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Three Islands Oil Spill Association workers are in the Gulf helping to rescue oiled birds

Three Islands Oil Spill Association workers are in the Gulf of Mexico region, helping to capture and clean oiled birds. And a bird rescue research center is asking all qualified responders to be available through the end of August.

IOSA director Julie Knight and volunteer Sam Pottenger, both of Lopez Island, went to the Gulf June 12. Volunteer Amy Lum of Orcas Island joined them on June 19. They have been hired as trained responders.

IOSA was asked by the International Bird Rescue Research Center to provide trained, coordinator-level search-and-rescue responders. The IBRRC was contracted by Tri-State Bird Rescue, which is working directly for BP.

"They appear to have plenty of people for now working in the treatment centers, washing, etc., and we aren't involved in containment down there," IOSA's Jackie Wolf wrote in a June 13 e-mail. "We are going to do our best to provide as much training as we can over the next couple of months but Julie Knight, IOSA's director, main class instructor and most experienced oiled bird person, left yesterday for the Gulf. This means no training for new people for now. We don't usually have classes scheduled during the summer anyway, but there are a number of people who would like to take oiled bird training now and not wait until the fall classes."

Wolf will be working with small groups of already-trained responders who just need a few more HAZWOPER hours and/or refresher training for oiled bird search-and-rescue. She will not be training people who have had very little or no IOSA training at all.

Knight will be back sometime in July, possibly for a few weeks, before heading back down to the Gulf, Wolf said. "We hope to be able to schedule trainings for new people during the short time she'll be here, but so much depends on how things look in the Gulf, which isn't so good right now."

Search and rescue work is tough work. Each IOSA/IBRRC team of two is working a shift of 4 p.m. to midnight, seven days a week for three weeks, plus a daily routine of checking other beaches and areas from late morning until the 4 p.m. shift begins, Wolf said.

"One of the biggest concerns down there is heat stroke. We might have a few mosquitoes and yellow jackets, they've got red wasps, alligators and poisonous snakes."

If you're interested in training to be an oil spill responder, you can contact IOSA at 378-5322 or e-mail iosaoffice@rockisland.com.

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