Taking on world’s best
Tahoe mine rescue team challenges for gold title at Int’l Mine Rescue Competition in Russia.
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.
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.
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.