There for you, on your worst day: Ontario Mine Rescue’s Ted Hanley on getting it right when everything goes wrong – by Herb Mathisen (CIM Magazine – September 29, 2021)

Editor’s note: CIM Magazine interviewed Ontario Mine Rescue’s Ted Hanley just weeks before the Totten mine rescue team successfully rescued the 39 miners trapped 4,130 feet underground.

You can’t crystal-ball everything. Ted Hanley, general manager of Ontario Mine Rescue, does his best anyway, as do the staffers and volunteers who work to save miners’ lives when accidents occur.

After all, the 92-year-old organization was created in response to a problem many should have seen coming. In 1928, fire crews were brought in from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to put out a fire at the Hollinger mine in Timmins because no local or provincial firefighters were capable of responding to the underground blaze.

The fire killed 39 miners, which prompted the creation of a local, specialized response team. As Ontario Mine Rescue — and its mandate — has evolved, so too has its approach. Now, it focuses on addressing potential shortcomings long before disaster strikes.

The organization employs mine rescue officers at rescue stations in every mining community, split up into eight districts. Officers train volunteers on site, help operations keep their emergency plans up to date, set mines up with equipment and also provide support during emergencies. Officers work closely with mines from the first shovel in the ground until the lock goes on the gate at closure. “They are working at mine sites typically four days a week,” said Hanley. “Mine rescue officers are at various mine sites every week of the year to make sure that a process is in place should anything go wrong.”

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