Blog - The Raven Speaks

Race The Clock: Spill Response Training Strategies

One of the hallmarks of our instructor team is their ability to deliver the same technical rescue fundamentals to very different clients. A swiftwater course for firefighters will have a different flavour than a swiftwater course for raft guides. This constant re-imagining of Raven’s technical rescue curriculum equips our instructors with a toolbox brimming with creative ways to communicate fundamental messages.

Raven Rescue has had the opportunity to re-imagine our training yet again – this time for members of industry working with hazardous spill response. To respond safely to rail, road and pipeline spills, these clients come to Raven Rescue for swiftwater, ice and jetboat training.  To meet industry standards surrouding safe work practices, self rescue, and the rescue of others, spill response workers need a basic level of technical rescue expertise as they race the clock to provide effective containment around moving water and ice. Raven Rescue’s training arms these workers with the skills they need.


Technical Training, Re-imagined

Instructor Jeff Anderson has re-imagined his swiftwater and ice course delivery for his spill response students, and he says it really comes down to language.  “Our standard curriculum delivery isn’t modified, as much as the language we use. We deliver the technical skills packaged in a way that connects with these students, who will later be participating in spill response exercises.”

Hired to provide containment services for larger oil and gas companies, these spill response clients run scenario-based containment exercises to test and refine response plans. Equipped with technical swiftwater, ice and jetboat training, spill response workers are able to practice safely during scenarios.  Clients further guarantee their margin of safety by hiring Raven to provide standby safety and rescue services so that spill response workers are able to focus on deploying their equipment.

Jeff believes that the multi-disciplinary education received by spill response clients is crucial. “Our experience has identified that a lack of the core skills stemming from swiftwater and ice courses is often the barrier to a smooth and successful implementation of a spill response strategy. If personnel don't understand hydrology, ropes, load limits on gear, and mechanical systems, this is where things either slow down or go wrong during a spill response.”

Oil and gas companies – not to mention the public – expect a superior level of excellence from spill response workers, and Jeff agrees that this expectation is a tall order.  “Most spill response personnel spend a substantial amount of time training for the various chemicals they will encounter. To also be a rope and water expert is a tall task for anyone, so we strive for an operational understanding that will enable responses to run safely and smoothly.”


Standby Safety for Scenario-Based Practice

With such heightened expectations surrounding their work, the scenario-based exercises performed by spill response workers are crucial for the development of successful spill containment strategies.  

A successful spill response exercise has a few key ingredients.  First, the workers bring the knowledge of their trade, and the skills gained through swiftwater, ice and jetboat training.  Next, Raven Rescue standby safety personnel bring a level of technical confidence to the exercise that allows creative problem-solving to flourish.  And finally, to bring these ingredients together effectively, Raven Rescue integrate's technicians into the spill response Incident Command.


The Key Ingredient: Integrated ICS

“When we integrate into the IC structure of an exercise, it allows us to supply safety considerations and advice throughout the planning and implementation stages,” says Jeff. “Successful spill response deployment requires the type of savvy and familiarity around water that is second-nature to our technicians.”  Those in charge of spill response exercises recognize this expertise, and welcome it.

Raven Rescue Executive Director, Walter Bucher, sees movement on the horizon for spill response workers. “The response industry is changing as we speak.  Oil and gas clients want results, but they also want to run professional scenarios that meet best practices for safety.”  

Raven Rescue has proven to be the answer when professional results need to be delivered. From technical training that has been re-imagined to meet unique needs, to standby safety services during scenario-based exercises, Raven Rescue contributes excellence at every level.  And as Incident Command personnel welcome the integration of Raven Rescue expertise into containment planning strategies, the entire industry will benefit from the innovative solutions that we help generate.


Mar 23-25

Swiftwater Rescue Technician - Advanced

  • $649
  • Squamish, BC

April 4-7

Technical Rope Rescue - Technician

  • $895
  • Squamish, BC

April 5-7

Wilderness First Responder - Recertification

  • $449
  • Squamish, BC

April 6-7

Ice Rescue Technician

  • $399
  • Thunder Bay ON
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Dorin Constantin, Firefighter (2014 Raven Flood Legacy Bursary Recipient)
High River Fire Department

The SRT1 course was fantastic, and the instructors were amazing! Again, thank you for the bursary you offered me.


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