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HAZWOPER course for wildlife volunteers in Washington State

After their meeting at the EnSaCo workshop in September 2010, Heather Parker of the US Coast Guard invited Hugo Nijkamp to attend a HAZWOPER course in Everett, Washington, in late February 2011.

Hugo combined this opportunity to visit a number of West Coast based organisations in the US (see elsewhere in this newsletter).
HAZWOPER courses (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response) are well known to oiled wildlife responders in the US as they offer an opportunity to obtain a certificate which an individual needs to be allowed to respond to an oil spill incident in US territory. Hugo attended a HAZWOPER 8h course together with around 100 potential oil spill response volunteers from Washington State who signed up for it. The course consisted of a series of lectures, provided by the Coast Guard, Fish and Wildlife Service, a local oil spill response organisation and Focus Wildlife. Lecture topics included Health and Safety, Incident Command System, Case Studies, Wildlife Response Preparedness and Wildlife Response. Hugo delivered a guest lecture highlighting oiled wildlife response and preparedness outside of the United States and shared his experiences of the day with the Coast Guard and Fish and Wildlife Services.
Hugo was impressed with the genuine interest of individuals in the audience to spend a full Saturday to attend the course and the commitment of the authority representatives to share key information on oil spill and oiled wildlife response. Making use of volunteers in oiled wildlife response is very much accepted in the US and clearly well supported by key authorities in the incident command system. By providing individuals from the public regular opportunities to attend a training course, the authorities not only create a great potential of hands-on capacity, but also communicate their appreciation of wildlife response activities and the importance of individuals being aware of the challenges and hazards of a response.

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