USW 9346 Health and Safety Chair Steve Kallies

USW 9346 Health and Safety Chair Steve Kallies

Elk Valley mines to represent in provincial safety competition

The 94th East Kootenay Zone Surface Mine Rescue and First Aid Competition took place on Saturday, May 9 in Elkford.

Clutching a wound on the back of her wrist, Dakota Smythe screamed continuously on the grass outside of Elkford’s Recreation Hall as first aid tried to tend to her.

This was just one of the scenarios that played out at the 94th East Kootenay Zone Surface Mine Rescue and First Aid Competition on Saturday, May 9.

Traditionally, the event and its following awards banquet have been hosted in Fernie but this year, both took place in Elkford.

Each of the Elk Valley mines participated in the competition that tested them on five skills — first aid, fire, bench, rope, and an extrication.

The scenarios were all specifically designed to challenge the teams and their knowledge of first aid. Volunteers acting as patients were instructed to distract first aid providers.

“Every team has their own captain role but it is absolutely teamwork based and they have to communicate really well amongst one another to gain control of the scenario,” said event coordinator Kevin Rookes. “We even instruct the people volunteering today as patients to over-act their symptoms to try and pull focus from another patient who is quieter who may actually require more serious medical attention,” he explained.

The top two teams in the three-person first aid and six-person mine rescue categories will each go on to the provincials championship hosted in Smithers, B.C. on June 13.

Elkview and Greenhills took first and second places, respectively, in the first aid competition while Elkview and Line Creek will be representing the valley for the mine rescue category.

Rookes said he was pleased to have a large turnout of youth first aid teams.

This year, five teams comprised of the junior category, aged 12-15, and the intermediate/senior category, aged 16-19, took part in the competition.

“It’s amazing because for a few years we had lost that interest completely and now we have five teams of four,” said Rookes.

He added, “To me, that’s our future … as somebody who hires first aid people, it’s getting harder to find people who are seasoned and trained. We’re really counting on a young crowd coming in. If you have someone who’s had a first aid certificate since age 12, whether through cadets or junior firefighters or any other program, by the time they come to me in their 20s they’ve already had a decade of experience and that really shows commitment.”

The Elkview Junior team took first place in the Junior First Aid category while the Sparwood Junior Firefighters took the top slot in the Intermediate category.

For her commitment to playing the part, Smythe also received the Best Patient award — a new accolade introduced this year to recognize a volunteer and their participation in the competition.

The event was also well attended by residents with approximately 400 people enjoying the free spectator BBQ put on by SMS Equipment and Finning as well as close to 400 attending the awards banquet later that evening at the Elkford Community Conference Centre.