Rescuing is a Family Tradition

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Singleton coal miner Dave Malone is proud of his work with Mines Rescue, coming from four generations of miners.

Dave was the captain of Peabody’s victorious Wambo Mine team which took out the recent Hunter Valley Mines Rescue competition, continuing a winning streak they’ve maintained since 2019, broken only by a Covid pause in 2020.

Dave came to the Hunter in 2007 from the mining town of Collinsville in Queensland. Known as the “pit pony capital of Australia” because of its mining heritage, Dave said his father and grandfather had been involved as miners in the town and his father was also involved in Mines Rescue.

“I saw his commitment and how important it was to have the skills rescue training gives you,” he said.

“When I came down here from Queensland, I volunteered to be part of the rescue team. You have to wait until there’s a vacancy.”

Dave said he started off as a team member in 2015 and to break into the top team, you had to show keenness and interest.

“I just want to be able to help out if something happens – one of my captains, Warren Kirk, used to say you don’t want to be on the surface if there is an incident – you want to be down there helping your mates out.”

Dave said he has had to handle a couple of serious first aid situations at work. He said because of his mines rescue team training you “see what’s going on and click in and do what you know”.

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Collinsville Mines Rescue Station
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The first Mines Rescue brigade formed in Dave’s hometown of Collinsville in 1927 with his Grandmother’s Uncle in the far right of front row.

When it comes to knowing what to do in the event of an emergency, the mines rescue brigade members from Wambo are at the top of their game.

In the last fifteen years Wambo has secured victory thirteen times in the regional competition and have taken home two wins at the Australian Mines Rescue Competition. They’ve also represented Australia three times at the International Mines Rescue Competition, competing in Ukraine in 2012, Canada in 2016 and Russia in 2018. At the 2016 competition they won the First Aid component, proving that when it comes to saving lives they are world champions.

“The team this year included me and Matt Bailey, who’s had close to 30 years in Mines Rescue – he was previously the captain and then I was captain last year and this year,” said Dave.

Dave explained that the training involved theory and first aid components in classes of up to 10 men and women with practical sessions to train in underground rescue and to become familiar with new equipment and the latest procedures.

“You keep up the training all the time – there are up to six rounds of training each year to keep expertise up and skills current.

“In the competition you turn up to the Mines Rescue stations and are given a brief and a scenario – it could be an evacuation because of a gas leak with some people still unaccounted for that you need to go in and search for, or you could have to prop up a roof to reach persons trapped.

“You then roll through the rest of the day, stripping breathing apparatus and testing those and then you’re onto surface exercises, maybe a mass casualty incident and triaging patients.

“Being the captain, I’m there for the team with a core role to ensure everyone’s safety.”

Dave said he plans to be involved in Mines Rescue throughout his whole mining career because of how rewarding it is.

“Mines rescue has always been important to me. You’re the first port of call if something happens at work. People go to you for help in an emergency or if there’s an injury because you’re more highly trained and able to work under pressure.

“My mother and father are proud of what I’ve done and it’s a privilege to be able to continue the family tradition of being there to help when it’s needed.”

For information on becoming a Mines Rescue brigade member go to:

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