A broken oil pipeline off the coast of Santa Barbara in May 2015 caused widespread damage to the surrounding area. Known as the Refugio spill due to the proximity to the Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, this incident released more than 120,000 gallons of oil into the environment, with more than 20,000 flowing directly into the ocean. Assisting in the response to the disaster was BCFS Health and Human Services EMD, a nonprofit agency that frequently partners with federal, state, and local governmental agencies and private industry. The organization specializes in emergency management, public health and disaster response strategies, mass care, and other capabilities.

BCFS Health and Human Services EMD was tasked by the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health (CTEH) and Plains All American Oil to provide expert medical care to the cleanup crews working in the hazardous oil-filled conditions. The organization’s Medical Staffing Team (MST) worked with the Unified Commander (UC) overseeing the efforts to offer medical services for the team that was working to control the nearly nine-mile oil slick. 

The MST included multiple licensed professionals that worked together to meet all the needs of the on-site teams. The group included multiple case managers and paramedics, along with registered nurses and a coordinating physician. The team offered first aid and force protection services for the camp and beach operations during a 73-day cleanup project. 

The Division Safety/Security Manager of Plains All American Oil, Jeffrey Green RSO, Sr. reported positively to the Admiral of the U.S. Coast Guard about the integral role the safety team and the medical units held in the cleanup mission, and how quickly they provided crews with immediate access to first aid.