Question: What Are Some Important Tools/Resources in an Environmental Emergency Response?

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by Bronwen | June 26, 2018 17:16 | #16573

As we get ready for this July's Barnraising and Crisis Convening, I'm wondering what kinds of tools people have found valuable to have on hand in the hours, days and weeks after a crisis or emergency: specifically one where there is an urgent need to respond to or document environmental threats.

Obviously the tools folks might use in a response would vary depending on the nature of the emergency and the place where it's unfolding, but I'm curious: what kinds of things have been of most use to folks who have first-hand experience in crisis events? What would you NOT recommend? In retrospect, are there things that you wish you had had with you?


I was directly involved in the cleaning grassroots teams in Galicia/Spain during the Prestige Oil Spill back in 2002. Around 63.000 tons of fuel spreaded from north of Portugal to french bretagne.

Government efforts where directed to cover up the hole situation and materials brought to people to clean up the coast not apropriated. The worst, I think, were the masks. Goverment officials distributed dust masks to people grabbing fuel. Not gas masks. You can imagine the frequent episodes of nausea and vomiting.

I'd recomend to have a dual filter carbon multigas mask (around 20$) some full Tyvek like none permeable suits (10$ each) some nitrilo long arm gloves (3$ each) and a pair of working glasses (10$)

Of course as in almost any work on the ground, mobile phone and all their magic possibilities: pictures, geolocation, notes, comunication, public outreach...

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Thanks, these are all great suggestions. When you say working glasses, you mean eye protection, like goggles or what you'd wear if you were working with tools, yes?

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What kind of chemicals are you planning on being able to handle? Please use caution. My best advice in many cases is to get the heck out of there. And at one time, I had SCBA response training in the lab I worked in.

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I absolutely agree with your concerns about putting human health and safety first, I guess I'm thinking more about cases that a lot of us have experienced (like in the aftermath of storm events), where people are going to be spending time in proximity with the immediate and ongoing effects of a disaster because the places where they live or work are feeling the impact... I too would be wary of advising anyone to collect samples without an informed understanding of what they might be getting in to. I suppose part of what I'm interested in is what people would have wanted to do differently, or wished they had been aware of in cases where they've been involved in some form of disaster response.

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