Retrieving an injured person from more than one hundred metres underground is no easy task.
It requires special skills and endurance as well as a lot of patience.
On Wednesday evening, the CFA's Oscar 1 Mine Rescue team, the Fosterville Mine Rescue team and Ambulance Victoria took the chance to hone their underground rescue skills in a training course at Central Deborah Gold Mine.
Faced with a scenario involving two tour guides and three tourists trapped at level 6 of the mine, the teams had to work together to treat and extract the victims under the eye of ISH24 Mine and Safety Rescue manager David McMahon.
More than 20 people were taken down into the mine by the small cage elevator that only fits four people at a time.
"It seems a unique (scenario) but it's not," Mr McMahon said. "In all these situations you have to have a rescue plan.
"There's no point just having pen on paper. You have to rehearse your rescue plan and work out where your faults and strengths are.
"(In this scenario), one of the tourists has had a fall and injured their hip and the elevator isn't working past level 4, so (the teams) have to try and work the trapped people out via the ladders, which is very difficult."
Depending on how the teams took on the scenario would determine how difficult it was, Mr McMahon said.
"(Early on) we had 23 people underground and 16 were stuck at level 4 because they can only send two people the ladder at a time," he said.
"Some of the members thought it wouldn't be too hard but once you get a bottleneck it becomes a big bottleneck very quickly.
"This scenario is either simple, and if it's treated simple it can be fast, or they can make it complex and it will slow right down.
"The key is getting people out as quickly if they can. If they try to do it in one hit, they can't do it because of the ladder ways. It's a matter of being calculated."
Ambulance Victoria paramedic Josh King was one of the first to make their way down the mine.
Outside of his day job as a paramedic, Mr King works with the CFA's Oscar 1 unit. For the training exercise he was treated as a paramedic who had never been underground before.
"For this I have arrived as any other Ambulance Victoria crew member would," he said. "(The CFA) explain things to me and I'm guided down with the idea that I (must be) instructed correctly because a lot of paramedics wouldn't have been underground before.
"So we're looking at things like claustrophobia, using the (narrow) ladders and things like that. That's where experitse of these (CFA and Fosterville) guys come in.
"My job is to do initial treatment, help with pain relief and then advise them of anything special needed in regards to extraction."
Mr King said there were occasions where people had to be retrieved from mine shafts.
"It is a unique thing, going underground, but one that can be a major risk," he said.
"I have had the odd situation where this happens, people get trapped down mine shafts. Not necessarily a mine but old, disused shaft.
"Depending on situation, and if can make contact with the patient, we do a risk assessment and decide whether send ambulance down or if one of the medically-trained CFA guys can go down."
Mr McMahon has been leading the ISH24 company for 15 years and works with a variety of organisations who are eager to test and hone their rescue plans.
"Most industries now take rescue very seriously," he said. "We're very busy training and testing scenarios. They rarely have to put it into action but when you do you have to be ready straight away.
"Water companies work in tanks and waterways all the time, so we work with those guys a lot, Grain Corp work with grain and (we train for) rescues with those guys.
"(In the last 15 years), the equipment and treatments have changed but the technique hasn't changed. To get someone from A to B with ropes hasn't changed too much.
"We have better and safer equipment but it's still the same speed."
Costerfield team did not take place in the simulation at Central Deborah, but does have a rescue crew that trains every week.
Victorian mines must be ready for anything, Mandalay Resources' Costerfield operation manager Adam Place said.
"In Victoria there is not a lot of existing mining infrastructure. It's not like in Kalgoorlie (Western Australia) or Broken Hill (New South Wales), where there are larger mining centres," he said.
"So mines here need to be reasonably self-sufficient. We have our own first aid, medical clinic and emergency response."
The night was not just a chance to practice skills and tick off WorkSafe requirements at Central Deborah, the CFA's Oscar 1 mines and quarry rescue teamcaptain David Priest said.
It was also an opportunity to train for October's Victorian Mine Rescue Competition in the Latrobe Valley's open cut Yallourn mine.
"Everything we do at the moment trains towards that," Mr Priest said.
"That training is significant because that is where we get judged by peers who work in the industry and mine rescue."
Ten teams from across Victoria and New South Wales will take part, including Oscar 1, Fosterville and Costerfield, Mineral Council of Australia - Victoria executive director James Sorahan said.
"It gives them the opportunity to go through a variety of emergency situations and they can share their knowledge and experiences with each other, which is the real value of the competition," he said.
"The value is that you have some great actors and volunteers pretending to be injured. They even light cars on fire. So it creates very realistic situations for teams to test skills."
Competitors will converge on the Latrobe Valley to pit their skills against each other in firefighting, first aid, rope rescue theory and search and rescue, Mr Sorahan said.
"You can do all the training in the world but once you have simulated situations you are really putting your skills to the test," he said.
When not training or preparing for competition Oscar 1 team members can expect to be called out to underground fires, rockfalls, underground motor vehicle accidents and gassings, Mr Priest said.
"We did a search through a mine down near Daylesford for the police a few months ago," he said.
"You might get a call because someone has found some blood up near a mine shaft in bushland. The police get on to us and we go out and have a look."
Oscar 1 can respond to an accident anywhere in the state and gets called out to working mines on average once a year, Mr Priest said.
It also helps the Bendigo CFA brigade with road crash rescues and "any sort of rescue that is not normal", Oscar 1 volunteer Tyson Taylor said.
"We have got plumbers, we have builders, we have emergency service officers," he said.
"Some of us have mining experience. Some don't have any but specialise in other areas."
The team members learn from each other, and from mine emergency teams such as Fosterville's, Mr Priest said.
Most importantly though is that they get the training and the practice of these potential situations.
"If the day ever comes we need this, and hopefully it doesn't," Mr King said. "It will hopefully be easier because we have practiced."
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