Patricia is an underground operator at Mount Isa Mines (MIM) and wanted to challenge herself and improve her technical skills by joining Mines Rescue - the only woman to complete MIM's Mine Rescue Rookie Course in 2017.  

Patricia is currently the only female member of the Mines Rescue team and that motivates her to succeed further in a male dominated field.

But she certainly didn't want or expect any form of special treatment or exceptions.

"For me personally, I did feel like I had something to prove to myself. There have been a couple of women in Mine Rescue before me and I hope there will be more to follow, but being the only female currently in the squad definitely gave me the drive to push and overcome any challenges," Patricia says.

"It's been great for developing problem solving skills and learning to remain calm and productive in high pressure situations," Patricia says.

The highlight so far of Patricia's experience in Mines Rescue is the team environment created by the Mine Rescue Supervisors.

"Ron Pippenbacher and Ron Pickering are dedicated and inspirational leaders and they are the heart of Mine Rescue here. Their knowledge is incredible and they create such a positive and supportive training environment," Patricia says.

The most challenging experience of the Mine Rescue Rookie Course was walking from 17 level of R62 underground, up the decline to the portal entry wearing full breathing apparatus and the usual underground kit, weighing a total of about 20 kilograms.

"It took us about 2 hours and 20 minutes. It was hot, steep, and I think the blisters on my heels popped about 15 minutes in. When we finally saw day light ahead, there was real a sense of achievement amongst us. There were high fives all round and I think it really set the tone for the rest of the 2017 Rookie Course," Patricia says.

Patricia grew up in Weipa and went to High School and University on the Gold Coast. She has lived in a number towns since then but Mount Isa is the one that feels like home.

As a shift worker, Patricia works four days on, four days off. This time off allows her to enjoy an active lifestyle and relish her passion for health and fitness. She regularly wakeboards, horse rides and goes to the gym.

For anyone interested in becoming involved in Mines Rescue Patricia's advice would be to start with a chat with the squad members and find out what it's all about.

"It's definitely not for everyone, but if you don't ask you won't know. I would also recommend to get yourself fit. Head to the gym or go for a run to ensure you are in shape," Patricia says.

Ron Pickering, Supervisor Mine Rescue says Patricia is a welcomed member to the Mine Rescue Team and that she was up to any challenge that was put to her.

"In my time in Mine Rescue, there has never been a woman join the squad who hasn't been able to keep up with the men when it comes to performing the tasks required," Ron says.

The Mount Isa Mines Mine Rescue Rookie Course is a 20 day introduction to the basic fundamentals of rescue.  Rookies learn to operate in Drager BG4 breathing apparatus, basic Firefighting, Gas Detection, Road Crash Rescue (Jaws of Life), Airbag Rescue and Vertical Rescue as well as Advanced First Aid.

“It’s been great for developing problem solving skills and learning to remain calm and productive in high pressure situations.”