Ontario Mine Rescue

More than Firefighting

Despite the ‘emergency’ allusion to flashing red and blue lights, and loud alarms, Ontario Mine Rescue’s Emergency Services Training Division has a quiet profile.

But that doesn’t bother the division’s newest Emergency Services Specialist Scott Gillett, a trained mine rescuer with experience as a volunteer firefighter, who joined OMR and the division earlier this year.

Started about 10 years ago and then headed by the late Mine Rescue Officer Shawn Kirwan, the Emergency Services Training (EST) Division offered specialized courses in surface emergency response outside the core OMR underground program to Ontario and out-of-province mining operations.

The expectation now, Ebbinghaus said, “is that brigades are capable in effectively and safely responding to hazardous material exposures and spills, confined space rescues, and emergency medical aid situations.

”As in underground mining, surface emergency response in industry has progressed beyond “just traditional firefighting,” said Chief Emergency Services Officer Tim Ebbinghaus, the division’s manager.

Despite not having the 90 years of industry exposure of OMR’s underground program, the division’s two staff – Ebbinghaus and Gillett – both have full training schedules.

“I’ve seen a lot of Ontario I hadn’t seen before,” said Gillett, who has travelled not only to instruct courses in firefighting, hazardous material response, and confined space rescue to Ontario mines, but to upgrade his own knowledge and skills in emergency response.

“We can’t be satisfied just knowing how to do something,” said Ebbinghaus. Just as for Mine Rescue Officers, specialized emergency response requires continual knowledge and skills development, and awareness of advances in procedures and technology.

“We want to be able to do it (emergency response) at a high level,” Ebbinghaus said, “so we can train emergency responders to perform at their highest level.”

Gillett shared his learning experiences during a recent refresher training exercise with a six-member squad of Glencore Strathcona Mill’s Emergency Response Team, showing scorch marks on the outside of his turnout coat from his own training.

“That’s (the turnout coat) no longer suitable for use in fire response” or fire exercises, he said, explaining that though the outside is only scorched, the interior filling has been compromised by the extreme heat.

The day included two-minute drills – donning all protective equipment including activating breathing apparatus as quickly as possible; hose drills – deploying, using and recovering multiple 50-foot hose sections; a lifting bag exercise; and a site tour to review locations of fire hydrants.

“Because if there’s a fire, you’re going to need water,” the emergency services specialist told the team, “and you should know the closest place to get it.”

With maintenance and upgrading training for himself, a suite of emergency response courses to present, and refresher training in those courses, Gillett does not expect his job to become routine, especially as more mines and industrial operations knock on the door.


Ontario Mine Rescue volunteers star in video series

Ontario Mine Rescue family and families are playing a starring role in a video series, Drägerman Stories, produced and released by Dräger Safety.

Drägerman Stories Drägerman Boutet Drägerman Hensher Drägerman Joliat
Drägerman Duffy Drägerman Wilson Drägerman Lundrigan Drägerman Hagan


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.

Ontario Mine Rescue video