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Central Mine Rescue competition is coming to Fairbanks

Several teams from Idaho, Alaska, and Washington state slated for 'intense competition'


For the first time ever, the Central Mine Rescue competition will be held in Fairbanks, Alaska May 12-14, 2015. Alaska has hosted the competition once before, several years ago in Juneau. Typically the Alaska teams travel to Kellogg, Idaho to compete.

The Fairbanks competition will host teams from the Hecla Lucky Friday Mine (ID), US Silver & Gold Galena Mine (ID), Teck Pend Oreille Mine (WA), Kinross Buckhorn Mine (WA), Hecla Greens Creek Mine (AK), Coeur Alaska Kensington Mine (AK), and Sumitomo Pogo Mine (AK). In addition, the Kinross Fort Knox Mine (AK), a surface mine, will field two rope teams and two first aid teams. Mining engineering students from UAF will also have the opportunity to participate in parts of the event.

The underground mine rescue competition is organized by Central Mine Rescue (CMR) in cooperation with the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). The 2015 event is the 34th competition the organization has hosted. Central Mine Rescue is an organization comprised of nine member mines with an agreement to share mine rescue resources in the event of an emergency at any member mine.

“We’re excited to bring the competition to Fairbanks and we appreciate the hospitality and support we’ve received,” said Danny Peterson, the director of Central Mine Rescue. “The enthusiasm demonstrated by the Alaska mining community is really incredible.”

While Peterson coordinates the competition itself, AMA and Pogo Mine have been working closely with CMR to secure sponsorships and help coordinate competition activities.

The competition is made up of several contests: First Aid, Team Technicians, Rope Rescue, and a main Mine Rescue Field Event. Not only are teams’ abilities tested, but all categories include a written examination whereby team members’ knowledge is demonstrated by answering an assortment of written questions.

“Mine rescue competitions assure the industry and the community that the rescue teams are well trained and capable of responding to mine emergencies,” said Pogo Mine General Manager Chris Kennedy. “I’m proud of the work all of the teams do. This is an intense competition and it allows our team members to sharpen their own skills as well as giving mine managers a chance to survey the skills of the other teams. Should we ever need to call upon these folks for help, we know the caliber of talent we will get. We see them demonstrate their skills and dedication and we also see how they interact with and learn from the other teams.”

In the First Aid contest, the scenario of an accident is set up and the Mine Rescue teams respond by giving the appropriate first aid care for the injuries at hand. The Team Technicians event tests the team leader’s ability to properly clean and test breathing apparatus that is used during mine rescue work. The objective of this event is to locate (and correct, if possible) any problems with breathing apparatus as quickly as possible. The Rope Rescue team contest is a timed event that measures the team’s technical skills by performing a rescue using ropes and established rigging techniques in a safe and effective manner. In the main Mine Rescue Field contest, an underground emergency situation is simulated and the teams must respond by working together to identify and solve the problem and rescue any survivors. This event is the most challenging and combines many of the skills that are used to be successful in the other events.

Each team faces the same scenario for each contest. In order to assure that no team has an advantage, all teams are held in “lock-up” until it is their turn to compete. While in lock-up, teams have no access to internet or telephone connections, and the area is guarded so there is no communication between the team and anyone outside of the room. This ensures a level playing field.

Events will be held at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks. The competitions are open to the public. Competition events will kick off with a presentation on mine rescue at the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce General Membership Luncheon on Tuesday, May 12.

Click here for the May 2015 Mine Rescue Event Schedule



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