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Putting Skills To the Test — Mine Rescue Team Prepares for District Competition 

After months of training, Rainy River’s mine rescue team is ready to compete at the Thunder Bay district mine rescue competition in May, with the hope of improving on their performance from last year.  

“This year we’re really looking for that win,” said Justin Borger. “Last year we were close, but this year I’m pretty confident that we can come out on top by improving some of our procedures and making minor tweaks.”  

As a heavy equipment trainer and former captain, Borger has seen the mine rescue team develop and change over the years alongside Hannah Marcotte who joined the volunteer team at the same time as him nearly six years ago. Marcotte, who works as a surface shovel operator, was looking for an opportunity to expand her impact and develop her skills, finding the answer in mine rescue.   

“It’s helped me build my confidence and find comradery at the site. A lot of us have grown really close together,” said Marcotte. “Mine rescue has allowed me to develop a lot of different skills that I can apply at work.” 

Now serving as captain as they head into this year’s competition, Marcotte has embraced greater responsibility, focusing on enhancing communication and fine-tuning key skills among the team members. The eight-person team includes six competitors, a technician and a briefing officer. 

“As a new captain, we’re working hard on communication between the briefing officer and I – embracing the strengths and identifying the weaknesses of the team to develop as a whole,” said Marcotte.  

The event is organized by Ontario Mine Rescue and allows teams from mines across the province to test their skills against one another in a series of emergency response exercises. Having a well-equipped and trained mine rescue team is an essential and required component of mining operations. The activities that make up the event and a robust regular training program at the Rainy River Mine are designed to represent real situations that any mine could encounter. 

“We train six times a year with our Mine Rescue Officer who comes in and works with everyone on the team – all 35 members,” said Emergency Services Coordinator and team coach Jarid Sandelovich. “To prepare for competitions, we do a few days of training with the team and then we’ll do three focused days with the Mine Rescue Officer.”   

The Rainy River mine rescue team is competing at the NorWest Recreation Centre in Kakabeka Falls on May 9 and is hoping to qualify for the provincial competition in June.