As a result of the Buzzards Bay oil spill in 2003, and subsequent passage of the Oil Spill Act of 2004, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, through its Department of Environmental Protection's (MassDEP) Oil Spill Program, has developed a comprehensive, 3-tiered program to protect coastal resources. The program includes three elements: 1) the development of 160 Geographic Response Plans (GRP) to protect environmentally sensitive areas, 2) the acquisition and distribution of 83 oil spill response equipment trailers to coastal communities and, 3) the development of a training and exercise program to better prepare local first responders, including fire departments, police departments, harbormasters and other town officials, to respond to oil spills that threaten environmentally sensitive areas in their communities. This training and exercise program has increased first responders competency and skills as they relate to oil spill response resulting in a higher degree of readiness and preparedness amongst first responders throughout coastal Massachusetts. The program follows standard Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation protocols with clearly defined goals and objectives. Each exercise includes personnel from multiple municipalities working together to achieve the common goal of protecting coastal resources. The objectives of each exercise include, 1) foster inter-agency planning and coordination by providing the opportunity for local responders to work with each other and with Federal and State responders. 2) deploy a GRP protective booming tactic during a simulated incident, 3) promote resource coordination among local responders by coordinating use of assets from participating towns and agencies, 4) improve local oil spill preparedness by deploying equipment from pre-positioned trailers, providing participants hands-on experience in the field, and 5) evaluate the effectiveness of the booming tactic and identify any modifications necessary. Participants utilize the Incident Command System (ICS), operating within a Unified Command structure, testing their ability to effectively communicate goals, objectives and tactics.

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