During a recent visit to Helsinki in the framework of HELCOM Response, Sea Alarm’s Hugo Nijkamp met with Vesa Numinen and Tomi Rask of the Helsinki City Rescue Department (HCRD) to discuss oiled wildlife response preparedness. Being the largest of the 22 Rescue Departments in Finland, the HCRD has a considerable coastline in its area of responsibility. As part of the national marine pollution response plan, each of the coastal Rescue Departments has an important role to play in shoreline protection and cleanup activities. As part of increasing preparedness, each Rescue Department is now developing its own operational plan for these activities. The HCRD aims now to fully integrate oiled wildlife response into their plan, which should be developed by the end of the year. This integrated oiled wildlife response plan could be a model for the other Rescue Departments.
In his discussions with the HCRD, Hugo Nijkamp discovered that many useful ideas already had been developed with regards to the use of the Finnish mobile unit for oiled wildlife rehabilitation – the Bird Care Unit or BCU. All Finnish Rescue Departments work closely together with Finland’s National Environmental Institute (SYKE, the owner of the BCU) and WWF Finland, who trains volunteers all over the country to work with the BCU. Together Sea Alarm and the HCRD went through a range of scenarios in different parts of the country and developed some main ideas for a national strategy and an optimal use of the BCU.