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CNN BREAKING NEWS
West Virginia Coal Mine Disaster; 12 West Virginia Miners Thought to Be Alive; First Ambulance Brings Out First Miner
Aired January 4, 2006 - 00:56 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
COOPER: Well, we're seeing yet another ambulance going to the scene, to the mine scene, this one from Barber County. We've seen from Harrison Counties, sort of from a number of surrounding counties. Ambulances have been called in. Randy Kaye is standing by.
Randy, who do you have to talk to now?
KAYE: Anderson, we are here and just so that you know the ambulance that just went past you is now arrived here at our scene. Here just about 500 feet or so from the Sago Baptist Church.
We're here with Dominica and Caroline, who happened to just arrive here this evening. And what had you come to the church for?
DOMINICA: We brought donuts and coffee, just for the families. And just minutes after we got here, they got the news.
KAYE: And how did you know that the news was good, and what the news was, Caroline?
CAROLINE: The noise was absolutely deafening. There was screaming. People started jumping. You feel the floors and the walls just starting shaking. And...
KAYE: Go on.
CAROLINE: It was just amazing. It was electric and intense.
KAYE: Were you inside the church at the time?
KAYE: Then you were near by the governor?
KAYE: Tell me about that.
CAROLINE: Actually I didn't know who we were near. I couldn't...
KAYE: You didn't know the governor.
CAROLINE: Well, I was just busy.
KAYE: A daughter here on your back. CAROLINE: Yeah.
KAYE: And so, did he react, or what was the reaction of the governor?
DOMINICA: I knew that it was the governor. He just, you know, his face lit up. He stood up just clapping. He was just ecstatic, just as everyone else was. He was just really happy and, I mean, you could tell he was just as relieved as everyone else has been.
KAYE: You two are perfect example of how this community has pulled together. Because from what I understand neither of you know or believe you know at least, any of the miners...
KAYE: ... or their families. And you just chose to come out here at the kindness of your heart and certainly, what a night it's turned out to be.
KAYE: Did you ever get to serve your coffee and donuts, or...
CAROLINE: We set them out...
DOMINICA: No, but it didn't get much further past that.
KAYE: Well that's not a bad thing, I guess given the news that has been delivered here.
DOMINICA: Oh, we were thrilled, absolutely thrilled.
KAYE: I'm sure you are. And I'm sure, certainly all the other families, Anderson, that we've spoken with here tonight are extremely thrilled to hear that 12 of the miners survived.
COOPER: I'm curious to know what is she going to tell her daughter about tonight.
KAYE: Let me ask her that. Caroline, Anderson Cooper would like to know, first of all, your daughter's name.
CAROLINE: This is Shelby.
KAYE: Shelby. And there's Shelby. Look how cute Shelby is. Carolina, Anderson would like to know, what are you going to tell your daughter that you'll remember about tonight?
CAROLINE: She knows kind of what was going on. She knew that there were some men trapped underground and she was just -- she knew they were probably -- or they might be hurt and that they were really sad. She knows that.
KAYE: And does she understand that they're okay now?
CAROLINE: Yes. She knows that. She wants to see them.
KAYE: Are you excited about what's happened here tonight, Shelby? Yeah? You understand the miners are okay?
Okay. We don't think Shelby is ready for an interview, but certainly she does understand, Anderson, apparently what happened here tonight.
COOPER: Certainly a story to tell her children about one day about what happened here. No doubt this story of what happened here is going to be remembered in this community and throughout West Virginia and throughout the United States for a very long time to come. It goes on the list with the Quecreek Mine incidents as just one of those great moments.
There is sadness, of course, here tonight for the family of one miner who did die, either from the explosion or from some of the gases that the explosion was caused by or released by. We're not sure at this point.
Joseph Sbaffoni is with us as well as Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Atlanta.
Joe, you worked for the Quecreek mine. Where does the investigation go now, in terms of trying to find out exactly what caused the explosion?
JOSEPH A. SBAFFONI, DIRECTOR, DEEP MINE SAFETY BUREAU: You know, once this is all done and everything is taken care of this evening, I'm sure that both the state and federal agencies will get together and they'll lay out a game plan of how they'll conduct the investigation.
They will do a thorough investigation to identify what took place and try to come up with recommendations to prevent this from happening in the future. That's -- I mean, that's what it's all about.
You know, we had a pretty good result here tonight. We had a good result at Quecreek. But the bottom line is we need to try to prevent these from happening to begin with. And the way we do that is to conduct good, thorough investigations, come up with good recommendations and implement them.
COOPER: It is incredible when you look at safety records, though, a number of fatalities, how it has dropped over the last, well, since 1978. I mean, I don't -- it's been -- I've been working for a couple hours so I can't remember the exact figure. But in 1978, the number of fatalities was drastically higher than it was in 2003, which is the last year I saw figures for.
SBAFFONI: Well, there's no question, I think, that we have -- our miners are very experienced. They're very well trained. The operators, you know, the coal industry went through a tough time, and a lot the of the operators went by the wayside. The operators that are left are generally pretty good operators, because they were able to live through the tough times.
The operators, they realize that safety is a very important part of their operations. A safe mine is a productive mine, and vice versa, and I think that has a lot to do with that.
The most important thing, when it comes to mining today, is that our most valuable resources are our miners, and, you know, we have to do everything as safety professionals. The miners who work in the mine, the management people, the agencies, the academia, we have to do everything we can to educate our miners and instill in them the importance of working safe and -- so that they can come home every day to their families. That's the bottom line.
COOPER: And 12 miners are coming home to their families tonight. We anticipate that sometime actually very soon. We are -- we have been told, or the families, I should say, have been told they will be going to the church, which is a couple hundred yards from me. We'll bring you that as it happens, of course.
And we are awaiting a press conference further up the road at the tippler to the mine -- that's what they call it -- from company officials.
I'm told we're also joined now by Greg Phillips, a miner with 20- some-odd years of experience and also experienced in mine rescues. We talked to him earlier tonight on "360."
Greg, when you and I talked, the governor had just sounded a little bit more optimistic. You were optimistic. Did you expect this?
GREG PHILLIPS, FORMER MINER AND MINE RESCUER: Yes. With the education that our miners have today, and as tough as they are, I know that they were going to do the right thing and if, God willing, they would be able to perform their duties and tasks, and use logic and do what they're trained to do. And that's exactly what they did. And thank God for that.
COOPER: Well, thank God indeed. You know, Greg, I was blown away when I was looking at just the resume of these miners, the combined years of experience these guys have had. I mean, these are tough, tough guys. It's a real special breed.
PHILLIPS: Yes, they are, and the miners when you're in -- I spent 24 years in the mining industry underground and, when you do that, you become -- it's a brotherhood. And there's no question about it, you live and breathe for each other. And that's what they have done.
They used good judgment. They did what they were trained to do and it's just -- it's just a blessing to all of us in West Virginia and throughout the world that we have people that are able to mine our coal and produce or electricity and warm our houses and light our houses. And it's just unreal that the Lord has spared these people and the great job that the rescuers did and all the friends and family and everybody came together and it was just a wonderful thing. COOPER: Well, I think a lot of people don't realize the importance of coal in the United States. I mean, about half the energy used in this country is produced through coal.
Everyone, you know, large numbers of people heat their homes through it. And obviously, in West Virginia, it plays a huge role.
What gave you the most optimism? I mean, what did you think -- was it when you heard that the car, which brings the miners to the worksite each day, when you heard that was intact? Did you start to think this is looking pretty good?
PHILLIPS: Yes, Anderson, that's exactly what -- when I was made known that the man trip itself -- and that's what they call it, to take the men in and out from the face area to the outside and vice versa -- was not damaged, the explosion was not there and they had walked away from that man trip, I knew that they had used good judgment and I knew they understood the training and what they needed to do to get to a safe area, barricade themselves in fresh air, and stay there until the rescue teams could get to them.
Had they turned around and started walking outside they could have been overcome with carbon monoxide and we would have probably lost all of them.
COOPER: We have a picture of a man trip, that I want to try to put up again, if we can. It's a yellow metal, looks like kind of a rectangular box. It's sort of hard to see in the picture. Describe how that works. Where do the miners -- are the miners seated in it? Are they lying down? It's looks very -- it's very small.
PHILLIPS: Anderson, it's very small, but it's like getting into a sports car. You kind of lean back in a situation where your hips and your back are laying back on a matt. Basically the same type of matt that you would have in the floorboard of your car, and then your feet are forward.
But it's sort of a low in trajectory for low coal in areas that you can travel underneath the beltline that might be, you know, that might come out from a section like they were on. And that's why it is build that way. But it's a very sturdy vehicle, and it can haul up to nine, some of them even 12 people at a time.
COOPER: And I'm assuming it's on a track. It doesn't have wheels, correct?
PHILLIPS: Yes -- well, it does have wheels, of course. It's set on a track just like a railroad car. You've seen the big wheels when you're sitting there waiting for the train to go by.
And they have a lip on them that keeps them on the car. They also are run by electricity. And, of course, the track, just like a trolley outside, the trolley cars in San Francisco, it also has a pole that goes up to the trolley itself, the wire itself and then the electricity is generated from the track to the pole. And it runs the motors that propel the vehicle forward and backwards. (END AUDIO FEED)
COOPER: And Joseph Sbaffoni, we had heard that the rescuers were using a vehicle like this, I assume it's the same vehicle, as they were following up the lead rescuers. Do you think the miners will be brought out in one of these man cars?
SBAFFONI: I would say that the similar type vehicles that they use to get in and out of the mine would be used to bring the miners out, yes.
COOPER: And Greg, what do you want answered in terms of what went on down there? I mean, what are you most curious to hear from the miners themselves and from mine officials?
PHILLIPS: Well, Anderson, we really need to find out what caused the Methane buildup and what ignited that Methane buildup. And what we can do...
COOPER: So you're sure it was a Methane buildup?
PHILLIPS: Well, it almost has to be, because that's the only type gas that is generated underground by a coal seam that would cause an explosion of that magnitude.
I can't foresee that it would be a cylinder of, you know, oxygen or acetylene or something of that nature. I can't believe that that type of volume of explosion would do that. I believe, with my experience, it's some type of buildup of Methane in the location that was ignited by something. And that's what the inspectors and the investigators will want to find out, why the buildup and how it was ignited.
COOPER: Greg -- I'm sorry to interrupt you, Greg. I just want to tell you Information as we are getting it. We understand that one ambulance has left the front of the mine. We don't know who's in it; we don't know where it's going. That is the information that we have gotten, that one ambulance has left.
I'm not sure even if we have confirmation that there is a miner inside it. But we do know that one ambulance has left. It will take about five minutes, we are told, to get to the position both where Randi Kaye is and where I am. We will know very soon, when that ambulance arrives, if it in fact goes to the church where Randi Kaye is standing by.
Randi, are you hearing anything about this?
KAYE: We're just hearing that they could be about five minutes away, Anderson. The same thing that you're hearing.
We have a pretty good point of view from where we are, because we can see the road where the ambulances would enter the coal mine area, the face of the mine. They go up that trail up there. We saw them enter there; we're waiting for them to come down. We'll have a view from the distance there. We'll know when they're coming down before they get down here, so we'll be sure to let you know.
But we do want to talk here with Michelle Brady, who is actually a coal miner's daughter. And you were organizing the entire Red Cross effort here. You've been here since, what, about 8:00 am yesterday morning?
MICHELLE BRADY (ph): Yes, I came in at eight.
KAYE: Eight a.m. And what brought you here? Did you know some of the miners who were trapped?
BRADY: Yes, yes.
KAYE: And what have your thoughts been while you've been here?
BRADY: We had a wonderful ending. It's been wonderful, and I'm just -- thank God.
KAYE: Are you surprised by the news that 12 survived?
BRADY: No. Matt?
KAYE: Why not?
MATT RUSSELL (ph): Well, they were in our prayers. (ph)
KAYE: This is Matt Russell who's here for some moral support for Michelle. Tell us, though, you're not at all surprised. Why is that?
BRADY: Hey, this is West Virginia, and we've got good crews. We've got people everywhere, if we need them, they're here, Rescue, fire, mine rescuers.
KAYE: I mentioned that you're a coal miner's daughter. Had you ever worried about your dad and what -- anything that he had ever experienced in a mine?
KAYE: What happened?
BRADY: He had been covered a couple times. Luckily and fortunately it was never nothing, you know, like this.
KAYE: So you know, then, at least somewhat what these families may have been going through?
KAYE: I just want to interrupt you, Michelle for just a second. If you could just step out of the way just a little bit.
Anderson, I'm not sure if you can see there in the distance. If you can capture the lights coming down the hill.
COOPER: I do see it, Randi. And Randi, let me... KAYE: That is ambulance number one, Anderson, heading down.
COOPER: And let me tell you, we have information that there is a miner inside that ambulance. We are told there is a miner inside that ambulance. You can hear people applauding. Is that applause coming from where you are, Randi?
KAYE: That applause is from where we are, Anderson. Let's see if we can get another vantage point for you. Just maybe move a little bit closer.
You can see the crowds are certainly gathering. The ambulance is just about down the hill. Coming closer our way. Curious if it would make its way through the media or if it's going to make a right turn, Anderson, and head towards you, which would be bringing it towards any one of a number of hospitals that, are in the area.
And Anderson, if looks like -- there you go, you can hear some clapping there in the distance, with the miner inside, some cheering. And Anderson, it's just about to approach right where you were.
COOPER: We are told that the ambulance it's heading towards St. Joe's Hospital. It's about to pass me by, where we are. There is one person driving.
I can see -- I see three people, it looks like three people in the back of that ambulance working on someone. I can't tell if the person is seated or is lying down. But it seemed like there was someone standing up inside that ambulance doing something. I don't know what they were doing. I can't tell you anything more than that.
Sanjay, what can be done in an ambulance like that, that can't be done -- or that has to be done in the ambulance? What would they be doing?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, probably in the ambulance they're, you know, just administrating and checking the blood pressure. Maybe giving some IV fluids.
You're right, there's probably a lot that can be done in the ambulance, probably some of the same things done in the emergency room when this particular person gets there.
You know, it sounds like they're just going to have to do the basics here. It sounds like, if the person is awake, they'll do a neurological exam, make sure there's been no significant exposure, check their, what we call, hemodynamics, their blood pressure and their heart rate. Maybe draw some blood. Make sure that they're well hydrated. And get their body temperature back up if, in fact, they're Hypothermic.
But it's just -- you know, a lot can be done -- a lot is probably being done right now in the ambulance. Maybe all that really needs to be done, depending on the kind of shape that they're in right now, Anderson. COOPER: And Joseph Sbaffoni, you were involved in the Quecreek Mine back in July 2002. You said it was really a precaution when a lot of the miners there were taken to the hospital.
SBAFFONI: Well, probably a bit more than a precaution because, at the time they were underground, they were damp. They were very concerned about the Hypothermia. So they were taken immediately up to the barn there, located at the site. They were triaged, gone over, and the one individual had some stress, Randy Fogle (ph), had some stress. They thought it might be heart. It turned out to be gastric. A couple of the other guys, I think, ended up staying in the hospital for a few days.
But quite a few of them went to the hospital and were checked over, given some fluids and released.
COOPER: Is there advice that you'd have for mining families on -- I mean, you know, when soldiers return from the frontlines, the military gives the family advice on how to interact, how to treat them, how to deal with them. I know it's been just a short experience, but it's been an extraordinarily intense experience. Is there advice you would have for the families?
GUPTA: Oh, I think that, you know, they're going to be -- they're going to be very emotional when they see each other. It will probably take a bit of time to get back to normal, I'm sure.
I know after talking to the miners at Quecreek, it was definitely a very joyous time, but then also a time when it took a little bit of getting used to again because of what they went through.
COOPER: We are told -- I'm just receiving some word that the miner inside that ambulance was unconscious. We have not been able to independently confirm that. That is the information that we have just received. Sanjay standing by. Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Atlanta. What would that mean, Sanjay?
GUPTA: Well, you know, that could mean a lot of different things. It's tough to speculate.
Again, we're talking about a situation where it was a small, possibly confined area upon which there was a concussive injury, perhaps, from an explosion. We don't know how much of an impact that had on any given individual.
There's also been this talk about potential carbon monoxide exposure, possible poisoning as well. Any of those things potentially, even Hypothermia or Hypotension, which is just profoundly low blood pressure, could cause a state of unconsciousness.
Again, I'm just speculating here as are so many other people, Anderson. But these are the sort of things that I'd be thinking about as, either than doctor in the ambulance or the doctor at the emergency room, who's going to be caring for this person. This would sort of be my checklist of the things that I would sort of start ticking off as I was examining this person, Anderson. COOPER: Randi Kaye is standing by as well. Also actually we still have Greg Philips -- OK, we don't have Randi. We have Greg Phillips, who is still on the phone, I believe.
Greg, you were talking about, you know, the kind of things you were going to be wanting to hear and learn about in the next hours and days about what happened. We learned earlier this evening, from the governor of the state of West Virginia, really for the first time just a couple hours ago, that the explosion occurred in a sealed-off part of the mine. Did that surprise you?
PHILLIPS: Yes, it really did. Usually those mines -- the areas that are sealed off are very contained and normally don't have a buildup of Methane released. You know, there are other means and ways through tubes and so on and so forth, and that's how they're ventilated.
But it's also a possibility that there could have been a fall in that area behind the stoppage where the area was and leaked through the roof. There could be several things that might have transpired that, you know, that they'll have to be made aware of to ensure that this doesn't happen again.
COOPER: Joseph Sbaffoni, I mean, what could have caused -- I mean, to have an explosion, you have to have both fuel and an ignition. How could you have an ignition in a sealed-off area?
SBAFFONI: Well, you know, although we say they're sealed-off areas, mines definitely do breathe. Those sealed areas do breathe also. They're directly proportional with the barometer and so forth. So you can have some leakage in those seals, sometimes into the seals, sometimes out of the seals. So if you had a Methane buildup behind the seals and you oxygen going into them, you could have an explosive mixture.
It stills comes down to, though, what was the ignition source. Could it have been a fall, friction off of a roof bolt? Could it have been lightning? These are all things the investigators are going to have to determine when they conduct the investigation.
But like I said, you have to have an ignition source; you have to have a buildup of a combustible substance.
COOPER: Greg, as a man who's worked In the mines a long time, it's got to be very emotional seeing that video, that ambulance, that first ambulance that we have seen with the first miner pulling away, hearing the applause of the crowd as that ambulance passes by. It's got to be an emotional moment.
PHILLIPS: Yes, Anderson, it certainly is. It puts a lump in your throat. As a matter of fact, one of the miners that were trapped was my second cousin. So, you know, it's just very heartfelt that all of the men got out.
And I'm sorry to hear about the one gentleman that didn't make it. And my heart goes out to his family and friends. But it's just unreal that 12 of them made it out in the predicament they were in. And we were just blessed that they did have the knowledge and ability to do what they did. And we're also blessed to have the team and the rescue people that we have in this country to be able to do what those gentlemen and ladies did this evening.
COOPER: There are -- there were at least 12 or 13 ambulances up by the entrance to the mine. Joe Johns had seen about five, he believed, when he saw the entrance. And we saw at least five or six or seven ambulances passing us by over the last several hours.
You're looking at video that was taken just a short time ago toward the entrance to the mine. A number of the ambulances all cued up.
We're also getting some still pictures in just now for the first time. We're seeing families when they first heard the news that the 12 miners were alive. Let's take a look.
And that picture says it all, doesn't it? Right there. The tolling of church bells. The tolling of church bells told us something was happening, we didn't know what. We heard people shouting, it sounded like shouts of joy, but at the time, I didn't want to go out on the road too far down the road of speculation. We hoped, we certainly had prayed for it, and it came through, at least for 12 miners and their families.
All of them gathered in the church, many of them still gathered in that church. We really haven't seen any families departing. We've seen a few people leaving, but frankly we've seen more people arriving.
We've got another picture, I think, to show you. There, another person, just pure jubilation and joy and praise.
This is a community of strong faith; there have been so many signs for people to pray for the miners and for their families. Because it really is not just the miner who goes down the mine. They leave a family behind them who worries every time they step into the mine.
We've heard from so many family members throughout this evening who have said they don't want their loved one, they don't want their miner ever to go back down in the ground.
We'll, of course, hear from the miners in the coming hours and days about whether they do intend to return to the mines.
A number of the Quecreek miners, we know, did not return.
Randi Kaye is standing by just a couple hundred dollars yards from where I am. Randi, what are you seeing now?
KAYE: Anderson, we're at the base of the mountain there of the coal mine, and we're waiting for another ambulance to come down. We'll be sure to alert you as soon as it does. But in the meantime, we're here talking with Chris Galoski (ph) and John Henderson (ph), both of them college students.
And, Chris, tell us why you decided to come down here tonight?
CHRIS GALOSKI: We're both students at Fairmount state University, about 30, 35 miles north of here. And we're both involved in the Folklore Program.
KAYE: And the Folklore Program would be related, then, to, -- have some interest in the coal mining?
GALOSKI: Yes, it does. This is history in the making. We thought we would come down here and capture it and just experience it.
KAYE: And, John, you came down here actually tonight before the news was announced that the 12, they believed, had survived.
JOHN HENDERSON: Yes.
KAYE: And what did you think when you were heading here before you knew that?
HENDERSON: Just, you know, we just kept hoping and praying they'd be OK and just hoping. I guess it pays off.
KAYE: Sure. And, Chris, s this something that you talked a lot about in class, or tell us a little bit about what -- how much focus was paid to this?
GALOSKI: Well, we're on winter break right now, but most of our classes, we've discussed some of the larger mine disasters that have happened in the state of West Virginia. In 1907, the Great Monauge (ph) Mine disaster killed thousands upon thousands of people. And then what Governor Manchin discussed the other evening, the 1968 Farmington disaster.
KAYE: And he lost his uncle.
KAYE: And some high school football friends as well.
KAYE: And so how do you feel, then, about the mining industry here? I mean, it's such a big part, a major part of this community.
GALOSKI: Right. It's a major part of the community and it's a major part of our West Virginia history.
KAYE: And what do you think of the outcome, at least what we believe, what we're being told is the outcome here tonight?
GALOSKI: I think it's an absolute miracle. And all our thoughts and prayers were answered when the miners were discovered and rescued. KAYE: And I see your friend, John, here has brought his video camera.
HENDERSON: Yes, we've got that.
KAYE: I got a peek at you earlier. You were taping that scene.
HENDERSON: Yes, we're trying to -- trying to get a bit of footage to keep as part of history a little bit.
KAYE: Were you here then when the church bells range and...
HENDERSON: No, we just got here right after they started ringing.
KAYE: And so, hen you pulled up, did you know right away that there was some good news.
HENDERSON: Yes. We had heard on the radio on the way down that we had some good news. We couldn't believe it.
KAYE: So you knew then. You knew you'd picked the right night to come.
HENDERSON: Yes. It was a good night.
KAYE: Alright, John Henderson, Chris Galoski, thanks so much. We wish you the best of luck with your studies, and we'll wait along with you and along with Anderson and the rest of the folks here as we wait for more word from the coal mine. Anderson --
COOPER: Well, Randi, we, of course, are watching for really two events, a number of events unfolding before our eyes. I mean, those students really did pick a night to see history in the making.
We've seen the first ambulance with a miner inside it. We're told the miner was unconscious.
We've got actually some video that we're seeing for the first time. I believe it's from one of our affiliates. We'll show that to you just in a moment.
Actually, what I described earlier, you don't actually see one of the miners, but you see the person working on him.
We also are awaiting a press conference. I mean, there are so many details that we have yet to hear. I mean, we -- all we know is that the 12 miners are alive and they were described as being fine. But the devil, of course, is in the details, and the story is in the details of exactly how those miners were found.
Last we heard about the rescue operation, last we officially heard from mine officials and from the governor was that the rescue team was about 11,300 or so feet in, that they had to pause in order to get new oxygen to replenish their own supplies, because of the dangerous levels of carbon monoxide that was still in the air. That they were fine.
Last we heard, the three drills had stopped, and that the robot had stopped in the mud.
They had found one body some 700 feet from the man trip, the man car, the vehicle which brings miners in, But the optimism that had been expressed at around: 8:30 or so, or 8:00, was based on the fact that that vehicle was intact. It wasn't destroyed in the explosion. And that the miners seemed to have exited it safely, that they have left their possessions behind. That gave optimism that gave hope.
That is the man trap. That is what it looks like. And you've heard Greg Philips, earlier tonight, describing it, as sort of a device you lay back in and it kind of moves like a car.
This is the video from the affiliate with you see them working on the miner inside the vehicle. You don't get a glimpse of him. The small crowd that is assembled outside the church here applauding and kind of hooting and hollering as the ambulance went by.
Let's hope the miner inside was able to hear some of that and appreciate all the love and support that he and all the other miners have out here.
And let's hope that they felt that when they were down in the mine for those 40-some hours. A difficult time it must have been. But they must have known that people were searching for them. They must have known that help was on its way, and they were able to hold out until it did become.
Lisa Turner is on the phone from St. Joseph's Hospital. Lisa, what can you tell us?
LISA TURNER, SPOKESWOMAN, ST. JOSEPH'S HOSPITAL: Well, basically from what I understand, the first ambulance is on its way here to the hospital. We actually have the head of our E.R., Dr. Blake, out at the mine portal and he is doing triage out there, along with a couple of our nurses.
From what I understand, as the miners are brought out, they'll be brought into a mass casualty triage center that's already set up at the mine site. And they'll be assessed basically for oxygen levels and whether they need IVs stabilized, and then probably brought up to the hospital for further testing.
COOPER: You know, Lisa, stand by. Dr. Gupta? Sanjay, are you still around?
GUPTA: Yes, sir, I'm here.
COOPER: You might -- if you could ask -- you might want to just talk to Lisa directly. You probably have better questions for her than I could.
GUPTA: Yes, Lisa, so some of the initial triage there, are there some specific things that they're concerned about with this particular type of accident and recovery as opposed to other injuries?
TURNER: Well, I would say, you know, two of the first things they're going to be concerned about is oxygen level and dehydration. And they're going to be testing for those. They'll probably be doing some blood work to test for blood gases, toxins in the blood system. And then, of course, if there's any type of injuries, they'll be brought to the hospital for X-rays and further testing.
GUPTA: One of the things that comes up sometimes is the possible need for hyperbaric oxygen, which is forced oxygen. Does that sort of chamber even exist at St. Joseph's?
TURNER: No, we do not have that chamber here but we do have it at a couple neighboring hospitals. So if our E.R. doctors determine that's necessary, the miners could certainly by sent to either one of those hospitals.
GUPTA: And, Lisa, have you had to call in all your specialists. I mean, is everyone sort of standing by in the emergency room for anything here? I mean, all sorts of different doctors? What sort of preparation is the hospital taking?
TURNER: Well, St. Joseph's has been on Code Red since 8:00 yesterday morning. We've been having briefings, usually twice a day, to prepare and make sure that, you know, we're fully prepared for whatever needs to happen here.
We're very lucky because St. Joseph's is one of the few hospitals in the state that has fully board-certified emergency physicians and full emergency nurses.
Our surgeons are here. Our other doctors are here and the hospital is fully staffed with x-ray and lab and everything else.
GUPTA: And Anderson, you may have already asked this, but there was some rumor that perhaps this first miner that was unconscious, Anderson, I don't know if you heard that or confirmed that, Lisa, had you?
TURNER: No, I have not confirmed that.
GUPTA: And, Anderson...
COOPER: So Lisa, what is the process -- yeah we had heard that. We have not been able to independently confirm it.
Lisa, what is the process when this first miner will arrive?
TURNER: He will be taken straight into the ER and he will be, you know, assessed by our ER doctors and whatever testing is necessary will definitely be done. And then if it's something that can't be done here at St. Joseph's, he will be transported, probably to the West Virginia University Medical Center, their trauma center.
COOPER: And Lisa, if I could, just personal question. You've been on code red you said. What is this like for you personally? I mean it's got to be such an emotional night at the hospital.
TURNER: Well, it's been kind of a roller coaster. But I'll tell you, when I got the call to come back in because of the good news, everybody's absolutely thrilled and elated and I don't think, you know, anybody's going to have a problem staying up the whole night to help these people out.
COOPER: Amen to that.
Lisa, I appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much. I know you are going to have a busy night ahead of you. I would like to check in with you a little bit later on if you're still around for whatever information you can tell us.
As you know, there are people all around West Virginia all around the United States and all around the world likely at this point, who are -- have been praying for these miners. And are so happy to see these miners returning to their families, with a short trip, let's hope, to the hospital on the way.
Of course, there is one mining family in pain tonight. And they have not had confirmation yet, or we have not had confirmation that they've had confirmation.
Our CNN's Randy Kaye spoke to Michelle Mouser, the niece of Terry Helms, the miner who -- Terry's family believes is the miner who has not survived this accident.
Michelle Mouser telling CNN's Randy Kaye several hours ago that she believes, and her family believes, that it is Terry's body that was discovered earlier this evening when we broke the news just a short -- few minutes before 9:00 p.m.
She believes that because of the role that Terry plays in the mining operations, the fire warden, and that he is basically the first man in the morning, the first man off the man car, or the man trip, and the body of the person was found about 700 yards from where the man trip ended up.
So the indication being that whoever it was that got off first, was the person who was found. And according to Terry's family, that is Terry Helms. But Terry was awaiting confirmation. She was going to go try to identify the body. We checked in with her a short time ago. She has not yet done that and we are waiting, of course, word on that.
It is obviously, a difficult way for everyone here.
Randy Kaye is standing by as well. Randy, what are you seeing around you now?
RANDY KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, as you were saying, it's a difficult wait for everybody, even those who did receive some good news here tonight. We're still here just outside the Sago Baptist Church. We're seeing a little bit of activity here. Mostly just some state trooper cars heading into this area. We haven't seen another ambulance come this way yet. We're just at the base of where the entrance to the face of the mine would be. We saw the ambulances go up that way.
We're seeing, actually quite a bit of activity here. Not sure what to make of it. A lot of security, a lot of the Upshur County Sheriff's Department deputies, whether or not that's an indication, that some of the family members and some of the surviving miners could be headed this way.
That's what we had been told. Although, Anderson, as you know, we did see that one ambulance go past you taking that one miner to the hospital. But we are expecting, as we've been told all night and certainly telling all of you, that the surviving miners are expected at some point to come here.
We've spoken with a lot of family members. There's a great sense of jubilation here. They're thrilled to hear that possibly there are 12 survivors. That's what they're certainly expecting to see.
If you take a look just here around me, it's mostly just media right now. The Baptist church is up there in the distance. We've been told to come back here, which is where all the media has been gathered most of the day, when the mode was much more grim.
Now that the mode has been lifted, it still -- we're still being told to wait here. The family members, Anderson, are still inside that church. The governor is expected to speak to them. The congresswoman is here. And we all just wait along with everybody else for some sign of the surviving miners here.
COOPER: All right, Randy. Thanks very much for that.
We're joined -- right now, by a neighbor here. Lynette Roby, correct?
LYNETTE ROBY: Yes, sir.
COOPER: And this is your daughter, Kiki?
L. ROBY: Yes, sir.
COOPER: And what's your name?
TRAVIS ROBY: Travis.
COOPER: Travis, OK. You actually heard the initial explosion.
L. ROBY: Yes, sir. There had been a pretty bad storm for approximately two hours before, thundering and lightening. And then it was totally different, a little after 6:00, towards 6:25 or so, the windows rattled in the house. And it just sounded like the roof was going to come off of our home.
COOPER: So you actually -- you heard it?
L. ROBY: Yeah, we heard it and we -- will not actually heard it as much felt...
COOPER: Well, I know Travis said to me, "I felt it, I didn't hear it." What did it feel like?
T. ROBY: Um, it felt like a rocket taking off.
L. ROBY: Yeah, it was very loud, the house was, shaking and just the windows and everything. And we live across -- behind the church there's a gravel road, and we can only get so far. So we walked down and with a flashlight, it was pretty scary actually getting down here.
But we don't have family members here, but we have strong ties to the community. It's our home. And we just wanted to come down and see the miners make it out safe.
T. ROBY: Yeah, we've been watching this the whole time.
COOPER: You've been watching it on TV?
T. ROBY: Yeah.
L. ROBY: On CNN, of course.
COOPER: Well, that's all right. You don't have to say that.
L. ROBY: That's all right.
COOPER: What does it mean to this community to that this has turned out the way it has?
L. ROBY: It's just unbelievable. Of course, when you heard the news casts of the carbon monoxide levels, you know, the hope went down and it was like there was no way.
And when Governor Manchin got on there and his last press conference, and he talked about hope in West Virginians, it's just so you knew that something was good was going to come out of it. You could just feel it. Even though it didn't look -- you didn't like it was going to happen, but you still had a little ray of hope.
And I attribute a lot of that, my own faith, to the governor.
COOPER: Well, I've been hearing that from a lot of families...
L. ROBY: Yeah.
COOPER: ... just real proud that he came down here...
L. ROBY: It's unbelievable. I mean we all love the mountaineers, but he left them to come here to be with us and it's just -- that's outstanding.
COOPER: Kiki, has it been scary for you kind of watching all of this in your neighborhood?
(KIKI ROBY): Yeah.
COOPER: Yeah. What makes it scary?
K. ROBY: Seeing people die.
COOPER: Yeah. And I guess, were you optimistic all along Travis that it would turn out OK for most of the miners?
T. ROBY: Yeah, I had some hope, but the first conference, it didn't seem like they was going to make it, when we heard that one was gone. And we didn't hear about any of the others.
COOPER: Yeah. Could you hear the church bells, tonight when...
L. ROBY: No, we couldn't actually hear the church bells. The kids had just went to bed, because there's school -- apparently there's going to be school tomorrow in Upshur County, and we were all glued to our television sets in the bedrooms. And they had almost just fallen asleep, and I came down the hallway screaming and it's kind of, you know, watching TV and glued -- if we would have been out on our front porch or back deck, we definitely could have heard the bells.
T. ROBY: Yeah.
L. ROBY: But we were glued, of course to CNN, so we didn't get to hear that.
COOPER: What were you screaming when you went down the hall?
L. ROBY: They're alive. They're alive. You know, although they're not here yet, but just the anticipation and just the families at the church and seeing all that, you know, we know good's going to come out.
COOPER: When you heard your mom screaming, what did you think?
T. ROBY: Um, that um, that little bit...
L. ROBY: I might be...
T. ROBY: That little bit of hope came through.
COOPER: Yeah, how about you, Kiki?
K. ROBY: I thought um, I didn't know what she was doing.
COOPER: You wanted to know what she was doing, maybe having a dream.
T. ROBY: She never usually does that. COOPER: Well, I would hope not. Well, I'm glad you came down.
L. ROBY: Thank you.
COOPER: I'm glad for everyone in the community. It's really -- it's a pleasure to meet you.
L. ROBY: It's a pleasure meeting you also, sir.
COOPER: Yeah, please don't call me sir. Call me Anderson, nice to meet you, Travis, Kiki. All right, take care.
L. ROBY: Take care.
COOPER: It's a happy night.
L. ROBY: Thanks so much for coming.
COOPER: I appreciate that. You take care.
L. ROBY: Good night.
COOPER: Just some of the people around here. I mean this is really -- it is a small community and it's a community, I mean, like they said, you know, they didn't want to come -- they didn't want to come down here, because they don't have family in the mine. They didn't want intrude on the, you know, the privacy of the family here.
But when things worked out and 12 of the miners returned, they wanted to come down and just be a part of it. And that's the kind of community this. I mean, everyone feels a part of this.
When I, you know, it's interesting, I came here I guess early Monday, soon after this had happened and I got here, I guess by the time I got down here it was just about getting dark, and I remember driving by Buckhannon, the town which is nearby here.
And you could look in people's living rooms and whole families were just gathered around the television. They're all watching the news, all just kind of part of it. And, you know, not wanting to cause a problem. Not wanting to, you know, come down and crane their necks and look.
They just wanted to be part of it and to keep abreast of what was going on. Because even though they weren't here physically, their hearts were here. And their minds were minds were here.
I think all the families of the miners have been feeling that love and, you know, we heard Randy Kaye was talking to some people who just came by earlier tonight to just drop off some donuts and some coffee. And happened to upon this great scene, this great moment.
And we've been seeing people bringing by food, you know, for the last couple of days. It's the kind of place this is. That's I guess, about all you can say about it. We're still holding on Joe Sbaffoni's been a great sport. He is still standing by with us. He knows an awful lot about waiting and hoping and miracles.
He led the rescue at the Quecreek mine. Joe what -- I'm not even sure what to ask you, Joe, really. I mean -- I'm sort of intrigued though, by this notion. I know we talked a little bit about it, but this notion of this explosion occurring in a sealed off area. And you were just saying before, that not all areas are sealed off in a mine. You can never really seal off anything.
But how can -- how, I mean I don't know much about science. How does methane gas -- do you think it was methane gas? And how would that build up in a sealed off area?
JOE SBAFFONI: Well, coal normally liberates methane gas. And, you know, when an area's no longer being mined, they seal an area off.
They use block stopping to seal that area off, and isolate it from the rest of the mine. That way you don't have to ventilate it. The area's not ventilated. So it is possible for methane gas to build up behind a sealed area.
Again, I also talked about the fact that mines are known to breathe, meaning that the changes in the barometers will cause those gob areas or sealed areas to breathe in and breathe out.
So that somewhere in that sealed area, you could have an explosive mixture of methane and oxygen, but it still takes an ignition source. So I'm sure that these are the things that the investigators are going to look into very closely to try to determine what caused the explosion.
COOPER: And methane is released just as a natural byproduct of the mining of coal?
SBAFFONI: Of the coal, yeah, methane is liberated from coal. Some mines liberate a lot more than others, as some mines liberate a lot more during the mining process itself.
COOPER: And where would carbon monoxide come into the mix?
SBAFFONI: Well the carbon monoxide is a result of the explosion or fire. It's a product of incomplete combustion. Some mines, and especially in gob, large gob areas, meaning large areas that have been pillared, do have certain amounts of ambient carbon monoxide.
But in this case, the carbon monoxide came from the explosion or any burning or smoldering and there was a result of the explosion.
COOPER: Greg Phillips, are you still on the line with us?
GREG PHILLIPS: Yes, I am.
COOPER: OK, great. Have you ever been? I mean you have a lot of experience in mines. Have you ever been in a mine? Have you ever been in a mine where there was, you know, high levels of methane or -- I mean how much of an issue is methane just on a day-to-day basis when you're mining coal?
PHILLIPS: Well, as the gentleman said before, some of our mines in West Virginia are very gassy. The methane is levels in them are very high, so you have to check them periodically. And of course, they have on the equipment they have monitors also that check the methane for you.
But, it's very -- it's a very tedious job to care for methane. Methane has to be taken away from the face and from the in -- when the intake air is brought in and across the working area, it has to be returned out in the return and then taken outside by the fan system.
But, methane can build up in pockets, where you might have a fall or something. As he spoke before, even an area that's sealed off, of course, you ventilate the seals so there's no problem. But behind those seals, you could have a methane build up and maybe a small fall where there was a roof bolt that when the fall came, which strike maybe a piece of sandstone and cause some type of arch.
So it's just something that's going to have to be investigated. But things like that normally don't happen in, you know, in a nonworking in a gob area, per say. It's just a situation that a -- that's normally not happening.
COOPER: And Greg, just remind our viewers what you're looking at is the scene, which occurred just a short time ago. The first ambulance leaving the entrance to the mine with the first miner, with the report we had, was that he was unconscious inside that ambulance. He's on his way to St. Joseph's Hospital.
We talked to the spokesperson at St. Joseph's. They have not yet received him when we had talked about five minutes or so ago. But they are ready to receive the miner in the emergency room and evaluate whatever his needs may be.
Randy Kaye is also standing by a short distance from where I am, a much closer to the church where the families are still gathered hoping that some of these miners are going to come to the church which is what they had been told earlier was going to happen. Randy, that is certainly still the hope among families, I assume.
KAYE: It is, in fact I was just talking to some of the Red Cross workers, Anderson. And they told me that the way this one Red Cross worker put it, he said that some of the families are actually fighting to get to this Sago Baptist Church and see their relatives.
That's what he's hearing from his contacts here on the ground, that they were fighting to get back here. Whether or not they'll be able to come here first, or they'll have to be go -- they'll have to go and be checked out at one of the local hospitals remains to be seen. But, we're certainly going to wait here until we know which way that's going to go. Meanwhile, I'm also here with (Bobby) and (Dee Wolford) who live very close to the coalmine. And Bobby, you told me that -- what did you feel going back to yesterday morning when this first occurred?
(BOBBY WOLFORD): Um, it's hard to explain.
(DEE WOLFORD): The trailer shook.
KAYE: Say, Dee's why don't you tell us.
(D. WOLFORD): The trailer shock and we woke up. And we thought it was thunder and it was raining hard, and then we -- my brother-n- law actually came up and told us that what had happened.
The trailer shook and just as a lot of commotion and everything.
KAYE: And Bobby, has this been tough for you? Emotional for you?
(B. WOLFORD): Well, in a way. I mean, yeah.
KAYE: What has it been like, do you think for this community? You spent a couple of days here now, at the Sago Baptist Church, with the family members. Tell us you've been standing here and waiting and tonight the wait has ended, apparently. So what has it been like for you to wait, even though you're not a family member you're just a community member?
(B. WOLFORD): It's hard. You can talk. Go for it.
KAYE: It's emotional here. People...
(D. WOLFORD): Yeah, it is.
KAYE: ... are very difficult for this community.
(D. WOLFORD): You feel, um, you pray for them. You feel the pain that they're feeling. I mean, it's hard to explain. We have no family there, but we can -- we know what they're feeling.
KAYE: Have you talked with any of the family members?
(D. WOLFORD): No, I haven't talked to any of them.
KAYE: It's amazing to see how many people have come out, that really have no connection except for just being a part of the community. And tell us about that, how the community comes together. It seems to be a very unique place.
(D. WOLFORD): I don't know how to explain that, I mean, everybody just comes together. It's a small place anyways. And most people know each other around here. And a lot of people that live around here are working at the mine, or up at where he works at with the trucks and stuff. And... KAYE: And were you here with the church bells starting ringing tonight?
(D. WOLFORD): We can hear it down at our trailer. It's not too far from here.
(B. WOLFORD): We're just three doors down.
(D. WOLFORD): Yeah...
KAYE: What did that tell you, when you heard those?
(D. WOLFORD): Miracle.
KAYE: You knew right away?
(D. WOLFORD): Um, it -- we didn't know right away, our sister- in-law came knocking on the door. But, I mean...
KAYE: But you knew in your gut.
(D. WOLFORD): Yes. It's a miracle.
KAYE: Are you surprised, after the terrible news earlier tonight at about 9:15 Eastern Time, the news that one of the miner's body's had been found. Are you surprised now to hear that 12 have apparently survived this?
(D. WOLFORD): You always have to have hope. And God can make miracles happen. We're just happy. We are. So...
KAYE: All right. Bobby and Dee Wolford, thanks so much. And we're certainly happy to see a miracle did occur, Anderson, in their community. So many people so happy here tonight.
We just did see another ambulance, by the way, head up the face of the mine.
Not sure if that's ambulance had dropped off one of the miners and has returned, or if that's a new ambulance that has come here to this scene. But once again, Anderson, we're waiting and hoping that some of the surviving miners will make their way here. Their families are certainly anxiously awaiting their arrival here inside the Sago Baptist Church.
COOPER: You know, Randy, it's interesting we haven't seen any cars coming up this way, which all day long we have been, and normally even all night we would. I'm assuming the police, the state police, have cordoned off this whole area and are stopping people from coming down this road.
I'm wondering, Randy, though if you're still there. If you can kind of just show us the scene of where you are. You did it earlier in the evening, but for the viewers who are just joining. Just kind of give us a lay of the land of where everything is in relations to where you are. It's a little confusing, I think, for viewers. I am about...
COOPER: ... let's say, probably about 100 yards from where you are. Basically, you are down in that direction. So if you can kind of -- and that is closer to where the mine is and much closer to where the church is, and kind of where families are still milling around.
KAYE: Right, well if I looked in that direction or I ran in that direction, I'd run right into where you are. So that should give you some perspective. We're over -- we're this way. As far as this area goes, I can show you if you just step out over here a little bit.
Up in that distance, that's the -- that's the Baptist church. That's the Sago Baptist Church that we've been showing you now for a couple of days. That is where the families have gathered since the mining accident occurred. Several hundred family members, relatives, friends all gathered there praying, hoping.
The governor, Governor Joe Manchin, has come by here several times to visit with them, asking for a miracle, praying for a miracle. Saying West Virginia would see a miracle. Apparently, they have tonight.
So that is where the Baptist church is. Over here, to this area over here, this is actually one of the personal homes here, private home, family members there and the media has been gathered in their front lawns.
Actually, you can see some of the state police cars still here. The media, as far as we go, we're being kept now about 500-feet or so from the Sago Baptist Church. But if we go around on this side, this is just been sort of a frenzy of media, if you will.
Over here on this side, we have still some of the media gathered. We're just on the other side of what's been the command center. This is the big truck over here. Up there, everybody's sort of exhausted as you can see from the puppy dog that's hanging out here and waiting. Everybody is waiting.
This is the command center, right over here. That's been extremely busy, although fairly quiet right now as most of the people are out on the main road waiting. Several members of the media are here.
And if you step out a little bit here, you can kind of see how everybody's been just sort of camped out. I'm not sure how much, Anderson, you can see from the distance here, but this is the main road. Which would be just up the road from you.
And if we make our way this way, through the media, just to give you an idea, it's probably about 700 to 800 feet from the Baptist church over here to the main road. And this is where the media is gathered. Excuse me.
And just watch the camera's here on the ground. Right over there across the way, if you could just step out of the way here if you don't mind, sir, I'm sorry. Right across the way there would be the entrance to the face of the mine.
And you can see there's plenty of security there. And that's where the ambulances have been entering and that's where the ambulances have been coming out.
So in the meantime, Anderson, we're still waiting, hoping that we'll see another ambulance coming down here soon carrying one of the surviving miners.
COOPER: Randy, I love that there is a dog just sitting, sleeping in the middle of all of this. It reminds me in our -- Thornton Wilder, in Our Town, if I remembered it better, I know that there's some lines about the -- our town being a place where dog can just kind of sleep in the middle of main street. I'm reminded of that a little bit by that dog.
KAYE: We showed him just for you.
COOPER: I knew you did. I appreciate that.
We are awaiting a number of things, as Randy said. I mean, we're waiting to see more of the miners and hoping as we had -- as the families had been told I should say, earlier in this evening. When word first was given to them that 12 miners were alive.
That some of the miners would be brought, actually just to the church right over here. Very close to where Randy is. And so that's why a lot of sort of the media are gathered there and kind of waiting to see. Because the family members are still -- are actually still inside that church.
And we don't know -- we haven't talked to anyone who has been in there lately. We are -- we were expecting the desire, of course, for those people to be a community and to be just with each other.
And I know, a number of them were concerned that in all the jubilation over the 12 miners being found, that we would forget about the one miner who was found deceased. And we have not forgotten about that miner nor about his family tonight.
Randy Kaye had talked to a woman who believes she is sadly part of that miner's family, Michelle Mooser -- Mosher I should say. Who is the niece of Terry Helms. Michelle believes and told Randy Kaye this on our air several hours ago. She believes it is her uncle who died in that mine. And that is certainly a sad development.
We've all come to know the Helms, or at least we feel we have, over the last two days that we have been here. We've spent a lot of time with them, just on and off checking in with them. Checking in with Michelle and also Terry's son who came all the way up from Myrtle Beach South Carolina.
And he lives in Myrtle Beach. He's 25-years old. He lives in Myrtle Beach, because Terry didn't want his son going into the mine. Terry had worked in the mine more than 30 years. I think about 35 years. He was a veteran of it.
I'm told that Joe Johns is on the phone now from the hospital. Joe, are you at St. Joseph's?
JOE JOHNS: I am, Anderson, at St. Joseph's Hospital in Buckhannon. And just up the road from you all. We have been told, and I think you've been told as well, that one miner was transported from the mine scene to St. Joseph's Hospital.
We did see an ambulance come in lights and sirens a little while ago, accompanied by some police cars. And we presume that to be that one miner. Not clear on his condition. We're -- obviously some one who was rushed in, because the doctors thought it was pretty important.
We're also told that doctors are on standby here at the hospital, waiting to see who else might come over from the mine. Not clear to us what kinds of numbers we might be seeing at St. Joseph's Hospital. So it's sort of a wait and see situation, Anderson.
COOPER: We had talked to a spokesperson for that hospital. Joe we're going to check in with you very quickly as any more developments.
We're looking, actually, right now Joe, our audience is looking at the ambulance that you probably saw arriving just a short time ago.
This is the first scene -- first shot we had of the ambulance as it left the mine and then headed to the area where a lot of media are kind of assembled, and would pass us by. We're going to show you a glimpse of basically what all of could see through the window of the ambulance.
Couldn't actual see the miner, we're told that the miner was unconscious. And when we had talked to the hospital spokesperson, which I guess was about 15 minutes ago the ambulance hadn't arrived. But Joe has now confirmed the ambulance has arrived, which is certainly some good news.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta -- Sanjay, are you still standing by?
GUPTA: Yeah, Anderson, I'm here.
COOPER: You had asked the hospital spokeswoman about a -- I think -- I'm so ignorant in medical things, but I think you said a hyperbaric chamber, is that correct?
GUPTA: That's right. Yeah...
COOPER: What's the importance to that?
GUPTA: Yeah, you know, one of the things a potential carbon monoxide poisoning. What carbon monoxide is, Anderson, is a poisonous gas. And what it does is it competes with regular old oxygen in your blood stream. So the reason a hyperbaric chamber might be important, might be necessary, is if someone actually did suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning, you could use a hyperbaric chamber, which is just forced oxygen.
And literally use that chamber to force oxygen into the blood stream, kicking the carbon monoxide out. And that would the relevance and importance, potentially, of a hyperbaric chamber.
Now again, we don't know if in fact carbon monoxide poisoning did take place here. That spokesperson did say, Anderson, incidentally, that there is not a hyperbaric chamber at the particular hospital where Joe Johns is, but there are some hyperbaric chambers in areas around the area.
And sometimes patients actually need to be flown to these hyperbaric chambers if it's sort of critical situation. Again, this is all sort of speculation. You hear about these, for example, Anderson, in near scuba diving towns.
Sometimes when someone develops the bends, they actually use a hyperbaric chamber to force the nitrogen out of the blood stream and replace it with oxygen, same sort of concept here, Anderson.
COOPER: Yeah you -- that is, I guess, why I had heard about it. Because through diving accidents. We appreciate you standing by.
Let's just reset exactly where we are and what we are waiting for. We anticipate, A) seeing more miners coming out. Certainly there are a number of ambulances up at the entrance to the mine, where miners are, according to the hospital spokesperson we talked to just a short time ago.
A little triage area has been setup. The miners are receiving a medical attention, immediate medical attention on scene from those ambulances. A doctor from St. Joseph's is also on that scene providing medical attention.
Then the miners, we are -- the families we're told the miners -- or at least some of the miners would be brought to the church. That's where the families are all assembled, eagerly awaiting, as you can no doubt imagine.
We have seen one miner already, though, taken to -- directly to a hospital. We were told that miner's unconscious.
CNN's Joe Johns, who is at the hospital, has reported that, that ambulance has arrived. The hospital's spokesperson telling us that, that miner would receive immediate medical attention in the emergency room.
We are also awaiting a press conference, which we have been waiting for several hours now. At this point we can understand why certainly why mine officials have a lot on their hands. But we are eagerly awaiting to hear details of exactly how these miners were found. Because there is so much that remains a mystery about this. I mean, exactly where are these miners were. How it was that they survived this long in those terrible conditions. Exactly where in the mine there were and how far in it was. Last -- it had been reported the rescuers were about 11,300 or so feet, if my memory serves me correctly, into this mine of some 260 feet below the surface of the ground. They were very far deep into the mine itself.
And they had come upon one body, and they had come upon the vehicle, the man trip, or the man car if you will. Which brings miners in, which was untouched. And that gave a lot of optimism earlier in the evening. So that's sort of the chronology of where we were.
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