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Home > Columnists > Arthur Hsieh
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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

False representation in the press

By Arthur Hsieh

Editor's note: This article is in response to the story "NH photographer arrested on EMT impersonation charges." Read what our Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh has to say and let us know what you think in the comments below.

It will be interesting to see if anything comes out of this case. Photography at public emergency and crime scenes go back as far as the art form itself — people are fascinated with the macabre of actual mayhem and "real" scenes.

The last two decades has seen the technology become easy enough to be used by anyone, and can be used rightly — or wrongly — by any person walking by the situation, using their mobile phone. Even sometimes by fellow "professionals."

At times the first amendment right of the press can come into conflict with the patient's right to privacy, and overall policy in this area is not especially clear.

However, the situation being reported here is about whether the photographer was falsely representing himself as an emergency responder by donning protective gear and having some type of emergency light on his personal vehicle.

That seems a bit out of the ordinary — risky for the photographer, to say the least, and suspicious at worst.

I mean, do you really need to do that? Why not wear a day glow safety vest with press credentials hanging around the front of your jacket? Or ride in a personal vehicle that doesn't look like an ambulance?

There are plenty of news reporters out there who do their job, looking like members of the media. They seem to get the story, without having to resort to wearing emergency responder gear and driving emergency responder vehicles. I'm all for the freedom of the press, but let's use some common sense, eh?

About the author

EMS1 Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. Since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at an EMS service in Northern California. Contact Art at
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