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2017 Victorian Mine Rescue Competition at Yallourn
Oscar 1 Emergency Response Brigade finished third in the overall team competition at the 2017 Victorian Mine Rescue Competition held in Gippsland at the Energy Australia’s Yallourn mine on 20 to 22 October 2017.
Ten teams competed; Fosterville Gold, Stawell Gold, Mandalay Resources (Costerfield), CFA Oscar 1, CGT Ballarat, Estate Services Yallourn Flack/AGL Loy Yang from Victoria and four interstate teams, Evolution Mining (Qld) Newcrest Cadia Valley (NSW), Newgold Peak Gold (NSW) and North Parkes (NSW).
Over the three days all teams complete an exercise in First Aid, Fire Fighting, Rope Rescue, Search & Rescue, BA Practical, Skills, Theory Test, & the Spence Heard Challenge. Over all the events the teams Captains are scored as well as Team Safety being assessed.
The competition was won by Newcrest’s Cadia Valley team, followed by North Parkes, Oscar 1 and Fosterville. The top four teams were separated by less than one percentage point in the final aggregate score making it one of the closest results in the competitions 25 year history.
Though Oscar 1 didn’t win any of the ten individual events they were placed well enough in each of the events to come third overall and be the top Victorian team. Brigade Training Officer Alun Hughson said, “This is what we try to achieve: a team of emergency responders that are competent over the full range of skills that are required.
"If we happen to win something that’s good but the main thing we want is for our underground responders to see that they are up to the standards of their industry peers and they learn a lot from the interaction with the other teams and the extensive feedback from the competition assessors,” Alun said.
Oscar 1 was established to provide mine and quarry rescue capability (originally in Central Victoria) and as a hub for this expert knowledge base. Oscar 1 became a CFA Brigade in May 2013, after its formation as a rescue team in 1999 (CFA, SES, VicPol and Mining Industry); coming under CFA control in 2004. Oscar 1 operates closely with VicPol, Industry Mine Rescue, and SES.
Oscar 1 is the only CFA brigade with an underground mine rescue capability and is one of only four underground mine rescue teams in Victoria as well as the only volunteer mine rescue team in Australia. The brigade response area covers all of Victoria. The skill set required for mine rescue enables Oscar 1 to perform Confined Space, Vertical and Steep Angle Rescues, Gas Monitoring, extended BA operations and a multitude of other technical rescue operations. This skill base has been built up and maintained over many years of training and operational performance.
It is the only CFA brigade solely equipped to use closed circuit long duration breathing apparatus (the only CFA brigade using BG4s) and have been using these for the past 12 years.
The presentation dinner held on the Sunday night in Morwell was attended by over 200 people including EMV Commissioner Craig Lapsley and CFA Deputy Chief Officer Tony O’Day.
Brigade Captain David Priest said, “This competition (Skill Challenge) provides the best practical training that we, as an underground focused rescue brigade, can get as we do not have a direct peer within the CFA in this type of rescue.
"We are the only non-industry team allowed to participate in this event (and the only volunteer team) as from past performance and participation we are regarded as a peer by the mining industry performing to industry standard," David said.
Alun Hughson - Oscar 1