It’s been awhile since I had to fire up the typewriter and find carbon paper for these letters, but something very close to home has happened and we need to nip this all in the bud.
First letter in the file-
Jason Brown, Colleton County Firefighter Paramedic, was released from duty last week after posting a cartoon video to his facebook page which featured harsh language and an exchange between a firefighter character and a doctor character. We all remember Fireman Mike’s suggestions about when to call 911, and the language in that video wasn’t PG, but it lacked the confrontation shown in Jason’s video. In a perfect world we would all watch this cartoon and laugh because I have had a similar conversation 100s of times in clinics and medical offices wondering just where these folks went to medical school.
But the end of the video is the only part I have an issue with – “We’re going to pretend this conversation never happened…” this implies that the fireman cartoon in the video is going to ignore the complaint and leave. THAT is the reason this letter is going in your file, for a questionable ending to a cartoon video on the internet.
Second letter should not need to be written, but your knee jerked so hard so fast it went right up and kicked you in the face.
Colleton County Fire-Rescue Director Barry McRoy. In your termination letter to FF/PM Brown you mention “This video has created an embarrassing situation for this department, our public image and the cooperative relationship we enjoy with Colleton Medical Center. It reflects poorly on you and Colleton County.”
No, Sir, you and your Department made this an embarrassing situation for the department. Ask Brown to remove the video and make a training film if so inclined to make movies keeps this in house and solves all the problems.
I can only assume your fear of the rest of the country finding out the working relationships your service might really have has scared you into firing anyone who tries to express themselves.
Was it the video, the characters or the fact the world saw it on his facebook page? I can only assume he is like me on facebook, friends, family and coworkers following along. When he posts the video maybe 100-200 people see it, maybe half that amount watch it. That is how social media works. It isn’t put up on every single fire and EMS website for all to see…
…until you fired him for it. You took an easily fixable in house “choice of words” situation and exploded it into a National example of a public safety agency afraid of social media. Because of the way you handled this situation I and now my readers are reading about Colleton, whereas last week I did not even know the agency existed.
In my book, you Sir, are the one who should be fired for creating “…an embarrassing situation for this department, our public image and the cooperative relationship we enjoy with Colleton Medical Center. It reflects poorly on … Colleton County.” Sound familiar?
Both of you need to sit down and TALK about this, face to face. If the offended Doctor who likely asked you to fire Brown wants to join in, all the better. Have a talk about the proper way to use social media to move the agency, EMS and medicine forward.
This is a sticky spot to be in for sure. I’m sure if you look hard enough into my musings there is a reason Colleton would fire me too, and every other EMS and Fire blogger.
But think of it this way:
What if Brown had drawn his video cartoon and had it published in a national EMS magazine instead? Perhaps a single panel cartoon showing a Paramedic and an MD disagreeing in an entertaining manner for all to enjoy?
Should Brown be fired? I say no. Reprimanded…perhaps, spoken to for sure, but firing him first thing shows fear.
That is not all.
Editor’s note: No the link to the video is not broken, it is not here. Best part of all this is that you can find it all over the internet now, I don’t need to link to it here.