30 May 2023
ONE NIGHT, a fire broke out in Kawasi Village, South Halmahera, North Maluku. Getting this news, Harita Nickel's management immediately sent a rescue aid. A total of 3 firefighting units and 2 units of water trucks along with the Emergency Response Team (ERT) crew went to the fire location.
Erich Marvin Rizal Mongdong, ERT Supervisor of PT Hamahera Persada Lygend (PT HPL), said fire in Kawasi Village was one of the toughest cases ever handled. This was because crowds of panicked residents had made it difficult for the ERT crew to reach the location.
"[We] can't blame them, they instinctively wanted to help. If it was in a company environment, it would be easier to manage because employees and workers are already trained, knowing what to do," said Erich, recalling the disastrous event that happened on October 23, 2022.
Not only in the company environment, said Erich, ERT Harita Nickel is also responsive to emergency events around its nickel mining and downstream operations in Obi Island.
ERICH MONGDONG joined Harita Nickel in June 2021. His position as ERT Supervisor at PT HPL, Harita Nickel's business unit producing the first electric vehicle battery material in Indonesia. This position is linear with his previous experience in one of mining companies in Papua.
Despite his experience, Erich did not face any obstacles. At that time he did not have members who had received emergency response training. ERT's structure had not yet been established. This role was previously handled by Safety team under the Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) division.
But that situation did not discourage Erich. Instead of considering it an obstacle, the absence of an ERT structure actually challenged him. Assisted by Safety personnel, he slowly formed a team. Indeed, it was not an easy process.
"People think that we are firefighters. But it's bigger than that, because we are also required to rescue at sea, at heights and other emergency situations," Erich explains.
Erich understands people's reluctance to join ERT because they don't understand what his team actually does. He continues to look for ways to provide explanations in a more understandable way.
"I told them that ERT is a combination of firefighting and Basarnas put together," he continued, but he got the same result. None of the 17 daily casual workers (THL) who had been offered, wanted to join.
"Then we made a demonstration simulation exercise. I asked permission for our safety team to become guinea pigs. Only then did they understand what the ERT does. People started to want to join," he said, feeling relieved.
Two years on, PT HPL's ERT now has 18 trained personnel on 24-hour standby. The team is also strengthened by 60 volunteers from across departments. These volunteers undergo regular training every month. Whenever needed, they are ready to join the ERT crew in the field.
"What we train in ERT, they also get, the same knowledge. Starting from fire training, altitude, extrication rescue, water rescue, medical," Erich explained.
Thanks to Erich and his team's dedication and hard work, ERT, which was once unknown to many, is now well known. Erich's office at PT HPL's Office 911 is busy serving emergency calls every day. Not only work accidents, but also other emergency calls such as when an employee is sick. Even outside the company area, such as during last year's fire in Kawasi.
BEING an ERT Supervisor, Erich has a huge responsibility. He is required to coordinate his team members to work cohesively, carefully and with safety in mind. This is important to ensure both victim and crew are safe during rescue operations.
"I pay attention to every piece of equipment. If I see a member not wearing gloves, not wearing shoes, I will warn them. A supervisor must be able to care for his crew, pay attention to the smallest things," explained Erich.
Apart from safety, every personnel is also required to be always prepared. On the other hand, it is undeniable that everyone's work spirit experiences ups and downs. To foster and maintain his crew's morale, Erich instills in them that doing work is not solely for material purposes, but also based on human values.
"No matter how much money we have, it will run out. But if we want to seek rewards for our provision that will never run out, this is the place. Our profession is a humanitarian mission, we help people," said Erich, encouraging his members.
Erich's responsibility and dedication to his work was born out of a long process. Once, the 33-year-old Papua-born man had an experience that has changed his attitude to life today.
It happened when he was living in Yogyakarta a few years ago. It was in 2006, when there was a 5.9 SR earthquake in Yogyakarta. Erich, who was a member of a nature lovers group in his high school, was asked to volunteer helping medical workers who were overwhelmed with the victims. He remembers that event like apocalypse. It was chaotic; there were victims everywhere, crying and screaming from every direction.
He was asked by a medical officer to look after a grandmother who was a victim of the earthquake with a severe injury to her eye.
"All I remember is that I was asked to look after the grandmother, to talk to her, and to make sure she didn't fall asleep," Erich says, trying to recall his memories.
Erich tried to keep the victim conscious. He did as much as he could, but fate decided otherwise. The grandmother died on his lap. This experience was a great blow to him, who was still a teenager at that time. He was haunted by guilt for days because he thought that he had failed to help the victim.
" I was the most indifferent person ever. What's important is that my life is safe, that's enough. That experience became a trigger for me to care more about others, about my environment," Erich said.
Since then, he has been actively involved in social activities. He actualized it through nature lovers' activities at his school. Likewise, when he continued his studies at Pelita Bangsa University in Yogyakarta, majoring in Human Resource Management, his hangout was not far from the nature lovers community.
Despite having made significant progress, Erich still has big dreams. He hopes that ERT can focus more on countermeasures in the future. Potential accidents should be mitigated first, so that early prevention efforts can be made.
" It's called the Emergency Preparedness and Response Team. Before responding, it has been mitigated first. If possible, there should be no calls. This is what we have slowly started to do," said Erich, optimistically.
Erich also hopes that safety-first attitude and care for others will become a culture for every employee in all Harita Nickel business units.