Find Out: Approaching the Situation

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During the "F" of Flame, we Find Out about the situation.

First, "Do Nothing"

The first thing most Rangers will do when they encounter a situation that might need Rangering is … NOTHING. Of course, they're not actually doing nothing – they're forming their initial impressions about the situation – but they're not actively interfering; it only looks like they're doing nothing.

Standing back and observing is the first thing we do when approaching a situation.

Many situations resolve on their own and we never have to "do" anything. We call these situations "self-Rangering.”

Your Reason for Approaching the Situation

There are times when Rangers need to approach participants. The basic skill of Rangering starts with how we approach participants and what our reason is for approaching them.

  • Are we informing them of something such as Bacon at a nearby camp?
  • Are we pointing out danger?
  • Are we offering to be a neutral party to help?
  • Did the participant approach us?

Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is a key part of the F in FLAME-Find out--and worth repeating.

Safety First!

When entering a situation, always check for safety of both yourself and your partner.

Make sure you take a look at the immediate area around the situation and then at the larger area around that.

Maintain situational awareness (participants safety, partners safety, hazards in the area) and/or try to not lose sight of your partner.

Questions to ask regarding scene safety include:

  • Is the scene safe for you and your partner to approach?
  • Is there any danger to the participants?
  • Is there fire?
  • Is there violence?
  • Is there an animal, slip, trip, or fall hazard?
  • Is your partner safe?

If there is a safety issue where you feel that you, your partner, or participants are in danger, call Khaki immediately.

Other things to assess in a situation

  • What is the mood/tone of the situation?
  • What is the body language of the participants? What does it tell you?
  • What is your own body language? What does it communicate to others? (See more below)
  • What reaction do participants have to your presence? Be aware that sometimes a Ranger presence can be triggering for participants.
  • How loud is the area? One of you should always be able to monitor/use radio.
  • How private is the area? For both having conversation with participants and radio calls, we want to protect confidentiality.
  • How are you and your partner standing in relation to one another? Are you able to keep track of each other and communicate if needed?
  • Who is around that can be a community resource?
  • What information do you need to develop a complete picture of the scene and understand what is going on?


In addition to being aware of the situation around you, always check in with yourself. You are the most important resource you have available! Be aware of how you are communicating with participants, and what is informing your own behaviors and choices.

Body Language

What is your body language going to tell them? This will be the first thing participants see. Your body language should communicate an openness to listen and also be nonthreatening. For more detail, see Communication and De-escalation with body language sections.


Related to body language is our mindset: Your point of view can affect how you approach the scene and how you’re first presented to participants. Have you checked your preconceived notions at the door? (Or at least made the attempt?) Are you going in open minded? Be aware of your own biases and the “way you think things are.”

Appropriateness of Intervention

Always consider if you are the best person or in the best position to intervene in a situation, and you might want to stand back or kick it sideways. Things to check:

  • What is my emotional state? If you are triggered (see section on trigger issues), you might not be the best person to step in right now.
  • Who else is already involved? If there are already other participants or other volunteers involved, your help might not be needed.
  • Does this situation call for resources beyond myself? If so, consider calling into to Khaki before engaging with participants.
  • Do I know the people involved? If yes, discuss with your partner. If you have a conflict of interest, you are obligated to not intervene as a Ranger. Not disclosing personal involvement to your partner is considered unrangerly behavior.

Introduce Yourself

Remember to introduce yourself early on when you approach participants. It doesn’t have to be the very first thing you say, however participants should know who you are before you get too involved in a situation. Be polite, express your desire to help, and be mindful of perceptions of authority.

Using your Notebook

You should always have a notebook with you. It will come in very handy when passing on information to Khaki. If you are going to take notes during a conversation with a participant, make sure to ask if it is okay! Using your notebook can help in all steps of FLAME, so that you can use what you find out in other steps.

Unless the participant is asking you to pass on personal information, do not record participant names: use initials. Even in our notebooks, we need to respect confidentiality.

Read more about interacting with participants in the next section on Communication.