Tak­ing on world’s best

Ta­hoe mine res­cue team chal­lenges for gold ti­tle at Int’l Mine Res­cue Com­pe­ti­tion in Rus­sia.

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - FRONT PAGE - LEN GILLIS

A united ef­fort is un­der­way this week to help the Tim­mins mine res­cue team from Ta­hoe Re­sources Canada put in a good show­ing when the team takes part in the In­ter­na­tional Mine Res­cue Com­pe­ti­tion (IMRC) be­ing held in Rus­sia later this month.

The Tim­mins team, aside from win­ning the Tim­mins District mine res­cue com­pe­ti­tion held in May, also won the all- On­tario mine res­cue com­pe­ti­tion in June.

As such, the team was chal­lenged to take part in the IMRC event hap­pen­ing in Eka­ter­in­burg, Rus­sia, from Sept. 22 to 29.

On Wed­nes­day, Team Ta­hoe stepped up its game as mem­bers of the Tim­mins fire de­part­ment were joined by mine res­cue of­fi­cers from across On­tario to pro­vide in­tense spe­cial­ity train­ing to the Tim­mins mine res­cuers.

This took place at the North­ern Col­lege fire train­ing site.

The team in­cludes Capt. Adam Wea­gle, No. 2 Syl­vain Falardeau, No. 3 Ni­cholas Sch­wehr, No. 4 Matt John­son, vice-cap­tain Pierre “Pete” Gagne, No. 6 Rick Martin, and brief­ing of­fi­cer Terry Roy. Team tech­ni­cian is Dan Guillemette and the coach is Jim Davis. The group rep­re­sents work­ers at both the Tim­mins West and Bell Creek min­ing op­er­a­tions.

Shawn Ride­out, On­tario’s chief mine res­cue of­fi­cer, said On­tario Mine Res­cue is re­garded as one of the best mine res­cue or­ga­ni­za­tions any­where in the world, but the ad­di­tional train­ing should pre­pare Ta­hoe mine res­cuers for any un­usual sit­u­a­tion that might oc­cur, with things such as struc­ture fires or un­usual first aid chal­lenges for ex­am­ple.

“It’s about us train­ing them to the in­ter­na­tional stan­dard. Ev­ery coun­try does things a lit­tle dif­fer­ent,” said Ride­out.

He said the world com­pe­ti­tion has an el­e­ment of pres­tige, but the key thing is that the team will be ex­posed to new res­cue tech­niques, new ideas, new equip­ment and prac­tices.

“That’s the biggest ben­e­fit for us in On­tario Mine Res­cue. Every­one has their spe­cial­ties and tech­niques. Hope­fully they can bring some stuff home and help us im­prove so we can con­tin­u­ally get bet­ter,” said Ride­out.

He said the process is a two-way street in that On­tario was able to show off some of its prac­tices at a pre­vi­ous event. Ride­out said “the tablet project” is one idea other coun­tries were im­pressed with and On­tario was able to show­case it a cou­ple of years ago. This in­volves us­ing a com­puter tablet in­stead of just pen and pa­per.

“We use elec­tronic de­vices to com­mu­ni­cate be­tween the teams un­der­ground and on sur­face. It was a big deal for us. It was a huge deal when we showed that in­ter­na­tion­ally. A lot of other coun­tries are now jump­ing on that band­wagon,” he said.

Un­der the old sys­tem, all the team ob­ser­va­tions and notes were put on pa­per and then called in to sur­face by ra­dio or tele­phone. Un­der the new sys­tem, the team records eve- ry­thing on the tablet and if nec­es­sary, they can trans­mit live data or video images back to sur­face if there is an un­usual prob­lem.

Ride­out also said he was also pleased to see Ta­hoe Canada’s cor­po­rate divi­sion sup­port the idea of send­ing the On­tario team to the world event. He also ex­pressed thanks to the City of Tim­mins for pro­vid­ing equip­ment and fire­fight­ers to help in the train­ing.

On­tario Mine Res­cue of­fi­cer Dan David­son from Onap­ing was also help­ing out. His back­ground as an emer­gency re­spon­der in­cludes 15 years as a para­medic.

“All the mem­bers of Team Ta­hoe are trained to stan­dard first aid. We’re work­ing to bring them to an ad­vanced level,” said David­son.

He said there is not enough time to give all team mem­bers the full 80-hour class­room and hands-on train­ing. But he said ev­ery team mem­ber will defi- nitely get up­dated on as much ad­vanced train­ing as pos­si­ble.

David­son said this would in­clude know­ing how to take a blood pres­sure mea­sure­ment and how to in­ter­pret vi­tal signs and other symp­toms that might be dis­played by a sick or in­jured per­son.

As for prepa­ra­tions and train­ing, Wea­gle, the Ta­hoe cap­tain, ad­mit­ted there is a bit of pres­sure be­ing felt by the team mem­bers, but he said he has con­fi­dence that each mem­ber will do their job. He said some of the pres­sure is just the nor­mal jit­ters that the team mem­bers put on them­selves.

“We want to do a good job. We don’t want to lose. No­body likes to lose. But it is go­ing to a fun ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said. Wea­gle also said the stepped up train­ing has been in­tense.

“It’s crazy how much we’ve learned: Things in first aid, and in fire­fight­ing. We don’t know ex­actly what they’re go­ing to throw at us,” he said in ref­er­ence to the mock sce­nario that the team will have to re­spond to in the in­ter­na­tional event.

Wea­gle added his team works well as a team in that no pres­sure is put on any in­di­vid­ual, but that all mem­bers pull to­gether.

He also gave credit to Davis, the team coach, who the group has nick­named as the Don Cherry of mine res­cue for his ex­pan­sive knowl­edge of mine res­cue. Davis is a for­mer mine res­cue of­fi­cer from Kidd Op­er­a­tions, who joined the Ta­hoe team af­ter tak­ing re­tire­ment.

For his part Davis said he shares Wea­gle’s con­fi­dence.

“They’re the best in the province. That’s amaz­ing. But there was a whole lot of work these guys put into that,” he said.

Davis said the team mem­bers are good lis­ten­ers and have shown they’re will­ing to learn and do what­ever it takes to get bet­ter.

Ta­hoe Canada health and safety di­rec­tor Jor­dan Vince was also in Tim­mins to see the stepped-up train­ing reg­i­men. He said he was pleased to see the com­mu­nity co­op­er­a­tion and sup­port. Vince also said he was con­fi­dent that the team will per­form well at the IMRC.

“The con­cern I think is just get­ting through the next cou­ple of weeks and gelling as a team and mak­ing sure we’re or­ga­nized to go, and the rest will take care of it­self once we are there.”

Also join­ing the team from Tim­mins will be a mem­ber of the Tim­mins Ta­hoe pur­chas­ing de­part­ment. Molly Myag­mar­bat. Although she is now a res­i­dent of Tim­mins, she was born in Rus­sia, speaks the lan­guage, and will be act­ing as the team trans­la­tor.

LEN GILIS/ THE DAILY PRESS

Tim­mins fire de­part­ment mem­bers pro­vided spe­cial­ized train­ing this week to mem­bers of the Ta­hoe Canada mine res­cue team. The Ta­hoe mine res­cuers are step­ping up their game these days as they pre­pare to travel to Rus­sia to take part in the In­ter­na­tional Mine Res­cue Com­pe­ti­tion (IMRC) which takes place later this month. Team Ta­hoe won the right to at­tend the world event af­ter win­ning the all-On­tario mine res­cue com­pe­ti­tion which was held in June.

LEN GILIS/ THE DAILY PRESS

Mine Res­cuers from Ta­hoe Re­sources in Tim­mins prac­tised their en­try pro­ce­dures into a burn­ing build­ing at the North­ern Col­lege fire train­ing venue this week. Team Ta­hoe is in the midst of in­tense train­ing this week days as they pre­pare to travel to Rus­sia to take part in the In­ter­na­tional Mine Res­cue Com­pe­ti­tion (IMRC) which takes place later this month.

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