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EUROWA Module training courses take shape

The EUROWA project is building on the philosophy that oiled wildlife response can be successful if it is well prepared for, run according to an agreed and integrated wildlife response plan that is regularly exercised, and carried out by personnel that are well trained and have benefited from a range of regular exercises in which they have learned how to work together.

The development of training courses for a number of key positions in an oiled wildlife response is included as one of the main activities in the EUROWA project. In the first year of the project these key positions have been identified and training modules are now being developed.

In 2014 the European POSOW I project delivered a train the trainer course on oiled wildlife response for first responders who can be recruited from groups of convergent volunteers. The EUROWA project is taking the training programme a step further by developing an Advanced Responder course in which POSOW-trained responders can learn and better understand the details of the European Oiled Bird Rehabilitation Protocol, and bring that into practice in the various areas of a response where the objective is to save the lives of animals.

This course includes both field response and facility-based response, and aims to deliver responders who can deliver a high level of competency in different parts of the response (field capture, field stabilisation treatments, transport, standard intake examination, ongoing stabilisation treatments, washing, reconditioning, post-wash rehabilitation and release treatments) without supervision.

A qualified Advanced Responder can further develop into a Specialist with proven competency in both literature knowledge and direct spill response experience, and have access to management training and exercises that lead to a qualification for the positions of Section Head, Facility Manager or Field Operations Manager. This level of education concentrates on the wide range of challenges that may appear in an oiled wildlife scenario, a variety of tools and guidelines that can be applied in such cases, how they work, and what they can be expected to deliver.

As a separate line of education the EUROWA project is developing a competency training course for veterinarians. Any veterinarian can take this course to become qualified as an Oiled Wildlife Veterinarian, who can oversee animal welfare by applying internationally recognised minimum care standards for oiled bird rehabilitation. After qualification as such, the veterinarian has access to the management training and related exercises.

To be part of an international response team that can be mobilised as a “EUROWA Module” (defined by the European Commission as “experts and their equipment”), candidates must have minimum qualifications at a Specialist level, and/or a qualification at one of the management levels. Also they must have participated in a special Module Membership course, in which the Standard Operational Procedure (SOP) and Code of Conduct are explained, and team building exercises provided.

The EUROWA Training Portfolio will be made available for international purposes, especially for candidate responders in different European countries. It has various built-in train the trainer aspects, and will assist European countries to build their own capabilities and national capacity according to international good practice. Not only will countries become better prepared, responders can also more effectively assist each other across their borders, increasing regional preparedness.

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