Inland Geographic Response Plans
With the recent push for Inland Geographic Response Plans (GRP), community and responder preparedness is at an all-time high. Most of the major waterways in the west now have plans associated with them. This consolidation of data will undoubtedly make future responses to inland waterways more effective and safe.
Not only do responders have access at their fingertips to landowners contact information, boat ramp locations, water intakes and equipment needed for specific sites, but they also have numerous sites to practice and train for boom deployment. This is a great opportunity for all of us involved in oil spill response to dial in our skills on fast water.
Last year, WRI traveled from the Elwa River to the Mississippi River deploying GRP strategies at over 30 different locations. Each location presented its own set of challenges, but many of those challenges were alleviated by the use of the two or three-page strategy report form.
If you are not familiar with this form, an example can be found here.
However, one thing became clear, while the information on this form was priceless for responders, we should not tie ourselves to the boom configuration presented there. It is a certainty that the river will be different every time it is visited. What may have worked in September at 3000 cfs will likely not work in May at 3500 cfs. We cannot expect our boom set to look anything like a line drawn on paper.
Inland Spill Response Training
This is why it is imperative that responders train regularly in fast water. Creating an effective boom set is dependent upon the responder’s judgement. And good judgment is only developed through experience, practice and training. Regardless of your current experience, be it 30 years of response operations or if you are new to the job, you need to get out to train, practice, and continue to develop good judgment. At no point should we ever feel that we are prepared. We can always do more, learn more, and practice more.
“As the Water Rescue Team Leader for Missoula County Search and Rescue, WRI has been not only a great training resource but also a great partner on several of our swiftwater rescue and recoveries. Cody, Mike and WRI’s very capable and knowledgeable team of instructors teach from the perspective of having experienced the very missions that we are tasked with completing.”