TOMMY Gat would have lost both his feet if it was not for the quick response by Ok Tedi Mining Ltd (OTML) to airlift him from his remote village of Seltamin to Tabubil in mid-June.

Mr 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.

He 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 took a few days after the incident before 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 assistances 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 US$86,500 (K300,000) 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 US$29,000 (K98,000) 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.