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 and fire fighters, DEM's emergency responders are prepared to handle incidents of great variety - everything from a spill of a few gallons to a whole tanker-full of petroleum, from a single abandoned drum to biological and chemical weapons. Highly trained first responders are on-call 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. These responders spend the bulk of their time remediating a stream of manageable mishaps that could otherwise pose a significant danger.
Nearly every day of every year, despite preventive measures, hundreds of incidents threaten the public as well as the environment. Emergency responders are prepared to limit the risks from oil and chemical spills, failed tanks or pipes, fires or fumes, overturned trucks, sunken vessels, litter, WMD (weapons of mass destruction), abandoned drums, and the like. OER responds to more than 700 incidents each year. OER is also responsible for registration and oversight of over 700 Above Ground Storage Tanks (AST) located throughout the state.