ELKO — Emergency Response Teams and volunteers arrived at the Elko Convention Center at 4:30 Tuesday morning, the sounds of their gear clinking, combining with the excited chatter of more than 100 volunteers and participants. Wearing matching team shirts, competitors talked to each other about their “favorite event of the year.”
They had just arrived at the 33rd annual Safety Olympiad, hosted this week by Nevada Gold Mines, Cortez.
Twelve teams participated, including teams from Nevada, California and Utah. Nevada Gold Mines (Twin Creeks, Cripple Creek, Carlin, Phoenix, Long Canyon, Goldstrike), Kinross (Bald Mountain, Round Mountain), Rio Tinto (Kennecott, Boran), Robinson Nevada Mining Company, and NARM competed in events such as confined space, fire, medical, ropes, hazmat, tests, triage, and a final overall competition involving car extraction, a forklift, and multiple volunteer “victims.” Equinox Gold observed. Skilled judges came from Nevada Gold Mines Cortez’s Emergency Response Team.
Organizing an event of this scale is no small feat. Between the two days of competition, 12 cars, two forklifts, one pickup hauling a trailer, one Coach USA bus, and West Wendover’s fire simulation trailer were utilized. Each scenario had to be reset in the 5-10 minutes it took the new team to arrive.
Locals volunteers were assigned to each event, donning realistic fake injuries and acting out their injuries with total dedication, staying until each event was completed. The first day of competition, volunteers and participants were at the Olympiad for over 15 hours.
You won’t hear people complain, though. Teams like Kinross Bald Mountain were recognized with a sportsmanship award for staying after that 15-hour day and helping organizers get ready for the next round of competition.
At the banquet, teams shared stories as they waited to hear the results of the competition. Sitting with their colleagues, they described how important their Emergency Response “family” was to them and how being part of their community changed their lives.
The most touching moment of the night was when the Trainer of the Year award was given to Kerry Tuckett of Nevada Gold Mines, Phoenix. Competitors rose to their feet to give a standing ovation as a letter from his team detailing his dedication was read.
Awards given out were as follows: Hazmat 1st place – Nevada Gold Mines Goldstrike; Triage 1st place – Nevada Gold Mines Long Canyon; Medical 1st place – Nevada Gold Mines Carlin; Fire 1st place – Nevada Gold Mines Carlin; Confined Space 1st place – Rio Tinto Kennecott; Test 1st place – Rio Tinto Kennecott; Ropes 1st place – Nevada Gold Mines Carlin; Overall A Flight 1st place – NARM; Overall B Flight 1st place – Nevada Gold Mines Cripple Creek.
Organizer Dan West concluded the Olympiad by expressing his gratitude: “I have never been more proud to be a part of a community of rescuers.”