The U.S. Coast Guard, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, other state and local agencies, along with Chevron Shipping and numerous pollution response and salvage companies and organizations participated in a major drill in Astoria, Thursday, designed to prepare personnel for a coordinated response in the event of a large vessel collision, fire and oil spill in the Lower Columbia River Region.
Representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, Oregon DEQ, Maritime Fire and Safety Association, local fire and rescue members of the Fire Protection Agencies Advisory Council, Columbia River Crossing and numerous response contractors joined Chevron Shipping at an Incident Command Post in Patriot Hall at Clatsop Community College for a joint-effort practice response to the mock scenario.
Personnel spent the day engaged in a practice scenario reflecting a collision scenario on the Lower Columbia River. Drill participants were engaged in the standardized Incident Command System that is used by cooperating agencies with overlapping areas of responsibility in response to large-scale events that threaten public health and safety, environment and wildlife, flow of commerce, or public and private property. ICS enables integrated communication and planning by establishing a manageable span of control over a large incident. An ICS divides emergency response into five manageable functions essential for emergency response operations: command, operations, planning, logistics, and finance and administration.
The drill allowed for practice of the comprehensive system which promotes timely, well-coordinated and effective response to vessel incidents in the Lower Columbia Region including vessel fires, collisions and oil spills.
The goal of the drill was to prepare responders to protect and enhance the quality of life of the citizens within the region as well as the environment through agency coordination.
“The Columbia River is a busy maritime highway vital to the Pacific Northwest’s economic health,” said Capt. Bruce Jones, Coast Guard Sector Columbia River Commanding Officer. “Astoria is the gateway to our maritime transportation system and an ideal location for this exercise, which helps ensure that our local, state, federal and private sector partners are prepared to respond effectively and quickly in the event of a variety of disasters. Partnerships and exercises are key elements of the Coast Guard’s strategy to ensure the safety, security and environmental protection of Oregon and Washington waters.”
Naval Today Staff, March 19, 2013; Image: USCG