Tommy Gat would have lost both his feet if it were not for the quick response by Ok Tedi Mining Ltd (OTML) to airlift him from his remote village of Seltamin to Tabubil on Tuesday 16 June.
Gat, who is in his 50s, endured three nights of excruciating pain after both his feet were severely burnt when he collapsed and fell into a fire on Friday 12 June.
Gat suffers from epilepsy, a medical condition that has affected him since he was a child. He said, while still lying in his stretcher waiting to be transferred to an ambulance at the Tabubil airport that it was most likely epilepsy that caused him to collapse.
Seltamin is only accessible by helicopter and basic health services are not available. Even mobile telecommunication network reception can be at times very poor. It was not until the afternoon of Monday 15th June that OTML was informed about the emergency and began arranging for the medivac.
OTML, being the largest corporate entity in the province, has been providing medivacs including other assistance for many years. It does that as part of its community service.
In 2019, the Company carried out 13 medivacs at a total cost of about USD86, 500 (PGK 300,000) in both Western Province, and the Teleformin area of Sandaun Province.
OTML, with the support of the Tabubil Hospital, has responded to various emergencies over the years. Some of these emergencies include snake bites, severe injuries, wounds inflicted by wild pigs, fractured bones, pregnancy complications and other medical conditions.
Since January 2020, a total of five medivacs costing nearly USD29, 000 (PGK 98,000) have been conducted. This included the medivac that rescued Gat from potentially losing his feet if the wounds were untreated.
Seltamin Community Leaders Mike Thomas and Raymond Singamis both thanked OTML for its quick response.
“We truly appreciate what OTML has done and continues to do by supporting in every possible way to save our people who are right in the jungles and do not have access to basic government services,” they said.