Disasters tend to bring out the best in human beings — but also the worst.
A prime example: boat makers Mark Castlow and Jimbo Meador wanted to help with the ongoing disaster in the Gulf region. The two business partners have seen firsthand the devastation to wildlife the BP Deepwater oil catastrophe has caused. The men were so motivated to help the defenseless creatures, they designed a boat, which allows for a faster and easier collection of the fowl.
SWAT (Shallow Water Attention Terminal) is the acronym given to the innovative 17-foot-boat, which has a collapsable canopy that sprays cooling water. SWAT has the ability to ride in waterways as shallow as 8 to 10 inches deep, which allows for easier access to oiled birds and other wildlife victims of the BP disaster. It also has a large work table, which allows for immediate treatment of suffering animals and the boat is equipped with internet access.
Wonderful, right? Think again!
Bureaucratic red tape has long caused our government to work in a state of inertia. BP Corporation is apparently following suit. Even though Castlow and Meador took it upon themselves to create the design plan, obtained financing from friend, Jimmy Buffet — yes, that Jimmy Buffet — and actually completed the prototype, SWAT boats will not be allowed in the water, says BP and the United States government.
Why? Because the US Fish & Wildlife Service requires all organizations involved in the rescue of wildlife to have a permit. And in order to obtain that permit, the people involved in wildlife rescue must undergo a certain period of training. Now in theory, that sounds reasonable. After all, no one wants to harm already injured wildlife any further.
But here’s the reality: The BP Gulf catastrophe is far from over. The oil is still gushing in the open sea and attempts to stop it have been less than successful. Volunteers, like Castlow and Meador, are more than willing to do whatever it takes to ease the burden on wildlife struggling for survival against the toxic oil and dispersants. So why is viable help being turned away?
Dragonfly Boatworks, the entrepreneurial offspring of Castlow and Meador, planned on donating the first of four SWAT boats to the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. Dragonfly Boatworks has since been informed the boats will not be used because GCRL does not have a permit to rescue wildlife suffering in the Gulf.
Carrying this to an extreme hypothesis: if a hurricane hit and you happen to see a child stranded on the beach do you a) go check and see if your lifesaving certification is up to date before running to the beach to start CPR or b) go over and retrieve that child while he is still alive with a chance for survival?
Sarcasm aside, why not let the boats be sent to help?
Castlow is disappointed, but not downtrodden. Earlier this week he started an organization called Dragonfly Environmental Army (DEA). Determined, he plans on finding a way to bring relief efforts and resources together for the Gulf victims.
Good for you Mr. Castlow! Now that’s good old-fashioned American ingenuity.
Would you like to be a part of Dragonfly Environmental Army? Call 772-567-8835.
photo credit: Flickr: MindfulWalker