For members of the mine rescue team at Tahoe Resources Inc.’s Guatemalan subsidiary, Minera San Rafael (MSR), occupational health and safety is a top priority. The team endeavors daily to keep employees free from harm.
MSR’s mine rescue team identifies and mitigates potential safety risks, and provides care in the event of an emergency. The team is comprised of 46 MSR employees, including three women, from various work backgrounds such as human resources, environment, mining, construction and geology. These employees voluntarily commit to extensive education and training to reinforce the company’s high health and safety standards. Specifically, each team member completes more than 160 continued education hours taught by various specialists like Guatemala’s National Disaster Reduction Commission (CONRED). The courses review mitigation strategies and first responder techniques, including fire control, collapsed structure rescue, primary and secondary patient assessments and triage.
In addition to comprehensive classroom education, MSR’s team receives hands-on training opportunities. For example, MSR competes annually against approximately 15 municipal firefighter and rescue teams at a national emergency response competition sponsored by Guatemala’s Association of Rescue and Fire Extinction. “Two MSR teams placed first and second at last year’s competition. Their proven track record highlights how well prepared they are in handling emergency situations,” said MSR’s Corporate Communications Manager, Andrés Dávila. In addition to national competitions, MSR competed against rescue teams from Tahoe’s Peruvian subsidiary, La Arena, in November 2015 at the Escobal mine. During the competition, seven rescue teams tested their endurance and skills as they traversed a course filled with real-life emergency scenarios involving administering CPR and the handling of hazardous material. (See competition highlights here.) It was a great opportunity for Tahoe’s subsidiary companies to collaborate and share best safety practices.
The continued education and training for MSR’s mine rescue team is designed to ensure effective responses to emergency situations; whether it’s on-site at MSR’s operations or in the local communities. In October 2015, 13 mine rescue team members responded to the needs of the El Cambray community near Guatemala City, which suffered from a deadly landslide. The natural disaster occurred during a rainstorm which caused a hillside to break loose and fall onto the community below. The landslide buried hundreds of residents and required weeks of digging and searching. “Since our team is trained to handle crisis situations, we offered our support to CONRED and the El Cambray residents,” said Dávila.
With approximately 2,000 municipal firefighters and other emergency responders providing recovery support, MSR’s teams helped in other ways by providing medical and safety aid to the local shelter, disinfecting ambulances and transferring victims to the community morgue. Throughout the crisis, MSR’s mine rescue team was grateful for the opportunity to help. “It was a difficult experience for us because we saw so many devastating things, but it was also very rewarding. The families of the victims really appreciated our support,” said Jaime Lima, a member of MSR’s mine rescue team. In addition to the mine rescue team’s aid, MSR employees raised funds to donate approximately 10,000 pounds of food and supplies to the El Cambray community. “Just hours after the tragedy occurred, our employees began to donate money, a testament to the care our employees have for Guatemalan communities,” said Dávila.