Cobar teams perform well at 2019 Mine Rescue Challenge

Members of the Peak Gold Mines team during one of the exercises at the recent NSW Mines Rescue Challenge event in West Wyalong. ▪ Photo contributed

Teams from Peak Gold Mines (PGM) and CSA Mine recently joined eight other teams from mines across NSW and Queensland to test their skills at the 2019 NSW Mines Rescue Challenge.

Held over three days in West Wyalong, the challenge tested crews with drills in firefighting, first aid, road crash rescue and search and rescue, all conducted under the watchful eye of adjudicators from the mining industry and state emergency agencies.

Aurelia Metals’ Jonathon Thompson, who was a member of the PGM team, said the Mines Rescue Challenge is a unique event.

“Unlike competitions this event is about collaboration between teams with the overall winner of the event selected by the competing teams,” Mr Thompson said.

“The winner is picked for helping other teams improve their skills, do a scenario better than others, lending equipment and overall collaboration and working well together.”

He said the PGM team performed very well (despite having three members with no previous Mines Rescue experience) and brought home a number of awards including Best Captain (Dan Stevens) and Best Medic (Samantha Lloyd). The team also finished as the overall winner of both the Fire and Rescue and Road Crash Rescue scenarios.

CSA Mine team member, Tony Walkinshaw (who is also the Fire & Rescue NSW Station 256 Cobar brigade captain) said the event is a collaboration of services.

“The NSW State Emergency Service, NSW Rural Fire Service and Fire & Rescue NSW also supported the challenge, sharing their knowledge, skills and equipment.

“The local community, including businesses and school groups got involved providing goods, services and volunteering their time to act as casualties,” Mr Walkinshaw said.

“The first exercise was a mock mass casualty where the teams had to manage 51 casualties along with multiple fires and a large spread out scene, in the pouring rain.

“Rescue teams had to dig casualties out of rock, pick casualties off roofs and rescue people from a burning helicopter.

“These challenges are important to maintain and build the skills of Mine Rescue teams should they ever be needed to respond to an emergency, not only at the mine, but in the local community,” Mr Walkinshaw said.