Ontario mines test their skills in rescue competition

By Katie Nicholls
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

THUNDER BAY — Three northwestern mines are facing off against other miners in a province-wide battle in the Ontario Mine Rescue District Competition, where they are testing their safety skills.

At the Norwest Arena, rescue teams from Impala Canada’s Lac Des Illes Mine Ltd, New Gold Mine and Evolution Red Lake Mines are testing their safety skills in unknown situations, some based on real-life examples. 

Kurtis Atkinson, a mine rescue officer in Thunder Bay for Ontario Mine Rescue, calls this event important for growing the mine rescue program for each mine in the event of a real emergency. 

“Challenging some of these competition team members just gives them that comfort during an emergency that they’ve got that heightened level of training, and it really tests the teams to make sure that in case that [situation] ever does come, they can respond to a problem and they’ve been tested right to the limit”

There are eight districts competing across Ontario this week, with a winner announced for each on Friday night. 

Atkinson made it clear that those competing are the best from each mine that puts forth a team, and they are the real rescue workers at those locations. 

Captain of Impala Canada’s Lac Des Illes Mine, Dillon Bradley, called the competition a good learning experience while being competitive. 

“It’s a learning experience through and through. It’s to identify weak areas, to appreciate the strong areas of a team, but all in all, it’s a learning experience, and it’s just extra points for training.”

Bradley said doing these competitions gives him more experience for when he’s in the field. 

“I feel as though having these competitions and having the training, it makes me feel more prepared for when those situations come up.

“It’ll take away the initial nervousness of, ‘oh, there’s something that’s wrong here, and now I need to deal with it,’ because you’ve signed up and now you have to deal with it.”

The top eight teams from across the province will move on to a provincial-level competition, which will be held June 4 to 7 at Fort Williams Gardens Arena.