We’re two weeks into the Refugio Incident spill response, and we are entering a time that is a bit difficult. Most of the live oiled animals have been caught, so efforts to collect dead oiled birds and marine mammals are increasing. As people who work to save wildlife, it is disheartening to see the dead animals coming in. Additionally, most of the spill workers have now been working two weeks straight with no days off. These aren’t typical work days either, these are 13+ hour days in an often stressful environment, where we are responsible for the capture and care of animals whose lives may depend on us doing a good job. And while our success rates at caring for and releasing oiled animals has gotten rather good, there will always be the animals that no matter what we do, cannot be saved.
We are at a time where the risk of compassion fatigue runs high in the staff and volunteers (for a great blog on this topic, click here). To avoid fatigue and burn out, it becomes important to help keep each others spirits up, take a minute to relax each day and put things in perspective, enjoy meals at the center with each other, and recognize and thank the hard working staff and volunteers. Perhaps the best thing we can do at this stage is to just try and add a little fun, enjoyment, and laughter to our day – which brings us to the point of this blog:
The infamous oil spill espresso machine
Legend goes that as far back as spills in the mid-1990’s, weary oil spill workers have searched far and wide for an espresso machine that could be dedicated to bringing a consistent supply of hot, caffeinated fuel to those early morning safety briefings. While we have no record of anyone actually obtaining such a machine for spill response, rumors and plots to secure such a device run rampant at pretty much any oil spill training, conference, or even discussion of a spill.
Alas the infamous oil spill espresso machine has once again evaded our best efforts of achievement, and we have resorted to securing our coffee on a daily basis from the local Starbucks. However, our coffee has brought us an unexpected surprise. It turns out when you have hot coffee for the crew each morning, not only does it make the mornings a little more bearable, but some of us can actually be seen SMILING in the wee morning hours. I will continue my observations on this matter, but I am happy to report that we may just be hanging in there for now.
In all seriousness though, all you spill workers out there, please do take care of yourselves and make sure you are getting the rest you need, and keep up the good work!