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Video Shot by Ga. Firefighter Angers Crash Victim's Family

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  • rm1524
    replied
    Update

    ATLANTA --

    A Georgia firefighter plans to appeal his dismissal for taking cell phone video of a woman killed in a car crash. The video was later received by the woman's parents.

    Attorney M. Michael Kendall said firefighter Terrence Reid will challenge the decision by Spalding County officials to fire him effective Nov. 7. Kendall said the punishment is too harsh.

    Reid used his personal cell phone to film the body of 23-year-old Dayna Kempson-Schacht, who died July 17 when her Jeep crashed into trees.

    Kendall said the firefighter shared the video with three or four people. The video spread until it was eventually forwarded to the woman's parents.

    County officials said other people may be disciplined because of the incident.

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  • MarcusKspn
    replied
    Originally posted by tree68 View Post
    It's a coping mechanism, pure and simple.

    If we took every incident, every victim, personally, most of us would be out of the business in no time. Most of us know someone who went home from a bad call and never came back, unless it was to turn in their gear.

    That's not to say that we shouldn't show some sensitivity, and we do. It's not usually while we're working on the victim that we're laughing and joking - most generally it's after the fact - as we're waiting for the cops, the wreckers, the utilities, whatever is delaying our return to service.
    The first thing we learn is this coping mechanism.

    The second thing everybody better learn is how to use this coping mechanism without hurting anybody involved in the incident.

    Leave a comment:


  • DeputyMarshal
    replied
    Originally posted by tree68 View Post
    I fear the knee-jerk reaction, however.
    Agreed. There are plenty of peasants with torches and pithforks lining up to crucify those two guys just for doing something stupid.

    Leave a comment:


  • tree68
    replied
    We aren't the only ones - and it's been going on for years. A local paper once published (on the front page) a picture which included the charred body of the fire victim hanging out a window.

    Forums such as this didn't exist back then, but if they did - whoweee! There was still quite the outpouring of indignity.

    That said - what they did was inappropriate. I fear the knee-jerk reaction, however.

    Leave a comment:


  • EastKyFF
    replied
    I agree with Blulakr. Many is the time I have told our guys to cut down on the joviality at the scene. We have enough self-control not to burst into tears until we clear the scene; we should have enough not to laugh, too.

    There was discussion earlier about FD's using photos & videos of the scene for training purposes, with a comment or two that it wasn't necessary. We do this fairly frequently, but we NEVER take photos until the bodies are removed. It's not about the bodies, it's about the vehicles. What did they hit? What type of intrusion was there? What did we find when we started extrication? How did the vehicle respond to the forces applied? Lots to learn from the vehicle.

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  • rawbff15
    replied
    what both of them did was morally wrong, but they didnt break any laws, and there department didnt have a policy forbidding them from taking videos, so they didnt technically do anything wrong, they should have both been smart enough to realize there conduct represents there department, and that in times like this the public is watching everything we do, waiting for us to mess up like this. A bunch of people from my department were posting videos they took on duty on youtube, a policy came out last year stating all pictures and videos taken on duty are property of the state of california

    Leave a comment:


  • Blulakr
    replied
    Originally posted by tree68 View Post
    It's a coping mechanism, pure and simple.

    If we took every incident, every victim, personally, most of us would be out of the business in no time. Most of us know someone who went home from a bad call and never came back, unless it was to turn in their gear.

    That's not to say that we shouldn't show some sensitivity, and we do. It's not usually while we're working on the victim that we're laughing and joking - most generally it's after the fact - as we're waiting for the cops, the wreckers, the utilities, whatever is delaying our return to service.
    I understand the 'coping mechanism' part but you don't have to take an incident personally to act professionally. I have been to fires where the homeowner overheard firefighters joking, saying such things as "well this ones a goner" or "why are we trying to save this dump". Or a vehicle accident where a firefighter was overheard saying "sumbich shouldn't have been driving so fast". To us these are harmless jokes, to a homeowner who just lost everything or to a mother who might lose a child it's insulting.

    We always have to be aware of our image. Acting professionally takes constant diligance, acting like a fool is easy.

    Leave a comment:


  • tree68
    replied
    Originally posted by Blulakr View Post
    Several times I have seen firefighters joking and generally acting unconcerned for those that are involved in the incident. Even where there are casualties.
    It's a coping mechanism, pure and simple.

    If we took every incident, every victim, personally, most of us would be out of the business in no time. Most of us know someone who went home from a bad call and never came back, unless it was to turn in their gear.

    That's not to say that we shouldn't show some sensitivity, and we do. It's not usually while we're working on the victim that we're laughing and joking - most generally it's after the fact - as we're waiting for the cops, the wreckers, the utilities, whatever is delaying our return to service.

    Leave a comment:


  • Blulakr
    replied
    Distributing sensitive images to the public certainly is stupid, I'll take it one step further.

    At nearly all incidents we respond to someone is likely having a very bad day. Several times I have seen firefighters joking and generally acting unconcerned for those that are involved in the incident. Even where there are casualties. This has always bothered me. What may be routine for us may be devastating for the victims and the last thing they want to see is someone laughing.

    Images such as this can be useful when used properly. We have one EMS instructor that invites the county coroner to her first responder classes. The coroner presents a slideshow of various dead people as they were when found. The goal is to give students an idea of what they may encounter in the field.

    Leave a comment:


  • DeputyMarshal
    replied
    Originally posted by firemanpat29 View Post
    He Tried to convince them they didnt want them, but said they were all public record anyhow so anyone could request copies.
    FWIW, I probably wouldn't have released anything until the investigation was closed and even then would probably have required a formal FOI request in writing. (Records of any ongoing investigation aren't public record.)

    Leave a comment:


  • firemanpat29
    replied
    The sobering thought is that there are almost unquestionably many, many more such pictures floating around that simply haven't had the bad fortune of finding their way back to the families of those involved

    i agree. then again we just had a house fire with a fatality and the family REQUESTED copies of all the Fire Marshalls photos. He Tried to convince them they didnt want them, but said they were all public record anyhow so anyone could request copies.

    Leave a comment:


  • DeputyMarshal
    replied
    Originally posted by tree68 View Post
    they can certainly be sued in civil court. A sympathetic judge and/or jury could make it very expensive for all involved. People like to put a price on having their feelings hurt.
    As above, anyone can be sued for anything. The issue here would be whether the firefighters in questions had any reasonable expectation of causing harm or any legal duty to act otherwise than they did. That would probably be a tough case to make and it would, inevitably, be a case of suing the department as well as the individuals. IMHO, it would take a pretty canny ambulance-chasing shyster to make a good case of it.

    The move was certainly bone-headed, but lacking set policy and/or law, methinks a lawsuit is about the only 'punishment' that can be meted out.
    Agreed. That or just a good old fashioned azz chewing...

    The sobering thought is that there are almost unquestionably many, many more such pictures floating around that simply haven't had the bad fortune of finding their way back to the families of those involved.
    Last edited by DeputyMarshal; 10-20-2010, 05:04 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • tree68
    replied
    Originally posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
    Anybody could be charged with anything.
    While the FF's in question can't be charged if there is no law for them to be charged under (which hasn't really been determined yet, from what I read), they can certainly be sued in civil court. A sympathetic judge and/or jury could make it very expensive for all involved. People like to put a price on having their feelings hurt.

    The move was certainly bone-headed, but lacking set policy and/or law, methinks a lawsuit is about the only 'punishment' that can be meted out.

    Leave a comment:


  • Leeland
    replied
    I think we all agree that this was a bone-headed stupid thing to do. Is it illegal that is up to the courts to decide. As for any action to be taken against the fire fighters both the one who took the photo and the other who shared it, that is up to their department as far as what will if anything will be done to them.

    Leave a comment:


  • DeputyMarshal
    replied
    Originally posted by ChiefKN View Post
    Oh, they could still be charged and a jury could review if there was a purpose to harm, etc.
    Anybody could be charged with anything. Having a case as a matter of law is another story. In all the stories about this case that I've read, there's nothing to suggest that there was any intent to harm anyone; just a couple of thoughtless acts that could very well have gone totally unremarked if it weren't for pure bad luck.

    Leave a comment:

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