Safety improvements help reduce risk for Mine Rescue Officers
In Februrary, the Mine Rescue Officer for Thunder Bay-Algoma District, Mike Krell, traded his mine rescue van for a new four-wheel drive pickup, a GMC Sierra 2500HD (Heavy-Duty), with a couple hundred kilometres on the odometer.
“It’s better in every way,” Krell said.
By the end of April, he had put on more than 10,000 kilometres, much of it on gravel road, serving Wesdome’s Eagle River Mine, Richmont’s Island Gold Mine and Barrick Gold’s Hemlo Operation, from his Wawa home.
The pickup is more comfortable, handles the road better, has more power, and is quiet, Krell said. “You don’t get that constant rattling that you hear in the van.”
At times in poor weather, during the winter when mine access roads might not be ploughed, and spring when runoff and rain can flood, washout and create washboard surfaces on roads, driving a two-wheel van with a high centre of gravity takes on a higher risk, he said.
“There’s a higher level of safety and confidence” in the new vehicle, said Krell, who received the second new pickup purchased by Ontario Mine Rescue. The vehicle is plated “Rescue 02”, which follows the Ontario Mine Rescue emergency vehicle fleet management protocol. Vehicles in the fleet include plates Rescue 01 to 13.
“The truck’s an eye catcher, not only among mine rescuers at mine sites, but in the town of Wawa, too,” said the officer, who admits to taking kids for emergency light-flashing rides.
The pickup, however, does not seem to have the same storage space as the van, he said, though there is sufficient room for all the required mine rescue equipment. With a slideout for the main compartment and two side compartments, more organization is required, and Krell said he has not yet determined the optimum layout.
But on his long drive to and from Wesdome – a 40 km highway drive, followed by 40 km gravel road to the mine gate, and another 20 km to the mine site, Krell just enjoys the ride.