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.
“I really appreciate the swift water rescue operations and technician-level training WRI provided for Kennedy Jenks Consultants and the BNSF Railway Company emergency response personnel at Havre, MT and Guernsey, WY in 2010. The training classes were hands-on and greatly improved our river-safety skill levels. Several of my rafting and kayaking friends and I have also attended WRI swiftwater rescue technician classes on the Stillwater River this summer. As good as the training is, what really impressed me was when I called WRI late in the evening on 12 May, 2010 to respond to a BNSF train derailment on the Wind River, you and your staff responded quickly and provided our emergency response team with several swiftwater rescue technicians, a rescue raft, a jet boat, and valuable river safety oversight. We look forward to working with WRI again.”