Ask any first responder what it’s like trying to quickly track down someone in distress, either on the beach or offshore, as reported by a 911 caller as to where they are.
“Easter Egg Hunt” is frequently the response.
The Oregon Coast is vast and confusing. Uninterrupted beauty scrambles people’s recollection of how close they are to anything. So when the call to 911 comes in and the dispatcher asks the reporting party where they are, that’s when the Easter Egg Hunt begins.
Fortunately Oregon Coast first responders are a very bright bunch who know their particular stretch of beach jurisdiction very well. Yachat’s Fire Chief Frankie Petrick rises to the top on that list. But even Chief Petrick can come up with multiple locations for where the distressed person is – even with the caller giving very specific descriptions of their immediate surroundings. So much of it is the same all up and down the coast. Beach, trees, ocean, rocks, Highway 101.
So Oregon Parks and Recreation is putting up bright yellow signs near recreational areas along Highway 101 with big numbers indicating what milepost on 101 the caller is standing near. And even though the out-of-state tourist may not know what the sign means, all the dispatcher has to ask – what is written on the big yellow sign?
The 200 signs are placed near Beach Access pathways and trails. Signs are closer together in cities but farther apart in more rural areas. They can also be more frequent in areas where beach access points are more numerous.
But there are no signs from Florence to Coos Bay. At least not yet. The U.S. Forest Service has issues with archaeologically significant areas. State Parks and Recreation says they’re working out the details that should produce signage that meets the Forest Service’s requirements.