Last week Angelica Tellez and I had the exhilarating opportunity to join Team Miracle in the 2012 BC North/South Central Mine Rescue Competition in Revelstoke, Canada. Team Miracle participated as a non-competitive “exhibition team” responsible for completing the same challenges as the professional teams and evaluated by the judges on the same standards as the “real deals”. Canadian mining laws stipulate that every mine in operation, both surface and underground, require a trained and properly equipped Mine Rescue crew to be available at all times.
Our competitors, the “real deal” Mine Rescue teams, are trained in first aid using a wide variety of tools to rescue people trapped by various hazards such as fires, explosions, cave-ins, smoke inhalation and toxic gas. Due to the extremely dangerous nature of Mine Rescue responsibilities, the teams are normally comprised of a number of volunteers who risk their own lives to save their fellow workers. Angelica and I, along with the other members of Team Miracle, received a crash course in training on the basics of first aid, extrication, firefighting, rope work and mine rescue – which we soon learned was minimal training at best, compared to our competitors. Team Miracle’s main goals focus on learning, team building, and raising mine safety and risk awareness for all members, sponsors and the general public – all while raising support for the Mining for Miracles campaign (M4M) for BC Children’s Hospital.
Arriving at the competition we were instantly in awe of the obvious grueling months our competitors had spent training. You could unmistakably feel the heat of intensity and focus at the event – and it wasn’t just because of the live fires we were putting out! The competition featured four different challenges, each with an exceptionally planned, simulated scenario that exposed real-life incidents specific to accidents that can occur in the mining industry. Each challenge featured actors as victims with fake injuries and the duty to act out the pain, shock, and trauma of their role in the scenario at hand.
Angelica was given the opportunity to play victim for a first-aid challenge where she had the tragic misfortune of being crushed between two large vehicles. The competing teams had the impressive expertise to rescue her from her pretend agony so safely and with such care that there was no doubt in Angelica’s mind these teams would not hesitate to save the day with their knowledge and skills in the face of a real-life disaster.
Perhaps the most inspiring part of the week was the reminder of why Mine Rescue training is so important and the real reason behind the competition. Driving home from Revelstoke at the end of the event, two of the competing teams from Mount Polly and Peace River Coal came across an accident scene and were able to assist in extrication and first aid treatments. About 40kms away from the hosting city, a motorcycle had been struck by a rig and the courageous and dedicated Mine Rescue experts were fortunately on hand and prepared to assist with the patient care, scene security, and traffic control. Illustrating their willingness, passion and dedication to help out whenever and wherever help is needed – leading by example in its truest form.
I have an enormous amount of admiration and thanks for those that take the time to invest in the self-less learning of helping others in order to be there for those in need. The experience of being a part of Team Miracle was remarkable, energizing and taught me valuable skills that may help save someone’s life one day. I’m excited about The Refinery’s participation in next year’s competition and am looking forward to continue to share our stories along the way about our training, challenges, and learning in the process of Team Miracle’s developments!
Below is a video from one of the highlights from my participation in the event. Myself, and John Wilson, a professor from Northwest Community College, are in full SCBA gear receiving last minute coaching from Gene Olson, Administrator Safety & Loss Control at Teck Coal Limited, Elkview Operations, on how to properly execute the fire and smoke challenge!