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Mine rescue summit this week

Representatives from all across the world are in Reno and Carson City this week as a part of the Barrick Gold Emergency Preparedness and Response Global Mine Rescue Summit.

The event is week long and brings mine rescue team members together to share knowledge and camaraderie in order to train for faster and more effective mine rescues.

“We brought (the summit) back to share knowledge between site people from different countries because when we come together and share ideas it helps make the mine sites better,” said Rich Maier, one of the Barrick Cortez Emergency Response coordinators.

This sharing of ideas is the most important part of this training because the crews can learn different techniques utilized around the world, which will expand their situation training and knowledge if a real life incident occurs.

“Say if Chile has better techniques with extraction on vehicles and we will share our techniques it just makes all the mine sites better on rescue if it comes to that and it helps the community around the site that we support,” Maier said.

Crews from all across Northeastern Nevada, including Winnemucca, Carson Valley, Elko and Carlin will be present as well as representatives from Chile, Canada, Peru, Papua New Guinea, the Dominican Republic, Argentina and Zambia.

Maier, along with his partner Jeff Freeman have been planning this summit for nearly five months. The team also has received training from Reno Fire Department and Carson City Fire Department, helping with teaching the training. The teams will get to train at the Washoe County Training facility throughout the week, working on Hazmat response scenarios, vehicle extraction and structural collapse rescues. They also will be in Carson City at Fire Station 52 tonight to work on night burns and mass casualty incidents.

The mass casualty incident training will be as realistic as possible and will focus on a multi-vehicle accident, including a bus and a work truck, with multiple patients to extract and treat. They will also work on extraction of a patient in a manhole, a high angle rescue on the top of a building, and industrial firefighting.

“Fires don’t just burn during the day, so we need to learn how to operate at night,” Maier said.

The camaraderie plays a vital part of the summit. Because most of the rescue team members are volunteers who also work full time in the mines — it’s nice to be able to come together, Maier said.

“The camaraderie is important because no matter where you go in rescue, it is a big community and when we can come together it really can show people different techniques and incorporate it into our own rescues to make them faster and more effective,” Maier said. “Ninety percent of my guys are volunteers who work in the mine too so it is nice to bring everyone together to share that knowledge and camaraderie.”

Because of the nature of the training today in Carson City, some residents may see flames at Fire Station 52 and should not panic. The crews will be using liquid petroleum fires so there shouldn’t be much smoke, because it doesn’t create a by-product, however, Maier said the flame could reach up to 30 feet in the air.

The night burn and mass casualty incident will run from about 7 to 11:30 p.m. Thursday night.