Smile! You’re on Camera
You arrive on scene to find a sedan that has rolled down a small embankment from the roadway. The vehicle has come to rest on its roof in the middle of an unsuspecting homeowner’s living room. It’s a pretty spectacular scene. The fire department has started stabilizing the vehicle and is beginning to set up for extrication. You check in with the Battalion Chief who indicates that no one in the house was injured. The vehicle was occupied by a driver only and extrication may take up to 20 minutes. Ever the efficient paramedic, your partner already has the back of the ambulance prepped for a patient and you have handed c-spine supplies over to one of the fire crews. Now starts the waiting game.
Fifteen minutes later, the BC waves you over and you meet your backboarded patient, carried by the fire department, with the gurney and move quickly to the back of the ambulance. The patient is altered, smelling strongly of alcohol. He appears to be mostly stable but does have some chest wall tenderness and abdominal bruising. A police officer appears at the back door and asks if she can take a few pictures. You agree, but ask her to wait for questions until the patient is at the ED. The officer snaps her pictures and heads back to interview witnesses. You tell the patient that you need to cut off his clothes to better assess the extent of his injuries. The patient starts yelling loudly and attempts to remove himself from the backboard. You call for your partner and work to restrain the now combative patient. With the patient appropriately restrained, you transport to the hospital.
A week later, as you check out your ambulance for your shift, a coworker comes up and asks when he gets his ice cream. The look on your face must communicate your confusion. “You’re famous now,” he laughs. “Or maybe infamous. Don’t tell me you haven’t seen the You Tube video!” You pull out your phone and search for the name of the video: “Paramedic checks Facebook while patient suffers”.
The video, shot on a cell phone, shows your accident scene with the fire department working to extricate your patient. Periodically, the camera pans back to a familiar looking paramedic leaning on the hood of an ambulance on his smartphone. The captions on the video indicate that you obviously don’t care about the injured patient if you’re taking time to text and check Facebook. The video then cuts to a view of the back of your ambulance as you and your partner work to restrain your combative patient. The caption tells a story, just not your version: “These paramedics were so mad about having to treat this patient that they started assaulting him as soon as the police left the area!”
Shocked, and feeling slightly ill, you head to your supervisor’s office for advice.
Has this ever happened to you? Ever wound up on the legitimate news? What about on YouTube? Do you look for cameras on scene? Do you let it affect your behavior on scene? Let me know in the comments.
Image via Flickr