Elkford hosts annual mine rescue competition

For 94 years, the East Kootenay Zone Surface Mine Rescue and First Aid Competition has pitted mine teams from the area against each other.

For almost 100 years, the East Kootenay Zone Surface Mine Rescue and First Aid Competition has pitted mine teams from the area against each other in head to head competitions. The 95th annual event was held on May 15 and put on by East Kootenay Mines Industrial Safety Association and was hosted by the Line Creek mine at SMS Equipment in Elkford. Each of the five local mines sent teams comprised of loss prevention coordinators and emergency preparedness coordinators.

The Free Press spoke with SMS Elkford’s Safety Advisor, Catherine Reed about the weekend’s events.

“Line Creek hosted the event this year and asked SMS if we would like to be the venue for it. It was absolutely amazing for lack of any other word, we hosted the practical skills portion in our welding shop,” she said. “We have lots of truck boxes and big heavy equipment up here that the guys are familiar with on the mine sites and we were able to utilize those for the mine scenarios.”

Around 300 people were in attendance throughout the day, from newborn babies to mine workers and managers, including Teck’s Vice President, Operations Coal, Robin Sheremeta who was in the crowd. According to Reed, everyone was in awe of what the crews were doing.

There were five practical rotations that each crew would go through as well as a written test at the beginning of the day.

“They take all of their skills and training and put them to work in five areas where they do practical scenarios. A rope test, a fire test, a bench test which is more of a show and tell about a piece of equipment and how well you know something like a gas monitor, and the other competition which is left to the mines is a combination of a bunch of different stuff,” she said. “This year, Fording River did an amazing job with a confined space entry. They had Chinook Scaffolding put up a platform for them that simulated a mineshaft with a tube coming out of it and the guys had to rescue people using their gas monitors and stuff.”

Mine Rescue

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Elkview team member shows off his skills in one of the five practical scenarios. Photo courtesy of Brian Bisset

 

 

 

The competition was not the only thing getting served up at the event; there was also a barbeque, silent auction, an information unit from STARS Air Ambulance on site and more.

“SMS along with Cummins and Finning hosted a barbeque for the crowd. We also had STARS on site with their mobile education unit for the spectators,” she Reed. “We also had a silent auction at the event. For just the day of the event we raised $1,900 for that, and Elkview has a mascot, so at the beginning of the day they jailed their mascot and managed to raise another $358 that will also be going toward STARS.”

The first of the awards were presented by Tamarra Pryhitko of Staying Alive First Aid Academy, who presented Coal Mountain with second and Greenhills with first in the three-person First Aid competition.

The second award presenter was Jerrold Jewsbury Inspector of Mines, Health and Safety and Chief Judge who announced the Surface mine rescue winners. The best written, “Dunbar Award” went to Conrad Arsenault, the best captain, “Jack Peters Award” went to Steve Kallies and best team bench went to the Elkview Coal crew.

Both the Elkview team, who placed second and the Greenhills team who came first will be going to the Provincial Mine Rescue Competition.