As part of ongoing efforts to enhance local capacity to respond to oil and hazardous materials spills, three San Juan County organizations participated in the 2018 Washington State Department of Ecology Spill Response Grant Program. This program helps local communities that are at risk for oil and hazardous materials spills secure equipment and training to effectively respond to incidents.
Lopez Island Fire and EMS received funding to provide training on hazardous materials response and safe boat operations as well as funds to purchase specialized firefighting nozzles, firefighting foam and personal flotation devices to safely respond to incidents on or near bodies of water.
The Islands Oil Spill Association and the San Juan County Department of Emergency Management teamed up to receive funding for the purchase of two new oil spill response trailers that will be used to store and transport critical spill response equipment. IOSA’s Julie Knight highlighted the importance of these new trailers, “We’re a lean organization, and this sort of support will greatly improve our capacity to respond to a range of incidents.”
According to Department of Emergency Management Director Brendan Cowan, “The funding of these projects reflects both the real risk of a spill that we face in the islands, and the cooperative and dedicated nature of our island community. Our frontline response comes from volunteers, and we appreciate the Department of Ecology’s efforts on our behalf.”
Lopez Island Fire and EMS Chief J. M. Havner echoed Cowan’s sentiments, “Our success in a crisis is very much dependent on our ability to work together, and I welcome the way in which a variety of organizations are embracing a coordinated approach to planning and responding. It’s definitely a strength of the islands.”