On Thursday, April 9th, about 15 Riverwatch Captains completed the 1st Responder Awareness Level, formerly Hazwoper, training at the US Coast Guard Base at the mouth of the Buffalo River. U.S. Coast Guard Marine Science Technician Scott Wakefield led a great program on how to recognize spill incidents, conduct initial identification & assessments to provide to spill response authorities. Some of the things we learned included how to properly protect yourself from possible contamination, how to proceed to a spill location, and how to use spill response reference materials, such as a chemical’s MSDS or the emergency response guide, and what information to relay to the spill response authorities; such as the Coast Guard, DEC, or even emergency personnel.
At the conclusion of the training we were all certified at the Awareness Level (notify authorities and observe spill until they arrive) for Chemical Spills and as a 1st Responder (notify authorities and take defensive measures) for Oil Spills. While this training was great for those captains that want to take their waterway vigilance to a new level we are also providing help to the Coast Guard if the need ever arose. In an incident of a massive spill of some sort Riverwatch Captains could be called into action to help relieve the initial 1st responders and continue remediation efforts.
Thank you very much to all the captains that attended, Robbyn Drake for setting up this unique educational opportunity, and specialist Scott Wakefield for his time and knowledge.