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Home > Topics > EMS Management
December 01, 2011
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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Another warning about bystanders and cameras

By Arthur Hsieh

A video was uploaded to YouTube last week showing an incident in which responders appear to treat the lifeless body of an Oklahoma City prostitute carelessly. Editorial Adviser Art Hsieh says that recording devices are here to stay, and this is yet another reminder for responders to be on their best behavior at all times.

Yet again, here’s an opportunity to gawk at video posing as reality.

It's really ironic that it's often photos and videos like these that distort the truth of what occurs on scene.

Recording devices merely capture the hard data of an image, which is subject to the perspective and editing of the videographer. However, there are definitely a few lessons to learn from this snippet:

1) As a public safety provider, you are in the public view, virtually all of the time. We are in the information age, with cell phone cameras and camcorders the norm, not the exception. You can't let your guard down, not even once. Think very carefully as you perform your duties — how will it look? Could my body language, voice or gestures be taken out of context? Will I be able to defend my actions in the court of public opinion?

2) Be clear on your department's policies of recording scenes. It appears that there will be a review of the recorded personnel actions on using cell phones to record the scene. Remember that there have been more than a few folks fired for recording and sharing such images.

3) In the snippets of video that were shown, there were some questionable actions conducted by the crew. This is where the editing can make mountains out of molehills. It's certainly possible that examinations were done, but deleted off the recording. It would help explain the lack of spinal stabilization and subsequent movement of the patient from the ground to the gurney. On the other hand, a sheet to create some privacy would have been nice.

4) No matter how we might feel about being recorded, the public has the right to do so in public spaces. Other episodes have shown that regardless of the cad who is doing the recording, he/she is entitled to do so.

About the author

EMS1 Editor in Chief Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. In the profession 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 published textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at a rural hospital-based ALS system. Contact Art at Art.Hsieh@ems1.com.
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