August 2009

Celebrating excellence in mining safety

Competition simulates real-life mine emergencies to encourage team building and problem solving

By M. Eisner

This year’s Provincial Mine Rescue and First Aid Competition, held on June 6 at Britannia Beach, British Columbia, brought together teams from across the province to compete in a day-long series of challenges geared towards rescue and safety in BC mines.


The 2009 competition, which was open to the public, consisted of an underground mine rescue, a surface mine rescue and a three-person first aid scenario that was scored based on standard St. John Ambulance training. Mining experts evaluated each challenge as teams worked through a simulated mine environment similar to what they would face in an actual mine rescue situation.

In its 54th year, the annual competition, which takes place at the BC Museum of Mining and is hosted by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, is designed to simulate real-life situations and test skills in first aid, extrication, fire fighting, rope work and general mine rescue. Established in 1917 to reduce fatality rates in BC’s mines, the event is also an exercise in team building, since participants may one day be involved in mutual aid collaboration with workers in other sectors in the industry.

For example, Highland Valley Copper, winner of last year’s surface mine rescue event, recently assisted in the rescue of a man buried for 14 hours at Pavilion in Cache Creek.

At the end of the day, 10 trophies were awarded to the best in three categories, chosen from six surface teams, four underground teams and six three-person miners’ first aid teams.

Later in the evening, mining industry representatives from across BC attended the 47th Annual Mine Safety Awards ceremony, which honoured 14 mines and quarries that had accumulated 15,000 or more worker or contractor hours and had no fatalities in the calendar year of 2008.

“Being a part of the Mine Rescue Competition is in line with our commitment to educate, inspire and entertain,” explained BC Museum of Mining executive director Kirstin Clausen. “We commend the ministry staff for offering this program, not only as a spectator experience to the public, but for the potentially life-saving experience the competition brings to anyone involved with emergency response.”

This year’s winners of the Provincial Mine Rescue and First Aid Competition were:

Three-person miners’ first aid competition

  • Highland Valley Copper, Teck: three-person miners’ first aid
  • Highland Valley Copper, Teck: Kathy Lofstrom Memorial (best coach for three-person first aid)

Surface mine rescue

  • Highland Valley Copper, Teck: Maurice Boisse Memorial (best bench for surface team)
  • Greenhills Operations, Teck Coal: HVC highest non-aggregate points
  • Greenhills Operations, Teck Coal: Overall surface mine rescue trophy

Underground mine rescue

  • Quinsam Coal Corporation: USWA Mine-Mill Award (best underground coordinator)
  • Quinsam Coal Corporation: Sullivan Cup (best first aid by underground team)
  • Quinsam Coal Corporation: Barry Abbott Memorial (best bench for underground team)
  • New Afton, Newgold Inc: Keith Bracewell Memorial Award (best obstacle and recovery)
  • Quinsam Coal Corporation: Overall Underground Mine Rescue Trophy
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