Remote terrain and dramatic weather patterns in Alaska can be a perilous combination, often changing quickly to create dangerous situations for those exposed to the elements. Response speed, coupled with safety, is critical and can mean the difference between life and death when responding to an emergency. Several times each year, the Pebble Partnership’s emergency training and safety expertise is accessed by state and federal agencies, and in some cases residents, to assist with various situations in the region such as rescues and medical emergencies.
Because the Pebble Partnership voluntarily transports all equipment and materials to the exploration site via helicopter to minimize its environmental footprint, the organization has the ability to mobilize a wide range of resources and also maneuver in inclement weather. High winds and poor conditions often make response by state emergency crews using fixed wing aircraft difficult. In addition, paramedics, which are stationed at all Pebble exploration drill rigs 24/7, are also available should the need arise.
Regional emergency assistance efforts by Pebble staff and contractors are always driven by and coordinated through a state or federal agency as the lead so that resources and equipment can be allocated where they are most needed. Should a call be received from a civilian at the Pebble Iliamna site, the proper authorities are immediately notified to ensure they are aware of the situation and also inquire if assistance is needed so that efforts aren’t duplicated.
Recently, the Pebble Partnership was recognized for its assistance to the Alaska State Troopers with the rescue of two stranded hunting parties at Moraine Creek, located near Lake Iliamna and Kokhanok. The Pebble Partnership mobilized a helicopter and pilot, a paramedic and air coordination support to fly a State Trooper to the scene of the first emergency. While on the scene, a second call was received for assistance with another hunting party. Weather conditions prohibited the State Troopers from utilizing their own aircraft. Both hunting parties were later safely airlifted to Iliamna.
“Rescue assistance calls happen, especially in the more remote parts of our state,” says Tom Covington, safety manager for the Pebble Partnership. “Pebble’s ability to quickly assemble equipment and even specialized and trained emergency personnel is an asset we willingly share when requested by state or federal agencies.”
On average, the Pebble Partnership receives two or three rescue assistance calls in a given year, ranging from stranded hunting parties to downed aircrafts, overturned boats and more. Occasionally, calls are also received to assist with medical situations in town that the healthcare clinics may not be fully equipped to address.
The Pebble Project is located in Southwest Alaska on state land designated for mineral exploration and development. It is situated approximately 1,000 feet above sea-level and 65 miles from tidewater on Cook Inlet. The Pebble Partnership was established in July 2007 as a 50:50 partnership between a subsidiary of Anglo American plc and an affiliate of Northern Dynasty Minerals.