Ontario Mine Rescue

Linking Mine Rescuers for 10 yearsLink Line

Ten years ago this November, Ontario Mine Rescue linked to its volunteers with the first, then unnamed, edition of this newsletter. 

It officially became The Link Line in August 2006, thanks to a suggestion from former senior mine rescue officer Ron Eveson. He explained that the link line was introduced to OMR after the East Malartic Fire in 1947 to keep teams together.

“The name was, and still is, totally appropriate,” says Alex Gryska, the head of Ontario Mine Rescue at the time. “We wanted a communications tool that would connect us, everyone in mine rescue, but especially the volunteers.”

OMR wanted to keep volunteers better informed about what was happening in mine rescue in various parts of the province, and what changes they would encounter as mine rescuers, Gryska says.

The inaugural two-page issue introduced the MSA Thermal Imaging Camera and the CAREvent emergency resuscitator, which had been undergoing field tests. It also gave readers the opportunity to bid for a flame safety lamp, which were being replaced by the ITX gas monitor.

But just as important was the need to recognize volunteers, Gryska says. Not just for winning competitions, he says, but for everything they do – serving on the Mine Rescue Technical Advisory Committee, long years of service, and much more.

The first issue also identified members of the TAC, and announced the creation of the Distinguished Action Award for mine rescuers who save the life of another person, on or off the job.

Though the intent was for The Link Line to be issued several times a year, it wasn’t until 2007 that two issues were released, while a year later the newsletter commenced its’ three time a year schedule – spring, summer and winter.

The summer edition traditionally focuses on the Provincial Mine Rescue Competition in June, while stories in the spring and winter editions cover mine rescue news, volunteers and staff, changes in equipment, research and more.

The Link Line was designed as a PDF so it could be easily and quickly distributed by email, as well as printed for posting on bulletin boards or as a handout. This ensured it was distributed to as wide a network of mine rescuers as possible.

This has not only helped the newsletter become a success within Ontario, says Gryska, but has helped earned it, and OMR, an international following.While the initial editions were rather brief, only two to four printed pages, The Link Line has grown to a steady six to eight pages in length.

And The Link Line is no longer the only communication link with volunteers. The website has expanded, including regular stories on the home page, links to photo albums from provincial mine rescue competitions, mine rescue videos, and links to news reports on Ontario Mine Rescue.

As well, OMR is now on social media, and can be found on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Ontario Mine Rescue would like to know what you think about how we communicate with you. Please take a moment to visit our survey site to answer a few questions. Thank you.


Mine Rescue goes to University

Mine Rescue Officer Wally Adler demonstrates a thermal imaging camera to Queen's University mining student James Procopio.

While thousands of new and returning university students enjoying Frosh Week crowded the streets of Queen’s University in Kingston, a handful of mining engineering students started class early by taking the Introductory Mine Rescue Course for Students.

“I jumped at the opportunity,” said Chris Zegarac, one of the few students familiar with mine rescue before attending the course. “I first got into mine rescue last year in Kirkland Lake” while on a job placement, said the student, who found the experience eye-opening.

“Safety is a big part of mining and I wanted to see the practical side of it,” said student Harman Khosa, echoing other students, explaining their motivation to be in class learning to disassemble and assemble a BG4 breathing apparatus rather than outside celebrating.

The nine students, most in their fourth year, taking the course covered the same material and used the same equipment as new mine rescue volunteers taking the Introductory course, though in a slightly compressed week. They learned about the MX6 multi-gas monitor, standard equipment, mine rescue procedures and more.

They also went under oxygen and experience a smoke-filled environment, created for Queen’s students at the Kingston Fire and Rescue’s Fire Training Facility. They had to search a large empty room to find a missing “miner” and load the body into a stretcher.

Most found the experience of walking blind in smoke unsettling.

“It was difficult to think through getting out” of the smoke once the miner was recovered, said Erin Murphy, one of two female students in the course.

Ontario Mine Rescue has trained students for more than 30 years beginning with an arrangement with the former Haileybury School of Mines. Mine Rescue Officer Wally Adler has visited Queens annually for about 10 years to instruct students, while students from Laurentian University and Cambrian College attend courses at the Sudbury Mine Rescue Station.

The course does not count for credit to their degrees, but “I think it would look good on a resume,” said Sandy Archer.

“I think it (mine rescue) is an integral part of mining, something you don’t normally hear about,” said graduate student Denver Cowan, but something everyone working in the industry should be at least aware of.

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