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EUROWA autumn team event

Wrapping up year one of the EUROWA project, the last 2015 meeting in Ostend was a team event involving all members of the project team. This event, hosted by the Wildlife Rescue Centre Ostend, concentrated on the group working together as part of a module mobilisation.

The procedure for working together is described in the EUROWA Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) under development, which defines standards for a rapid, high quality wildlife response from a pool of European wildlife response organisations.

The event programme revolved around a tabletop exercise, run over two consecutive days, to simulate an oil spill incident scenario requiring mobilisation of the EUROWA module as a way of testing the draft SOP. The tabletop exercise put the group into the situation of receiving a request for international assistance to help deal with oiled wildlife. They then had to gather information from local stakeholders (role played by Sea Alarm) and make decisions on who would respond, what their plan of action would be once on site and what equipment they should take with them.

As would normally be the case in a real spill, evaluating the extent to which existing rehabilitation facilities can be used is an important task of an international wildlife response team. The final phase of the exercise was for the participants to take a tour of the Wildlife Rescue Centre Ostend, where the meeting was hosted, as if this were the rehabilitation facility being considered in the exercise scenario, and to develop strategies for scaling up to receive a larger number of oiled birds.

The discussions raised aspects of module governance, especially around the decision to send a team on the basis of limited information being available. The scenario also demonstrated the potential difficulties of an international team responding in a remote area with a limited level of oiled wildlife preparedness, where physical challenges (such as limitations in ferry transport getting on and off affected islands) may present roadblocks to starting up an effective oiled wildlife response and place limits on the number of animals that can be effectively rehabilitated.

Through this tabletop exercise, EUROWA team members were able to jointly consider their role in an international module mobilisation and the challenges they may face. Findings will be reflected in the SOP to be completed at the end of the project.

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