Mine rescue wasn’t consulted after Elliot Lake mall collapse – CBC News Thunder Bay (September 12, 2013)


Elliot Lake rescue commander Bill Neadles tells inquiry he didn’t believe mine rescue was an option

The Elliot Lake inquiry has heard the leader of the rescue operation at the collapsed mall never called Ontario mine rescue to see if they could help.

When the community was told the rescue at the mall was over — because the building was too unstable — the idea of calling mine rescue was raised by area residents.

Heavy urban search and rescue commander Bill Neadles was in charge of the operation at the mall. During testimony on Thursday, he told the inquiry he didn’t believe mine rescue was an option.

“A mine is one set of skills and expertise and risks,” he said. “A structural collapse is a total separate discipline and it would be my opinion that they wouldn’t have the training and ability to do anything.”

But Neadles also said he didn’t know a lot about mine rescue and didn’t check to see if that was the case. The inquiry will hear more about whether mine rescue could have helped at the mall.

Alex Griska — the Sudbury-based director of Ontario Mine Rescue — is scheduled to testify later this month.

From rescue to recovery
Neadles has also explained more about a critical conversation he had with then-Premier Dalton McGuinty.

The inquiry has heard McGuinty asked Neadles to find another way to reach the victims in the mall after it was announced the rescue was over because the unstable building was too dangerous.

Neadles told the inquiry he suggested during the call that heavier equipment could be arranged to keep the rescue effort going.

But he also said the word “rescue” no longer described the mission and that the task ahead would likely be a “recovery” effort.

The demolition equipment was brought in at a cost of more than $300,000. It took down part of the mall and allowed rescue crews to recover the two victims.

For the original version and a radio interview, click here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/story/2013/09/12/sby-elliot-lake-inquiry-bill-neadles-testimony-mine-rescue.html