Local and International Oil Spill Response Capability and Cooperation Were Improved in Southwest Finland

Miikka Toivonen, Southwest Finland Emergency Services 

The benefits the Southwest Finland Emergency Services (SWFES) has received while working in the OIL SPILL Project are diverse. One of the biggest is the better cooperation and coordination between the third sector volunteers and authorities in Finland. During the workshops and the Vellamo exercise, we learned a lot from each other. It is important to know how the different organizations work and then find common ground in our joint task. Another example of the highlights is that SWFES was able to exercise in the training pool of XAMK, South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences, in Kotka. Via this exercise, we received a lot of new knowledge concerning oil spill response work, and we were able to test different kind of equipment in real life with authentic oil. Without external funding, it is difficult to organize this kind of training. 

In addition to our domestic task, SWFES led the work package that focused on joint exercises and educational cooperation on the project level. Although the COVID19 pandemic caused delays and many events were transferred to the web, in my opinion, we succeeded pretty well in our aims. As the previous blog posts have shown, the OIL SPILL Partners were able to organize several international and larger-scale events during the years, including workshops, webinars, and live or tabletop exercises. Inter-regional projects, such as OIL SPILL, are definitely an excellent opportunity to learn and develop the ways of working in an international environment.  

Overall we got good experiences and lessons learned via this project. Cooperation will continue after OIL SPILL, especially with the Finnish Red Cross. Moreover, we have already discovered that the models created within this project can be utilized in other large-scale incidents and accidents. On the international side, our contacts and cooperation procedures have certainly improved. All Partners were able to grow their networks across the Baltic Sea Region, which is excellent for each organization and the individuals within these organizations. It enables better cooperation in the future − either in training or in the unfortunate event of an actual oil spill. 

On behalf of SWFES, I say thank you to all participants of the project! 

The SWFES’ OIL SPILL team promoting the Project in the Europe Forum in Turku in August 2019. (Photo: Jarmo Malmsten)

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