Future Engineers Compete at Canada’s First International Student Mine Rescue Competition
On February 20, student mine rescue teams from across Canada and the United States gathered in Vancouver for the first ever Canadian International Student Mine Rescue Competition.
This two-day event, which was hosted by the University of British Columbia, featured a number of challenges that were specifically designed to test participants’ knowledge and ability in different facets of mine rescue. It also provided an invaluable learning opportunity.
“Competitions like this enhance and strengthen mining engineering programs by providing out of classroom, hands-on practice and learning for students,” says Kent Armstrong, Global Business Development Manager at Dräger Safety, title sponsor of the event. “They get an overview of the whole process of mine rescue and what’s involved. The experience makes them a more valuable asset when they work for a mining company.”
The challenges included an underground obstacle and recovery, which mimicked a mine rescue emergency. Equipped with Dräger’s PSS® BG 4 Plus breathing apparatus, participants entered the mock mine to retrieve trapped miners and demonstrate their understanding of mine rescue principles.
The triad first aid challenge, meanwhile, tested each team’s ability to work in high-stress scenarios by simulating multiple casualties. Participants were also evaluated on their firefighting techniques and ability to assemble the BG4 apparatus, which had to pass a bench test. Finally, the teams completed a written exam on mine rescue theory.
Dräger contributed staff and equipment to support a variety of scenarios, including an underground simulation with a demo refuge chamber and a fire simulation with a live fire training system designed to look like a car on fire.
UBC nabbed first place overall, followed by the Colorado School of Mines. Students from Laurentian University, who traveled all the way from Sudbury, Ontario, placed first in the underground challenge. The newly formed student team from the University of Alberta, who competed for the first time, took second place in the fire challenge.
The concept for the event was developed by Jill Newell, a fourth-year engineering student at UBC and president of the school’s mine rescue team since 2017. After competing internationally, Newell decided it was time for Canada to host its own student mine rescue competition.
Once she enlisted the help of fellow UBC engineering students. Jaime Abels and Harm Sangra, she reached out to the broader mining industry for support.
“It wasn’t just the three UBC engineering students who made it happen,” Newell explains. “A huge part of the success is due to our partners at Dräger Safety, Ontario Mine Rescue, Dynamic Rescue Systems, Thompson Nichola Training, Newmont, Newgold and Diamonds in the Rough, as well as all of our financial supporters.”
Armstrong agrees the event was a joint effort. “It’s a network and family that supports the development of these students and their future careers in the mining industry,” he says.
Newell adds that the strong sense of community that has become synonymous with mining trickled down from the sponsors to the participants. “Seeing all the support and camaraderie between the student teams was a definite highlight,” she says.
Ultimately, all parties considered the competition a resounding success. Thanks to the tireless work of its planners and the support of its sponsors, participants walked away with invaluable knowledge to prepare them for successful careers in the mining industry.
Dräger manufactures medical and safety technology products. In so doing, the company protects, supports, and saves people’s lives around the world in hospitals, with fire departments, emergency services, authorities, and in mining, as well as industry.
Founded in 1889, Dräger has grown into a worldwide, listed enterprise in its fifth generation as a family-run business. Dräger has more than 14,000 employees worldwide and is present in over 190 countries around the globe.