Providing Medical Aid After 2015 Santa Barbara Oil Spill: How BCFS Health and Human Services EMD Protected the Health of Cleanup Workers

Oil Spill

The Refugio oil spill of 2015, so named because it happened north of the Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, involved approximately 142,800 gallons of oil, and damaged the surrounding waters and coastline. A spill of this magnitude required the coordination of various agencies to manage the cleanup and provide for the related staff members. A crucial part of this effort was BCFS Health and Human Services EMD, an organization that partners with federal, state, and local governments as well as private firms to offer incident management, public health responses, medical care, and various other capabilities. 

The organization was tasked by the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health (CTEH) and Plains All American Oil to provide essential medical aid to cleanup crews working on the spill. The Medical Staffing Team (MST) from BCFS Health and Human Services EMD worked under the Unified Commander (UC) during a 73-day cleanup engagement. They offered medical care through a team of registered nurses, case managers, paramedics, a physician, and a Medical Task Force Leader who coordinated their efforts. 

Jerry Green RSO, Sr. Division Safety/Security Manager Plains All American Oil, reported the BCFS Health and Human Services EMD’s efforts to the Admiral of the U.S. Coast Guard. He noted the team was integral in providing effective and efficient first aid and safely managed health incidents during the project.