The Office of Emergency Response (OER) is Rhode Island's first line of defense in protecting public health, safety, and welfare in an environmental emergency. Like police officers and firefighters, DEM's emergency responders are prepared to handle a great variety of incidents. These incidents may range from a spill of a few gallons to a petroleum tanker rollover, an abandoned drum to bioterror weaponry, and many other possible threats to environmental and public wellbeing. Highly trained first responders are on-call 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. They are tasked with responding to and remediating incidents posing imminent dangers.
Despite an abundance of effective preventative measures, hundreds of incidents possess the potential to threaten the environment daily. Emergency responders are prepared to limit risks from oil and chemical spills, failed tanks or pipes, fires and fumes, overturned trucks, sunken vessels, litter, weapons of mass destruction and abandoned drums amongst many other possibilities. OER responds to over 700 incidents each year. OER is also responsible for the registration and oversight of over 700 Above Ground Storage Tanks (AST) located throughout the state of Rhode Island.