Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pincher Creek crew wins first Western Canada Wind Warrior Challenge

Toni Lucas

Vestas held the first annual Western Canada Wind Warrior Challenge in the parking lot of Ranchland Mall in Pincher Creek on Saturday, July 18. Vestas Canadian Wind Technology produces and operates wind turbines. The all-day event saw 6 two-man teams move between five stations where they were tested and marked on their abilities. Each station was judged out of 20 points and Pincher Creek was the overall winners with a whopping 93 points out of a hundred.

Vestas and Mammoet participants

  • Logan Toynbee and Joseph Steckly of Tumbler/Dokie, British Columbia
  • Brian Coonrod and Tapio Jaakola of Ellensburg, Washington
  • Tim Baumgartner and Jack Langridge of Halkirk, Alberta
  • Colin Hudak and Dain Van Herk of Fort Macleod, Alberta
  • Chris Kilpatrick and Cameron Minnett of St. Leon, Manitoba
  • Charlie Baker and Scott Abramenko of Pincher Creek, Alberta
Mammoet Pincher Creek's Tyler Hannah judged the Blind Crane Lift
Vestas worked in conjunction with Mammoet for the event, as they often do in their day to day jobs. Mammoet supplied the cranes and crane operators and Vestas brought the rest of the equipment and supplied the technicians who pitted their skills against each other. Kids and adults could watch close-up and asked questions. If the public did not want to approach too closely, they could have their questions answered and receive goodies from the operations tent at the event.

BBQ for the Splash Park: Billi Rigaux, Wayne Elliott, and Brandy Starzyk
Pincher Creek's Splash Park Committee held a fundraising barbeque onsite for hungry observers and participants.

Hospitality tent: Jaydd Van Koughnett, Jenn Meyer, and Catherine Luyendyk

Ground crew Mark Jackson receives the rescue from height  

This was a rare opportunity for the public to see what can happen on any given day for wind technicians and crane operators. At the awards ceremony many of the participants agreed it was a rewarding experience to demonstrate their skills and answer questions from the public. One technician said he had spoken to a retired crane operator who was watching the event closely while sharing some of his then-to-now experiences.

Logan Toynbee, Jack Langridge, Tim Baumgartner, and Cameron Minnett
Two of the challenges dealt with first aid. Every wind technician has to pass first aid for a few simple reasons, including that they may be in a remote area where it takes an extended period of time for emergency crews to arrive on scene if a situation occurs. Once those crews arrive an EMT or paramedic may not be qualified to go to the heights where an incident may occur. Therefore, all crews have to be able to safely tend to and injured person and transport them to where an emergency worker can attend to them in relative safety.

Daniel Vasquez and Joseph Steckly on the scissor lift
Daniel Vasquez was the 'Rescue from Heights' challenge judge. He stressed safety first, and going through proper procedures in the correct order.  An additional barrier on this challenge was the crews had to use hand signals to communicate with the crane operator. Reporter's note:  Thank you to Daniel Vasquez for the training session previous to my ascension. 

Generator Alignment Challenge 
Event organizer Mark Jackson thought the day went very well, offering the competitors a chance to interact with the public and allowing them to get to know other Vesta employees they don't usually interact with.

Ranchland Mall from a different perspective
The public could not go on the equipment, particularly the scissor lift, or in the cranes.  I was allowed to, for the purposes of taking photographs for this article, after donning the appropriate safety gear.  The scissor lift took competitors 50 feet in the air, and has a sway in the wind similar to that experienced at the height of a nacelle at the top of a wind turbine.

Toni Lucas ready for 'rescue from heights'
Mark Jackson photo 

The five stations were timed at 45 minutes per event, with a judge at each station. Each station was in use at any given time, with a 15 minute break after each event before moving on to the next challenge.

Crane operator Jake Noble
Mammoet had Jake Noble on the 60 tonne crane for the rescue from heights challenge and Jeff Johnson on the 200 tonne crane for the blind crane lift. Tyler Hannah, Jaydd Van Houghett, Jenn Meyer, Catherine Luyendyk, Ron Luco, and Ron Hynes on hand to judge, answer questions, and run operations. Pincher Creek Operation Manager Tyler Hannah said that Mammoet moves everything from small to industrial loads, and was delighted to be part of the exercise.

Challenges and results:

Blind Crane Lift champs - Fort Macleod
Blind Crane Lift 
Judge: Tyler Hannah of Pincher Creek, Alberta
In this challenge the crane operator was not be able to see the load he was lifting, responding to verbal commands from team members over a radio to lift a 6,000 pound generator and move it from one platform to the next with a 90 degree change in direction.
Winners: Colin Hudak and Dain Van Herk of  Fort Macleod, Alberta

Troubleshooting champs - St. Leon, Manitoba
Judge: Seth Harris of Ellensburg, Washington
Teams had to correctly identify a fault on a troubleshooting table then fix the problem. the troubleshooting table can simulate endless problems that can happen in a real life scenario and the problem was changed between competitors.
Winners: Chris Kilpatrick and Cameron Minnett of St. Leon, Manitoba

First Aid champs - Tumbler/Dokie, British Columbia
First Aid
Judge: Barclay Tanner, West Region Plant Manager
Teams drew 1 of 5 scenarios from a hat, then applied the correct First Aid to a dummy.
Winners: Logan Toynbee and Joseph Steckly of Tumbler/Dokie, British Columbia

Generator Alignment champs - Pincher Creek, Alberta
Generator Alignment 
Judge: Mark Jackson of Pincher Creek, Alberta
Technicians had to correctly align a 660 kw generator using a laser alignment tool.
Winners: Charlie Baker and Scott Abramenko of Pincher Creek, Alberta

Rescue from Heights champs - Ellensburg Washington
Rescue From Heights 
Judge: Daniel Vasquez, Technical Training Center Portland, Oregon
The technicians simulated a rescue from heights, located on a scissor lift.  They had to properly bundle a rescue dummy in a rescue harness and safely lower him to the ground.
Winners: Brian Coonrod and Tapio Jaakola of Ellensburg, Washington

First Place Overall - Pincher Creek Alberta
Overall points winners:  Charlie Baker (right) and Scott Abramenko of Pincher Creek, Alberta,  scoring 93%

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