Mine Rescue

UBC Student Team Gets Results with a Little OMR Help

UBC Competition

University of British Columbia mine rescue team members confer during the underground scenario at the intercollegiate mine rescue competition in Colorado.


UBC Team
Ontario Mine Rescue Officer/Consultant Danny Taillefer, front row left, coached the student-run University of British Columbia mine rescue team for the intercollegiate competition.

With a little help from Ontario Mine Rescue (OMR), a student mine rescue team from the University of British Columbia (UBC) placed first in the underground event and in incident command to finish second overall at the 2015 Intercollegiate Mine Emergency Response Development (MERD) exercise at the Colorado School of Mines. 

The team, from the UBC department of mining also placed second in first aid and third in the technician competition at the third biennial intercollegiate competition at the Colorado school’s experimental mine in Idaho Springs, Colorado.

The student-run team travelled from British Columbia to Ontario to train for five days at the Sudbury Mine Rescue Station prior to the competition, and was coached by Timmins District Mine Rescue Officer/Consultant Danny Taillefer. While in Sudbury they also received training and scenario-based instruction from members of the Vale East Mines 2014 Ontario Mine Rescue Provincial championship team, Lorne Plouffe and Perry Simon.

Though all team members had been certified in B.C. mine rescue training, captain Kieran Swanton said they wanted to further their training and range of experience with Ontario Mine Rescue.

Swanton, a fifth-year mining engineering student, had previous work experience with Glencore-Kidd Operations in Timmins, a four-month internship in 2013 and an eight-month internship in 2014, when he trained with the Kidd Operations mine rescue competition team.

“It was a really good experience. I got to see how to do things in Ontario,” said Swanton, who met Taillefer and current transitional OMR General Manager Ted Hanley during his time at Kidd Operations.

“I asked Danny if he’d be interested in coming down as a mentor and coach.”

The students manage and run the team themselves, recruiting their coach, arranging their training, and covering competition and training costs, including the Sudbury training, through sponsorships from mine operators and mining-related industries.

UBC was the only Canadian university in the competition, facing teams from five U.S. universities, including the host Colorado School of Mines. The UBC mine rescue team placed first overall at the inaugural competition in 2011, and third in the second competition in 2013.

“I see how crucial mine rescue is and how seriously people take the responsibility,” said Swanton of his experience in mine rescue and with OMR. “I think the biggest thing is how mine rescue promotes safety.”

About Us

Ontario Mine Rescue, a part of Workplace Safety North (WSN), has trained and equipped thousands of volunteers who have fought fires, rescued injured personnel, and responded professionally to a wide array of incidents in the province's mines over the past eight decades.

Under the authority of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and headquartered in Sudbury, Ontario Mine Rescue staffs, equips and maintains a network of mine rescue stations across the province that ensure mines within a specified geographic area have adequate emergency response capability.

Our role includes delivering training to first responders, providing consultations, conducting periodic audits, ensuring WSN-owned equipment is maintained to manufacturers' recommended standards, and providing advice during mine emergencies.

Since its creation in 1929, Ontario Mine Rescue has established a reputation for high standards in training, equipment and emergency response, as well as in the development of safe, effective mine rescue practices. We have served as a role model for the establishment of training and safety programs for mine rescue organizations in other provinces and countries.

WSN maintains a Mine Rescue Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) that provides advice and guidance to Ontario Mine Rescue. Under the leadership of the committee, we remain committed to continual improvement, ensuring the mining industry's mine rescue needs are met.

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Ontario Mine Rescue is in talks to form a partnership with the Ontario Provincial Police's urban search and rescue teams. “They've come in to understand more fully what we're all about,” said Alex Gryska, OMR general manager.

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Ontario to Host International Competition

Workplace Safety North’s Ontario Mine Rescue will host the next International Mines Rescue Competition in Sudbury.

“We can commit to the participating teams that this will be a successful event and our guests will be treated to the best international mine rescue competition ever,” said Alex Gryska, general manager of Ontario Mine Rescue.

Details have yet to be determined, but the tenth biennial competition, which has the support of government, industry, and several international mining companies operating in Canada, will be held in August 2016.

OMR is in the process of finalizing dates, securing necessary venues and preparing an information package – website, newsletter and registration material, for the event. Additional information will be released in early 2015.