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Northern mine rescue teams gear up for provincial championships

Eight winning teams determined during mid-May district events
The winning team from Kirkland Lake District was Agnico Eagle's Macassa Mine team. Members, from left, include: (back row) Jackson Lafrance, Hubert Gour, Nick Perrier, Denis Dion, Jason Dicaire; (front row) Jean Francois Racine, Carlie Dewar, Basil Eraif, and April Belecque.

Mine rescue teams from across the province are preparing for the 2023 Ontario Mine Rescue championships in June after winning in their district competitions earlier this month.

The annual provincial competition invites mine workers trained in rescue techniques to test their skills and knowledge in a variety of mock scenarios that mimic situations they could encounter while underground. That includes firefighting skills, first aid response, use of emergency equipment, and decision-making ability under stress.

During the district exercise, held May 10-11, five-member teams had to extinguish a small fire. Then they had to find and rescue a severely injured miner who had suffered a critical injury during a mine collapse.

“The competitions are an important way to keep skills and practices up to date,” said Ted Hanley, vice-president of mine rescue and emergency services at Workplace Safety North, in a May 23 news release.

“The scenarios are designed to evaluate knowledge and are a great chance for the teams to collaborate and learn from each other.”

Winning teams from each district include:

  • Algoma District: Newmont Borden Mine team, comprised of Captain Patrick Gilbert, Vice Captain Jay Chenier, Ryan Levac (#2), Hank Harrison (#3), Tristan Larcher (#4), Nick Swanson (#6), Perry Canning (#7), and Briefing Officer Kyle Besnier Winning Technician: Kyle Oullette (Island Gold Mine) 
  • Kirkland Lake District: Agnico Eagle Mines Macassa Mine team, comprised of Captain Nick Perrier, Vice Captain Hubert Gour, Jackson Lafrance (#2), Jean Francois Racine (#3), Denis Dion (#4), Carlie Dewar (#6), Basil Eraif (#7), and Briefing Officer April Belecque. Winning Technician: Jason Dicaire (Agnico Eagle Mines Macassa Mine)
  • Onaping District: Glencore team, comprised of Captain Julien Lalande, #2 Jesse Legault, #3 Neil Poulin, #4 Aaron Boutet, Vice-Captain Shawn O’Brian, #6 Pat Robitaille, #7 Xavier Bruneau, and Briefing Officer Bleir Millions. Winning Technician: JY Doiron (Vale East Mines)
  • Red Lake District: Newmont Musselwhite Mine team comprised of Captain Phil Mullin, Vice Captain Alexa Dumaine, Scott Lawson (#2), Leaf Watson (#3), Nick Gosselin (#4), Jimmy Sinclair (#6), Matt Arges (#7) and Briefing Officer Ryan Lepage. Winning Technician: Darren Bullied (Evolution Mining, Red Lake Operations) 
  • Southern District: Compass Minerals Goderich Mine team, comprised of Captain David Kelly, Vice Captain Joel Paquette, Cody Lobb (#2), Gordon Bailey (#3), Kyle Ropp (#4), Ken Nguyen (#6), Amanda Haak, Shea Bradley, and Briefing Officer Jason Phillip. Winning Technician: Mike Fredriksson, an independent mine rescue technician, won the top technician award for the Southern district.
  • Sudbury District: Vale East Mines team, comprised of Captain Kordell Hull, #2 Will Davies, #3 Ryan Tinker, #4 Jason Cook, Vice-Captain Jeremy Faulkner, #6 Will Langois, #7 Loni-May Barlow, and Briefing Officer Shawn St. Louis. 
  • Thunder Bay District: Impala Canada Lac Des Iles Mine team, comprised of Captain Brad Kemp, Vice Captain Cody Vold, Dillon Bradley (#2), Chris Cameron (#3), Ethan Gorman (#4), Devin Jackson (#6), Dave Chony (#7), and Briefing Officer Tyler Williams. Winning Technician: Monika Jorgenson (Impala Canada Lac Des Isles Mine)
  • Timmins District: Lakeshore Gold Timmins West-Bell Creek Mines team, comprised of Captain Adam Weagle, Vice Captain Natalie Lafontaine, Shane Sullivan (#2), Brandon Duhan (#3), Blade Cashmore (#4), Serge Roy (#6), and Briefing Officer Terry Roy. Winning Technician: Mike Bennett (Kidd Mine)

These eight teams will now move on to the provincial championships, which will take place in Hagersville, south of Brantford, June 13 to 19 at the Canadian Gypsum Company Mine.

Ontario Mine Rescue was founded following a royal commission into a 1928 fire at Hollinger Mine in Timmins that claimed the lives of 39 miners. Following the inquiry, the province recommended the formation of an Ontario Mine Rescue organization to respond to underground mine fires.

Since then, the organization has trained and equipped thousands of volunteers who have fought fires, rescued injured personnel, and responded professionally to a wide variety of incidents in provincial mines.

Ontario Mine Rescue operates as part of Workplace Safety North, which is headquartered in Sudbury.


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