Mine rescue teams from across B.C. are arriving in Smithers to put their skills to the test at Heritage Park June 13.
Five teams in surface mine rescue and eight in three-person first aid events are competing in the 60th annual Provincial Mine Rescue and First Aid Competition. The tradition of rescue competitions goes back further, with the first recorded in 1915 in Fernie.
Tasks include fire, extraction, ropes, practical skills, first aid and a written exam. The public is invited to watch the outdoor events starting at 8 a.m. and running until about 3 or 4 p.m. said Ministry of Energy and Mines senior inspector of mines Douglas Flynn, who is helping run the event with the local Smithers staff.
“Essentially it’s simulated accidents, recovery of a patient from usually a very hard to get at place, and then some of the practical skills components: each team member going through their knowledge of all of the tools that they use,” said Flynn.
Raven Rescue’s Ron Morrison will be a rope judge. The Smithers Fire Department is helping out with the provincial competition and the June 11 regional zone competition.
Smithers Secondary School Drama students are filling in again this year as rescue victims.
This is the fourth time that Smithers has held the event since 2002, and the second year in a row. Including competitors, management and family, about 15-20 people per team are expected to visit according to Flynn.
Huckleberry Mine won the three-person first aid event the last four years. This year, over half are new members to the team according to coach Dwayne Allen
“The amount of experience and knowledge that teams get from competing … different ways of doing tasks … Once they go back to the mine site they bring that knowledge with them,” said Allen.
“They kind of become leaders in the mine rescue teams. And of course there’s the prestige of coming out as the top team in the province.”
Coal mine closures due to deflated prices mean there will be no underground mine rescue portion this year.