Oiled wildlife response requires a significant amount of equipment, often very specialised, some of which is not easy to obtain at short notice. In Europe, Sea Alarm and Oil Spill Response (OSRL) maintain stores of key equipment to enable rapid response. Those at OSRL are containerised, customs cleared, and ready to be shipped anywhere in the world. Large items such as boats and four-wheel drive vehicles, and common items such as towels and newspaper are often sourced at or near the spill site.
Mobile response units , often specialty equipped trailers, are becoming more common as these units reduce the need to find buildings suitable for cleaning and caring for oiled wildlife, particularly in smaller spills. These units may also serve as front-line triage or other adjunct facilities in larger spills. Between spills they can serve as storage units for response equipment. Tents have also been utilised for many aspects of oiled wildlife response, particularly in areas where severe weather is less of a concern.
The lists provided below give some idea of the range of possible equipment needed but do not constitute a complete checklist for developing a response equipment stockpile.
In every situation personal protective equipment (ppe) is needed. Depending on the situation, this will include coveralls, gloves, goggles/face shields, and boots/wellingtons. For water rescues personal floatation devices (PFDs) are needed and in colder climates personnel going out on the water may require survival suits.
Cleaning and disinfecting supplies
Office supplies for record keeping and administrative work
Search and rescue
Search and Rescue involves working on beaches, in marshes, rivers or creeks, and sometimes from boats. Weather is an important consideration in this part of the response. Personnel in the field should have sufficient warm clothing in cold climates and protection from sun in warmer climates, as they may spend many hours exposed to the elements. Where birds are found in in rivers, creeks, marshes or offshore, boat captures may be necessary.
Search and rescue equipment:
Boxes and/or cages
Navigational aids (compass, gps, maps, charts)
Mobile phones and/or two-way radios
Quad bikes or four-wheel drive vehicles (for access to remote areas)
Boats (water rescue)
Stabilisation and husbandry
Once animals are captured they will need an initial assessment of their condition. This can occur at beachhead collection points, forward holding facilities or the rehabilitation centre, depending on the availability of experienced personnel to perform the assessment. Animals are then stabilised and eventually washed and prepared for release. Throughout this time they will need species appropriate food and housing.
Stabilisation and husbandry equipment:
Catheter tip syringes
Feeding tubs or bowls
Specialised cages/housing units (many bird species can be housed in small groups)
Refrigerators (for food)
In most cases intensive, individual medical treatment during oil spill responses is not possible but some routine medical care is usually necessary. Equipment for this aspect of the response will depend on the facilities available and the expertise of the response team.
Injectable and oral vitamins, antibiotics, anti-fungals and other drugs
Blood collection tubes
Hazardous medical waste containers
Dedicated refrigerators and freezers
Dedicated post mortem examination instruments
The oiled wildlife cleaning process
A great deal of effort has gone into improving the washing and waterproofing process for birds. It is now understood that wash and rinse water must be within specific parameters for a successful result. Water quality testing equipment is recommended for this.
Wildlife cleaning equipment:
Washing liquid (proven effective for de-oiling birds)
Washing tubs (simple plastic bowls or larger metal tubs/sinks)
Hoses with adjustable nozzles
Drying cages (purpose-built net bottom pens are often used as they prevent birds from soiling themselves during the drying process and reduce the incidence of foot and chest damage to species who do not normally spend time on land)
Pet dryers and/or heat lamps
Rehabilitation pools and cages
Animals will need time to regain their full waterproofing and strength after being stabilised and washed. For this, purpose-built accommodation, appropriate for the species in care, will need to be provided. Bathing pools, usually of some depth, are needed to re-establish the animals' waterproof qualities and to restore their fitness. Many equipment kits include pools but significant quantities of water from local supplies are also essential for this process.