Yesterday the OWCN conducted a full deployment drill at the Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center (MWVCRC) in Santa Cruz. We conduct these exercises for different primary care facilities one to two times per year. They provide an opportunity to simulate how each facility will be used during an oiled wildlife response and remind staff and volunteers how everything works.
During the exercise bird decoys were used to practice intake exams, folks actually put on personal protective equipment (even though there was no oil), and we tested various systems throughout the building.
In addition to testing people, equipment and facilities, we also worked through different scenarios that might develop during an oil spill. OWCN’s response facilities don’t sit idle when there’s not a spill. Member organizations and other cooperating groups conduct rehabilitation, education and research programs every day in these facilities. So when an emergency happens and things shift into oiled wildlife response mode, the normal daily routine for these groups is disrupted. Response exercises provide an opportunity to work through this transition when there is no emergency, so when a spill happens – and things have to move quickly – the process will be smooth and efficient.