Ontario Mine Rescue

Compass Minerals Team Tops Provincial Competition

Mine rescue volunteers from Compass Minerals Goderich Mine were crowned with gold hard hats by Ontario Mine Rescue, a part of Workplace Safety North (WSN), as the overall winners of the 67th annual Provincial Mine Rescue Competition in Sudbury, June 9 and 10.

Back row: Jim Ahrens – Captain, Matt VandenHeuvel – Vice-captain, Chris Lammerant #2, Drew Anderson – Briefing Officer
Front row: Jack Miller #6, Aaron Duckworth #7, Dennis Hogan #3 (missing Joel Paquette #4)

The Compass Minerals mine rescue team consisted of: Captain Jim Ahrens, Briefing Officer Drew Anderson, Matt VandenHeuvel, Chris Lammerant, Jack Miller, Aaron Duckworth, Dennis Hogan, and Joel Paquette. The team won the Southern District competition in Goderich in May.

The team also won the Team First Aid Award, and by winning the overall competition earned a guaranteed entry into the 2016 International Mines Rescue Competition (www.IMRC2016.ca) to be held in Sudbury in August.

During this week’s event, seven teams from across Ontario, selected in district competitions, were evaluated on their knowledge, firefighting skills, first aid response, use of emergency equipment and decision-making ability under stress in simulated underground emergencies at the NORCAT Underground Centre (formerly Fecunis Mine) in Levack, near Sudbury.

Jason Leclair, mine rescue technician for Barrick Gold, Hemlo Operations, won the award for top technician. Leclair won the Thunder Bay/Algoma District competition in May.

In the closing banquet, two mine rescue volunteers: Dick Shoemaker and Calvin Martin, both from Compass Minerals, Goderich Mine were honoured for 30 years of service to Ontario Mine Rescue.

Mine rescue team members, the backbone of Ontario Mine Rescue, are volunteer mine workers trained by Mine Rescue Officers to respond to all types of mine emergencies including fires, explosions and falls of ground.

During the two-day exercise the teams had to find three missing miners underground, providing first aid to two; extinguish an underground fire; and using emergency extrication equipment rescue and provide first aid to a worker trapped in a vehicle on surface.

Competing mine rescue teams represented Compass Mineral, Goderich Mine (Southern District); Goldcorp Canada, Red Lake Gold Mine (Red Lake District); North American Palladium, Lac des Iles Mine (Thunder Bay/Algoma District); Lake Shore Gold (Timmins District); Alamos Gold Ltd.’s Young-Davidson Mine (Kirkland Lake District); Glencore Sudbury INO, (Onaping District); and Vale Canada Ltd., West Mines (Sudbury District).

Awards presented:

  • First overall – Compass Minerals, Goderich Mine
  • Overall runnerup – Lake Shore Gold
  • Technician
    1st - Jason Leclair, Barrick Gold, Hemlo Operations
    2nd - Drew Dalgleish, Compass Minerals, Goderich Mine
    3rd - Brian Melis, KGHM
  • Team Firefighting Vale Canada, West Mines
  • Team First Aid Compass Minerals, Goderich Mine
  • John Guthrie Award (Team Special Equipment) Glencore Sudbury INO.

This year’s competition is co-hosted by: Vale Canada Ltd., Glencore’s Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operation, and KGHM. The event is sponsored by: Drager Safety; Fountain Tire; NORCAT; Day Group; Northern Medical Supply; Code 4 Fire and Rescue; Lake Shore Gold; Technica Mining; Zetec; SPI Health and Safety; Dumas Contracting Ltd.; DMC Mining Services; MSA; Acklands Grainger; Levitt Safety; Honeywell; North American Palladium - Lac des Iles Mine; Vallen; Pelican Products Inc.; Rocvent Inc.; Interconcrete Ltd.; and Miller Technology.


Testing Toughness: Evaluating Mine Rescue Equipment


Mine rescue volunteers in Southern District gave two Draeger FPS 7000 facemask units with FPS COM communication module attachments a thorough product evaluation smoke; foam; salt; heat; humidity . . . and the substation sink.

At first volunteers are reluctant to put the entire unit in soapy water to disinfect them, said Dan Rulli, Southern District’s Mine Rescue Officer, but they have been washed and heat-dried several times, as well as covered in firefighting foam, and should see much rougher conditions and treatment before the evaluation period is ended.

The pilot project is a result of growing concern over the quality of communications and the potential hazard poor communications presents to a team during an emergency mine rescue response. While the communication infrastructure in mines varies, Ontario Mine Rescue wants to eliminate any communication difficulties caused by mine rescue equipment, policy or procedure.

Draeger says the FPS 7000 facemask and the FPS COM communications module, which includes a diaphragm and amplifier, is submersible in water, has a wide field of vision, and does not fog. The facemask, though relatively new to mine rescue uses, is already in use with fire departments.

“It definitely felt easier breathing,” and communications with the team was easier, said Pete Kohnert, a 20-year veteran mine rescue volunteer at Compass Minerals’ Goderich Mine, following a recent training session with the units.
“It should be really helpful in smoke and noisy conditions,” Kohnert said.

Voices seemed clearer and more audible with the unit, and visibility with the facemask was also better, said mine rescuer Matt Drennan. The fit and weight is slightly different from the Panorama Nova mask currently used, he said, and will require some time to get used to.

The Panorama mask has caused difficulty not only while speaking into phones and radios, but also during inter-team communication.

Kohnert, acting as captain, and Drennan, acting as vice-captain, each wore a FPS 7000 with the communication module for several hours during an underground exercise as their team travelled by foot and vehicle in the cavernous salt mine to spray foam from the compressed air foam system on a “fuel spill.”

The communications module features a mechanical speech diaphragm and a voice amplifier with speakers on the left and right side of the mask, as well as an earpiece and hardwire link to a handheld radio.

Rulli told the volunteers that the units will not improve a mine’s leaky feeder radio system – dead areas will still be dead areas – but should improve the ability of the captain and vice-captain to communicate to the team, as well as their ability to hear radio communications from the briefing officer.

“I wanted to experiment, but didn’t have much time,” said Drennan, who nonetheless gave the unit a thumbs up based on his brief appraisal time.

Kohnert agreed. “I think it’s a good idea. It certainly serves a purpose.”

After the exercise, Drennan and Kohnert completed an evaluation form asking them to describe the environmental conditions; to rate various comfort and wearability factors, such as weight and air flow; to rate different communication module functions, including volume and hardwire connections; and a series of questions on performance and practice.

Though only the captain and vice-captain in exercises wear the units, non-wearers are also asked to complete the evaluation, Rulli said, noting that not only their ability to hear communications, but their opinion on how the units could be incorporated into mine rescue practices and procedures, is important.

The two trial units are now in Kirkland Lake District for further evaluation. A report based on the evaluations will be presented to the Ontario Mine Rescue Technical Advisory Committee to determine if the units meet the requirements of the mine rescue program.


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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