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Chick-fil-A vs. the duty to act

Our cohosts discuss the importance of upholding the greatest standards of ethics and responsibility, even when not in the public eye

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In this episode of Inside EMS, hosts Chris Cebollero and Kelly Grayson discuss an incident that sparked fierce debate within the EMS community. The incident in question occurred on October 27, 2023, when a Washington, D.C., firefighter/EMT was dismissed for stopping at a Chick-fil-A before responding to an ALS call. The hosts discuss the ethical implications of this decision, emphasizing the duty to act in emergency services.

Cebollero and Grayson, while acknowledging the challenging landscape of working in EMS, stressed that personal needs and comfort should never compromise the responsibility to respond to emergencies. They shared personal experiences of missing meals due to service calls. The hosts stress how the duty to act commitment to help others should always outweigh personal needs in emergency services.

The discussion also centered on the commendable actions of D.C. Fire and EMS in addressing the incident. Grayson was firm in his belief that the action taken by the D.C. firefighter/EMT was unequivocally unethical and damaging to the public trust. The hosts underscored the importance of upholding the greatest standards of ethics and responsibility, even when not in the public eye.

Memorable quotes

  • “Ethics are how you behave when no one is looking. There’s not a whole lot of gray area in ethical situations.” — Kelly Grayson
  • “The whole point of 911 and the honor of what we do is, you call, we come: no question.” — Kelly Grayson
  • “I can’t count the number of times I have been waiting in line for food and I’ve been dispatched to a call. I’ve had to get out of line. I’ve had to lose my money. I didn’t get a chance to eat that day.” — Chris Cebollero
  • “We have a duty to act. We have to be able to respond as we need to respond, regardless of our own personal needs.” — Chris Cebollero

Read next: Duty to act, assess, treat and transport. A legal refresher for EMS providers

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