When a mine collapses, every second counts. Each unnecessary movement, every extra step, can mean the difference between lives saved and lives lost. For this reason, mine rescue teams train intensely to keep their skills current and honed to a fine edge, always seeking ways to reduce team times without sacrificing technique or safety. That drive fosters a friendly competition between teams at different mines, and in British Columbia they have the opportunity to show off their skills at the East Kootenay Mine Rescue & First Aid Competition.
Organized by the East Kootenay Industrial Mine Safety Association, this year’s event, the 95th, was held at the Line Creek Operation of Teck Coal Limited in Elkford, BC on May 26th. SMS Equipment co-sponsored the day and made its welding shop available for part of the competition.
With its strong connections to mining and powerful concern for mine safety, the company was pleased to be invited to help recognize excellence in life saving skills.
The event attracted more than three hundred people, drawing everyone from mine workers and managers to families with young children. The day began with a written test for the crews. After that there was a tense afternoon with five practical portions testing first aid knowledge, rope skills, fire suppression techniques, a bench test of familiarity with common mine safety equipment like gas monitors, and a confined space entry challenge.
The event also included a barbeque, silent auction, and an information booth about the STARS air ambulance service. The event raised $1,900 for STARS, and an additional $358 from a “ransom” of the Elkford mascot. The event was by all accounts a thrilling one. “It was absolutely amazing, for lack of a better word” said Catherine Reed, SMS Elkford’s Occupational Health & Safety Expert. “We have lots of of truck boxes and big heavy equipment up here that guys are familiar with on the mine sites and we were able to utilize those for the mine scenarios.”
Three-Person First Aid
- 1STGreenhills mine safety crew
- 2NDCoal Mountain
Best Team Bench Test
Best Written Test
Both the Greenhills and Elkview teams (who placed first and second overall) went on to the Provincial Mine Rescue Competition in Kimberley on June 9th.
To encourage community first aid skills, the event also hosted the separate Local Industries’ Occupation First Aid competition, with separate events from 16-19 and 12-15 year olds.