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Training events a great step toward increased oiled wildlife response capacity in Europe

In September and October the EUROWA project held a series of pilot training events in Belgium designed to test courses developed over the last two years.  Participants with varying levels of expertise and experience from ten European countries gathered in Ostend to attend the two pilot training events and provide feedback on the course content and approach.

The first event  held in Belgium (September 5-9) allowed the project team and invited guests to test the 5 modular course packages for ADVANCED responders. The event showcased the lectures, skill labs (run at the Wildlife Rescue Centre Ostend) and interactive tests that were developed for the modular packages for this level. This approach was also applied during a second event in Ostend (October 10-14) which presented the MANAGER and SPECIALIST Veterinarian modular course package.

The presentation of the SPECIALIST Veterinarian material, consisting of lectures and skill labs (again at WRCO), lasted two days. This package is highly valued as part of the SPECIALIST suite of modular packages, as the veterinary care of oiled wildlife provides scientific credibility for an oiled wildlife rehabilitation operation. Successful rehabilitation requires specialised knowledge of the medical impacts of oil on wildlife, the treatment that is available to successfully revert these impacts, and the health parameters that can be used for triage purposes and be monitored to follow progression of the animal until its anticipated release.

Much of the scientific veterinary knowledge that has been acquired over many years of international research and experience has been incorporated into this course. The developed veterinary module also highlights various animal welfare issues related to oil spill response.

The remaining days of the second event also showcased parts of the newly developed MANAGER course and material for internal training of EUROWA responders to work together as a team and as part of a European mobilisation. A number of presentations were provided to the participants, but the majority of the time was spent on a variety of exercises, which including a variety of skill labs that can be made available to individuals who are scheduled to qualify as a SECTION HEAD or MANAGER.

At the closure of both events, participants were asked to evaluate the courses they attended, and feedback was positive from more than 90% of the attendees. Extensive suggestions were also provided to improve and further refine the training materials, so these evaluation results have provided the EUROWA team with a clearer picture of where changes would make the courses more valuable in increasing response capacity within Europe.

The current EUROWA project will be completed at the end of 2016, which means that this whole new set of training courses for oiled wildlife responders will be available from January 2017 onwards. See the  EUROWA Training Portfolio page for more details.

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