PINE ISLAND, Fla. - With oil still gushing into the gulf of Mexico, local firefighters and volunteers are training for a worst case scenario - oil in mangroves and protected areas.
The Matlacha Aquatic Preserve and Pine Island Sound are focus areas of these training efforts. Both are very sensitive natural habitats that today's group is now trained to protect.
The sight is probably familiar by now. The boats, the yellow boom, and a crew of people tending to water that's been contaminated. But, this is only an exercise, part of a 24 hour OSHA approved training program.
"We would be the first responders in the occasion that the oil came out of the gulf and into here," said volunteer Zeke McDonald.
For McDonald, the first priority is keeping oil out of the back bay. But he worries about what would happen if the oil seeps in.
"I just can't imagine, look what's going on in Louisiana," said McDonald.
Members of the Upper Captiva Fire and Rescue District, Charlotte County Fire and Rescue and some of the local barge operators practiced for the real thing.
In one exercise, crews need to contain an oil sheen. Instead of oil, they use cereal. The idea is that the cereal behaves just like an oil sheen would on top of the water."
According to Chief Richard Pepper with Upper Captiva Fire, a day's notice or less is all they need to mobilize and begin containing oil. How bad could it get? At this point, it's anybody's guess, but Pepper says they will be ready.
"The information we have suggests that it's just a matter of time and it will be an ongoing evolution," said Pepper.