Is True; that is what makes it special. I’m glad none of the crew was hurt during the rescue. That can happen, too.

    I didn’t apologize for helping others, I apologized that the issue was late: I take my work seriously! -rc

  53. So you rolled all four ambulances? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to roll only three? Why leave the rest of your response area uncovered?

    Read a little more carefully: that was covered. -rc

  54. Hell of a day, huh? Been there, done that. A few years back, went tracking a bear. Stumbled into a brush fire running up the railroad tracks. Left the house at 9 a.m. Got home about 12 hrs later. Wife had NO IDEA; heard about the fire, knew I was in the general area, and was waiting at HQ for news. Boy was she surprised! God Bless all of our volunteers. My prayer is always the same: May you be bored out of your mind during your shift.

  55. Thanks for a thoughtful and educational story Randy. My wife is a police dispatcher (or was, long story) and I have heard many corrections like this. It is frustrating, but remember that reporters are generally underpaid, overworked and expected to know far more than they do. They have just a few minutes to get the heart of the matter, write a story that won’t tax the 5th grade reading average and jump on the next one.

    Real reporting has been on the decline for decades, and it will only get worse; newspapers die off to be replaced by TV, news feeds repeating each other’s stories and blogs. Some are extraordinary (like this one), others no better than schoolyard rumors.

    What I really appreciated was hearing, first hand, the difficulties setting up a rescue that those of us in more populated areas take for granted. This was a major undertaking. Planning, redirection and solid pragmatism were keys to getting people out and keeping them alive. I live 3 miles from 2 major hospitals, and literally around the corner from a fire station with EMTs and response time is literally 2 minutes. Losing that kind of service is a tradeoff of being further out; something that too many people who move away from the city don’t think of. That can be a great choice and one I’d like to make when we retire. Your posts drive home the need to think about that choice and replacing the dependency on rapid service with reliance on neighbors, better preparation and outright acceptance of risk.

    Thank you, both for your community service and your writing.

  56. I read this at work and filled my coworkers in on the true details. We are all thankful for all the hard work and selfless actions of the volunteers involved.

  57. I went to New Mexico Tech — the Colorado School of Mines is a sister school. I remember reading the obit of the first female mining grad to be killed in a mining accident. You are right – most folks do not have a clue what all is involved in making their toys.

    Remember folks, firefighters are the only ones *paid* to work in a smoking building. I love the “this is a non-smoking building” notices — which is nice, because I don’t want to go into a smoking building so a firefighter has to come in, find me, and drag me out to the EMT waiting outside.

    Complicate that with deep snow deep in the mountains, in a deep hole in the ground….
    Bravo Zulu to all involved!

    Yeah: I can wait.

  58. I knew nothing of this incident but I glad that I heard it from someone on the ground first rather than traditional media. Great Job RC.

  59. When lives are at risk, there is little else that is more important than doing what is needed to save those at risk. Thanks for using your time and skills to serve the community. We need more dedicated folks like you in this country.

  60. Thank you! I know that the miners involved, their families, and their friends appreciate the organized efforts of you and all of the emergency services you mentioned in your blog. This tragic event has affected all of us in Ouray County and beyond, and I am grateful for those who serve us in emergency services and rescue services here in our county. Additionally, your effort in getting the truth out is greatly appreciated.

  61. I fully get what you mean about the media getting the wrong end of the stick; we had a major hail event in 2010 which basically gutted a suburb in my Emergency Service’s catchment, but where were the pictures? CBD & inner city, as the cameras couldn’t be bothered making the 30 minute run out to the affected area….

    Yeah, the photos for this one were silly. The local paper got a reasonable one: a photo of staging (I’m the tiny blip on the far right of that one). Another that was used a lot was of the cleanup at the end, but the caption said it was us getting ready to go out (10 hours off!) And a third showed a Montrose ambulance and fire truck at the hospital …which had nothing whatever to do with our operations in the next county. -rc

  62. Thank You Randy, for all that you do, Job wise, and Volunteer wise. I can wait a day for the Premium edition.

    Do you recall if ANY of the news outlets relayed the True story, or were they simply lazy bums just filching off of what was already out there? I rarely read current news anymore. I don’t trust it.

    Again, Thank You.

    Once the county issued a press release making it clear that there had been no explosion, quite a few news sites did update their stories to say that an explosion had been ruled out. But quite a few others didn’t bother, and their erroneous stories remain on the record. -rc

  63. Randy, you’ve been doing True et al for this many years and you’re still surprised that news reporters by and large are clueless about what they report?

    I couldn’t cut it in journalism. I was too intelligent.

    Surprised, no. Expect more from a trade that calls itself a profession, yes. I remain a frustrated optimist. -rc

  64. Thank you for using up your remaining energy to post this amazing story. True can wait.
    Kudos to you and all of the others on your team. Well done. Your community is very fortunate to have such a group of well-trained, dedicated first responders.

    In these modern times of constant bickering, division and strife, often fueled by the very media that you were commenting on, it is reassuring to know that there are still those such as you and your colleagues who place others before themselves, and who can work together in cooperation with their community and surrounding communities so well.

    My condolences to the families of the fallen miners, and your community in general. God bless you all.

  65. What? You mean to say that wasn’t True???

    I was fascinated anyway.

    I would also like to give my sympathy to the families of the two chaps who died.

    Talking about calling out extra appliances, we had a fire in the coastal bush here at Cape Paterson and 32 fire trucks arrived from as far away as 100 Km. Just as well, as the fire burnt within 15m of the permanent caravan park. We watched it all from our 2nd floor balcony. A bit worrying as we are about 200m from the action!

    Too close for comfort! -rc

  66. It’s at times like this that I’m proud to be a premium subscriber, thereby helping to enable you to spend so much time on your important volunteer work.

    And thanks for getting the real story out, I’d also heard the version with a blast, and it’s good to get things straight.

  67. Having been in the Volunteer Medic business for 15 years, I know a bit about your “side job” and what it entails. Thanks for being available to help out others when needed (whether it’s one person or 20 people).

    I would wait for weeks to get the Premium edition, because I know if it’s late that you have a good reason for getting it out late. And thanks for telling the REAL story. We medics know that often the news gets it very wrong.

    Keep up the good work and have that wife of yours give you a big hug!

    I relayed your message, and she did! I liked it. 🙂 -rc

  68. Let me give you a suggestion Randy: for each delay caused by a calamity such as this, I will give you an extra dollar a day. If there was enough of us, perhaps you would not need to concern yourself with pesky things like making a living, when saving a plenty of others.

    And thank you for the report. It makes a great reading on a calm shift.

    About 10% of readers are indeed contributing a little extra in their renewals, which is certainly much appreciated — and helps keep the subscription rate down a bit too. -rc

  69. This was an inspiring story. The work volunteer workers do in emergency situations is rarely give a lot of exposure, but stories like this need to get out.

    Most of the big bush fires we have in Australia are fought by Volunteers, and the work they put in is tremendous but except for “interest stories” barely mentioned in the news.

    Keep up the good work and great writing.

    I had no idea most of your bush fires were fought by volunteers. But then, that’s part of your point. Good to know! -rc

  70. Thank you for your services. I also live in a mining town and Father in law, brothers in law, cousins and oodles of friends work out at Borax and occasionally something happens that we had not wanted to happen. Picking up the pieces of such situations is not easy at best but I am glad that you were there to make sure it was done right.

    Thanx

  71. Nice piece of writing, Randy. When you publish these longer pieces, your “voice” reminds me of my favorite writer, Robert Heinlein. (For example, your reference to your “bride” when most writers would use “wife”).

    Thank you for sharing.

    I’m honored to be compared to Heinlein, who lived the last part of his life in Colorado. -rc

  72. I’m sorry for those who lost their lives in the Mine. I’m a local HAM and involved with the PSNS Rescue crews. Thanks for your service.

    PSNS is the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. -rc

  73. Great job with this incident. I am a retired firefighter from Phoenix, Arizona fire dept, so I can totally relate to this incident. Besides being a “city” firefighter, I also was involved in mountain rescue operations. When incidents as such happen, they truly test your skills to the max and shows how good continued training helps.

    Every year we had a MCI training at Sky Harbor airport even though we never really had to use those skills. If we did, we were we definitely more prepared.

    You definitely need your rest after this, as these kinds of incidents may not test your medical skills, it does test your knowledge skills in regards to difficult and unusual rescue skills. They also can be challenging emotionally.

    I’ve been involved in many MCI where there was actually mass casualties. After all is said and done, we must use our CISD (critical incident stress debriefing) resources wisely.

    Great job!

  74. You and your first responder colleagues fill a special niche.

    You alone have the talent to write so well about it. This former ski patroller welcomes these reports.

    I doubt I’m alone in writing well about such things, but I appreciate your kind words. -rc

  75. Thanks for a very concise and extremely thorough account of your MCI. I’m glad that casualties were minimal, although that is poor consolation for those directly involved.

    I am taking the liberty of passing the link along to my regional EMO with the suggestion they use it as training material. I just want to touch bases with you about it even though I don’t anticipate any difficulty given that it is publicly available already.

    Given our own problems with mine safety in NZ (as well as the risks involved in deep sea oil drilling, but that is another story) your account is an important balance to the rather uninformed and sensationalist coverage by the lamestream media. Even 3 years after the Pike River Mine disaster that claimed the lives of 21 miners, we still don’t have a clear, accurate and trusted source of information about these incidents.

    Thanks again.

    I wouldn’t want it republished (such as in a magazine or book) without permission, but I don’t anticipate that being an issue. Thanks, Jim. -rc

  76. What a breathtaking account of what happened on that snowy Sunday. I was truly in awe of the way everyone worked together so seamlessly in the effort to bring everyone home. Knowing you to be the man you are, I may be assuming somewhat here, but I have a feeling those two miners families were in some way comforted knowing that you were the final vehicle escorting their loved ones back to town. From one who couldn’t physically do what you do, understanding the dedication and compassion that those who can do it carry with them…thank you (So glad your sweet wife made it home safely, too!)

    As for the extra day, I’m just so happy to get True, I’ll always be willing to overlook whatever time you need. No worries, no explanations needed. We know what you do and are thankful you do it, Randy.

    Yeah, you’re assuming something! First, that the average person in the county has any idea as to who I am (or cares!), and second, even if they did, that they knew (or cared) that I was part of the procession down the hill. They had much more pressing matters on their minds. And that’s great, as far as I’m concerned: they shouldn’t “need” to care who it was, but rather just be right when they assume that anyone involved was qualified, and concerned for each victim’s welfare. And on that point, they’d be right. I’m proud that everyone on the team dedicates huge amounts of time (and money out of their own pockets) to volunteer, and train like mad. They wouldn’t do it if they didn’t feel enough concern to help their neighbors when needed. -rc

  77. I know this may sound weird, and possibly off topic…but did Brianna’s baby make it? You only mentioned that when the accident occurred the baby was in critical condition. As a mom of a one year old (and a mom who had a stillbirth and 3 miscarriages) that’s where my mind goes first.

    And naturally so! I wondered myself when I was writing the update — I left it out because I couldn’t be sure. My best guess is, the baby did make it, because I’m quite confident that if not, I would have heard about it, especially since I did look for updates. Ms Gomez’s husband and two other children suffered relatively minor injuries, and were quickly released. Sen. Williams’ son, Todd, 41, was noted to be hospitalized with broken bones in “serious” condition. His sons (the senator’s grandchildren) Tristan, 3, was in “satisfactory” condition, and Tyler, 7, was out of the hospital by the December 29 update that I saw — the last I was able to find involving victim conditions. A May 18, 2011, update (to note that a Grand Jury had declined to issue any criminal indictment against Sen. Williams) didn’t mention the baby, but I have to believe it would have had the baby died. -rc

  78. I want to apologize if I in some way offended you with my comment. It was not meant to say that anyone else was “lesser” prepared or that anyone was “more” qualified, nor that families, at that point, would be concerned with anything other than getting their loved ones home. I have followed several of the rescues that you and the various teams you work with have been involved in, and the dedication and training that they ALL put in (especially considering it is out-of-pocket) is just phenomenal, by ANY standards.

    What I was trying to say and which apparently didn’t come across, was that I felt that having that group of people, who had worked so hard to get them out…I felt at some point their families would find some comfort in knowing that those who had worked so selflessly to get them out (and by that I meant all of you — miners, EMTs, etc) that it was THOSE folks, with you bringing up the rear, that escorted them home. I’m sorry if I offended you in some way. That certainly was not my intent.

    I certainly took no offense whatever from your sweet comment! -rc

  79. I am wondering what type of confined space air quality testing was supposed to be done? Do the miners have their own personal ones they carry with them? What is the cost of one compared to a life? Who said it was safe to be in there in the first place? Was there some sort of continuous air monitoring? Shall we go back to canaries? So many ways to die on the job but yet…so many ways to prevent it.

    Just the sort of questions I hope will be answered by the investigative report. -rc

  80. I finally got around to getting the story on the mine accident. Thanks for great insight. I, too, am a retired “big city” firefighter, so I especially appreciate the abilities and efforts of you volunteers in Ouray. Having spent portions of summer in Ouray for 40 years, I still feel a small part of the community.

  81. Thanks for the updates, Randy. I read the original post when it first came out, and was fascinated. Had to read the whole thing again today. Thanks again for all you and the other “first responders” do.

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