In October, Sea Alarm, in cooperation with the Oiled Wildlife Response Network (OWRN, Ireland), Wildlife Rescue Centre Ostend (WRCO, Belgium) and ProBird (Germany), facilitated two one-day training courses focusing on the early stages of oiled wildlife response.
The two-day event, held at the Coast Guard Station House in Howth, was commissioned and funded by the Irish Coast Guard. Participants included representatives the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Bird Watch Ireland, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, Irish Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA), Coastwatch, three Coastal Counties, the Irish Coast Guard, and Gardai. The Oiled Wildlife Response Network (OWRN) acted as host for the two days, and was encouraged by all parties present to continue acting as the national coordinator for advancing this topic in Ireland.
The first day focused on oiled wildlife response management and was attended by the key stakeholder agencies and NGOs noted above and some of the local county councils responsible for shoreline cleanup and oiled wildlife response planning. Hugo Nijkamp (Sea Alarm) took the group through the steps needed to launch a wildlife response and organize a wildlife response coordination unit that integrates with the management system overseeing the overall oil spill response. Examples from Belgium and the Netherlands, and the case study of the Flinterstar incident, helped to illustrate what is needed.
In the afternoon a table top exercise was held which simulated an incident in Dublin Bay. The whole group simulated a first meeting of a wildlife response crisis team, which Hugo offered to chair, and in which the various aspects of the scenario were systematically considered in order to define priorities and divide tasks.
Claude Velter (WRCO, Belgium) and Sascha Regmann (ProBird, Germany) played themselves as experts who happened to be in country, and assisted in bringing up key questions for the group. In combination with the morning programme this exercise was a true eye-opener, demonstrating how useful a pre-agreed plan for each of the different regions in Ireland would be.
The second day aimed at providing a group of more than 20 volunteers with an introduction to first responder tasks and skills, using the materials developed under the EU POSOW project. Sascha and Claude together provided the training and, apart from the theory modules, demonstrated hands-on capture and handling techniques for those likely to be actively involved in rescue of oiled birds.