Laurie Mahon Specialist SHET Advisor and Ben Cavanagh Paramedic Team Leader at Baralaba Coal Mine

We spoke to Ben Cavanagh,  CPA Group’s Team Leader and Paramedic at Baralaba coal mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin – where we provide a team of 24/7 Medics – to understand our operations at this critical site.

How long have we been operating at Baralaba?

We have been operating for 18 months – previously the site was under care & maintenance and resumed operations. Initially we were only providing day shift with night time on call medical services but that has now expanded to 24/7.

What is our role?

We are part of the site emergency response, we provide support to the site ERT including training under Baseline Training. We are very committed to this as it ensures the medic has additional support in the event of an emergency. Some of us have rescue experience and qualifications so building site capability is within our interest and ability.

The usual primary and emergency care, we try to be more proactive than reactive so if we get a chance we do cardiac monitoring and blood sugars to try to pre-empt potential issues.

We also provide D&A testing, we deliver the CPA Group Health and Wellness calendar to the client workforce and to contractors. Again, we think this is proactive and allows us to highlight issues that are not always well understood by mining workers.

I see our role as basically a customer service role, ready to respond to any requests and hopefully satisfy the client’s expectations.

How many CPA Group staff work there?

We are a 24/7 service. We have recently welcomed young medics who have great skillsets and bring enthusiasm – I have seen that they are confident in daunting environments where experienced miners can ask tough questions.

Their enthusiasm has filtered through the team, they ask what they can do to assist, when you arrive on a shift the clinic is clean and a great handover has been prepared.

I have been in the industry a long time and I can say it is unusual to see this level of contribution.

The client is blown away.

What qualifications are required?

The basic requirement is APHRA registration, advance Life Support,  many of us have Cert III Mines Rescue or are working towards it, TAE, D&A testing. We facilitate LVR, CPR and First aid training.

We conduct Level 2 exercises as per the mining legislation including a recent example that went really well.

What are the challenges for our staff?

Safety is a major passion at the site, it’s a small and tight knit workforce. We are there to assist in any way, sometimes we are expected to provide a sounding board and we sometimes refer workers to the EAP. We are there purely for their health and wellbeing.

We need to be mindful of both physical and mental health.

What are the challenges you are facing as the leader on this service?

Keeping the team on one track so we bring professionalism, enthusiasm to the service. I have started a Professional Development program so that when things are quiet at night the team can do reading and upgrade skills.

What do you see as our major achievements in recent times?

Bringing on young and new team members has been a major win and has been well received. To see the site ERT develop has also been a highlight of what CPA Group can bring to a site – facilitate and bring to effectiveness a team – the client ensures the team is released from their mining duties to train,

Our CPA Group Health and Medical supervisor, Danny O’Dempsey has been a great supporter and has brought amazing experience and standards to the site.

How do you see the future?

For the site, I hope we can continue at the site under a long term contract so we can continue what we have started.

For me, I love education and health and Baralaba is a lovely community – I am proud of what CPA Group and the team have been able to deliver and the way we have been appreciated.

I am part of the Baralaba community QFES as an auxiliary firefighter and I try to assist the community in my own time.


As a postscript we received the following feedback from a client senior manager at the site.

He was absolutely singing the praises of the new team the way that Ben has taken the lead with them. He said the way they have taken to the site and their keen and fresh attitudes has brought his view of CPA up to a whole new level.

He said he is extremely pleased to have taken the chance with the new team.