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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Risqué photos: Does the end justify the means?

Some details need to be looked at and resolved before going further with discipline

By Arthur Hsieh

Editor's note: There are a couple of points being raised in this story that are pretty straightforward for rendering an opinion. On the other hand, other issues are a bit more challenging. So, turning to our readers, what do you think? Here are Art's thoughts; you can share yours by answering this short survey.

Members of Jacksonville Fire and Rescue made headlines last week when racy photos revealed some firefighters' questionable behavior at a fundraiser for a fallen firefighter's family. The behavior of the department's members raise both legal and ethical issues.

The legal ones are pretty straightforward: If the department has rules that prohibit the use of its uniforms for any reason outside the workplace, it would seem that there were violations.

Now, is it possible that there no "identifying" emblems or markings that could point to the department? Were there any announcements that the personnel were in fact from the department? Was the event officially sanctioned by the department or by the presence of senior officials?

These are the details that need to be looked at and resolved before going further with discipline.

The ethical issues are more clouded. If this was indeed a fundraiser for a firefighter's surviving family, as described, does the end justify the means? Is more money raised because it was a more risqué event, compared to, let's say, a pancake breakfast? If so, isn't it good to conduct such an event, for the family's sake?

What about the possible perception by the community about its public safety providers? Given the scrutiny on public pensions and criticism of firefighter salaries, does it seem — well, a bit unseemly that firefighters are cavorting around half-dressed onstage?

I'm not too sure about other professionals, but I haven't seen lawyers, doctors and nurses do the same thing at their parties. Well, at least the parties I've been to...

Do we reinforce our own perceptions by condoning such behavior? Most of you know how I lament about our "two steps forward, one step back" approach to becoming accepted professionals within the medical community.

When we say dumb things on Facebook or record videos or photos of patients at their worst moments and then distribute them to everyone on the planet, I simply cringe and hope no one in my response community sees those images and paints the entire responder community with a broad paintbrush.

I'd like to know what you think. Take a moment to respond to the quick survey.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.


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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