The Ekati Emergency Response Team (ERT) showcased their skills, abilities and preparedness for all kinds of emergency scenarios this past week (June 14 to 17, 2023) at the Northern Regional Mine Rescue Competition in Yellowknife, N.W.T. Ekati ERT members train year-round and this year the team selected for the competition won first place overall in the Surface Mine Rescue Competition: placing first in the following categories; smoke search and rescue, surface bench test, and written exam; and finished at the top of the following categories; rope rescue, surface obstacle, firefighting and first aid.
Four surface and three underground mine rescue teams from six mine sites across the Northwest Territories and Nunavut participated in the 63rd year of the annual competition, after being on hold since 2019 due to COVID-19.
The participating mine sites included teams from Ekati Diamond Mine, Diavik Diamond Mine, Gahcho Kué Diamond Mine, Baffinland’s Mary River Iron Mine, and Agnico Eagle’s Meliadine and Meadowbank Gold Mines.
“Ekati has been participating in the competition since the mine opened nearly 25 years ago,” commented Stuart Wray, Ekati Health and Safety Superintendent. “Arctic Canadian is committed to providing a safe environment and we work to improve safety through prevention, leadership training and preparedness, as demonstrated by the Ekati ERT.”
The mine rescue competition develops participants’ skills and ensures everyone is trained and prepared to the same level to respond to any emergency or mutual aid request. This year, the Ekati ERT aligned with supporters to coordinate and champion the Mutual Aid Training portion of the mine rescue competition for all six mines. The training included specialized scenarios, which focused on developing interpersonal relationships amongst participants, strengthening ties with Northern supporters and ensuring all ERT members’ skillsets are aligned in the event of mutual aid.
Ekati’s 2023 team was made up of seven individuals, including Ekati’s first female representative, Corinne Kraft-Bailey.
“Participating in the competition was a unique opportunity to showcase our team’s skills and learn with our mutual aid partners,” said Corrine Kraft-Bailey, Team Leader, Health and Safety. “The team gave everything we had during training and competing, with a goal to make Ekati proud. Winning Surface Overall is a moment that every member of our team will not forget. I am so thankful to represent Ekati and the female emergency responders. This is the first win for our ‘rookie team’ and we look forward to delivering many more wins for the Ekati family to celebrate in the future!”
The competition is made up of various skill testing events, including a written exam, first aid scenario, bench (tests one’s knowledge of mine rescue equipment), rope rescue, smoke search, and a general obstacle portion – which includes any aspects that may be encountered in a technical emergency.
Participating Ekati ERT members were selected due to their leadership, commitment and courage to care while on the job.
“The entire Ekati family could not be prouder of the effort put forth and the results received by the 2023 Emergency Response Team,” stated Ryan Clarke, General Manager, Operations. “This team demonstrated our company values to protect, innovate, collaborate and deliver. In the face of adversity, they proved that a strong effort and adherence to plan can yield fantastic results. Well done team!”
The mine rescue team members have developed specialized skills and continue to practice and test those skills through mock scenarios year-round. Ekati looks forward to continuing its partnerships with other mines through mutual aid training and entering into the mine rescue competition next year.