First-timers blaze international rescue path

THE case for Australia to partake in International Mine Rescue Competitions could not have been made better than by North Goonyella Coal Mine rescue team’s involvement at the International Competition in Poland this year, where they not only took third place, but also changed the very essence of safety attitudes at North Goonyella.
First-timers blaze international rescue path First-timers blaze international rescue path First-timers blaze international rescue path First-timers blaze international rescue path First-timers blaze international rescue path

The North Goonyella Mine's Rescue team lead by captain Geoff Nugent at the International competition, Poland.

Angie Tomlinson

North Goonyella’s participation at the competition during June this year was the first time an Australian team had competed in a major international competition.

Mine owners Peabody Energy held high expectations of the team – expectations the team surpassed.

“The success of the team has been a focal thrust to give the mine’s employees a positive aspect in regards to their workplace and their attitude to work with a positive safety culture,” team captain Geoff Nugent said at the Queensland Mining Industry Health and Safety Conference.

“There is a strong belief that mine rescue motivation at the mine will be very highly motivated for some years to come.”

The international experience has significantly raised the skill level. Problem solving aspects of international competition not typically exercised in Australian competitions also gave team members a unique skill-set.

Two members of the team were also recently appointed as ERZ controllers.

“North Goonyella has come from an unacceptable safety record to a mine that has qualified to participate in the MINEX Safety Awards in its first year under the new management regime with a major focus that at North Goonyella we think safety and work safely,” he said.

While the team came back with the results, it certainly hasn’t been easy street for the participants or undertook extensive training and practice before the international competition.

From July 2003 a structured training schedule covering daily modules of theory, procedures, fire fighting and first aid, BG4 and minimum equipment training with Queensland Mine Rescue Service (QMRS), and comprehensive reviews of previous competitions was undertaken.

For the international competition the team was allocated 19 days to prepare, concentrating on scenarios of actual mines rescue, fire and first aid problems. This was spread over six work rosters, with the members being granted paid leave for 50% of the days.

The Polish and US legislation, as well as the competition rules, had to be sourced over the internet and learnt.

The simulated mines rescue competitions were available over the internet which the teams used to prepare a mock pillar panel in a paddock on the surface to train using roped 50m pillars.

The team also did some training with Queensland teams that were competing at the Australian titles.

“This was extremely beneficial for both teams and is something that needs to be expanded further prior to any competition. Team secrets are counter-productive to the QMRS goals of proactive continual improvement and risk management,” Nugent said.