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Team Scaddan Takes Top Spot at Local Mine Rescue Competition

The Manitoba Provincial Mine Rescue Competition held on May 26-27, 2023, in Thompson, was a testament to the dedication and preparedness of mine rescue teams.

Vale Base Metals’ Manitoba Operations hosted their annual local Mine Rescue Competition this year from April 22-26: five teams competed against each other in a timed, simulated exercise that tested skills in first-aid and rescue, both underground and on surface and challenged their ability to adapt to changing conditions under pressure.


Kelly Edwards, Fire & Rescue Advisor for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba, was the lead coach for the mine rescue teams competing in this year’s competition. He stressed the importance of the competition as an integral part of the team’s training throughout the year.


“We run a safe mine, so although our teams practice year-round, we don’t get a lot of callouts,” said Edwards. “The competition gives us a chance to put those skills to the test in a realistic scenario. It lets both the team and the trainers understand what our strengths are, and what skills we need to develop.”


This year’s scenario saw mine rescuers using their understanding of underground ventilation to erect barriers and isolate a section of the mine to clear out the air and rescue two employees who have become trapped in a heavily smoked-out area.


When the teams returned to surface, they received another call: a multi-victim accident at the waste disposal grounds that challenged their first aid and firefighting skills, as well as their ability to triage the victims and prioritize their response.


“We strive for realism,” explained Edwards. “Every year we have real actors who simulate victims, with special effects make-up that simulate real injuries for the team to identify and tend to. This time, we were able to include artificial smoke that simulated the low visibility of a real fire as well.”


Captain Marc Scaddan and his team emerged as the winner at the end of the week. “Kelly did an amazing job on the scenario this year,” said Scaddan. “It was hands-down one of the best scenarios we’ve had at a local competition. It was complex, and the staging was super realistic. It didn’t leave anything to the imagination.”


The competition scenario strives for realism: the underground scenario included artificial smoke to test the team under low visibility, and real actors portraying injured workers, with special effects make-up displaying realistic injuries.


Sean McKenzie won the 2024 local Technician’s Challenge for the second year in a row: the Technician’s Challenge tests an individual’s detailed knowledge of and ability to repair their self-contained breathing apparatus.


“Sean is an excellent technician,” Scaddan added. “He’s passionate about what he does and we’re lucky to have him on the team. His attention to detail is what keeps us safe in a real emergency.”


The competition wraps up with a Fire and Emergency Services Banquet ever year, where the emergency team and their partners/spouses gather to celebrate the end of the competition and announce the competition winners.


“The extra hours of training, the callouts, it takes time from family and relationships that depend on them,” Edwads explained “And if there’s a real emergency, they shoulder the risk together. It’s important we acknowledge that sacrifice.”


Scaddan's team will now move on to Manitoba’s Provincial Mine Rescue Competition on May 24th and 25th in Lac du Bonnet’s Tanco mine, where they will compete against two other rescue teams from mines across the province. “The team is excited for it,” said Scaddan. “There’s always pressure to compete and present your team well for the province. But the team has trained hard and given 110% in preparing for it.”


The team will also compete against a mutual aid team that includes two members from each mine working together, including Vale Base Metals. “The mutual aid members train alongside our local teams,” explained Edwards. “They don’t meet their teammates from other mines until the night of the competition, and they have to rely on their standardized training to work together, much like it would be in a real emergency where mutual aid was invoked.”

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