On 2 December 2020, representatives from the 8 different EUROWA Network members, along with 4 technical experts, gathered online to carry out a EUROWA Tabletop exercise coordinated by Sea Alarm in its role as EUROWA Secretariat.
The main objective of the exercise was to familiarise network members with the first phases of the EUROWA Standard Operational Procedure (SOP), including notification and assessment processes. Sea Alarm initiated the exercise a few days before by sending an automatic alert and providing basic information on our dedicated incidents website. Then, on the day of the exercise attendees gathered on Zoom where, after a quick ice breaker designed as a ‘getting to know you better exercise’, they were presented with a spill scenario.
The scenario involved a simulated oil spill impacting wildlife, off the coast of Portugal, where EUROWA assistance was requested by the Portuguese authorities. The tabletop continued using an online collaborative programme called Mural where the participants, in plenary sessions and breakout groups, discussed what type of assistance EUROWA could offer in this situation, the key objectives for an assessment team during the first 1-3 days, and how they would they address COVID-19 in that specific scenario.
The exercise brought a lot of interaction from all participants, where the most experienced participants shared ideas and examples with those less familiar with the assessment process. All in all, the participants found the exercise a very good opportunity to learn more about the SOP, to keep network members in touch, and also to test online tools like Mural during this phase where in-person meetings and live opportunities are restricted due to the pandemic.
The exercise also served to analyse the current SOP and identify aspects that need reviewing or updating. Tabletop exercises are planned at periodic intervals in the EUROWA Work Programme to allow network members to practice response situations and keep them up to date with their role in an incident.