Meeting the Challenges of Inland Responses

The OWCN has been responding to spills in the great state of California since 1994. Until 2014 we were responsible for marine incidents, but in 2014 we also became responsible for inland spills. California boasts 163,696 square miles mingled with railways, roadways, pipelines, and plenty of oil fields – each providing an opportunity for oil spill incidents.

Inland spills have been keeping us fairly busy for the past few years. And as with all spills we learn something new every time. Inland spills differ from marine spills in a few ways and in each instance, we evolve to master new challenges. Like I said before, California is a big state, but most of our primary care facilities are closer to the coast. This leaves a vast inland area to be covered.

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Inland spills involve patients of all sizes!

Some of the ways inland spills differ from marine spills: terrain, weather, remoteness, scant to no communication capabilities, different types of waterways and different types of animals. Those different types of animals require different hazing techniques, capture, and care from those used for marine animals.

As with almost any problem, having the correct equipment makes solving it easier. To that end, we have a wide array of response equipment and supplies but including a list of all of them would make this the longest blog in history. So for this blog I will showcase only one – THE MASH!

The MASH (“Mobile Animal Stabilization Hospital”) is a 20 ft long trailer that helps us meet inland response needs in a big way. Most importantly it provides stabilization and limited care capabilities almost anywhere. If there’s enough room for the trailer – and fairly level ground – we’re good to go. It has been staged on roadsides right off the pavement, in parking lots and even in the middle of a pasture. We also use her for trainings and drills.

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Trailer with vestibule and 19’x35’ tent

The MASH was designed, built and delivered to us in 2011 and can be powered by simply plugging into a nearby electrical outlet or its own generator. This gives us great flexibility. Speaking of flexibility, we also have Western Shelter products (large tents that can be outfitted with insulation and electricity) and can expand the footprint of the MASH in addition to increasing its functional capacity. For example, we have a heavy duty soft-sided trailer boot that hooks on the rear adding an additional 56 square feet. This area can store supplies or serve as a holding area for oiled new arrivals until they’re examined. If we want even more space, we add a vestibule to the back of the MASH that connects the trailer to either a 20’ diameter round or 19’x 35’ foot rectangular tent. These structures are fully enclosed and can be heated, cooled and powered providing us with a great deal of portable usable space.

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Inside the MASH

Now let’s go inside. This chunky trailer sports a kitchen, exam table and light, a ton of medical and husbandry supplies and even equipment for use outside such as tables, chairs and a pop-up tent. The shelves can be reconfigured or taken out to make room for whatever arrives.

Hopefully you can see that the MASH is functional, versatile and an important piece of response equipment. So much so in fact, we are in the process of designing the “MASH 2” – that is even 4’ larger! Take a look!

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Floorplan for MASH 2

Hopefully this gives you a snapshot of just two of our important pieces of response equipment. In future blogs I’ll highlight other items that help Network responders provide best achievable capture and care for California’s oiled wildlife.

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Wendy Massey, Facility Specialist

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