In many spheres of education, it’s enough for course instructors to have a theoretical understanding of the field. In oil spill response, however, DESMI isn’t taking chances, putting experienced operatives into its classrooms to ensure trainees make all the right moves.
“Nothing’s quite as informative or as memorable as having someone share real life experiences about what responding to an oil spill is really like – working to contain the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill, for example,” says DESMI’s Wayne O’Brien, Vice President of Sales at the Danish-based company’s Asian-Pacific organization. “And with something that is as important, as challenging and dynamic as a large oil spill, lessons learned in the classroom need to remain as sharp in participants’ minds as possible.”
An industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience, he is keen to see oil spill response skills boosted, reducing risk to the environment and the impacts on communities affected as a result.
O’Brien points to DESMI‘s newly accredited IMO OPRC training courses, led by instructors with lengthy, hands-on experience, as the best way to check all the boxes. The accreditation, received in March this year, allows customers of DESMI’s oil spill response solutions to obtain fully compliant training directly from the manufacturer. And O’Brien sees many advantages in being a one-stop source of systems and know-how for the company’s customer base.
“There are, of course, differences between equipment types, meaning it’s almost always best to train with the type of equipment your people will use,” he explains. “Then there’s the know-how aspect. Situations can occur out there that simply aren’t covered in instruction manuals – and you may have to come up with creative solutions to a problem no one has ever encountered before. That’s when experience counts, and when the course instructor’s track record and expertise can make a real difference.”
Experience makes the difference
The know-how necessary for effectively responding to oil spills is a lot about people’s experience and expertise. But it also concerns the design and development of the response system itself. DESMI’s Ro-clean equipment has been used in all the major oil spill response operations around the world – and hard-won learnings from responding to such incidents have been continually applied to developing new technologies and fine-tuning existing systems. This proactive approach has, for example, led to improved deployment times and a reduction in the number of vessels needed for offshore operations.
Training at all levels
Spills can occur at any time, in any location and each with its own unique set of challenges. Contrary to what many people think, large spills do not occur that often. Being able to tap into equipment knowledge and response experience gained at the ‘coal face’ provides a unique opportunity for training participants to learn from the experiences of others without encountering the pitfalls.
DESMI’s accredited training program covers many different needs. In accordance with the accreditation, courses are conducted for operational staff, supervisors and senior managers, respectively. Operational staff are instructed in understanding the weathering process of oil in the marine environment, how to select appropriate equipment, implement efficient and effective operations using different response strategies, and participate in oil spill response teams at the site.
Course participants at supervisory levels learn to safely and efficiently respond to oil spills, undertake initial risk assessments and initiate a response to a spill. The training also covers how to identify priorities for protection, determine the correct response strategy, identify the limitations of response options and equipment, and understand the needs of the media.
At the upper end of the scale, participants receive instruction on the complexities of oil spill management, learning to consider the political and media pressures, legal and financial implications, as well as issues of public and response personnel safety, and post-operational requirements.
Closer to customers
While DESMI’s Odense office will remain the company’s primary center for the delivery of training, the intention is for the majority of training in future to be delivered to customers close to their areas of operation. For now, DESMI customers are lining up to attend the courses in Denmark, prioritizing investments in accredited, direct-from-the-source training that can ensure fast and accurate responses to contain not just the oil itself, but negative effects on their companies across the board, too.