After more than eight intense hours of different exercises Anglo Coal’s Moranbah North No 1 team, its Moranbah North No 2 squad and last year’s winning team from the company’s Southern colliery filled the first three places. These teams and the fourth-placed BHP Blackwater unit now go on to the 39th annual Australian underground competition to be held at Baal Bone colliery, near Lithgow, New South Wales on October 20.
Queensland Mines Rescue Services chief executive officer Malcolm Smith said the standard of the competition continued to rise.
“The continually improving standard seen in mines rescue competitions is a direct reflection of the commitment of personnel at our Dysart and Blackwater rescue stations,” he said. “Owen Hutchings, superintendent at Dysart, and Lester Anderson, superintendent at the Blackwater station, are to be congratulated on their efforts in honing specific skills in training, and for the encouragement they give in organising competition.”
Changes to the competition format were given the thumbs up by participants, organisers and dominant coal industry union, the CFMEU. Among the key changes was the move to combine the fire drill and first aid events.
Greg Dalliston, CFMEU inspector for safety and health in Queensland’s mining industry, was positive about the event.
“While it’s pleasing to see the gap closing between competing teams, it’s highly significant that this is taking place at a time when simulated emergencies are much more demanding and more realistic,” he said.
“A particular example at this year’s Healy Cup, and cited because it is definitely more realistic in terms of what can be encountered underground, was the decision to combine fire drill with the first aid exercise. Over recent years these exercises have for some unknown reason been staged separately.”
“There’s no doubt that standards have improved,” said Steve Bullough, who has acted as an assessor for more than seven years and was recently elected as the trainees’ representative on the QMRS board of directors. “Skills are improving because all those directly involved are taking a more handson approach and exposing trainees to what we consider to be day-to-day incidents.
“Preparedness is vital and the only way to achieve our objectives in this area is to introduce as much reality as we can.”