Final touch to the project RESPONDER with the Advanced Oiled Wildlife Rescue Center course in Catalonia
After one and a half years of work, October sees the end of “RESPONDER: a training program for response to oiled marine fauna on the Spanish coasts”, a SUBMON project supported by the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge through its Fundación Biodiversidad, and the Department of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda of the Generalitat de Catalunya.
The project ends with the first edition of the Advanced Oiled Wildlife Rescue Center course in Spain, which is taking place at the Wildlife Rescue Center of Torreferrusa. In this three-day course, attendants learn to work in the different departments of such a center, being it temporal or permanent.
During the course, the different sections of such a center are explained, with their needs and running requirements: an initial reception area, where the intake and first clinical exam of admitted animals are done before moving them to the stabilization and rehydration section previous to washing; the washing and drying section; and a last area where animals are kept in pools until release. What is more important, attendants learn what can go wrong in each area and how to solve the problems that can come up.
RESPONDER project has turned out to be rather complicated, mainly due to the COVID-19 epidemic, which prevented meetings and travels for several months. Still, the project ends with very satisfactory results:
- Both EUROWA’s Basic and Advanced manuals have been translated into Spanish. The Basic manual is now publicly available on EUROWA’s website.
- 138 people from the regional governments of Asturias and Catalonia have been trained to a Basic level, 43 to an Advanced “search & rescue” level and 15 to an Advanced “rescue center” level. All attendants to these courses have been official staff from both governments, improving the readiness of these regions to respond in a fast and effective way in case of an oil spill with affected wildlife.
Furthermore, the fact that they have been trained following the structure and protocols of the EUROWA network ensures that, in case of an important incident requiring international assistance, they can all easily work hand in hand with personnel trained in other countries, everybody following the same standard and approved protocols.
Does this end here? We truly hope not. Preparedness for wildlife incidents is no easy task, but rather a long-distance run. Our intention is to continue with this effort in Spain, continue basic and advanced training, and introduce the next training levels (specialists in the different areas of a rescue center, and veterinary specialists), hoping that slowly but surely other regions of Spain will get involved in this much needed preparedness. Let’s hope more Autonomous Communities bring themselves to collaborate with these efforts, and that the Ministry continues supporting them.