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Teams gear up for rescue efforts - The West Australian

Friday, 26 October 2018

It is a sight you never want to see — bloodied mine workers stranded hundreds of metres underground.

But this weekend those scenes, played out by volunteer actors, will be a welcome test for dozens of emergency responders from around the Goldfields as the Chamber of Minerals and Energy’s underground mine emergency response competition comes to Kambalda’s St Ives gold mine.

The return of the popular competition after a two-year absence will satisfy the competitive drive of the region’s emergency response teams and provide welcome business for Kambalda, with up to 500 people to descend on the nickel town for the event from tomorrow to Sunday.

They include sponsors, volunteers, event co-ordinators, mock casualties and competitors from 10 mine sites, pitting heavyweights like Northern Star Resources, KCGM, Saracen Mineral Holdings and St Barbara against one another in spirited competition.

Mines rescue has a proud history in the Goldfields as sport and training stretching back more than a century.

The CME’s Kalgoorlie office holds trophies dating back to 1903, when the event was known as the Ambulance and Rescue Corps Challenge Cup.

CME Eastern Region manager Rowena Olsen said it was a welcome return after the event’s cancellation last year. “To have it brought to life once again is fantastic,” she said.

This year’s competition will be held at the Athena/Hamlet underground mine, a gold deposit at the Gold Fields-owned St Ives project which is still in production.

Mrs Olsen said being granted access to an active mine added to the realism of the contest’s scenarios, including search and rescue, first aid, vertical rescue and breathing apparatus drills.

“It does impact on their business so for them to make that commitment once again to host a competition is just fantastic,” she said.

“We were lucky they have a few mines to choose from and having it at Athena/Hamlet means the scenarios that we’ve set up will actually be quite lifelike and realistic.”

While the event will have a competitive edge, new competition chairman and Saracen Carosue Dam emergency response co-ordinator Chad Prince said the biggest benefits came from sharing knowledge with other miners.

“It’s obviously pretty important for our training purposes to keep up with best practice,” he said.

Anticipation is, in particular, building for a confronting fire scenario, reminiscent of the real-life rescue of several workers at the Deflector mine in WA following an underground blaze in August.

“They’ll have lifelike scenarios unfold before their very eyes and if you’re a volunteer casualty you’ll actually be in the thick of the action, which will be fantastic,” Mrs Olsen said.


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