Written by Per Nisser & Samuel Andersson, Östra Götaland Fire and Rescue Service
We face the same challenges as everyone else in the Baltic Sea archipelago. The protection and decontamination of a large and topographically varied area is demanding, both initially but also over a long period of time. Moreover, several authorities with different jurisdictions are responsible for different parts and different phases of environmental protection in the oil spill response. There is often a need for a lot of material, equipment and personnel that are not available locally. These challenges are solved through the greater coordination of national resources, but also within the Nordic countries.
Participation in the OIL SPILL project has certainly provided us with an additional dimension of knowledge and viewpoints. We have come to know how the preparedness and organization of oil damage protection are arranged in other Baltic Sea Region countries, and whether some aspects could be applied in Sweden – or vice versa. It is clear that challenges and questions are more effectively solved when contemplated and discussed together.
Before the pandemic hit, we had the pleasure to invite our Partners to the Konrad exercise, co-funded by the OIL SPILL Project, in November 2019. The main aim of this exercise was to identify sensitive ecological areas, protect them from oil spill damage, and conduct measurements to reduce the consequences for the environment. Simultaneously the communication system was tested, and it proved to work as it should. We learned a lot, especially about the importance of seamless and coordinated cooperation between the key actors − and the fact that the current oil boom at that time was defective. Our guests had an excellent opportunity to observe and then discuss our activities and procedures in more detail. Moreover, our contacts with the Coast guard have been increasing since then, very much due to this exercise we planned together.
We think we lost some valuable moments when we were supposed to meet in real life but had to call it off due to the pandemic. Cooperation and personal interaction have not been the same in these circumstances. Still, we are glad about the opportunities the digital environment enables. For instance, the Incident Management and Communication webinar in March 2021 was a successful event. Samuel Andersson from our team gave a presentation about the Makassar Highway accident in 2018, and we got to learn about interesting cases from Denmark and Finland. Again, what was highlighted during the event was the importance of good communication between the different stakeholders. During the OIL SPILL Project, we have been able to enhance this aspect both nationally and internationally.