Is your paramedic career worth more than a Facebook post?

Social media comments made in haste and frustration are causing public safety personnel to lose their jobs and the community's trust

The recent spate of highly-publicized officer-involved shootings involving African-American men continues to polarize this country. The most recent fallout includes the termination of multiple EMS and fire personnel over social media remarks directed toward the protests being waged in the streets of many U.S. cities.

The remarks that were made in haste and frustration, while of a personal opinion, were not appropriate for public safety personnel who are held in the public trust and charged with protecting the community’s health and safety. The comments were unprofessional and frankly, crass.

Folks, let’s be abundantly clear: you risk losing your job and your livelihood if you aren’t able to separate your personal life from your professional one. It is certainly your right to express your opinion, to criticize, object or debate. Discourse is a founding principle of our country.

Ethically and morally it’s not your right to threaten and discriminate against those who disagree with your point of view. It doesn't matter if you are in person or using a medium that somehow has managed to erase civility and kindness from the national dialogue in a few short years.

Once upon a time, one had to carefully think before speaking at a community meeting, a public forum or in a letter to a newspaper. Words were chosen with consideration. Opinions could be checked and normalized when feedback was immediate and discourse happened in real time.

Now we can fire off a fusillade of insults and ill-conceived thoughts with a few strokes of a keyboard. Sending our missives into seemingly vast space where we imagine our emotional comments do no harm.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Consider how quickly we have moved to the extremes of our society, simply because of the simplicity of saying things in the extreme. But I digress.

The bottom line is, many people are getting fired over what they say in social media, including law enforcement officers, prosecutors, journalists and hospital staff. Ask yourself the question: Is it really worth it?

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