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Gold Fields enters all-women team in WA emergency response competition - Gold Industry Group

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

The annual Mining Emergency Response Competition (MERC) returns to Langley Park in Perth this weekend, with Northern Star Resources, Gold Fields, Ramelius Resources and Westgold Resources preparing to put their lifesaving skills to the test.

Now in its 11th year, MERC has grown to not only support the mining industry, but bring the wider community together to witness the heroic actions of emergency responders first-hand who keep their work mates and local communities safe.

MERC simulates the pressure of real-life emergency situations through competition, testing the ability of individuals and teams to perform against deadlines in well-structured, safe and consciously designed scenarios that foster collaboration and teamwork. MERC is raising awareness of the importance of safe work environments and recognising the selfless work our volunteer emergency responders carry out daily.

This year MERC will feature many fun activities for the whole family to enjoy including gold panning, bouncy castles, rock climbing, a live demonstration of a firefighting robot and more.

Mental health is the theme of this year's event, and we will be joined by our mental health partner LIVIN to share their mantra "It Ain't Weak To Speak". Visit our activation to find out more and try your luck at gold panning for your chance to win.

The Blue Tree Project is the charity partner for this year's competition, raising funds to support a mental health road trip to regional schools.

Look out for the first all-women team from Gold Fields, representing their four WA operations. Gold Fields Executive Vice Presidents Australasia Stuart Mathews said the team's formation reflected the development of strong female leaders within the Company's emergency response capability.

"Dealing with potential life-and-death situations requires different approaches from different incidents," he said.

"In the past, there has probably been a reliance across the mining sector on physical strength when it comes to the response, but that isn't the be-all and end-all.

The first all-female rescue team training to compete in the Perth-based Mining Emergency Response Competition. Images courtesy of Amelia Searson - ABC Goldfields & Esperance

"Women can bring a different and valuable perspective to risk and incident response.

"This competition experience will also help develop skills and potentially enhance the techniques used by our site-based teams," Mr Mathers explained.

Gold Fields team captain Tayla Parnham said she was excited by the MERC challenge and hoped to inspire the next generation.

"There is a lot of good-natured rivalry, but it is also a great way to get even better at dealing with issues and incidents that could help save lives and prevent injury," she said.

"We are seeing more women across a whole range of mining roles at Gold Fields, and all of us in the team have grabbed the opportunity to be part of our on-site emergency capability.

"Hopefully we can do well in the competition and along the way inspire other women and young girls to look at careers in mining and emergency response," Ms Parnham concluded.

Teams are made up of a combination of volunteers and Emergency Service Officers, with volunteers hailing from a range of positions in administration to operators. Each team has seven members consisting of a captain, 2nd in charge, medic and three team members.

Teams will be working their way through eight scenarios: first aid, hazardous materials (HAZMAT), confined space rescue, firefighting, vertical rescue, road crash rescue, emergency response team readiness (ERT) and the brand-new scenario biohazard response.

The basis of the new scenario will be to put into practice procedures and tools to protect local communities from the spread of COVID-19 when detected in FIFO camps or the community.

Join us in cheering on the teams this Friday to Sunday at Langley Park.

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