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How OR&R’s Emergency Response Division Continues to Provide Services

MARCH 30, 2020 — As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, NOAA's Emergency Response Division (ERD) staff are working remotely, though our staff continues to take calls and to provide our core service of scientific support during spills and other emergencies.

Due to travel restrictions and social distancing requirements, we are looking at every field response very carefully. Ensuring worker and public health and safety is always the highest priority of spill response and safety of our staff will always be a consideration on when and how we respond. 

Fortunately, ERD is used to providing remote support and we routinely fulfill emergency requests such as oil spill trajectories, weather and oceanographic forecasts, and resources at risk from our home offices. NOAA's Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA), Response Link, and other IT tools allow us to share information and coordinate with responders who are on-scene. 

We continue to use remote sensing tools, such as satellites and unmanned aircraft, to detect and augment our field efforts to monitor spills and storm damage assessment. A big event, however, will probably require on-scene support. Currently, we are in discussions with our agency and industry partners to understand their response posture and we are working to refine best safety practices to manage COVID-19 risks if we need to send NOAA teams to a spill. 

For more information, contact Doug.Helton@noaa.gov.

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Last updated Friday, April 3, 2020 4:39pm PDT