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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Do you know your department's policies?

In the past few years we have seen obvious and blatantly poor judgment from folks when they post inappropriate photos, videos and commentary to the web

By Arthur Hsieh

Editor's note: Jason Weeks was fired as a battalion chief in October after his involvement developing and maintaining a private, union-backed website while on town time, using town equipment. This is as good a time as ever to ask yourself: Do you know your department's policies?

Add this to the list of activities that blur the line between personal and professional behavior. I haven't seen the details; I'm sure they will come out over time. The basics still hold true though — most departments have policies in place that dictate what you can say or do in relation to the organization — and when you can do it.

In the past few years we have seen obvious and blatantly poor judgment from folks when they post inappropriate photos, videos and commentary to the web. We have also seen the National Labor Relations Board come down on organizations that were too draconian in their policies, effectively violating employee rights to free and open communication.

It does boil down to two relatively simple guidelines; Use common sense (do you want your mother/girlfriend/spouse/child to see it?) and know your department's policies.

Now, simple doesn’t mean that it's easy. If it were, I would have a lot less to write about in this column. Sometimes we need that outside voice to let us now we might be treading too deep in the muck.

It's much easier hearing criticism from a coworker or friend, rather than management. So, step up when you see someone you know doing something you think they shouldn't. You might be doing them a big favor, even if they don't believe it themselves.

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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