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Emergency Puts Problem Solving Above Process!

Emergencies require a different approach. Solutions... pure and simple. New rules are necessary. New hands. New ideas. Practical problem solving. And we can learn from that approach for everyday problem solving, as well. Willing hands matter more than rules when time is paramount.

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I get frustrated by too much process. Regulations. Customs. Even consumer expectations. And practical solutions languish. But maybe we can learn from the Gulf oil spill emergency. Problem solving CAN come before process -- even for bureaucrats who are afraid of change.

Steel toe boots.

Report from EPA Administrator Jackson

Fishermen, shrimpers and other men and women of the Gulf community turned out in droves. I met them at community centers, churches and city hall. They all had one question: how can I help?

The fishermen at Shell Beach said they’d do anything to head out and lay boom. They wanted to help right now. Their way of life was on the line. But, some said they hit a peculiar roadblock: their shoes. Yes. You read correctly.

Fishermen were told they could not take part in efforts to lay boom unless they wore steel toe boots. That is absurd.

These men and women have spent their lives on these waters. They know them better than anyone and don’t need anybody’s steel toe boots to sail them now. Especially when so much is at stake.

A simple phone call seems to have fixed this problem. Footwear should absolutely not impede the thousands of Gulf Coast residents who want to save their way of life.

Our occupational safety regulations are terribly important. They protect workers and make our workplaces safer. But it’s unacceptable to tell men and women, who know these seas like the back of their hands, that they can’t help lay boom because of their footwear.

This seems to be an easy fix. Other problems in this complex situation won’t be so simple. But it shows that a desire to put problem solving above process is critical as we address this environmental challenge of the highest order.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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