BCFS Health and Human Services EMD, a nonprofit leader in emergency management and medical disaster response, assisted in the May 2015 Santa Barbara oil spill management and cleanup operation. The organization was tasked by the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health (CTEH) and Plains All American Oil to offer medical services to cleanup crews and other individuals affected by the oil.
The incident, known as the Refugio oil spill due to the proximity to Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, involved more than 128,000 gallons of oil, of which 21,000 poured into the ocean. BCFS Health and Human Services EMD was engaged to offer medical services and emergency response project support. The organization is a nonprofit partner of federal, state, and local level governments as well as private sector companies that need incident management, mass care, medical disaster response services, and various other capabilities.
The organization’s Medical Staffing Team (MST) was brought in to provide care to people exposed to the oil. The team members worked under the direction of the Unified Commander (UC) and were tasked with responding to the spill that grew to a nine-mile area before it was contained. They offered medical services to cleanup workers who were actively removing oil from the water and the coastline. On the MST were on several registered nurses, case managers, paramedics, a physician, and a Medical Task Force Leader.
The organization’s efforts were noted positively by Jerry Green RSO, Sr. Division Safety/Security Manager Plains All American Oil who stated in a report to the U.S. Coast Guard that the safety team and medical units from BCFS Health and Human Services EMD offered prompt first aid for cleanup responders.