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Introduction and General Information

While minor oil spills are commonly dealt with at a local level, larger spills require a more coordinated response, which may be organised at a national, regional or state level depending on the size of the spill and the country involved. International coordination and/or assistance may be required. (W468.Jan2003.w1)

For effective response, particularly with larger spills, it is important that lines of communication are set up and can be activated promptly as required and that there is an organised, pre-arranged command structure.

  • Oil spill response is complex, requiring assessment of the situation, consideration of potential impacts, and responses such as salvage, oil cleanup at sea and on-shore clean-up. (W468.Jan2003.w1)
  • Oiled wildlife response, while only a small part of overall oil spill response, is also complex, and involves consideration of potential impacts on oiled wildlife, assessment of oiled populations, and response activities varying from hazing and/or proactive capture (applicable only in certain circumstances) to search, collection, assessment and triage, stabilisation, cleaning, rehabilitation, release and post-release monitoring of oiled animals. (B363.Intro.w21, D183.w6)
  • Even the best contingency plan cannot operate if coordination and cooperation between groups/organisations involved in oiled wildlife response breaks down. (D214.2.w2)

Individual oiled casualties, or small numbers of casualties, can generally be cared for at a local level if trained personnel are available: many general wildlife rehabilitation facilities are able to clean the occasional oiled bird (or other animal) presented to them. (D28, D183.w9) Responding to a spill involving tens, hundreds or thousands of oiled wildlife casualties requires a response of a different magnitude and structure. While the same practical hands-on techniques may be used to clean each of a thousand birds as are used to clean one bird, for maximum effectiveness large responses require:

  • Pre-spill preparation (contingency planning); (D183.w9, P14.5.w13)
  • Adequate facilities and consumables (i.e. physical resources); (B23.38.w2)
  • Sufficient and appropriate personnel (including at least a core of trained individuals); (D28, D183.w9, D159.III.w3)
  • An organised command and communication structure. (B363.3.w3, D133.1.w1)

Experience from several large oiled wildlife responses has shown that where the command and communication structure has been absent, or not fully functional, response has been less efficient and less effective, with a smaller percentage of casualties cleaned, rehabilitated and released. Conversely, a good communications network can enhance the response. (D183.w9, D219, D220)

Note: it is important to remember that the response to oiled wildlife is only one part of oil spill response and should be organised within the overall oil spill response command structure. (P14.7.w51)

Oil spills should be reported to the appropriate authorities: in the UK to the appropriate HM Coastguard station for spills on or around the coast and to the Environment Agency (0800 807060) for inland spills, in the USA to the National Response Center (1-800- 424-8802).

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General Oil Spill Command Structure: Incident Control System and Unified Command

Incident Control System (ICS)

"The ICS is a standardized on-scene emergency management system designed to adopt an integrated organizational structure equal to the complexity and demands of an incident without being hindered by jurisdictional boundaries." (D160.1.w1)

The Incident Control System (ICS) was originally developed for fighting forest fires but is useful for a variety of emergency responses, including oil spill response. (W572.May05.w1). Several countries use the ICS for oil spill response; it is a formal structure which can improve overall efficiency of operation management in emergencies, particularly during very large scale events and minimise the risk of failure to meet the objectives of a response operation. (B363.App1.w14)

  • The ICS was set up to address problems of: (D213.2.w2)
    • Excessive numbers of people responding to a given supervisor;
    • Different organisational structures in different emergency response organisations;
    • Lack of reliable information on incidents;
    • Communication incompatibilities and inadequacies;
    • Lack of structure for coordination of planning between agencies;
    • Lack of clarity in lines of authority;
    • Different terminology between agencies;
    • Incident objectives being unclear or unspecified. 


  • The ICS uses the principle of "management by objective": breaking down the desired outcome into individual objectives required to meet this desired outcome so that everyone involved understands what is to be achieved and nothing is overlooked. (B363.App1.w14)
  • The ICS also uses the principle of "span of control", indicating the number of groups or individuals reporting to each position (individual) within the ICS structure, and gives a limit of three to seven (W572.May05.w1) usually five (B363.App1.w14) individuals or groups to be managed by any one individual. (B363.App1.w14)
  • The ICS is flexible and adaptable, contracting or expanding as required for the scale of the incident: a small incident may require only an Incident Commander, while in larger events separate sections are set up under the Incident Commander. (D213.w9, W572.May05.w1)
  • It is important to recognise that the success of ICS/UC depends on its being planned for and exercised in advance of an actual emergency incident. (D213.w9)
  • The advantages of the ICS/UC are: (D213.2.w2)
    • Use of a common language and response culture;
    • Optimisation of combined efforts;
    • Elimination of duplicating efforts;
    • Establishment of a single command post for an incident;
    • Allowing collective approval of operations, logistics, planning and finance activities;
    • Encouraging a cooperative response environment;
    • Allowing sharing of facilities, reducing costs of response, maximising efficiency, minimising breakdowns in communication;
    • Permitting responders to develop and implement a single incident action plan.


Incident Control System Structure

Incident Command (Control) sets the objectives and priorities for the response and has overall responsibility. (W572.May05.w1) The Incident Commander or Incident Controller is therefore in control of the overall incident response, defining the objectives of the response plan, approving and authorising activation of the response plan and continually reviewing the response plan to ensure that it meets the response objectives. Duties include assessing of the incident, conducting briefings for team members (based on new information, and briefing of new staff), liaison with supporting personnel, allocation of tasks, ensuring the safety of all personnel, reporting to responsible agencies and organisations, managing the media and maintaining a log of events. (D213.2.w2, B363.App1.w14) 

  • The Incident Controller manages, and is supported by, Planning, Logistics, Operations and Finance & Administration officers. (B363.App1.w14)
  • Command staff officers responsible directly to the Incident Controller include those responsible for safety, liaison and information. (D213.2.w2, W572.May05.w1)
    • The Safety Officer is responsible for developing and recommending to the Incident Commander or Unified Command (see below) measures for assuring the health and safety of personnel, and for anticipating situations which may be hazardous, developing site safety plans, reviewing the Incident Action Plan for any safety implications, and providing complete, specific, accurate and timely assessment of hazards and control measures required. (D213.2.w2)
    • The Liaison Officer serves as the point of contact to assist and coordinate activities between the IC/UC and any appropriate agencies or groups (e.g. local governmental officials). (D213.2.w2)
    • The Information Officer develops and releases information about the incident to the media, incident personnel and other appropriate agencies and organisations. (D213.2.w2)
  • N.B. All activities remain the responsibility of the Incident Commander until they are assigned to another individual. (D213.2.w2)

Planning is the section which develops the action plan by which the objectives of the response will be met, as well as collecting and evaluating information, tracking resource status and documenting the response effort. (W572.May05.w1) The Planning Officer is responsible for collecting, evaluating and disseminating information about the incident and may be supported by a situation officer looking at the current situation and likely future (next six, 12, 24 hours) events (e.g. changing weather, potential hazards, external considerations, status of allocated resources), with an analysis of the possible consequences of these for the response. Additionally the planning Officer is responsible for preparation of the Response Plans. Media support is generally arranged by the Planning Officer via a Media Liaison Officer.

Logistics provides the support (resources, other services) to meet the needs of the incident. (W572.May05.w1). The Logistics Officer is responsible for coordination of the supply of facilities, services and equipment. This section is generally divided into human resources, supply, communications and safety. (B363.App1.w14)

Operations is the section which carries out the tactical operations of the action plan, develops the tactical objectives and organisation and directs all the resources. (W572.May05.w1) The Operations Officer is responsible for the direct response to the incident, including the separate functions of oil clean up and wildlife response, each of these being managed by individual coordinators. (B363.App1.w14)

Finance/Administration in the section monitoring the costs of the incident and includes accounting, procurement, time recording and cost analysis. (W572.May05.w1) The Finance & Administration Officer is responsible for the administrative support required for the functioning of the ICS and may be supported by a finance officer and various general administrative assistants. On the finance side, all the costs associated with the response need to be tracked including records of times worked, accounts for purchases, compensation claims, insurance claims etc. The general administrative support includes telephone answering, typing, photocopying, record keeping etc. (B363.App1.w14)

Unified Command (UC)

The Unified Command (UC) structure is a system allowing for the overall command (Incident Commander) position to be shared among several agencies or organisations where the event involves shared jurisdiction. (W572.May05.w1)

  • The UC may be used where an event crosses geographical boundaries, levels of government (e.g. local versus national), functional responsibilities and/or statutory responsibilities. (D213.2.w2)
  • The members of the UC will vary depending on the specific incident. (D213.2.w2)
  • Members of the UC need to possess response decision-making authority. (D213.w9)
  • Members of the UC have responsibility to the UC and also to their respective agencies or organisations. (D213.2.w2)
  • Members of the UC must: (D213.2.w2)
    • Agree on common incident objectives and priorities;
    • Have the capability to sustain a commitment to the incident 24 hours a day, seven days a week;
    • Have the authority to commit agency/company resources to the incident;
    • Have the authority to spend agency/company funds;
    • Agree on the response organisation for the incident;
    • Agree on the appropriate position assignments for the Command and General Staff positions, ensuring clear direction for tactical resources on-scene;
    • Commit to speak with one voice through the Information Officer;
    • Agree on the logistic support procedures;
    • Agree on cost sharing procedures, as appropriate.


  • The UC is formed to command an incident response and members of the UC should develop a synergy based on the different capabilities of each member of the UC, shared understanding of the incident situation, and agreement on common response objectives. (D213.2.w2)
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In the UK

Coastal and offshore oil spills

In the UK, coastal oil spill response is coordinated by the Counter Pollution and Response (CPR) Branch of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA). This was formed in 1998 from the Coastguard Agency’s Marine Pollution Control Unit (MPCU), following the merger between The Coastguard Agency and Marine Safety Agency. (W468.Jan2003.w1)

Spills on or around the coast (i.e. at sea), or a risk of significant pollution, should be reported to the appropriate HM Coastguard station. (D134) The Coastguard stations can be contacted directly but if a member of the public does not have such contact details available, they can telephone 999 and ask for the Coastguard. 

Incidents occurring within a harbour should be reported to the harbour master, who will then immediately inform HM Coastguard. (D134)

The following information is taken directly from the MCA Website (W468.Jan2003.w1).

MCA’s CPR is now based on a regional response with central operational, technical and scientific support. A Regional Operation Manager – Counter Pollution and Salvage (ROM-CPS) is based in each region, supported by scientists, mariners, cost recovery specialists and logistics support specialists in the MCA’s headquarters in Southampton. 

Response to an Incident

Initial information about an incident is usually reported in the first incident to one of the 18 HM Coastguard (HMCG) stations around the UK by many sources e.g. the vessel in difficulty, passing vessels, observers and the public. HMCG will then instigate search and rescue operations where necessary and this action will hold primacy over any other forms of response. They will also inform the duty ROM-CPS if there is any pollution or threat of pollution i.e. a drifting ship, a grounded ship etc. The ROM-CPS then decides the relevant course of action, instigates the appropriate level of response and alerts the relevant people in CPR. In the event of a major incident, the MCA may activate the Marine Emergency Information Room (MEIR) in Southampton prior to the deployment of people and equipment to the scene. Three main control centres may be set up :

A Salvage Control Unit (SCU) – Led by the Secretary of State’s Representative for Marine Salvage and Intervention (SOSREP), who oversees and approves any salvage operation and can intervene if appropriate. 

A Marine Response Centre (MRC) – Led by the MCA to co-ordinate all at-sea counter pollution and clean-up operations. 

A Shoreline Response Centre (SRC) – Led by the Local Authority with technical support from the MCA. This centre co-ordinates the shoreline clean-up operations. 

In built flexibility in the NCP, means that not all of these response cells will need to be set up in every incident. The response will be dictated by the scale and type of incident. 

An Environment Group may also be set up at the very early stages of an incident, when a real threat to the marine and coastal environment is considered likely. This group provides environmental advice to all three control units. The Environment Group is made up of representatives of the relevant statutory nature conservation body, environmental regulator and Government fisheries department. 

In the UK, spills are categorised by the internationally adopted Tier system : 

  • TIER ONE : A small operational spill employing local resources during any clean-up. 
  • TIER TWO : A medium sized spill, requiring regional assistance and resources. 
  • TIER THREE : A large spill, requiring national assistance and resources. The National Contingency Plan will be activated in this case.

Various other organisations also have a responsibility to respond to pollution in the U.K. : 

  • MCA - Takes the lead in pollution from shipping at sea. 
  • PORTS, HARBOURS, OIL FACILITIES & OFFSHORE INSTALLATIONS - Have a statutory responsibility for clean-up in their jurisdictions, ports to tier 2, offshore installations to tier 3. 
  • ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATOR – Takes the lead in responding to pollution from land based sources. 
  • LOCAL AUTHORITIES / Environment and Heritage Service (in Northern Ireland) - Have accepted the non-statutory responsibility for shoreline clean-up.

The contingency plans of all involved organisations, whether national, regional or local, should be compatible and be linked where appropriate.

One of the major additions to this command and control procedure post Lord Donaldson [1] is the new Salvage Control Unit. This Unit is led by SOSREP who oversees, controls and if necessary, intervenes in salvage operations where there is a risk of significant pollution. SOSREP works with a very small team of advisors to encourage salvage contracts and requires that the salvor prepares a salvage plan for agreement by SOSREP prior to any action taking place. SOSREP formally intervenes if the salvor does not act in the public interest, and tacit approval is assumed if he takes no action.

1 Lord Donaldson wrote a Review of Salvage and Intervention and their Command and Control, following the grounding of the Sea Empress in 1996. (D134, W468.Dec05.w1)

Inland oil spills

  • For inland spills, the Environment Agency is the lead agency and may be contacted to be informed about a spill using their 24-hour Emergency Hotline number: 0800 807060.
  • If a spill is on a canal, British Waterways also have a 24-hour emergency number: 0800 47 999 47.
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In London

Tidal Thames

The Thames Oil Spill Clearance Association (TOSCA) was formed in 1992 by the Port of London Authority (PLA), together with members of the oil industry on the Thames. It is funded by a charge on oil entering or leaving the port. The objective of TOSCA is "to provide a united response to oil spills occurring in the tidal Thames." TOSCA has a detailed plan for response to a Tier 1 or 2 oil spill, (up to 50 tonnes) occurring anywhere in the 43 miles between Tower Bridge and Sea Reach No. 1 Buoy near Shoeburyness. (D165, W553.Feb05.w1)

Spills on the Tidal Thames should be reported to the Port of London Authority, directly or by dialling 999 and asking for the River Police. 

Non-tidal Thames and other waters

  • For the Thames river upstream of Teddington Lock (i.e. in the non-tidal Thames), and for other waters including rivers, streams, lakes and canals, the Environment Agency is the lead agency and oil spills should be reported to the Environment Agency on their 24-hour Emergency Hotline number: 0800 807060.
  • For a spill on a canal in London, during office hours (9 am to 5.30 pm) then, in addition to contacting the Environment Agency, the London office of British Waterways would appreciate being contacted [see the British Waterways page for the contact number].
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Environment Group

In any maritime oil spill event which requires a regional or national response, an Environment Group is set up. (D134)
  • The Environment Group is made up of representatives of the relevant statutory nature conservation body, environmental regulator and Government fisheries department, together with a representative from MCA. (D134, W468.Jan2003.w1)
  • The Environment Group provides environmental advice to the various response units, e.g. the Salvage Control Unit, the Marine Response Centre and the Shoreline Response Centre. Environmental Liaison officers are nominated by the Chair of the Environment Group to each of the response units. (D134)
  • One of the purposes of the Environment Group is "To facilitate welfare, rehabilitation or humane disposal of wildlife casualties by recognised animal welfare organisations." (D189)

Key tasks for the Environment Group include assessment of environmental priorities at risk from pollutant and from clean-up activity and establishment of Environment Group priorities for resource protection and pollution clean-up. (D189)

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Communication between General Response and Oiled Wildlife Response

It is important that procedures are in place for oiled wildlife responders to be informed about a spill by industry or responsible authorities, as appropriate. (D183.w9)
  • Contact numbers for oiled wildlife response personnel should be part of general oil response contingency plans, and regularly tested in oil spill training exercises. (D183.w9)
  • A system should be in place for notification of oiled wildlife responders at the national and international level. (D220)
  • There should be direct and regular exchange of information between oiled wildlife responders and the rest of the oil spill response. (D219)
    • An agreement should be drawn up, as part of contingency planning, ensuring that those responsible for oiled wildlife response will be regularly updated with information about the oil spill incident as a whole. (D183.w9)
    • A liaison officer should be nominated to liaise between general oil spill response command and oiled wildlife response command. (D183.w9)
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Oiled Wildlife Response Command Structure

Oiled wildlife response can be managed within the general Incident Command Structure (ICS) described above. (B363.App1.w14)

In oiled wildlife response there is a need for essential decisions to be made rapidly at a variety of levels, from broad strategy to treatment options for individual casualties. The importance of the ICS structure, as described above, is that it:

  • Ensures that each aspect of the response has someone specifically responsible for it, so no areas are neglected; 
  • Provides clear chains of command, so that important decisions affecting the whole response can be made by those with responsibility for, and understanding of, the overall situation and the needs of the response as a whole, while decisions about specific aspects of the response and individual wildlife casualties are handled made by people with responsibility for and detailed knowledge of the progress of the response in those specific areas;
  • Provides clear routes of communication, so that policy decisions can be transmitted down the command structure and needs (e.g. for personnel or consumables) can be transmitted up to those able to provide them, while information on progress can be transmitted in both directions;
  • Puts limits on the number of people of groups any one person has to manage directly, thereby reducing the risk of overload and loss of communication;
  • Is flexible and adaptable to all scales of response. 


Within oiled wildlife response (the Wildlife Branch of the Operations Section of the oil spill Incident Command) (D133.App1B, D160.1.w1), a command structure is required to ensure that all facets of the response are properly organised and no areas are neglected. In smaller spills several posts may be amalgamated but there are requirements to cover the functions of the oiled wildlife response as set out in Oil Spill Contingency Planning - Functions of the Oiled Wildlife Response.

  • A system is required to bring together a team of people from a variety of organisations, with different skills and experience, and make the response work. (B363.3.w3, D219)
    • Experience from previous spills has shown that lack of coordination leads to conflicts, problems and a less efficient and effective oiled wildlife response. (D183.w9, D219, D220)
  • A chain of command, properly organised and followed, ensures that all appropriate personnel are included in communications and that the response effort is organised efficiently. (D133.1.w1)
  • It is important for all personnel to understand that, particularly in the early stages of an oiled wildlife response, decisions have to be made quickly, by those in positions of responsibility, without time for prolonged discussions and debates. 
  • It is also important for everyone to understand the need for prioritisation of different response activities and that, particularly in situations involving large numbers of oiled animals, it may not be possible to respond equally to all casualties, due to constraints imposed by limited physical resources, personnel and time. (D159.III.w3, D160.5.w5, D214.2.w2)
  • A major advantage of a properly organised ICS is that it allows each person to do their job and address their responsibilities without having to worry about whether other facets of the response are being dealt with: the washroom coordinator should not have to worry about search and collection, nor should the triage supervisor have to worry about whether the fish has been ordered and there is a freezer to keep it in. 

One way in which the wildlife response may be organised is described below (based on B363.App1.w14):

  • Within the general Incident Command Structure the Wildlife Unit Coordinator is responsible for all aspects of oiled wildlife response: hazing, proactive capture and rescue, treatment and rehabilitation. In the larger scheme of oil spill response, the Wildlife Unit Coordinator reports to the Operations Officer. (B363.App1.w14)
  • The Wildlife Unit Coordinator is supported by the Field Operations Officer, the Rehabilitation Centre Officer and the Release Officer, each being responsible for different phases of the oiled wildlife response. (B363.App1.w14)
  • The Field Operations Officer is responsible for:
    • Hazing: determining the species and numbers which may be impacted by the spill; hazing wild animals away from the areas of potential oil contamination where possible and monitoring the movements of hazed wildlife.
    • Proactive capture: initiation of proactive capture operations for wild animals which may be contaminated.
    • Collection of oiled wildlife and primary treatment: collection of live oiled animals and provision of primary treatment; collection of dead oiled animals and appropriate disposition.
    • Remote site stabilisation: establishment of any necessary remote stabilisation centres; stabilisation of live collected wild animals before transport [if required].
    • Transportation to the treatment centre: development of transport systems as required for the geographical location and wildlife involved; transportation of wild animals as directed by the Response Plan.
  • The Rehabilitation Centre Officer is responsible for:
    • Development of an oiled wildlife response rehabilitation centre: selecting suitable sites; making them operational specific to the needs of oiled wildlife response.
    • Assessment and triage of wildlife: clinical assessment of all incoming wild animals; triage based on agreed protocols.
    • Pre-wash care and stabilisation: stabilisation of wild animals; assessment in line with agreed protocols; selection of stabilised individuals for washing.
    • Cleaning and drying: washing and rinsing of wild animals to remove all contaminants; drying of wild animals as required.
    • Post-wash care: stabilisation of wild animals after washing, rinsing and drying; rehabilitation in preparation for release; selection of individuals for release based on agreed protocols.
  • The Release Officer is responsible for:
    • Wildlife Release: arranging for all wild animals to be tagged/banded before release; selecting suitable release sites; making arrangements for release; transportation of wild animals to the release site(s). 
    • Post-release monitoring: development of a post-release monitoring programme which will assess survivorship and breeding success of released, rehabilitated oiled wildlife; instigation of post-release monitoring programmes; reviewing the effectiveness of the oiled wildlife response program.



  • Different organisations may split responsibilities differently. For example:
    • The Oiled Wildlife Care Network response structure indicates a Response Coordinator, supported by Administrative, Search & Collection, Facilities/Equipment, Wildlife Rehabilitation and Volunteer/Logistics coordinators. (D133.App1b.w10)
    • Another suggested division is a Response Co-ordinator (to oversee the whole wildlife response operation), with Search & Collection, Wildlife Rehabilitation and Volunteer/Logistics Co-ordinators, together with Environmental, Disposal and Communications advisors and a Transport supervisor. (D60.2.w2)
    • A Guide to Oiled Wildlife Response Planning - IPIECA Report Series Volume 13 [full text available] suggests a Wildlife Branch Director with the response then divided into Wildlife Reconnaissance, Wildlife Hazing, Wildlife Care and Processing and Wildlife Recovery and Transportation. (D183.w9) [see Figure 8 in D183.w9 - Full text available] 
  • What is important is not the exact divisions of responsibilities but that all required objectives are covered and are the responsibility of named officers, and that the structure limits the number of individuals or groups which the person in each responsible position has to manage. 
  • Within each section indicated above, further division may be needed. The extent of such divisions will depend on the size of the response. (D133.1.w1)
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Communication within Oiled Wildlife Response 

A chain of command, properly organised and followed, ensures that all appropriate personnel are included in communications and that the response effort is organised efficiently. (D133.1.w1) Large scale operations, for optimum response, will generally include the following aspects, or similar, to maintain optimal function of the response.
  • Methods of communication in oiled wildlife response include large-scale team briefings, information on bulletin boards etc.
    • Information displayed on a board or wall and visible to all personnel, provides everyone with an overview of the present situation, including any bottlenecks, and measures which have been taken. (D183.w7)
    • A board, showing totals released for each species, should be maintained at an appropriate location within the rehabilitation facility so that all personnel can see it, and updated daily. (B363.Intro.w21)
  • Where the Incident Command System (or similar) is used, one important aspect is that, for most information, communication is passed up and down the chain of command.
    • This means that, while there may be large-scale team briefings, with the Wildlife Unit Coordinator addressing as many personnel as possible at one time, and bulletin boards providing information on the progress of the response, in general instructions and information will be passed down the chain of command, while requests and any comments will be passed up the chain.
    • Personnel need to accept the instructions given to them by their immediate supervisor, not expect the overall coordinator to personally confirm each instruction.
  • Requests for personnel, equipment, supplies or changes in operational activities should pass through the chain of command to the overall coordinator. (D133.1.w1)
    • If everyone tries to take their concerns directly to the overall coordinator, then that coordinator will not have time to do their job and the overall response - and therefore the oiled wildlife casualties - will suffer. 
  • Communication and coordination is also required between sections of the response: for example between those involved in oiled casualty transport and the centre where cleaning is being carried out. (D183.w6)
  • Visual identification of supervisors of different sections of the response may be useful. One method is by the use of coloured armbands. (B363.3.w3)
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Oiled Wildlife Response Protocols 

Different rehabilitation and oiled wildlife response organisations will have their own protocols. In the event of a large spill response in which different organisations are working together, it is important that protocols are accepted and adhered to.
  • Agreed protocols should be written down and displayed in appropriate locations.

Protocols which need to be agreed include:

  • Triage; (B363.Intro.w21)
    • A triage strategy, agreed by all stakeholders, should be included in contingency plans. (D183.w6)
  • Initial care;
    • Adsorbents or enteric coating preparations
    • Fluid therapy;
  • Pre-washing criteria; (B363.Intro.w21)
  • Feeding protocols;
    • This includes consensus regarding force-feeding of birds which are not self feeding. 
  • Veterinary protocols; (B363.Intro.w21) e.g.:
    • Prophylactic treatment for aspergillosis;
    • Vaccinations;
  • Waterproofing and general pre-release assessment.


  • Standardised records may assist in judging prognosis of oiled wildlife. (B363.App3.w16)
  • Standardised protocols and standardised records are essential to allow meaningful analysis of the response effort. (B363.App3.w16, D135.5.w5, D183.w6)
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Communication with the Media

Large oil spills attract a great deal of media attention. (D214.2.w2)
  • Local media are essential in informing the public about the ways in which they can help (e.g. providing supplies and funding, volunteering as appropriate, and about what they should not do (e.g. trying to pick up and care for oiled wild animals). (D60.8.w8, D214.3.w3, W273.Aug03.oil1)
  • Media can be problematic if their requests for material (film of bird capture, cleaning etc.) interferes with the care of the oiled animals. It is preferable to get agreement for arrangements which will meet television needs while minimising interference with oiled wildlife rescue and care. (D214.3.w3)
    • It is important that media access to the response facility and to response personnel should be controlled to minimise disturbance to the oiled animals and disruption to the rehabilitation process. (P14.5.w13)
    • It may be necessary to have one person nominated to act as media liaison. (P14.5.w13)
    • Informative press releases should be written. (D60.8.w8)
    • Frequent press conferences should be held to provide the media with information on the progress of the response. (D214.2.w2)
    • At media briefings it may be best to have several people present who have between them the expertise to answer possible questions on conservation, animal biology, animal welfare etc.. (D60.8.w8)
    • To avoid confusion and misunderstandings, it may be best to request volunteers not to talk to the media except for simple descriptions of the work they are doing. (D60.8.w8)
    • Note: media tend to seek a variety of views and look for differences of opinion. (D214.3.w3)
  • A report, summarising the oiled wildlife response effort, should be produced after the response is completed; this should include thanks to all those who assisted by volunteering or donating, and should be sent to the media (as well as to volunteers and donors). (D32.2.w2)
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Authors & Referees

Authors Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
Referee Dr Virginia Pierce (V.w73), Sarah Scarth (V.w79)

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