Social media group casting a dark web over EMS reputation

Social media is a weapons-grade platform and it is very capable of blowing up in our hands

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Just after I penned a report on the bad actors trying to infiltrate our IT systems, I saw a disturbing story on possible bad actors working from the inside out. The news reports around the activities of a “sick and twisted” EMS Facebook group are upsetting for many reasons. I have always maintained that both email and social media platforms are a weapons-grade device that when used negatively, can create a kiloton blast on the reputation of both individual EMS providers and the prehospital profession alike.

The report identifies that "really graphic material" – including scenes of suicide with commentary and memes that indicate pleasure or support for the images presented – are posted within a private Facebook group created by an Atlanta paramedic, who stated that, "It's a way to express our humor. To get rid of the stress that we deal with at work."

While there is no indication HIPAA was breached, the expected standards of caregivers who hold a trusted and respected status in our noble profession were. When interviewed about the group, the Metro-Atlanta Ambulance EMS director made a heartfelt plea that, "There's a lot of really, really good people that are in our field: fire, police, EMS and they give their hearts to what we do, and to have a group of people take that away from us, it's devastating."

EMS delivery today is stressful and, as the EMS director pointed out, the images and scenes we see on a day-to-day basis are extreme. Every day, EMTs and paramedics enter the scene of someone’s worst possible day to restore order, induce calm and save a life. Perhaps we have to trade a piece of our soul to save that life, which over time, eats us away.

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