More than a Dozen Agencies Attend Spill Safety and Leadership Course, Lafayette, LA
About 50 emergency responders from federal and state agencies from around the country gathered in Lafayette, La. last week. They were learning how to safely protect the wildlife that may be impacted by oil spills and hazardous materials releases.
“We are excited about the opportunity to get this group together to ensure consistency during our response efforts,” said Buddy Goatcher, contaminants specialist and course coordinator. “This also gives us an excellent opportunity to learn from our counterparts’ experiences from around the country.”
Participants had the chance to see a wide array of equipment in action, and a host of tools of the trade. Harold Doucet, Clean Gulf Associates, talked with the participants on the logistic requirements of wildlife cleaning and showed them his quick-response trailers. His group routinely provides quick response for 141 petroleum companies to oil spills to save wildlife from the adverse effects of oil or other contaminants.
“It takes 345 gallons of water just to clean one oiled Pelican,” Doucet said.
Instructors from several agencies, companies and organizations ensured the class covered a realistic scope throughout the hands-on training. Even the instructors learned from their participation.
“The Coast Guard changes personnel so often, I think the most important thing is to establish a relationship before an incident,” said Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Keeli Darst, Chief, Incident Management Division, Sector Houston-Galveston. “We get updates from Fish and Wildlife, and they get the regulation changes from the Coast Guard – and we all to get to know who we are working with.”
Darst had provided the National Incident Management System (NIMS) training to insure everyone used the same terminology, and helped everyone understand their position in an incident.
Training subjects included aviation safety, animal handling, coastal and inland spill scenarios, endangered species and migratory bird issues, field safety during wildlife hazing, media relations, and airboat and mud boat training. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region sponsored the training to enhance federal and state response to oil spills and hazardous material releases.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 547 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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