Steven M. Cook helped to rescue Richard F. Brumley and Benjamin L. Bair from effects of an explosion, Cameron, West Virginia, January 22, 2003. Brumley, 51, and Bair, 23, were part of a nightshift crew working inside a vertical air shaft that was under construction on the site of a coal mine. Near the bottom of the shaft, which was about 940 feet below ground, they and four other men were on a work platform when a build-up of methane outside the shaft exploded at that level. The explosion injured Brumley, Bair, and one of the other workers and killed the three other men, and it left dust suspended in the shaft. After the other surviving worker attempted unsuccessfully to help Brumley board a hoist, he took the conveyance to the surface to obtain help, then returned to the bottom of the shaft with a coworker. The coworker concluded that moving Brumley and Bair without medical attention would aggravate their injuries, and he and the other worker returned to the surface. By then, emergency personnel, including paramedics, firefighters, and two sheriff’s deputies, were responding. The coworker asked for help for Brumley and Bair, and of those assembled, Cook, 27, sheriff’s deputy, volunteered, as did the other deputy and a paramedic. None of the volunteers was trained for the purpose, nor had any, save the coworker, been inside a mine. Without having the shaft’s hazards ascertained, the four men descended to its floor, where they lifted Brumley into the hoist. They then put Bair on a stretcher and positioned it across the top of the hoist, then they took the hoist to the surface. Brumley and Bair were hospitalized for treatment of extensive and severe injuries. Recovery of the men who had been killed was effected later that day, after safe conditions inside the shaft were assured.
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