November 2016

Kirkland Lake Gold wins International Mines Rescue Competition

By Cecilia Keating

Kirkland Lake Gold rescue team
Kirkland Lake Gold teammates carry an injured miner as part of the underground mine rescue scenario at the International Mines Rescue Competition, held in Sudbury in late August. Kirkland Lake was named the competition's overall winner | Courtesy of Ken Sitter, Ontario Mine Rescue

An Ontario mine rescue team was crowned the winner of the 2016 International Mines Rescue Competition (IMRC), held in Canada for the first time in August.

Kirkland Lake Gold’s team is the first ever Canadian winner of the prestigious biennial competition, often described as the “Olympics of mining rescue.” The event was hosted by Ontario Mine Rescue and Workplace Safety North and conducted at various sites in Sudbury from August 19 to 26.

The competition “couldn’t have gone any better,” said Ted Hanley, general manager of Ontario Mine Rescue. “The majority of feedback from competitors, rescuers and administrators from around the world was that they were pleased with the work we had done to create the most realistic competition that we could.”

Overall winners of mine rescue competitionRescue teams from 19 countries were evaluated as they tackled various mine rescue simulations. These were designed to test contestants’ underground firefighting and decision-making abilities, first aid response, rope skills and mastery of rescue and firefighting theory. One situation required a high-angle rope rescue while another included a live underground fire.

Hanley highlighted the importance the competition had in bridging cultural differences and bringing professionals together from across the globe. “We had a military team from the Ukraine and a military team from Russia who were sharing beers and dragon boating by the end of the week,” he said.

The competition provides an opportunity for mine rescue organizations to “share and improve mine rescue knowledge and practices through international cooperation,” according to the IMRC website. It was established after six Polish mine rescuers died of heat stress in a 1998 coal mine rescue operation.

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