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Fire Department Response!


themood
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Greetings everyone,

I have heard rumors over the last year or so of different cities "outlawing" geocaching due to the way people can react when they see an unidentified package and call in a potential bomb. Well I am a firefighter/paramedic for a fairly large Southern California fire department and yesterday it happened to us. We ended up with 12 fire engines as well as a Hazardous Materials response team, a bomb squad and over a dozen police officers to investigate what turned out to be a pill container hidden under a lightpost skirt. Someone saw the cachers placing it back in it's hiding spot and called the authorities. Since it was in a very busy shopping center there was a huge potential for collateral damage and a need for a lot of manpower to potentially assist in rescue, evacuation, cleanup etc. This ended up resulting in about 60-65 public safety personnel responding to a Geocache and since so many resources were on scene it ended up being neccesary to move fire engines all around the city to fill in the gaps, caused a delayed response to a house fire with a trapped victim and probably delayed responses to multiple medical aids as we are the provider of local emergency medical services. I would like to propose that all cachers label on the OUTSIDE of each cache that their container is a geocache to help prevent such instances. Something like the explanation sheet we place inside that states "Official Geocaching Gamepiece" or something. It doesn't need to be fancy but should be clearly visible if the cache is found. Will it prevent future incidents? Of course not, but I believe that it will be beneficial and that it is important to try and keep the sport being shown in a positive light, not as a substantial burden to taxpayers on a 6 o'clock news story.

 

The Mood

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Dont all of the official cache boxes already say that? And arent we already supposed to mark a cache in a way so that people can know what it is.

 

I will agree though that such things will make this game look bad to people who dont play it. It is up to us to make sure we are the ones who are responsible for our actions.

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Good idea, but lets see ....

 

Clearly labeled in a clear container .... Boom

Traffic counter box chained and labeled ... Boom

Ammo can in the desert with nothing else around ... Boom

 

Permission does not matter, labeling does not matter, the container being clear does not matter, the container being out in the middle of nowhere does not matter. It has to do with the attitude of the first responders and the bomb squad when they are called. period.

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Dont all of the official cache boxes already say that? And arent we already supposed to mark a cache in a way so that people can know what it is.

 

No, it's up to the hider to properly label their caches. But it only takes a little extra effort to label them.

 

I have to wonder if a city knows enough about geocaching to pass a law banning it, then would it not be just as easy, if not easier, to get a free account and simply check before sending the bomb squad out?

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Sorry about the duplicate post folks, I wrote this one before I saw the others. As a first responder I can tell you that the response will probably be the same whether they are labeled or not. I was thinking more about the general public that sees us placing or replacing a cache and calls it in, maybe if it is clearly marked it could help prevent the call in the first place. As a bonus it might spark their interest to find out what the heck geocaching is and get them caching themselves!! I can also tell you that in this area the bomb squads respond to over 10 calls a day for suspicious objects and do not have the time or luxury of checking to see if they "might" be geocaches for several reasons. First of all the longer the object is unattended the greater the chance of someone setting it off if it is live. Also, if you call them they will come. Imagine the liability if they were to disregard a reported object because of something they saw on the internet and someone was injured or killed. They don't have that luxury.

Edited by themood
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Good idea, but lets see ....

 

Clearly labeled in a clear container .... Boom

Traffic counter box chained and labeled ... Boom

Ammo can in the desert with nothing else around ... Boom

 

Permission does not matter, labeling does not matter, the container being clear does not matter, the container being out in the middle of nowhere does not matter. It has to do with the attitude of the first responders and the bomb squad when they are called. period.

 

In the case of cache placed in a lamp post of a large shopping center or strip mall it seems to me that a reviewer could bring up the location of a listing submission, see that it's in a large parking lot, the ask for explicit written permission before a cache in such a location is published.

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I can also tell you that in this area the bomb squads respond to over 10 calls a day for suspicious objects and do not have the time or luxury of checking to see if they "might" be geocaches for several reasons.

 

That tells me a couple of things.

 

First, labeling isn't going to stop folks from calling it in. If they are of the mind that it may be a bomb, they aren't going to get close enough to read any labels.

 

Second, if your area gets over 10 calls a day and this is the first geocaching object, then clearly the problem is not with geocaches. It's an over sensitive public.

 

Finally, if it's going to be blown up no matter what it is once the bomb squad gets there, then labeling is a non-issue.

 

While it might have a very low effect on public perception and it is generally a good idea to label them anyway, the issue is clearly that the general public is just overreacting. An ammo can size box left out in the open in a populated area is one thing. But most of what I've seen posted relative to bomb scares always comes back to over reacting public.

 

I'm curious just what the average is nationwide of calls for suspicious items is. It seems like a lot of caches get called in because that's the only time anyone posts bomb scares here.

 

But if your area gets at least 10 calls a day, I just have to wonder what the average is; especially relative to the number that turn out to be geocaches.

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Good idea, but lets see ....

 

Clearly labeled in a clear container .... Boom

Traffic counter box chained and labeled ... Boom

Ammo can in the desert with nothing else around ... Boom

 

Permission does not matter, labeling does not matter, the container being clear does not matter, the container being out in the middle of nowhere does not matter. It has to do with the attitude of the first responders and the bomb squad when they are called. period.

 

In the case of cache placed in a lamp post of a large shopping center or strip mall it seems to me that a reviewer could bring up the location of a listing submission, see that it's in a large parking lot, the ask for explicit written permission before a cache in such a location is published.

 

It wouldn't matter. Let's assume that the cache was in a Walmart parking lot and the hider spoke with the manager and got written permission and faxed it to the reviewer and posted it on the cache page.

 

If John Q. Public sees me putting the cache back and freaks, I highly doubt he's going to go inside and ask the management what's up. He's going to pull his cell phone out and report it. Then the bomb squad is going to show up and do their thing.

 

It may come out later on that written permission was given. But by then, the machine is already in motion. The OP already said that even if it's labeled, once they get there they pretty much have to do their thing. It doesn't matter if it becomes clear that it is 99% probable that the item is harmless.

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I can also tell you that in this area the bomb squads respond to over 10 calls a day for suspicious objects and do not have the time or luxury of checking to see if they "might" be geocaches for several reasons.
If you are getting over 10 calls a day for suspicious objects, and at least this one took 5 hours to resolve, then you betcha you have the time to check if it "might" be a geocache! In fact, you owe it to yourselves and the public to do exactly that. Waste 5 hours on a harmless pill bottle when there may be a real threat that you can't respond to?

 

The police officers that responded... do they not have internet access on the computers in their vehicles? There was not one officer there that could have checked geocaching (they can get a free PM account by the way) while the others were doing the other things required to keep the public safe?

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I am a firefighter too. I don't work in a big city, but it's an urban area.

The OP described the response of his department. There is no mention of how the call was dispatched. Do the dispatchers even know what geocaching is about? A few questions to the person making the call could have changed that response.

Yes, there was a suspisious person and a container under a lamp post. Could a small item under a lamp post skirt really contain enough explosive to cause major harm? So the response of all that equipment should have been unnecessary.

This is yet another case where some education would have been beneficial.

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Education is BIG.

 

We need to talk to our locals about geocaching.

 

When this subject first came up when I began reading the forums I called my local police department

(NON-emergency number) and told them I would be happy to be a geocaching liason or talk to them about geocaching. She took my number and said she'd call me back. That's the last I ever heard.

 

So how can we help?

 

Some professionals seem to be reading this thread. What can we do to help this issue?

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Greetings everyone,

I have heard rumors over the last year or so of different cities "outlawing" geocaching due to the way people can react when they see an unidentified package and call in a potential bomb. Well I am a firefighter/paramedic for a fairly large Southern California fire department and yesterday it happened to us. We ended up with 12 fire engines as well as a Hazardous Materials response team, a bomb squad and over a dozen police officers to investigate what turned out to be a pill container hidden under a lightpost skirt. Someone saw the cachers placing it back in it's hiding spot and called the authorities. Since it was in a very busy shopping center there was a huge potential for collateral damage and a need for a lot of manpower to potentially assist in rescue, evacuation, cleanup etc. This ended up resulting in about 60-65 public safety personnel responding to a Geocache and since so many resources were on scene it ended up being neccesary to move fire engines all around the city to fill in the gaps, caused a delayed response to a house fire with a trapped victim and probably delayed responses to multiple medical aids as we are the provider of local emergency medical services. I would like to propose that all cachers label on the OUTSIDE of each cache that their container is a geocache to help prevent such instances. Something like the explanation sheet we place inside that states "Official Geocaching Gamepiece" or something. It doesn't need to be fancy but should be clearly visible if the cache is found. Will it prevent future incidents? Of course not, but I believe that it will be beneficial and that it is important to try and keep the sport being shown in a positive light, not as a substantial burden to taxpayers on a 6 o'clock news story.

 

The Mood

If the bolded parts of your post are true then several department heads should be replaced.

 

California firefighters led the way in developing the measured response procedures and integrated command and control process that became the National Incident Management System - Incident Command System (NIMS-ICS) now used by every first responder in the country. I cannot believe for a minute that you rolled 12 'fire engines' to this incident.

 

The Orange County Sheriffs Department has one of the best reputations in the country. They don't over-react in this way.

 

If 60 to 65 first responders were tied up in this incident your whole State and County Emergency Management Agencies should be seriously re-evaluated.

 

If those in need went without service because assets were tied up, as you claim, this would qualify as a total breakdown of your disaster preparedness and response system.

 

None of the press reports on that incident mention any over-the-top response such as you describe.

 

Personally I'm calling bullhonkery on that whole post.

 

If it DID happen as you say then I implore (and the Department of Homeland Security insists) that all of you take the free FEMA training courses for responders at http://training.fema.gov/IS/crslist.asp Particularly ICS-300 and 400.

Edited by TheAlabamaRambler
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I do not blame the public or the local authorities for this type of reaction.With what goes on these days, how would you expect them to act? They are not trying to ruin the game we play,but are trying to serve and protect.Instead of pointing the finger at law enforcement and the public,maybe we should look at how we play this game.I beleive public awareness is needed.Why not?Why not let local law know about caches and where they are?If we have to have permission to place them,and we follow that rule,why would it be so hard to let the local law know too? I think the future of this game depends on either the public knowing more about it,or local law knowing of it.

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I do not blame the public or the local authorities for this type of reaction.With what goes on these days, how would you expect them to act? They are not trying to ruin the game we play,but are trying to serve and protect.Instead of pointing the finger at law enforcement and the public,maybe we should look at how we play this game.I beleive public awareness is needed.Why not?Why not let local law know about caches and where they are?If we have to have permission to place them,and we follow that rule,why would it be so hard to let the local law know too? I think the future of this game depends on either the public knowing more about it,or local law knowing of it.

 

If we are to believe the OP, then they get 10 suspicious item calls a day. This is the first one involving a geocache in the area. That means that it's not a caching issue. It's a hypersensitive public issue; plain and simple.

 

If you have bomb squads blowing up DOT's traffic counters, then who really needs the awareness training?

 

The future of America depends on everyone regaining control of their fears and beginning to allow reason and logic to dictate their actions.

Edited by GeoBain
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I agree that lables are very important. But as a hazmat tech & EMS First Responder we can not look at a suspicious package, see a geocache label and say "Ooops it's ok, lets head back to the station." The bad guys are pretty clever and they could catch onto that real quick. But on the other hand I might release some of the units a bit quicker too.

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I agree that lables are very important. But as a hazmat tech & EMS First Responder we can not look at a suspicious package, see a geocache label and say "Ooops it's ok, lets head back to the station." The bad guys are pretty clever and they could catch onto that real quick. But on the other hand I might release some of the units a bit quicker too.

 

Makes complete sense why emergency response must follow through. But the public should do a better job. We shouldn't be reporting every little odd thing we see. At least not without giving it some thought first.

 

But I digress. I keep talking about John Q. Public and forgetting just who John Q. Public is. By and large, he is a frightened, ignorant little lamb. I guess it's really of no use to expect more out of him. ;)

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But if your area gets at least 10 calls a day, I just have to wonder what the average is

I'd also like to know. I don't have hard data, so I have to rely on memory, but in the county I work, (second smallest county in Florida, I believe), we respond to several suspicious objects a day. Of the gazillion or so suspicious objects I've responded too, only one resulted in an EOD call out. The rest were determined to be safe, by me. It seems that sending out the Calvary, for something that can fit under a lamp post kilt, in an area that is not considered a target by hostiles, is just a tad bit overkill. Even if the gap was stuffed with Semtex, how much of a blast radius would you have? 75'? 100'? If you train your troops to overreact every time someone shouts "Boo", it's disingenuous to blame the person who shouted, when the bill comes due.

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If on average, 10 'suspicious package' calls come in per day, how many of those packages get blown up? If a backpack is left on a bus bench, does it automatically get blown up based on the "better safe then sorry principle"? If not, why not? How do they go about determining at any abandoned backpack is not a threat?

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How do they go about determining that any abandoned backpack is not a threat?

First responders flowchart:

 

Citizen sees a Dora the Explorer lunchbox left on a park picnic table.

Citizen has been programmed for panic, so they call 911.

Agency dispatches a unit for an initial look.

Could be Deputy Gallant or Deputy Goofus.

 

Deputy Gallant evaluates the location and the container, determining that it is highly unlikely that the lunchbox was left by Al-Qaeda. After closely inspecting the container, he carefully opens it to discover half a banana and a box of Juicy Juice. Deputy Gallant clears the call as unfounded, and heads to the next reported lunchbox.

 

Deputy Goofus buys into the whole "can't take any risks" idiocy, and calls his supervisor, advising them of their findings.

The supervisor responds to conduct their own evaluation.

Could be Sgt Gallant or Sgt Goofus.

 

Sgt Gallant evaluates the location and the container, determining that it is highly unlikely that the lunchbox was left by Al-Qaeda. After closely inspecting the container, he carefully opens it to discover half a banana and a box of Juicy Juice. Sgt Gallant shakes his head in wonder at the goober he has working for him.

 

Sgt Goofus buys into the whole "can't take any risks" idiocy, and calls for an EOD response, to include full orchestration and four part harmony.

 

At that point, the lunchbox is probably doomed.

 

Someone high up the food chain will be asked why all those resources were put into play to blow up a lunchbox.

 

Their response will further promote the "can't take any chances" idiocy, and attempt to pin blame on the 3rd grader who forgot their lunchbox.

(or the geocacher who hid the film can) ;)

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How do they go about determining that any abandoned backpack is not a threat?

First responders flowchart:

 

Citizen sees a Dora the Explorer lunchbox left on a park picnic table.

Citizen has been programmed for panic, so they call 911.

Agency dispatches a unit for an initial look.

Could be Deputy Gallant or Deputy Goofus.

 

Deputy Gallant evaluates the location and the container, determining that it is highly unlikely that the lunchbox was left by Al-Qaeda. After closely inspecting the container, he carefully opens it to discover half a banana and a box of Juicy Juice. Deputy Gallant clears the call as unfounded, and heads to the next reported lunchbox.

 

Deputy Goofus buys into the whole "can't take any risks" idiocy, and calls his supervisor, advising them of their findings.

The supervisor responds to conduct their own evaluation.

Could be Sgt Gallant or Sgt Goofus.

 

Sgt Gallant evaluates the location and the container, determining that it is highly unlikely that the lunchbox was left by Al-Qaeda. After closely inspecting the container, he carefully opens it to discover half a banana and a box of Juicy Juice. Sgt Gallant shakes his head in wonder at the goober he has working for him.

 

Sgt Goofus buys into the whole "can't take any risks" idiocy, and calls for an EOD response, to include full orchestration and four part harmony.

 

At that point, the lunchbox is probably doomed.

 

Someone high up the food chain will be asked why all those resources were put into play to blow up a lunchbox.

 

Their response will further promote the "can't take any chances" idiocy, and attempt to pin blame on the 3rd grader who forgot their lunchbox.

(or the geocacher who hid the film can) ;)

I always thought that the BOMB SQUAD was part of the police department. If 2 techs in moon suits can't handle it, the police department shouldn't be doing any more than writing parking tickets.

As for the citizen who calls it in they should know that they will be charged with "filing a false report" and have their name published in tomorrows paper.

Sorry if I have offended any firemen or police officers. I carried a badge for over 25 years.

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I carried a badge for over 25 years.

Really? What was written on it? ;)

 

I would think that anyone who was a cop for more than three minutes would know that EOD techs are usually found within the ranks of the street cops, but they don't spend their entire shift wearing the suit or driving the EOD response vehicle. Typically, they have an on-call status, and deploy when an EOD response is dictated. This usually involves driving to where ever they keep the response vehicle, meeting with the team, developing a response plan and hitting the road.

 

Some agencies are large enough to keep an EOD team on standby 24/7. Even with these agencies, the EOD guys won't be the first one on scene. They won't deploy until they are called for.

 

Can they handle it? I have no doubt.

 

Not sure where you dreamed up the "false report" silliness. If I, acting as Joe Citizen, call 911, reporting that I saw some kooky looking guy placing a film can under a lamp post, I haven't reported anything false. If Deputy Goofus decides this warrants calling out the entire department, that's on him, not on me.

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I will catch alot of grief for saying this but placing any cache in the middle of muggleville is the real problem. Exposure to muggles is always a bother and we are annoying our own play ground. The cacher who cares will have to return 60 times to be truely stealthy or just get it anyway right in front of the wrong muggle everytime. I have avoid caches in play grounds because I am an old fat and bald guy and don't have any business hanging around a childrens play ground, being surprized when parents walk right up and ask why I am there. We have plenty of places to hide caches with less trama to the public and training them is a bother to everyone. I say avoid muggles altogether and let the call to the cops be few and far between. I have already had to shut down 2 of my caches because of muggles - the finders did not do their job because they want the numbers instead of the hunt. I recently had the Police called on me because I got too close to a public water tower. I wasn't even caching - just hiking. People will call over anything! Why give them the food of suspicious behavior. Get them OUT there.

Edited by GPS-Hermit
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I have a question for "The mood". At what size of container does the threat of a potential bomb become negligible? In other words, obviously a film canister could have enough explosive material to be a major threat. Would the same response be considered for a bison tube? a magnetic nano "blinky"? Or would you blow up anything regardless when reported as suspicious regardless of size?

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How do they go about determining that any abandoned backpack is not a threat?

First responders flowchart:

 

Citizen sees a Dora the Explorer lunchbox left on a park picnic table.

Citizen has been programmed for panic, so they call 911.

Agency dispatches a unit for an initial look.

Could be Deputy Gallant or Deputy Goofus.

 

Deputy Gallant evaluates the location and the container, determining that it is highly unlikely that the lunchbox was left by Al-Qaeda. After closely inspecting the container, he carefully opens it to discover half a banana and a box of Juicy Juice. Deputy Gallant clears the call as unfounded, and heads to the next reported lunchbox.

 

Deputy Goofus buys into the whole "can't take any risks" idiocy, and calls his supervisor, advising them of their findings.

The supervisor responds to conduct their own evaluation.

Could be Sgt Gallant or Sgt Goofus.

 

Sgt Gallant evaluates the location and the container, determining that it is highly unlikely that the lunchbox was left by Al-Qaeda. After closely inspecting the container, he carefully opens it to discover half a banana and a box of Juicy Juice. Sgt Gallant shakes his head in wonder at the goober he has working for him.

 

Sgt Goofus buys into the whole "can't take any risks" idiocy, and calls for an EOD response, to include full orchestration and four part harmony.

 

At that point, the lunchbox is probably doomed.

 

Someone high up the food chain will be asked why all those resources were put into play to blow up a lunchbox.

 

Their response will further promote the "can't take any chances" idiocy, and attempt to pin blame on the 3rd grader who forgot their lunchbox.

(or the geocacher who hid the film can) ;)

Just one question: where is Billy Bob Nosepicker in all of this?
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I have a question for "The mood". At what size of container does the threat of a potential bomb become negligible? In other words, obviously a film canister could have enough explosive material to be a major threat. Would the same response be considered for a bison tube? a magnetic nano "blinky"? Or would you blow up anything regardless when reported as suspicious regardless of size?

 

I will take a stab at this one, not meaning to answer for "themood", but I will answer as a law enforcement professional. There is not set size that a potential bomb could be come neligible. Common sense will dictate that mostly, as it isn't going to be printed anywhere in any SOP. I think those that have said people will call if they are suspicious have it spot on. I am fairly new to geocaching, but I have been a cop for a fair number of years. People will call us about some pretty strange things, and it has gotten worse over the years. Seems we are the catch all number to call to solve any of life's problems. It is going to be reliant on some young patrol officer to not make a huge stink about a 35mm film canister placed on a lightpole. My advice would be to either not place caches in areas that are going to be MAJOR muggle problems, or if you choose to do so, use stealth or do it outside of peak muggle hours. Most people are afraid of their own shadow anymore, and will call the police at the drop of a hat. We have a lot of suspicious package calls at our own PD, and if some common sense was not used, we would have blown up some really worthless things, and wasted extreme amounts of resources. However, there are some times, when you have to play it "by the book" and blow up little johnny's lunchbox. I hope this answers your question.

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I will catch alot of grief for saying this but placing any cache in the middle of muggleville is the real problem. Exposure to muggles is always a bother and we are annoying our own play ground. The cacher who cares will have to return 60 times to be truely stealthy or just get it anyway right in front of the wrong muggle everytime. I have avoid caches in play grounds because I am an old fat and bald guy and don't have any business hanging around a childrens play ground, being surprized when parents walk right up and ask why I am there. We have plenty of places to hide caches with less trama to the public and training them is a bother to everyone. I say avoid muggles altogether and let the call to the cops be few and far between. I have already had to shut down 2 of my caches because of muggles - the finders did not do their job because they want the numbers instead of the hunt. I recently had the Police called on me because I got too close to a public water tower. I wasn't even caching - just hiking. People will call over anything! Why give them the food of suspicious behavior. Get them OUT there.

 

Yes you will catch some flack but let me toss you some support. I understand the allure of placing a cache in a heavily populated area right under the muggle's noses and getting away with it. But I agree there are plenty of unique, interesting and beautiful places to put a cache that would put the authorities on alert.

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I will catch alot of grief for saying this but placing any cache in the middle of muggleville is the real problem.

 

Yes you will catch some flack but let me toss you some support. I understand the allure of placing a cache in a heavily populated area right under the muggle's noses and getting away with it. But I agree there are plenty of unique, interesting and beautiful places to put a cache that would put the authorities on alert.

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Hermit,

 

Yes you will catch some flack but let me toss you some support. I understand the allure of placing a cache in a heavily populated area right under the muggle's noses and getting away with it. But I agree there are plenty of unique, interesting and beautiful places to put a cache that would put the authorities on alert.

Link to comment
How do they go about determining that any abandoned backpack is not a threat?

First responders flowchart:

 

Citizen sees a Dora the Explorer lunchbox left on a park picnic table.

Citizen has been programmed for panic, so they call 911.

Agency dispatches a unit for an initial look.

Could be Deputy Gallant or Deputy Goofus.

 

Deputy Gallant evaluates the location and the container, determining that it is highly unlikely that the lunchbox was left by Al-Qaeda. After closely inspecting the container, he carefully opens it to discover half a banana and a box of Juicy Juice. Deputy Gallant clears the call as unfounded, and heads to the next reported lunchbox.

 

Deputy Goofus buys into the whole "can't take any risks" idiocy, and calls his supervisor, advising them of their findings.

The supervisor responds to conduct their own evaluation.

Could be Sgt Gallant or Sgt Goofus.

 

Sgt Gallant evaluates the location and the container, determining that it is highly unlikely that the lunchbox was left by Al-Qaeda. After closely inspecting the container, he carefully opens it to discover half a banana and a box of Juicy Juice. Sgt Gallant shakes his head in wonder at the goober he has working for him.

 

Sgt Goofus buys into the whole "can't take any risks" idiocy, and calls for an EOD response, to include full orchestration and four part harmony.

 

At that point, the lunchbox is probably doomed.

 

Someone high up the food chain will be asked why all those resources were put into play to blow up a lunchbox.

 

Their response will further promote the "can't take any chances" idiocy, and attempt to pin blame on the 3rd grader who forgot their lunchbox.

(or the geocacher who hid the film can) ;)

 

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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I do not blame the public or the local authorities for this type of reaction.With what goes on these days, how would you expect them to act? They are not trying to ruin the game we play,but are trying to serve and protect.Instead of pointing the finger at law enforcement and the public,maybe we should look at how we play this game.I beleive public awareness is needed.Why not?Why not let local law know about caches and where they are?If we have to have permission to place them,and we follow that rule,why would it be so hard to let the local law know too? I think the future of this game depends on either the public knowing more about it,or local law knowing of it.

 

If we are to believe the OP, then they get 10 suspicious item calls a day. This is the first one involving a geocache in the area. That means that it's not a caching issue. It's a hypersensitive public issue; plain and simple.

 

If you have bomb squads blowing up DOT's traffic counters, then who really needs the awareness training?

 

The future of America depends on everyone regaining control of their fears and beginning to allow reason and logic to dictate their actions.

Even though it was the first call involving a cache does't mean it is not a caching issue,because that day it was.I do agree that it is less about geocaching and more about a hypersensitive public.You question about awareness training is kinda my point.The public being more aware of the game might help desensitize them.

If local law enforcement,swat and bomb squads knew more about it all they would have to do is quickly check the geocache locations in their area before resorting to drastic measures.To me this would be much easier than trying to regain the publics control of fear,which I think would be impossible.It is not the future of America that is at stake,but rather the future of this game.

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Greetings everyone,

I have heard rumors over the last year or so of different cities "outlawing" geocaching due to the way people can react when they see an unidentified package and call in a potential bomb.

 

For every news story that pings my Google News feed about a bomb threat I get about five other ones where a city or county is placing its own caches or is supporting/encouraging caches placed in the city.

 

I can't wait for a bomb squad call on a city supported/sponsored cache to happen.

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How do they go about determining that any abandoned backpack is not a threat?

First responders flowchart:

 

Citizen sees a Dora the Explorer lunchbox left on a park picnic table.

Citizen has been programmed for panic, so they call 911.

Agency dispatches a unit for an initial look.

Could be Deputy Gallant or Deputy Goofus.

 

Deputy Gallant evaluates the location and the container, determining that it is highly unlikely that the lunchbox was left by Al-Qaeda. After closely inspecting the container, he carefully opens it to discover half a banana and a box of Juicy Juice. Deputy Gallant clears the call as unfounded, and heads to the next reported lunchbox.

 

Deputy Goofus buys into the whole "can't take any risks" idiocy, and calls his supervisor, advising them of their findings.

The supervisor responds to conduct their own evaluation.

Could be Sgt Gallant or Sgt Goofus.

 

Sgt Gallant evaluates the location and the container, determining that it is highly unlikely that the lunchbox was left by Al-Qaeda. After closely inspecting the container, he carefully opens it to discover half a banana and a box of Juicy Juice. Sgt Gallant shakes his head in wonder at the goober he has working for him.

 

Sgt Goofus buys into the whole "can't take any risks" idiocy, and calls for an EOD response, to include full orchestration and four part harmony.

 

At that point, the lunchbox is probably doomed.

 

Someone high up the food chain will be asked why all those resources were put into play to blow up a lunchbox.

 

Their response will further promote the "can't take any chances" idiocy, and attempt to pin blame on the 3rd grader who forgot their lunchbox.

(or the geocacher who hid the film can) ;)

Just one question: where is Billy Bob Nosepicker in all of this?

 

He is the one that dropped the dime.

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I have gotta ask. If a container is marked as geocache are you going to cancel the response and assume it is harmless? Because if that is the case the taxpayers who fund your department aren't getting their moneys worth. The sad fact is that innocent packages are going to be mistaken as bombs. Consider it good practice. The other possibility is to assume that no stray packages are bombs and I don't think anyone wants to go down that road.

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Deputy Goofus buys into the whole "can't take any risks" idiocy, and calls his supervisor, advising them of their findings.

 

So you are saying that, if a police department were informed of geocaching.com's free premium accounts for law enforcement that they do actually have time to look up the location to see if it's a geocache or not?

 

If that is the case, then yes, we should do a better job of getting the word out.

 

I'm being just a tiny factitious with this. Not with you, but with the OP. I know I have sat down with the sheriff and explained geocaching. I assume he followed up with the police chief, but I might better call and talk with the chief myself. I live in a small town. (less than 15,000)

 

My friends in Tallahassee (state capitol of Florida) also have really good relations with the city and county. I am part of their caching organization and we make it a point to keep geocaching in a good light with law enforcement.

 

But even Tallahassee is not that big so I was willing to accept that in a large metropolitan area like Los Angeles or New York that it would be possible for someone to check on a location if they were aware of geocaching.

 

I would think that there would be at least 1 extra step between the first responder and dispatch calling out the full EOD team with all the bells and whistles. That's what supervisors are for.

 

Given that fact, it would be prudent for someone at dispatch to pull up GC.com if certain calls like this came in. It would also make sense to label the container IF the first responders are willing to look it up before escalating.

 

As far as John Q. Public goes, I'm afraid there's not much hope. They call law enforcement for everything under the sun. I was listening to the scanner the other day some woman called 911 because she couldn't get her grandson to take out the trash. John Q. Public treats law enforcement like their big brother they can call whenever they need help unclogging the sink.

 

BTW. If I had known you were bringing key lime pie, I would have made the FGA Revival event. :rolleyes:

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I have gotta ask. If a container is marked as geocache are you going to cancel the response and assume it is harmless? Because if that is the case the taxpayers who fund your department aren't getting their moneys worth. The sad fact is that innocent packages are going to be mistaken as bombs. Consider it good practice. The other possibility is to assume that no stray packages are bombs and I don't think anyone wants to go down that road.

 

And yet Clan Riffster has done apparently just that in many instances. Clearly there is a way for a trained individual to determine the level of threat and respond appropriately.

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I have gotta ask. If a container is marked as geocache are you going to cancel the response and assume it is harmless? Because if that is the case the taxpayers who fund your department aren't getting their moneys worth. The sad fact is that innocent packages are going to be mistaken as bombs. Consider it good practice. The other possibility is to assume that no stray packages are bombs and I don't think anyone wants to go down that road.

And yet Clan Riffster has done apparently just that in many instances. Clearly there is a way for a trained individual to determine the level of threat and respond appropriately.

Why does that exchange remind me of a certain scene in Caddyshack where a seemingly disgusting object is retrieved from a swimming pool... and eaten :rolleyes:

 

Clearly that was a trained professional.

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I carried a badge for over 25 years.

Really? What was written on it? :rolleyes:

 

I would think that anyone who was a cop for more than three minutes would know that EOD techs are usually found within the ranks of the street cops, but they don't spend their entire shift wearing the suit or driving the EOD response vehicle. Typically, they have an on-call status, and deploy when an EOD response is dictated. This usually involves driving to where ever they keep the response vehicle, meeting with the team, developing a response plan and hitting the road.

 

Some agencies are large enough to keep an EOD team on standby 24/7. Even with these agencies, the EOD guys won't be the first one on scene. They won't deploy until they are called for.

 

Can they handle it? I have no doubt.

 

Not sure where you dreamed up the "false report" silliness. If I, acting as Joe Citizen, call 911, reporting that I saw some kooky looking guy placing a film can under a lamp post, I haven't reported anything false. If Deputy Goofus decides this warrants calling out the entire department, that's on him, not on me.

I still have both my badges on my retirement pen set: #1 Pennsylvania Forest Fire Warden (35 years)

#2 Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry-State Forest Officer (badge # 075) .

The first geocache I ever heard about was reported by a fisherman to the state police (under a bridge).

The state police relied on the military to come from Fort Indiantown Gap several hours away.

That situation was handled by about 4 people including the dispatcher, police and military.

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I have to ask: If it had been a bomb, what exactly would the fire department have done? Direct traffic?

 

I'm not a fire fighter, but I am most of the way through our local CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) class, which uses a lot of Fire Fighters for teaching assistants, so I want to speak up in defense of fire fighters.

 

Many people think of fire fighters as that alone - they are people who fight fires. And while it's true that they do that, they do many other activities that are related - medical work and search and rescue being at the top of the list. Almost all professional fire fighters are also trained paramedics, so let's say there's a car wreck with injuries - 911 will dispatch a fire crew, since they can help with the injuries, have the equipment to pry open the car if it's deformed and someone's trapped, and have the equipment to deal with a potential fire. Let's say you're working on a large home appliance like a water heater, and drop it on yourself - 911 will dispatch a fire crew, because they can assist with injuries, have the equipment to dismantle or remove the appliance, and the equpment and training to deal with the hazardous chemical situation you may have just created when you knocked over the lawn care shelf. They are also trained in moving people in difficult situations (such as someone who is obese, elderly, frail with illness or injury, or some combination thereof), trained in phychological first aid (evaluating those who have been through a traumatic event, such as a violent car accident for reccomendation to further treatment), and have resources available to help people who are displaced (discount hotel rooms or car rentals in case your car is totaled in a strange city).

 

So, to answer your question, any time there's an event, fire crews usually get called, because they're trained to handle lots and lots of stuff.

Edited by Sehmket
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I have to ask: If it had been a bomb, what exactly would the fire department have done? Direct traffic?

No, that's what the cops do. The Fire Department would have put hose lines on the ground to prepare for the explosion to put out any fire. They would have set up their Heavy Rescue unit to prepare for any entrapment of victims if there were building collapse. They would have set up a treatment, triage, and transport location for any victims from the explosion. They would have set up a Haz Mat unit to decon any victims and public safety personnel that may have been exposed to a possible biochemical exposure.

 

That's what the Fire Department would have done.

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