The term is common in volunteer firefighting for those who join the fire department mainly as an excuse to show off to the world that they are bad-ass firefighters but with little to no interest in doing the work involved, among police for those who think their involvement in something peripheral to police work such as being a mall security guard or a junior explorer makes them a bona fide cop and god's gift to law enforcement, and in ham radio to poke fun at the small number of hams who always seem to mysteriously show up at public emergencies decked out in an expensive array of tactical radio gear, police boots, and an orange vest, to "offer their services" and get in the way. Ham radio whackers mistakenly think their ham license makes them real honest to goodness "first responders".
Real emergency services personnel consider whackers nuisances at best and wish they would stay the hell away so they could do their jobs.
How to spot a whacker
The most obvious sign of whackerdom is a personal car or truck that looks like one of these:
- A red pickup truck with antennas, stickers, and a huge firefighting mural in the back window. They may also mount amber emergency lights on it if they can legally get away with it.
- Any car with about 16 different antennas, a spotlight mounted on the side, several radios mounted inside tuned to every police and fire frequency, and boxes of tactical gear, a medical jump kit, night vision goggles, portable radios, a bulletproof vest, traffic cones, red and blue lights for quick mounting on the vehicle, and who knows what else in the trunk.
- A $500 junk car with $18,000 in emergency lights and radio gear.
- Any personal vehicle with big magnetic decals on it indicating the person is some kind of emergency services volunteer: search and rescue, CERT, React International, etc., that they leave on their vehicle at all times, not just when they are actually involved in an emergency.
Variations on whackerdom include the small percentage of volunteer National Weather Service spotters and Skywarn volunteers who take their hobby way too seriously and deck out their vehicle with tens of thousands of dollars of weather equipment and storm chasing gear that they may not even know how to use, and the occasional person arrested for impersonating an officer who stalks drivers on the interstate and, when questioned, claims they are on a secret spy mission for the White House or CIA.  The presence of whackers among their ranks is an embarrassment to other radio hams, weather spotters, CERT volunteers, search and rescue teams and the like, who will go out of their way to avoid even the appearance of being one.
Another variation is the wannabee, someone who is not in any way involved in emergency services at all, but who wants people to think they are. Again, they tend to use their personal car or truck to do this. There is also a paramilitary version, "mall ninjas", who are always wearing camo, collect big Rambo knives (and guns, if they can get away with it), take martial arts courses, read Soldier of Fortune magazine, and fantasize about being a mercenary. Many wannabees and mall ninjas are just misunderstood teenagers going through a teen angst phase, but if this behavior continues into their 20s and 30s it is a good sign they need to get a real life.
An organization that attracts its share of whackers is the Civil Air Patrol. Real Air Force uniforms and insignias and opportunities to prance around at training exercises is a great attraction. While the organization does some good especially in search for downed aircraft, it is often a venue for people who just want to play soldier.
Among emergency medical services, "Ricky Rescue" has a similar meaning.
Possible etymology of the term includes whack-job, wanking or wacking off, a police pejorative for rent-a-cops and security guards (from Wackenhut Corporation, one of the major employers of same), or that they have so many big antennas on their vehicle it goes "whack" every time they drive under a bridge.
Whackers for evangelism
Scientology Volunteer Ministers are a corps of whackers sponsored by the Church of Scientology to make the Church's good humanitarian works visible to the media at any opportunity. They notoriously got in the fucking way at 9/11 and the Haiti earthquake. And you thought it wasn't possible to hate Scientology any more than you do!
- Hamsexy see the photos! read the stories! much fun.
- ↑ http://www.journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/525014/Stryker-nabbed-again.html?nav=5006
- ↑ http://www.10tv.com/live/content/local/stories/2009/05/15/story_officer.html?sid=102
- ↑ Operation Clambake: Scientology at Ground Zero
- ↑ Scientologists in Haiti: A Firsthand Account
- ↑ John Travolta flies Scientologists' aid to Haiti