Hands-on responders have the responsibility of capturing affected animals along a shoreline, transporting them to specialized centres and treating them according to the pre-spill defined objectives. They include search and capture specialists, wildlife rehabilitators and veterinarians. Ideally, some hand-on responders will also have managing skills enabling them to train and manage groups of volunteers who operate under their direction.
Although the primary focus of hands-on responders is to take care of the animals as quickly and effectively as possible, it is important that they are well trained to do this job safely, cooperatively, and with the highest probability that their objectives are met.
The international hands-on training that Sea Alarm provides and facilitates focuses on:
- best practices for capture, transport, rehabilitation, euthanasia, washing and waterproofing and release of marine animals (seabirds, marine mammals and sea turtles);
- health and safety;
- ethical dilemmas;
- working as part of a larger oil spill incident; and
- setting up and managing rehabilitation facilities.
Training by Sea Alarm is always based on internationally agreed best practices, e.g. protocols and guidelines published by the leading response organisations.
Sea Alarm organizes training events for interested parties on request and encourages and assists partner organisations in developing and organizing their own courses. Every year, courses are available in Belgium, organised by the Ostend Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and in the UK, organised by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. These courses are announced by means of the Sea Alarm Newsletter and www.oiledwildlife.eu.
In close cooperation with Oil Spill Response, Sea Alarm also facilitates the training of experienced oiled wildlife responders that are able to respond abroad, as part of an international team that is coordinated by Sea Alarm. This core group of European responders includes individuals that have previously been involved in incidents and/or are key responders in their home countries. By providing training to this group, Sea Alarm not only increases the quality of its international network, but also increases the national hands-on response capacity in European countries.