Investigation reveals 'sick and twisted' online EMS Facebook group
The group, which has more than 23,000 members and contains disturbing material, was created by a paramedic
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By EMS1 Staff
ATLANTA — A news team investigation has revealed what officials call a "sick and twisted" online EMS Facebook group.
11Alive.com reported that a paramedic and EMS professional, both members of the online group, reached out to the news station's investigative news team about the "troublesome" content.
The group, which has more than 23,000 members, was created by Metro-Atlantic paramedic Amanda Courtwright, who worked for Grady Hospital when she created two versions of the group, according to the report. Grady Hospital officials said some of what Courtwright posted contained "confidential patient health information."
Following the news team's investigation, Courtwright was fired by Grady Hospital. Grady Hospital officials said it was the second time in less than six months that she had been disciplined for posting about patients on social media.
The news team reached out to Courtwright, asking her why she created the group.
"It's a way to express our humor. To get rid of the stress that we deal with at work," Courtwright said.
Courtwright's husband, who was nearby during the news team's interview, ended the interview by pushing the camera off a news team member's shoulder.
"What they think is being supportive or getting rid of stress or destressing has morphed into a lot more of a disgusting thing," the paramedic who reported the group (and who asked to remain anonymous), said.
The anonymous paramedic said there are videos posted of "really graphic material."
"Videos of people committing suicide, you could see bodies dropping from buildings, literally slamming into the ground ... like no censors or anything. Nothing blurred out," the paramedic said. "And then, you know, as you read on to the comments, you see people with memes of people holding up 10s, things like that. I guess, judging the quality of the fall. And then, lots of people liking and laughing at the post."
The group was shut down twice for its disturbing content, but the investigative news team found the page was recreated with a different name and made private.
"If you report a post because you don't know how to scroll past it, the post will stay and you will be removed," Courtwright threatened in a post in the group. In another post, she wrote, " ... if you report, you will get booted, blasted on here and the post stays."
Dennis Westover, a 34-year EMS veteran and director at Metro-Atlanta Ambulance Service, was visibly upset and got emotional over the posts.
"The things that I've seen over the past 34 years, I don't need pictures. I don't need videos ... sometimes they're in my nightmares," Westover said. "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."
The investigative news team reached out to Facebook, which removed the group for violating its policies. However, the group's name was changed for the third time and previous members were asked to rejoin.
"Certainly, it brings into question whether or not they have violated the sacred oath," Westover said. "That's something that the majority of the paramedics and EMTs in the state of Georgia, we would be very interested in having the state take some type of action so those people are weeded out."
The Georgia Department of Public Health declined the news team's request for an interview.