Mine rescue training resumes

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

As Ontario re-opens from the pandemic, so does Ontario Mine Rescue 

  Ontario Mine Rescue staff outside near truck
  SOCIAL DISTANCING – Left to right, Taylor Trahan, Al Desbois, Zac Clouthier, Josh Gagne, and Corbin MacDonald, from Sudbury INO - Glencore’s Onaping Depth Project, keep their distance during a June Introductory Mine Rescue Course at the Onaping Mine Rescue Station. 

While precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will continue, OMR introductory and refresher training will move to “more normal” operations late this summer, says Shawn Rideout, Chief Mine Rescue Officer. 

Surface training had been scheduled to resume at mine sites in late August, and it was hoped underground training would be resumed later in the fall, Rideout said, but the province’s move into Stage 3 in July, will permit underground training to resume immediately in late August.

Beginning late August and September, all new training sessions, including cross mine site sessions, will be scheduled to be held at mine sites and involve underground activities, he said.

Site-specific COVID-19 procedures

All mine site-specific COVID-19 procedures, which may include cage or travel limitations, will be followed.  

Enhanced cleaning procedures for mine rescue substations will continue, as will the stricter washing and sanitizing procedures now required for BG4s.

Participants are still asked not to attend training if they have any COVID-19 symptoms or have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Conversations with mine rescue co-ordinators indicate they and their sites are able and willing to open to underground training, Rideout said.

Throughout the pandemic, Mine Rescue Officers and mine rescue volunteers have continued to respond promptly and effectively to emergencies.

The province’s move in mid-June into Stage 2 of re-opening meant that refresher training and introductory courses could resume at mine sites on surface, Rideout said.

But after talking with mine rescue coordinators, he said, it was decided already scheduled training would continue to be held at mine rescue stations.

There was insufficient time before refresher training slowed down for the summer to reschedule planned training to mine sites, Rideout said. 

Training at mine sites had halted in March due to the pandemic, prompting OMR to begin to develop short online refresher seminars. The seminars had not been rolled out before in-person, participatory training resumed following the Victoria Day weekend in May.

At that time, district Mine Rescue Officers resumed refresher training with restrictions at OMR stations across the province. Class sizes were limited, social isolation was required, activities were limited to the surface, and station cleaning processes were enhanced. Washing and sanitizing procedures for the BG4s were reviewed and enhanced. 

The resumption of training in late May went well, he said. The volunteers were happy to be back. Some had not trained in two or three months and rust was beginning to show, Rideout said.

For many Southern District volunteers, “it was the first time they got to see the Delaware Station”, due to the station’s unique central dispatch location between the three mine sites at Hagersville, Windsor, and Goderich.

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