Sharpening Skills at the Mine Rescue Summit

Sep 20, 2018 5:15 AM ET

At Goldcorp, we’re proud to have highly trained Mine Rescue and Surface Emergency Response Teams at our mining operations, ready for any emergency that might arise. Thankfully, these rarely occur; but at the same time, how can response teams stay at the top of their game if they’re hardly ever activated?

Although each mine’s emergency responders receive regularly scheduled training to stay fresh, many felt they would benefit from getting together in a focused, organized event that promotes sharing knowledge and improving skills. To that end, Goldcorp’s Mine Rescue Summit was developed to keep emergency responder skills up-to-date with specialized realistic training exercises that put each participant to the test.

“The idea came from when we match-up strong, experienced teams at our existing operating sites with teams at newer sites within the organization to help train them,” states Paul Magny, Manager of Health, Safety and Security at Goldcorp’s Coffee Project and Chair of the Summit’s organizing committee. “It’s an opportunity for Goldcorp to bring together responders from all our sites and provide strong training which they can then bring back to their sites and share with their teammates.”

This year’s event took place in late July in Gravenhurst, Ontario. Eighty-five responders from across the Goldcorp operations in Canada, Mexico, and South America spent the week honing their skills and gaining knowledge in various seminars, presentations, workshops and group sessions, and together conducted realistic response and rescue training scenarios that included first aid, high angle rope rescue, low visibility search and rescue, confined space rescue, specialized equipment training, auto-extrication, firefighting, train derailment, underground mine rescue and new this year, aircraft extrication.

After completing the aircraft extraction scenario, one participant, Marc Charron, Porcupine Gold Mine’s Emergency Response Team Coordinator, said, “That exercise sure stood-out for me. An aircraft emergency could very well be a reality for Goldcorp as we do have fly-in operations where our employees arrive on site via aircraft. Should anything happen, thanks to this training, responders are prepared and equipped to respond if ever required to.”

By design, teams at the Summit were formed by strategically mixing people from various sites to promote sharing and networking. Twenty-two interpreters were also on hand to assist with translations, but as the week progressed the translators were needed less and less, as the teams found other effective ways to communicate. The general spirit of the Summit was educational and team building, rather than a rescue competition, and the networking opportunity made a lasting impression. “The friendships that have developed and the energy levels have been outstanding, and the participation has been really strong,” added Magny.

Despite the high-risk events happening daily, the entire Mine Rescue Summit was incident free. “It’s been very controlled and approached very tactfully with the proper risk assessments,” concluded Peter Calnan, VP of Safety & Health. “Everything needed to keep our people safe has been done, the commitment to safety has been relentless.”