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Rescuers Go Down The Mine
Nottingham Evening Post 19th July 1971

ERIC WESTWOOD, working 1 ,200ft. underground, was found slumped in a pit roadway. He had run into a pocket of toxic air - known to miners as “fire damp”.

A workman came across him and raised the alarm to alert the men of the mines rescue station.

Briefing For The Rescue Station Superintendent, Mr Jeff Street

The rescue squad jumped into their vehicle and were off for the pit - five miles away, maintaining radio contact throughout with the station.

Thirteen minutes later they were dropping below ground in the cage.


Eric lay half a mile from the pit bottom - close by mine rescue standards.

Distance and the difficulty of stretchering men along restricted passages is the dual enemy for the rescue squads.

Within 32 minutes of getting the call the expert rescuers were at Eric’s side, reviving him with oxygen.

Wearing liquid oxygen self-contained breathing apparatus to protect themselves from the polluted atmosphere they inched Eric the 880 yards up the roadway to the shaft.


Already a carefully organised support link was in operation. At 12.10 Eric was being treated by an NCB doctor and his staff in the medical centre.

Mr. Jeff Street, superintendent of the NCB Mines Rescue Station at Mansfield Woodhouse reveals that “Operation Fire Damp” was an exercise, and Eric is one of his ten permanent brigadesmen.


But the incident is a likely job for the rescue team. It provides a realistic assurance to Nottinghamshire’s 40,000 miners of the round-the-clock vigil by a dedicated band of men, equipped with modern safety aids.

Mr. Street has schooled 20,000 miners in the use of the self-rescuer devise, and works close with pit safety officers.

If the rescuers are faced with a large-scale operation, support from Chesterfield, Ilkeston and Ashby-de-la-Zouch can be called on.


11.01 Emergency call to the rescue station: Man suffering from effects of fire damp at a pit five miles away.

11.08 Arrive at pit.

11.13 Descent underground.

11.32 Patient reached and oxygen reviver given.

12.10 Patient treated in medical centre by NCB doctor.

Richard Street

Pit Terminology - Glossary

John Jeffrey Street