ELKO — The Safety Olympiad is more than who receives the top scores; it’s about teamwork and education.

The 26th annual Safety Olympiad began Thursday and continues today and Saturday. The event is free to the public at the Elko Convention Center.

This year, 14 teams from Nevada, Wyoming, California and Utah will compete in the event hosted by Barrick Gold Corp.’s Goldstrike Mine, the Elko Convention and Visitors Authority and the Nevada Mining Association.

“The whole competition is about learning from each other,” said Bob Phillips, general supervisor for safety and Health Services emergency response for Barrick Goldstrike Mine. He has been on the Goldstrike Mine Rescue Team for 23 years.

“It’s not only about learning from your own team but from the other teams,” he said. “The benefit is about the learning. Everybody’s a winner from learning.”

The 14 teams are made up of seven members and one alternate. The teams from Nevada mines are Barrick’s Bald Mountain and Cortez; Barrick and Kinross Gold Corp.’s Round Mountain; Newmont Mining Corp.’s Carlin, Phoenix and Twin Creeks, and Goldcorp Inc.’s Marigold Mine.

The out-of-state mine rescue teams include Cloud Peak Energy Antelope, Peabody Powder River Antelope, Rawhide and Caballo all from Gillette, Wyo., and OCI Chemical from Green River, Wyo., Rio Tinto Kennecott from Utah, and Rio Tinto Boron from California.

Thursday’s portion of the event was “fun day” for the rescue teams. They were separated from their mine teams into groups from the captains down to the alternates. This way the members from different mine sites had a chance to work together.

“It’s all for fun,” said Tom Wilson, from Barrick Goldstrike. “It gets everybody ready for two days of stress. ... Everything is a team building skill. Most of them have never worked together as a team before.”

Phillips said today’s portion of the competition will be inside the convention center. They will consist of testing individual skills at eight stations. They will range from written tests to hazmat situations.

Saturday the teams will compete outside and respond to a mine rescue scenario. There will be bleachers set up for spectators. The competition begins at 7 a.m. both days.

The teams are not told the details about the mock incident until they hit the field Saturday.

“They only know it is any incident that can happen at any mine site,” Phillips said about the live scenario, which includes people acting as victims.

Some of the learning also included observers from a Barrick mine in the Dominican Republic.

“They are starting new rescue teams and they are observing our techniques,” Phillips said.


Follow Marianne Kobak McKown on Twitter at @marianneEDFP. You can also continue the discussion online at the Free Press’ Facebook page, and on Twitter at @ElkoDaily.

(1) comment


I am confused about this. Elko county there is a water shortage and yet there is something like this that uses water that is needed throughout the county. If they want to " Compete" why don't they compete at putting fires out throughout the land. Thats better competition and whoever puts the fire out " safe" first wins.... Water is too precious for this.

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