Underground » Health and Safety
The aim of this project was to improve the capabilities of the mines rescue services to rapidly and accurately assist a mine to manage incidents at that mine. This was achieved by enhancing the tools developed under ACARP funded project C11031 – The development of a significant incident identification and evaluation system. The system included computer software that would assist in the management of resources and deployment of resources including inertisation equipment and mines rescue personnel, as well as providing assistance in decision-making and could log electronically all debriefing information. Support systems were developed and implemented that can assist the mines rescue personnel to quickly and reliably identify the location of a fire, explosion or other significant incident and promote timely and appropriate responses. The systems included decision-making assistance that assist in the rapid characterisation of incidents. The system could also be used to optimise the design and operation of mine environment-monitoring systems and assist in the training of mine personnel in emergency response. Readily available commercial products have been used to convert the procedures into suitable electronic format such as web format or e-books. A number of logic decision-making assistance programs have been evaluated.
The genesis of the project came from observation of the operation of Incident Management Teams (IMT) in the Level One Emergency Response Simulation Exercises that are carried out each at a selected underground coal mine in Queensland. This was augmented by experience obtained from participating in a number of actual incidents. There was seen to be a significant opportunity to improve the way information was obtained, stored, analysed and displayed in the IMT as well as the need to improve record keeping and objective decision-making.
The first part of the project identified that information such as policies, procedures and expert information could be easily prepared in electronic format such as e-books and stored on personal computers or even on more portable PCs. In addition a number of electronic diagnostic tools were developed. These tools enabled good visualisation of incidents, improved incident investigation and enhanced analysis and interpretation. A plethora of potential electronic aids to decision-making were identified and a number were trialled for effectiveness. It was emphasised by industry personnel that the responsibility for decision-making must remain with the IMT and any use of electronic or other techniques must only be as aids to this process. Source identification of fires and significant incidents was enhanced through incorporation within the VENTSIM ventilation modelling program.
The second part of the project focussed on developing these tools to enhance the mines rescue response both for data acquisition, reporting, display and decision making.
Comments from experienced mining industry personnel in particular the NSW and Qld Mines Rescue ( NSWMRS and QMRS) guided the project into developing tools that were easy to use, and required little or no additional specialist software or training. The output from the research project was designed to be compatible with the QMRS Incident Control System (ICS) approach.
The tools have been demonstrated to a range of organisations including the Queensland Mines Rescue Inertisation Seminar, Queensland Mining Industry Safety and Health Conference, NSW Mines Rescue Service, and SIMTARS. Additional presentations have been given to the Australian Mine Manager’s Association. In their current form these tools should only be considered as prototypes and it is hoped that commercial suppliers of mine environment software and individual mine sites when preparing emergency preparedness systems will tailor these tools to their own needs. It was made clear that computer based tools were of no value if personnel were not kept familiar with their operation. The NSW MRS has expressed interest in developing the tools further to a commercial stage and incorporating them into their training courses.
The support of the Queensland and NSW Mines Rescue Services is gratefully acknowledged. The continued help and support from the ACARP project monitor Ian Kraemer and ACARP monitor Bevan Kathage is also gratefully acknowledged.