Keeping your cool under pressure is a tough ask on a hot Moranbah day but eight highly-skilled mines rescue teams proved their mettle in a national competition on October 19.

Working calmly to reduce hazards and treat often screaming mock patients, the teams completed eight high-pressure exercises at Moranbah North Mine for the 59th annual Australian Underground Coal Mines Rescue competition.

The day’s format included underground and surface simulation exercises to demonstrate knowledge and the use of equipment in realistic scenarios, including exercises to test hazard awareness, underground search and rescue, first aid and fire-fighting.

The simulated real-life scenarios included longwall rock falls, grinder and crush injuries, drift fires and even snake bites. Each simulation had a time limit and assessors scored each element of the test.

Grosvenor’s Mines Rescue team took home the shield after displaying pure grit and determination throughout the day while sister Anglo American mine and host site Moranbah North came runner-up. South32’s Dendrobium mine team, representing Southern Mines Rescue in NSW came in third.

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Moranbah North team: Scott Ryan, Adrian Van Druten, Troy Williams, Blake Thompson, Kelly Bowmaker, Jason Seaborn, Matthew Gough, Lil Shanley.

Grosvenor and Moranbah North Mines also emerged as winner and runner-up at the 2023 Queensland State Cup for Mines Rescue in July.

Grosvenor team captain Boyd Buschmann said he thought the state competition at Carborough Downs was the toughest competition his team had encountered but Moranbah North had put on a challenging event too.

“Carborough Downs was very technical and probably pushed us to places we hadn’t been before. Today was more physical but the team soldiered on and persevered,” he said.

Thanking all competitors, volunteers and families, Moranbah North Mine captain Scott Ryan said there would not be a competition without families supporting each of the teams through their training.

Queensland Mines Rescue Service General Manager Ray Smith said the annual competitions challenged the proficiency of brigade members’ emergency response and recovery techniques.

“We don’t have too many deployments in Queensland and New South Wales so the competition aids in testing the team members’ capability and response, and their training needs,” he said.

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“They get confidence and understand their limitations, especially around firefighting and patient care.

“That heightened awareness definitely gives them something else they take back to their coal mine, confident that can deal with any sort of situation,” he said.

 “We want to see every coal mine worker go back home safely, so events like these allow the brigades to test and hone their skills in preparation for the unfortunate circumstance where they may be called upon.

“With their skills, experience and teamwork they will, at the end of the competition be a much better team.”

Moranbah North Mine General Manager Paul Green, whose site hosted the 2023 national event, said these competitions provided an invaluable opportunity to enhance skills and training.

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“It’s about having a very capable skill set of people with the readiness to deploy and save lives,” he said

“It’s really important for us to have these skills in the industry as safety is paramount.

“Also, events like this really bring together the collaboration of our mines rescue teams which is what coal mining is all about.

“We learn that from the crib room and that extends through the rescue teams where they get to know each other.

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“This becomes vitally important when we provide our services to other mines when we need to help them out from time to time.”

Paul said the friendly rivalry between the sister mines added a unique dimension to this national competition for him but commended all teams on their grit in physically and mentally demanding state competitions to get there.

Competing for Queensland were Anglo American’s mines near Moranbah, Grosvenor mine and Moranbah North mine, as well as BMA-owned Broadmeadow mine and Kestrel mine – all in the Bowen Basin.

Teams from Newcastle, Hunter Valley, Southern and Western Mines Rescue represented NSW.

The Grosvenor and Moranbah North teams are expected to be invited to an international competition in Colombia in 2024.

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