Date of Completion


Embargo Period



groups, teams, emergency, decision-making, mining, mixed-methods, Naturalistic Decision Making

Major Advisor

Robert Henning

Associate Advisor

Dev Dalal

Associate Advisor

Launa Mallett

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Although the mining industry has made enormous strides in health and safety initiatives over the past few decades, the risk for life-threatening emergency situations is still present. In emergency situations, underground coal miners could be miles from the nearest exit and have to “self-escape” from a potentially hazardous environment. Although anecdotally self-escape from underground mine incidents most often occurs in a group context, the extent to which group behavior may affect the success of self-escape attempts has been vastly understudied. The present research effort attempts to address this gap by using an inductive, case study design to determine if any relationship exists between self-escape group behavior and emergency performance. Historical records of three actual, mine fire incidents and the seven groups of workers which had successfully escaped from them were the primary data source in this investigation. The aims of this study were three-fold: (1) operationalize and measure self-escape task performance using mine emergency Subject Matter Expert (SME) ratings on a Situational-Judgment Test; (2) assess variance in group processes within and between self-escape groups; and (3) determine the overlap between self-escape performance and group processes in order to develop a working model of self-escape survivability. Using this working model, findings were contextualized regarding applicability to the modern mining community as well as future naturalistic decision-making (NDM) related research.

Available for download on Friday, May 01, 2026