When Coal Was King
Industry, People and Challenges
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Alberta Mine Rescue Car

Mine rescue car number one, Crowsnest Pass district, Alberta, 1916.History of the mine rescue car and how it served the mines of Alberta. Include in this a component on the earlier history of the car and how it is tied into our national history.

Alberta's first mine rescue station was established at Blairmore in 1911. It was in response to an explosion in the West Canadian Collieries mine at Bellevue on 10 December 1910. Thirty-one men lost their lives.

The Blairmore Mine Rescue Station served as a model for stations organized in 1912 and 1913 at Lethbridge and Coalhurst.

Alberta realizing the importance of rescue work in a Province that had so many coal mines, also equipped a railway car - Mine Rescue Car No. 1, which was at first stationed in Blairmore, but also toured mining camps in both B.C. and Alberta.

The photograph is largely self-explanatory. The first trained Mine Rescue team was located in Blairmore although this group, located at Galt Mine No. 6, undoubtedly was the first to combine training in First Aid with Mine Rescue Work. These men tended to be the cream of the crop.Mine Rescue Cars were equipped to sleep twelve men and were kept in constant readiness to proceed immediately to the scene of a catastrophe. Two teams of five men each were maintained at each major mine so that they could be called on if necessary While training, men were paid 50 cents per hour, each man being required to undergo eight trainings of three hours each and then one training per month to maintain a constant state of readiness.

By 1919 there were three mine rescue cars and six mine rescue stations in use throughout the coal fields of the province. Duncan McDonald had become General Superintendent of Mine Rescue Stations and Cars.

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