Mines Rescue competition tests essential skills

EIGHTY brigadesmen from across the Newcastle region were called to Centennial Coal’s Mannering Colliery –which is on care and maintenance – on Friday morning to compete in the annual Mines Rescue competition.
Mines Rescue competition tests essential skills Mines Rescue competition tests essential skills Mines Rescue competition tests essential skills Mines Rescue competition tests essential skills Mines Rescue competition tests essential skills

The victorious Blue 2 team at the Newcastle region mines rescue competition.

Lou Caruana

At day’s end, the Blue2 team was named the overall competition winner. It was led by West Wallsend Colliery’s Bob Wilson, who also captained the winning team last year.

Replicating an emergency callout, Mines Rescue staff telephoned brigadesmen on the competition “duty list” to request their attendance at the mine site. Upon arrival, teams were formed and given their instructions, Mines Rescue Newcastle regional manager Peter Cornford said.

“The Newcastle competition throws people into teams where they don’t know each other well, or who haven’t worked together before,” he said.

“It’s a strategy that mirrors what would happen in an emergency situation. It not only tests their core skills, but also their ability to act and communicate effectively as a team.”

The competition included several underground simulation exercises to demonstrate the brigadesmen’s knowledge and use of equipment in high pressure situations. Teams were assessed on their ability to apply first aid and operate rescue and gas-monitoring equipment, use of self-contained oxygen regenerative breathing apparatus (SCROBA) and attending to an underground diesel fire incident.

Teams also sat a written theory test about systems and equipment, and completed a teamwork and communications challenge.

Cornford acknowledged Centennial Coal for hosting the competition onsite, as well as the commitment of other mines in the region for allowing the teams to attend.

“Coordinating events such as these take considerable time and planning but they are an essential part of what Mines Rescue is here to do,” he said.

“The competitions provide an opportunity for mines rescue people to test themselves and the systems and controls we have in place to respond to possible real-life challenges.

Mannering mine manager Terry O’Brien said it is important for the industry to support Mines Rescue in hosting these events.

“They play a significant role in our industry with these simulated events forging camaraderie across the state’s numerous mining operations, while placing a strong emphasis on the value of teamwork, safety and communication,” he said.

On receiving the competition shield, Wilson commended his team for their efforts.

“I’ve been a brigadesman for around 21 years and to lead a winning team for the second year running is a great personal feeling.

“We had a well-trained team with a range of experience, including some who have been in the Australian team. All I really did was point them in the right direction,” he said.

Orange2 team was named runner-up and captained by Alex Lidwinski, also from West Wallsend Colliery.

Competitions are run across NSW to a standard format where teams are assessed against Mines Rescue competencies. Competitions will also take place in Singleton in July, and Lithgow and Wollongong in August.