Cool heads ready for mining crises

Experienced Grasstree miners have taken out the EK Healy Cup for 2011.
Experienced Grasstree miners have taken out the EK Healy Cup for 2011.

ANGLO American's Grasstree mines rescue team has won the EK Healy Cup held at Cook Colliery in Blackwater.

The four top teams on the day, Grasstree, Crinum, Oaky Creek No 1 and North Goonyella, now go through to the Australian Mines Rescue competition held on October 14 in Wollongong, NSW.

Grasstree Emergency Response co-ordinator Shawn Smith said mines rescue competitions put each mine's rescue capability to the test by creating a number of emergency response scenarios.

Teams must demonstrate the highest level of safety and teamwork , both on the surface and underground.

"The scenarios enable the teams to fine-tune their emergency response skills when under immense pressure and are designed in a way that simulates what they would experience in a real life emergency situation," Shawn said.

Eight of Grasstree's 28 qualified mines rescue personnel are in the Grasstree team, with Jason Fairweather as captain, Kristjian Rodier as vice captain and Nathan Bulgarelli, Peter Hall, Michael Wilson, Steven Gibson, Grant Girle and Gus Wilson making up the rest of the team.

"Last Thursday's activities included an underground activity in which an unstable roof was secured with timber props while wearing a BG4 breathing apparatus (oxygen cylinder and mask) and a first aid scenario, where teams were pushed to their limits dealing with multiple injured personnel," Shawn said.

The crew's ability was further put to the test when faced with a surface activity carried out without their team captains, in which they had to set up a fully functioning Fresh Air Base and undertake gas monitoring. While this took place, three members completed a fire fighting drill, which allowed assessors to observe team members' skills and leadership qualities.

"Training in the lead up to the event included a refresher first aid course and a gruelling training schedule comprising different exercises," Shawn said.

"The Grasstree mines rescue team would not have won the EK Healy without strong commitment from staff members, in particular, Grasstree mine manager Les Marlborough and Capcoal Underground general manager Gary Mitford."

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