Submitted by Islands’ Oil Spill Association
More than 100 islanders learned more about becoming oil spill response volunteers at a series of recent community meetings hosted by Islands’ Oil Spill Association.
These gatherings occurred on Orcas, Lopez and San Juan Island, and they provided a brief update on IOSA’s role in local oil spill response protection and prevention.
Ongoing efforts to revitalize the program and how islanders can get involved were part of the discussions. Many great questions were answered, and more than 80 islanders are newly signed up to help protect the islands from both large and small spills.
Those who missed the meetings but would still like to volunteer may register to do so.
“These meetings were an outstanding opportunity to reconnect with the community and are a starting point for many efforts yet to come,” explained IOSA Board President Ken Carrasco. “We’re excited about where the organization is headed and we’re delighted to see the interest that’s out there.”
During the meetings, it was highlighted that there’s a range of participation levels for volunteers. Some people might want to be part of a highly trained response team that’s called out regularly, while others may only be involved if there’s a larger spill in their local area that needs community support.
San Juan County Emergency Management Director Brendan Cowan highlighted to the audiences that there’s a place for everyone. “IOSA recognizes that islanders are busy with work, families, and other volunteer obligations. We want to develop a volunteer program that finds a way to involve anyone who cares about the islands and the Salish Sea, and who feels strongly that we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves out here as much as we can.”
While IOSA cannot prevent all of the impacts of a major spill, it does have the ability to help ensure that island priorities are considered during a major response. IOSA is also a critical organization that helps to drastically minimize the impacts of the many smaller vessel accidents, groundings and shipwrecks that happen across the islands every year.
For more information about the Islands’ Oil Spill Association and to enroll as a volunteer, visit their website http://www.iosaonline.org/.