‘Don’t smile for the camera’
Stand and Deliver 2023 Winner Rebecca Carmody highlights the dos and don’ts of operating in an era where everyone has a camera on you
An essential highlight of the EMS World Expo is the Stand and Deliver series of presentation heats and finals. This platform is where aspiring speakers looking to break into the national speaking circuit put their speaking skills to the test in front of a discerning panel of judges. The coveted prize for the winner is the distinction of becoming the first confirmed speaker for the Expo in the following year.
During these sessions, participants deliver a 15-minute presentation to a live panel of judges who evaluate its relevance to prehospital care, media presentation and speaking style. After the initial presentation, speakers receive constructive feedback aimed at refining and enhancing their delivery. The panel also provides written feedback to assist speakers in making the transition from the local to the national stage.
Preparing for lights, camera, action
In 2023, the Stand and Deliver champion was Rebecca Carmody, a training instructor at the Clark County Fire Department in Las Vegas. Remarkably, Carmody had previously participated as a contestant and finalist in the 2022 Stand and Deliver event. She took the judges’ feedback from the prior year, refined her approach and returned in 2023 with an outstanding presentation.
Carmody’s winning presentation addressed the contemporary reality that every move and moment in the realm of EMS and public safety is susceptible to being recorded. Accredited reporters, auditors, everyday citizens armed with iPhones, other public safety personnel equipped with body-worn cameras and even doorbell cameras have collectively made this a ubiquitous aspect of the profession. Carmody emphasized that futile attempts to obstruct filming by waving one’s hand in front of the camera do little to improve patient care and can intensify the situation. She underscored that numerous legal cases have confirmed the right of citizens to record events transpiring in public spaces.
Delving into Nevada’s legal framework, Carmody clarified that filming public safety personnel is permitted if the patient is in full public view, the person filming is lawfully present and the recording does not interfere with personnel’s duties. In addition to her presentation, Carmody is compiling and organizing privacy laws from various states, which she plans to share in the future.
Following are 4 top takeaways for preparing to be caught on camera.
1. Prepare a statement
Carmody’s presentation also explored the activities of First Amendment Auditors. Although auditors are typically associated with monitoring police activities, they may well extend their scrutiny to EMS operations. Carmody recommended that agencies establish a “Miranda rights of EMS” to guide personnel on how to respond when legally recorded. She proposed a standardized response for on-scene personnel: “I am unable to provide any information at this time; if you would like to make a request, please call my Agency/PIO at XYZ. Also, kindly assist me in preserving everyone’s privacy and modesty by filming from a distance at XYZ location.” This approach enhances professionalism and minimizes interactions with those behind the camera.
2. Maintain professionalism
Carmody’s presentation additionally examined the appearance, demeanor and conduct of street-level providers. In an era characterized by short, edited video clips, a brief segment featuring a discourteous or unprofessional medic can garner significant attention, even if the clip published is completely out of context to the complete event. Carmody reminded her audience that without the ability to film and edit, it is crucial to assume that every moment is broadcast live, with the world as the audience.
3. Practice your interactions
To better prepare providers for their on-camera lifesaving roles, Carmody recommends pre-training in the safety of the agency classroom. The use of cameras to record practice EMS encounters and then played back can show how they look and are therefore perceived.
She also recommends working on the tone of voice with a simple exercise by saying a phrase such as, “I never said you were crazy.” Repeat the exercise with the emphasis on a different word each time. You would be crazy not to try this; I gave it a go and exposed six separate personalities in one response!
4. Understand local policy
Carmody encouraged all attendees to familiarize themselves with their state or regional policies regarding citizens filming EMS crews and adapt their agency policies accordingly. She also emphasized the importance of ensuring that everyone understands the legal rights and freedoms of citizens and responds accordingly.
While this report captures the essence of Rebecca Carmody’s winning presentation, it’s worth noting that Stand and Deliver not only spotlights speakers, but also coaches and evaluates their presentation skills, visual aids and stage presence. Rebecca received top marks in all categories, making her a highly anticipated speaker at next year’s Expo. I hope you’ll join me in being among the first in line to hear her insights.
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