Goldfeder: Never, ever post patient photos anywhere

It may seem obvious that it is unprofessional, possibly criminal, to post images from the scene on social media, yet it happens


By Billy Goldfeder
The Secret List

So, about a catrillion people woke up this morning, Easter morning, and read this headline in their newspaper, which has spread via media wildfire worldwide: "EMS workers post gory, private photos of patients online"

This will be quick, and be sure to check the two links below. Really.

Dumb is being a firefighter, EMT or paramedic and posting anything work related on Facebook, social media sites or anywhere on the Internet that could be remotely perceived negatively by anyone who may have any opposite views of yours.

We work for them, all of them. If you can live without posting, do it. If you can't, call EAP.

Dumber is being a firefighter, EMT or paramedic and posting any photos on the Internet — anywhere — of anyone or any scene without your department's clear authorization.

Two realities
Prejudice is a preconceived judgment or opinion or an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge and understanding.

Reality 1: Everyone probably has some level of prejudice; it's human nature. I know I do, for example city hall dwellers. Counseling has helped.

But when people apply to "serve the public" it is hoped that the background and psych tests might help figure out who is best at serving the public with the least amount of prejudice or hatred and who may be better off doing something else.

No hard feelings, but if you dislike or hate being around people that will need your help, it just doesn't make much sense to do so. You hate them, so why serve them? Convinced that your attitude toward "them" won't impact your ability to serve? Keep telling yourself that.

Reality 2: With the assumption that you got through the testing process, and got that position you wanted (volunteer or career — no matter), you are now trusted more than any other profession. No one is trusted more than we are.

Upholding trust
Read any survey about any local government service — fire and EMS come out number one. We define and are expected to continuously define trust.

The public trusts that you will actually and genuinely care about any type of "those kind of" people and take care of "them" as you would your own mom.

The public trusts that while people are bleeding out, while their limbs are missing, while their child was struck, while their sister was raped, while their dad was murdered or while their grandma was puking — that you will think about how else you can help as opposed to taking a few photos of their really bad day — and then sharing them.

Look, we absolutely get how the job can bend us all at times — it's an issue, but it's not an excuse or free pass to fail trust.

The bottom line is "anykinda" people need us on their worst day — even when they just need a ride to the hospital with a sore toe that's been sore for a month. That stuff comes with the territory and we can't fix that.

Filled with anger or rage? Talk to someone; don't post it.

Treat everyone who calls you for help the way you want your mom or other loved ones to be treated.

Post nothing that even remotely could be perceived negatively by anyone. Know your Department's SOPs, state and federal laws related to this stuff. And when you go through your next HIPAA review, actually pay attention.
 

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