Category Archives: Training

Drill Date Change to Oct 28th. If there is a large oil spill in San Juan County, would you have the skills to help?

Do you love to work on the water?

Would you like to learn how to protect a shoreline from oil?

Come learn the basics of oil spill response at an Islands’ Oil Spill Association (IOSA) training session!  

Saturday, October 28st, 2017, 10am to 3pm
San Juan Island

In this class you will learn many of the basic skills you will need when setting oil containment boom and using other equipment to protect a sensitive area in our islands.

Do you know what containment boom is?  How does it work to contain oil?  How do you deploy it?  Ever heard of a pelican hook? (It’s not used on pelicans!) What is oil snare (see below)?

Oil snare set up on beach during a drill.


For more information, contact IOSA at 360-468-3441 or

Preregistration required.



Oiled Wildlife Search & Rescue and Initial Care — RESCHEDULED — to May 21, 2017


May 21st, Sunday.
Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, 11:30 am to 5:10 pm.

Free Training – go to bottom of page to preregister.

This class will give you the basics in oiled seabird search and rescue (including a practice session on the beach), oiled seabird initial care (using some of the 35 domesticated ducks we have here on Lopez), safety training relating to oiled seabird rescue and care, and a basic introduction to IOSA and where we fit in the oil spill response community.

When oil spills on the water, especially a thicker oil like crude oil or bunker fuel, it can get on the feathers of seabirds (these are birds that spend most of their time on or in the water and little time on land).  The oil coats the feathers, which then can’t interlock together and the birds are thus prevented from staying waterproof (sort of like a hole in a dry suit.  The cold water can then get to their skin and causes them to become hypothermic and come onto land to stay warmer.

The best we can do for these birds, once they get oiled, is to rescue them and bring them in for initial care.  During initial care we warm them up, flush the petroleum out of their system, give them fluids, and wipe off any oil that is blocking their nostrils or is in their mouth.

There are Wildlife Rehabilitation Mobile Response Units that are available to be set up within 24 hours in a warehouse on the mainland that has the needed electricity and water capabilities needed for longer term care.  Once the Mobile Response Units are set up, oiled birds can be sent there for ongoing treatment, stabilization, and washing.  When the birds are healthy again and have spent time in salt water pools, they are released into the wild.   Click here for more information on these Mobile Response Units.

To be able to help oiled wildlife in an oil spill, this training is needed along with additional Hazwoper Safety Training.  This training session focuses on the initial rescue and care before the birds are transported to the Mobile Response Units.

If you are interested in attending this training, please sign up below.  Preregistration is required.  We look forward to meeting you!



Wildlife Care Training

HAZWOPER Safety Training on November 19th, 2016, Orcas Island.

Would you like to assist at an oil spill in San Juan County?  Then come to our Safety Training class on Orcas Island on November 19th, from 11:30am to 5:45pm.  In this class you will learn what you need to know to keep yourself safe during an oil spill.

Imagine a large vessel starts leaking crude oil in Rosario Strait.  The oil moves down Rosario Strait hitting Sucia Island, the north and west sides of Orcas, Blakely, Decatur, and the west side of Lopez.  Responders would be needed to set containment boom at Sucia Island and other spots.  Responders would also need to be out looking for oiled wildlife.

In order to be a responder during an oil spill, you need HAZWOPER Training.  Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response training (HAZWOPER) is a requirement for all oil spill workers whether you are working to contain oil on the water, on the shoreline, or are involved in search and rescue or basic care of oiled wildlife.  In this training you will learn such things as:  how to rescue someone who has fallen overboard, what are the signs of petroleum products exposure, safety hazards to look out for, the correct use of response equipment, what personal protection equipment do you need to wear, what is involved in the incident command system, and what are your rights and responsibilities, among other things.

Rover spill 1993 This photo is from an oil spill at the dock at Jackson’s Beach on San Juan Island.  You can see the amount of debris that is in the water, along with the sorbent pads that are soaking up the oil inside the yellow oil containment boom.  In working at this site someone would have done air monitoring to make sure that the air was safe to breathe, you would need to lift pieces of debris and sorbent pads (soaked with oil) out of the water correctly so as not to hurt your back, place bagged oiled sorbents and debris in a decontamination area (which would be constructed on site), and you would need to wear the correct gear to protect yourself from the oil.  If you were out searching for oiled birds on the beach, you would need to know the most efficient and safest way to capture the birds, while looking out for hazards on the beach.


Sneaking up on an “oiled bird” (a person with a ball hiding in the logs) during a search and rescue training.

We invite you to Islands Oil Spill Association’s HAZWOPER class where you can learn all of the above and much more.  With the class, and some take home work, you can receive 8 hours of training, which is the minimum you need to help out at an oil spill.  Please join us for this training where you will learn how to keep yourself safe in responding to an oil spill, as well as learn about oiled wildlife care and oil containment.

Please register for this class by filling out the below form and we will send you information on where the class will be held and other information on the class.


2016 Oil Spill Response Trainings – Updated 5/14/2016

May 21st, 2016 Oil Containment Drill — All Spaces Filled Up.

On May 21st, 2016 IOSA will hold the first oil containment drill of the year at False Bay, San Juan Island.

We will practice the Geographic Response Plan strategy for this location.  We have had numerous drills at False Bay and each time we refine our response strategy more.   If you would like to check out the response plan strategy for False Bay, check out this link at Washington State Department of Ecology and go to page 212 out of 247, 



Other Trainings Scheduled for 2016

  • September 3rd or October 29th
    (Date will be confirmed later this summer.)
    Wildlife Search & Rescue and Primary Care Training

    This training in the rescue and basic care of oiled birds will be held in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, OR on Lopez Island.

    Wildlife Care Training
    Wildlife Care Training
  • September 17th and October 1st
    Wildlife Search & Rescue Training
    Oil Containment Drill at Buck Bay

    We are not yet sure which training will be on which day, so if you are interested in either of these trainings, put both days on your calendar and check back here in August.  Or you can fill out the contact form that is above.

    Search & Rescue practice on the beach sneaking up on a
    Search & Rescue practice on the beach sneaking up on a “bird” (the person with the pink ball).
  • October 15th
    Westcott Bay Oil Containment Drill
    In this drill we will be testing out various strategies for Westcott Bay.  To check out the response plan strategies for Westcott Bay, Horseshoe Bay, Garrison Bay and Delacombe Point, check out this link at Washington State Department of Ecology and go to pages 156-157, 160-169 out of 247,

    Oil containment boom deployed at Westcott Bay.
    Oil containment boom deployed at Westcott Bay.

Upcoming Orcas Containment Drill Oct. 10th

A containment drill has been scheduled for Saturday, October 10th, 2015 on Orcas Island.  This is the only drill scheduled for this fall, so make sure to register soon if you wish to attend.   While we would love to have everyone attend the drill who wants to, we do have to limit participants.

IOSA responders on the Green Heron setting an anchor and attaching buoys at a drill.
IOSA responders on the Green Heron setting an anchor and attaching buoys at a drill.

At this drill we will be practicing Geographic Response Plan strategies (specific goals to protect certain  sensitive areas), as well as our regular work of deploying oil containment boom, setting anchors, and working closely with other teams on other boats.

If you are interested in attending this drill, send an email to

Preregistration is required for all Islands Oil Spill Association trainings.

We look forward to hearing from you!

2015 Oil Spill Response Trainings

On April 18th, 2015, Saturday,

We will hold our first on the water Spill Response Drill at
Stuart Island.  This drill will include deployment of oil containment boom as well as practicing various techniques needed during an oil spill response.

If you are interested in this training, please email IOSA at or call the office at 360-468-3441.

Pre-registration is required for this event.

Oil Containment Boom set in a traditional V formation.
Oil Containment Boom set in a traditional V formation.



September 20, 2014, Drill on the West Side of Orcas Island


Sea Goose and Green Heron at Drill on September 21st.
Sea Goose and Green Heron at Drill on September 21st.

On September 20, 2014, IOSA held an oil containment drill on the west side of Orcas Island. One of the first things that was done was to discuss the currents in the area. Current tables are a good first step in looking at how water moves through an area, but we have also found that it is important to incorporate people’s personal knowledge of the currents. Using people’s personal knowledge gives us information about particular quirks of current and tides that is not always found in published information.

Green Heron and the Whale Fish towing oil containment boom in a V configuration.
Green Heron and the Whale Fish towing oil containment boom in a V configuration.

One of the tasks for the drill was to run the rope mop skimmer.   Another important priority was to practice towing boom with two boats working in close coordination.  They needed to maintain a V-shape in the boom while traveling at a slow speed and intercepting “imagined oil/oiled debris” (or in this case, intercepting the nylon-covered hoops used to simulate oil or debris).

As with a spill response, during the drill we needed to adapt quickly to changing circumstances.   As the situation unfolded our best option was to use the rope mop skimmer on the bow of the Sea Goose, positioned at the apex of the V-shaped boom.  Two vessels, the Camp Orkila boat the Whale Fish and one of IOSA’s response vessels, our landing craft the Green Heron, set up to pull 200′ of 20″ oil containment boom behind them.

Rope mop skimmer operates from the Sea Goose.
Rope mop skimmer operates from the Sea Goose.

rope mop skimmer operation box

The rope mop skimmer uses a line of oleophyllic mop material (the yellow “tail” seen in the above photo). Oleophyllic means it adheres to oil and not water.  The rope mop skimmer works best with heavier oil such as bunker fuel (which is a mixture of heavier oils and lighter oils).

The Green Heron and the Whale Fish tow oil containment boom ahead of the Sea Goose.  Yellow nylon-covered hoops float into the boom (simulating oil).
The Green Heron and the Whale Fish tow oil containment boom ahead of the Sea Goose. Yellow nylon-covered hoops float into the boom (simulating oil).

The two vessels towing the boom and the Sea Goose traveled together through the water while the skimming was happening. Responders on the vessel the Little Whaler helped set up the rope mop skimmer, as well as deploying nylon hoops into the water to simulate oil.  Usually we deploy the rope mop skimmer from land, but  practiced using it from a vessel this time.

Rope Mop Skimmer deployed from shore.
Rope Mop Skimmer deployed from shore.

Another aspect of the drill was to set up oil snare on a beach. Oil snare is used to pick up heavier oils (like bunker fuel).  The snare adheres to oil as it reaches the beach, the oil accumulates on the snare, and when covered with oil it is removed from the beach.

Oil snare set up on beach.
Oil snare set up on beach.

The line of oil snare was attached to fenceposts and we discussed how to use it. The use of a shoreline attachment plate was also demonstrated. The plate can be used to anchor boom to the beach, especially helpful for shoreline where there are no large boulders or trunks of large fallen trees to tie to.

While out there, one vessel, the Octopii, did a wildlife survey of the area. Numerous seabirds and seals were seen, including a flock of phalaropes. Knowing what seabirds congregate in different areas is important knowledge to have before an oil spill.

Thanks to both West Beach Resort for letting us have temporary use of their dock for a pre-drill briefing and Camp Orkila  for use of the beach for set up of the snare and post-drill briefing for the crew.

Twenty-five people from Lopez, Orcas, San Juan, and Waldron participated in the drill, with two IOSA boats and three responders’ boats. The drill was highly informative and successful.  It was a good exercise for the responders and boat operators, and contributed to our knowledge of the area.

Fall 2013 Training

San Juan Islands

Saturday, Sept 14, 2013: Boom Deployment/Containment Drill
Westcott Bay, northwest San Juan Island
9:15 am to approx 2:15 pm

Saturday, Oct 5, 2013:   Basic Initial Care of Oiled Birds
Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
11:30 am to 5:15 pm

Saturday, Oct 19, 2013:   Search, Capture, Collection & Transport of Oiled Birds
Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
11:30 am to 5:15 pm

Saturday, Dec 7, 2013:  HAZWOPER Training 
(Hazardous Waste Operations & Emergency Response) 
for Oil Spill Containment Responders & Oiled Bird Responders 
Lopez Island
 10:15 am to 3:15 pm

All responders are required by WA State & Federal regulations to take HAZWOPER training

**All IOSA trainings are free **

NOTE: PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED for all IOSA trainings – space is limited in the classes.

To pre-register or for further information, please email: