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PAY ATTENTION TO THIS: SMACSS epidemic in New York. Post uncovers cache of patient pictures online. This will be more than a local story.

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Previous coverage

It is getting a lot uglier in New York over social media use by those in public safety. Today’s article by Candace M. Giove and Brad Hamilton in the New York Post takes the problem of Social Media Assisted Career Suicide Syndrome (SMACSS) in FDNY EMS beyond the fire commissioner’s son and the lieutenant with the racist tweets.

PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO THE FOLLOWING: My prediction is this article will be national news by tomorrow and will have reverberations across the country on the use of social media by fire, EMS and police. If you have a similar problem in your own department, my suggestion is to take care of it now before it becomes news. There will soon be reporters everywhere looking for this.

Here’s how the article begins:

The Bad Lieutenant is part of a sick clique.

In addition to uploading racist rants and Nazi nonsense, EMS Lt. Timothy Dluhos also posted pictures of patients, including one of a heavy-set woman with a snarky caption Photoshopped over her wheelchair: “Wide Load.”

Publicizing photos of the ill, injured or dead without permission is a violation of city rules and federal privacy laws, but some first responders can’t resist snapping shots of people they’re supposed to be helping.

The photos of grisly corpses, gruesome wounds or humiliating circumstances provide fodder for mocking and gawking.

Read entire New York Post article

You may recall last Sunday’s story where reporter Candace Giove confronted Lt. Dluhos about his hate filled tweets. That’s when Lt. Dluhos, who is now suspended without pay, broke down and cried over the possibility of losing his job. Since then people claiming to be supporters of the lieutenant have targeted Candace Giove with a series of hate filled messages and death threats. Here is an excerpt from the New York Post article by Brad Hamilton:

On Wednesday night, Footer and P-Rock, hosts of an online radio program called “The Red Show,” poured out their admiration for Dluhos.

“I love him,” gushed P-Rock. “He’s a brave motherf–ker, but in the end he’s going to come out fine . . . He’s been cornered as a racist, and that’s not true. Tim’s our guy.”

“The guy’s getting railroaded here,” remarked Footer.

Dluhos called in to thank the radio show for its support. The two hosts then took pot shots at Giove. “Like I said to that dumb c—, ‘He’s out there saving lives!’ ” said Footer.

Then the hosts tried to guess the reporter’s ethnicity: “For me she looked a little yellow, like Middle Eastern. I don’t think she should be allowed to carry a backpack.”

Read entire New York Post article

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Steve in NJ

    Quote from the article: “Members of the service utilizing personal social-media sites are to exercise good judgment and demonstrate the same degree of professionalism expected of them while performing their official duties.” Well, that about says it all. Can’t make it much clearer than that. Incidently, in NJ it is now considered a criminal act for a first responder to photograph a victim.

    • Fire21

      The problem is, good judgement, like common sense, is a personal attribute. Some folks have a very high level, some are lower than pond water. The farther we get into the degradation of American society, the more we need black-and-white definitions of what behavior is expected. And it takes ethical people to make those definitions. Seems as time goes on, the fewer “leaders” we have to do that!

      • Anonymous

        Very well said!

  • Firefighter8400

    So much for professional care…

  • ukfbbuff

    A shameful disgrace of people who “work” for the CITY but “Hate” the job.

    So quit!

    There are many, many others would would gladly take your place and do it happily!

    “To be of service”. or You children of the internet age and so called; “burnout’s” or “PTSDers’ forget about this?

    What you have are “employees” who haven’t grown up but were hired to do a responsible job, that some how they resent, but still want the pay cheque.

  • Robert Kramer

    Dave, I presume the federal privacy laws being referenced are HIPPA laws. I have always been told that as long as the persons face is not in the photo or if it is obscured so the patient cannot be identified, it does not violate HIPPA.

    What’s your take?

    • Lungs

      That is correct.

      • Fred

        My understanding (and I’m not a lawyer, so don’t sue me) is that the photos can even ID the victim, but only those involved in his care/responding are bound by HIPAA. A lay person can take photos all day long of whatever they like, as gross or insensitive as they might be,

  • RJ in florida

    carrear suicide?…this seems like kamakazie carrear suicide

    the pics are against HIPPA so he’s screwed here

    personally i’m waiting to see about Capt smart in miami

  • PJ

    Robert K:

    First, it’s HIPAA.

    Second, a good list of identifiers can be found here: .

    You’re correct that face photos are included in the list, but so are ~17 other items. For EMS purposes, these would include (but certainly are not limited to) the location (lower than the state level), the date of admission/event, license plate numbers and addresses (if they belong to or are associated with the patient).

    Third, an individual agency may have more prescriptive rules about posting pictures or other information about an incident or patient. These rules must meet or exceed HIPAA requirements (assuming the agency in question is a covered entity), but even if the information released doesn’t violate HIPAA, the agency’s rules may still be applied, and providers may be subject to sanction. This gets into employment law; see disclaimer below

    Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, the issue goes beyond rules and into ethics. Is it *right* to post such pictures? Does it serve a legitimate purpose (beyond entertaining others)? Were the roles reversed, and you were the subject of these photos, would you want them posted for all to see, even if you might not be identifiable?

  • Robert Kramer

    PJ, I get what your saying, just seeking clarification on HIPPA. I am not sure if everything you mentioned is correct or maybe it only applies to photos. I know you can view real time 911 events including specific addresses on several fire department websites.

    Regardless, thanks for your reply.

  • Glad I live in VA

    Hey, these are the “Dedicated” EMS people that the anti-fire-based-EMS-transport people keep talking about. I know, I know if only…they had non-transport ALS unit (he was a supervisor)…they had their own department (they pretty much do)…

    I become more and more convinced that EMS, especially high-volume urban EMS, is a poisonous activity. In small doses, fire-based-EMS can handle first response to the very small fraction of calls that benefit from it (<2% of patients, so FR for <20% of calls). ED Nurses and Physicians can easily move on from a high-volume to a lower-volume hospital, or even to another specialty. Public Model Third Service or Fire Department model separate division Paramedics can not. In fact, the better we compensate them, the harder it is for them to move on, even when (not if) they become burned out.

    The solutions offerred by EMS unions are generally related to reducing exposure to patients, either by creating more supervisory positons or by creating non-transport response units. Neither of these is financially efficient.

    • Robert Kramer

      Spot on

  • mark

    I would like to thank the EMS folks from FDNY that are now making us all look bad. Not

    I hope they go after these idiots to the full extent that HIPAA allows. This kind of behavior should be punished harshly, as it makes every single one of us suspect.

    As another mentioned, if you don’t like the job or the people you have to deal with: QUIT. Don’t bring down the whole profession.

    And the ignoramuses that are supporting the Nazi Lt, they don’t deserve anymore air time or press coverage. Makes me sick to think people haven’t learned from history.

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