Sea Alarm’s staff is heavily involved in the EUROWA Module project, which is co-funded by the European Commission. The project has just started its second and last year, in which two training events are amongst the main deliveries.
As explained in previous newsletters, the EUROWA Module project aims to define a model by which European oiled wildlife response experts from different countries can work together on an international response team to assist responders in another European country who are dealing with the challenges of an oiled wildlife incident.
This model had already been described as part of a previous European project (2006/2007) and is now being realized. The primary target of the EUROWA Module project (2015/2016) is to describe the technical and management aspects of responding internationally, set up a response structure and various types of facilities, and train responders at different levels of qualification to make response and facility operations successful.
As part of its design, the project bridges the gap between international responders who are mobilized to assist, and local responders who need their assistance to fill gaps. Both groups will benefit from the project as it works to standardise roles and procedures. The project also creates a coherent educational engine through which European countries can increase their national response capabilities, and at the same time make their expertise internationally available as part of mutual assistance between countries.
Sea Alarm staff is currently working with the project partners to prepare for two main training events, scheduled for September and October 2016. These events are primarily intended to train the EUROWA Module project group, but an additional limited number of external participants may also be invited.
The experience gained from the training events, which will test the various courses developed as part of the project, will be used to further optimize the impact of those courses in the post-project period, as Sea Alarm and its partners will continue to ensure the courses are presented annually.
An Oiled Wildlife Veterinarians and Rehabilitation Facility Managers course, and a separate course for Advanced Wildlife Responders, are being developed as modular courses, and will be provided as part of the events in 2016. Both 2016 courses, which will take place at the Wildlife Rescue Centre Ostend (WRCO), a rehabilitation facility purpose-built for rapid conversion to specialised oiled animal response, combine classroom instruction and hands-on exercises.
The EUROWA Module will produce handbooks and guidelines for the project, and will also use e-learning tools for general audiences to understand the philosophy behind it. The message to that audience will include the importance of having integrated oiled wildlife response plans in place to ensure that a wildlife response is optimally embedded in a country’s oil spill response preparedness.