‘They’re our underground heroes and they make sure we’re safe’
Paul Aho is short on words and big on action, as is the rest of the mine rescue team from Vale West Mines.
Aho is briefing officer for the team participating in the International Mine Rescue Competition in Sudbury this week. It didn’t find out until the end of June the team would be among the more than 25 teams from about 20 countries competing in the event held in Canada for the first time.
A couple of spots opened up when teams pulled out, although Vale West Mines performed well at the provincial competition won by Compass Minerals’ Goderich salt mine. “We just thought we’d take a humble approach and savour the moment,” said Aho a few hours his team competed Tuesday after the first-aid event his team competed.
Details of the mock emergency can’t be revealed until the last day of competition, but it clearly tested the mettle of those involved. Aho admitted to being tired after the three- or four-hour event, most of it underground.
Like his seven teammates, and an equipment technician who will be competing in an individual event, Aho isn’t looking for praise.
“If nobody volunteers, who’s going to save me when I’m in trouble?” he asked in an interview from the Vale Copper Cliff Club. He’s been in mine rescue for more than 16 years, partly out of a sense of duty and because it is rewarding.
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