The Fort Collins six-year-old floated atop headlines when he disappeared into a box in his attic, as local rescue officials spent four hours and covered 50 miles chasing a homemade helium balloon through three counties.
Rescue teams included local sheriff’s departments, county search and rescue, even the National Guard at Buckley Air Force Base – oh, and a couple helicopters too.
Including the price of time and distraction, the costs of this event – hoax or not – were hefty at the local government level.
It leads to the question: How much money is wasted each year at the public safety level on hoaxes, false alarms, inaccurate leads?
It might not be something that can be quantified, but it certainly costs local governments a large amount of grief and money annually.
Unfortunately, there’s no real solution. Dispatchers at 9-1-1 can’t turn down service or call out those who call wolf.
It simply comes with the territory and at the expense of local public safety budgets.
James Spencer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org