The Real Problem with the Miami Dade Angry Captain Video

Surely you’ve all seen Statter911 and FireLaw’s take on the Miami Dade Angry Captain for shouting at the public for…well…I can’t figure out why.  Dude wants to shoot video in public, dude can.  Dude isn’t covered by HIPAA.  Curt mentions a safety zone, dude is across the street.  My young daughters and I were closer than this when REACH landed at a firehouse on open house day.  No shouting was involved.  This is Risk Management in reverse, placing so much fear into providers about cameras that they snap thinking they’re going to get fined for a violation.  Only to make them look a fool the world over.

Let’s take a few IF pills, shall we?

IF, somehow, the video catches some kind of PHI (Protected Health Information) there is no HIPAA violation.  If the crew inadvertantly loses a PCR sheet in the prop wash and the guy on the camera picks it up…maybe, just maybe that could be considered…MAYBE…and incidental disclosure of PHI.

The fine?


So long as the agency can prove they did as much as they could to prevent the paper from flying away, no harm no foul.


There, isn’t that easy?

So why all the fear around the privacy legislation?  Because it’s changing?  Have you read the changes?  Still won’t include dude on the sidewalk, still won’t fine you for letting dude film and still won’t require personal liability insurance in the event of an incidental disclosure no matter what the insurance salesman tells you.


After dozens of pages determining if your agency must comply with the legislation, HIPAA says this: (paraphrasing)

“Don’t be a dick. Don’t tell stories about people or take pictures or use their personal information, OK?”

It does not mention violating the freedom of the press in the name of a law you never read and clearly do not understand.  GRANTED the Angery Captain never mentions HIPAA in his request for code 3 PD (I can hear Motorcop’s eyes rolling), my guess is that was the reason for his outburst.


More importantly…WHAT IS THAT TRANSPORT UNIT?!?!

That thing is a BEAST!  I cringe looking at the front overhang and thinking of some of the hills in San Francisco.  Sure we have Engines, Trucks and Squads with overhangs, but they are much higher centered.  And a crew cab?  I like it for the future of EMS being more centered on getting patients places without having to recline them, but dang, that’s a lot of space.  Can anyone speak to the history of this design in Miama Dade?  I like the idea of something new, but it still looks like a box on a frame.  It appears to be a Spartan RT.

Is the Captain in the video Angry abou these rigs perhaps?

Agree? Disagree? Have something to add? Why not leave a comment or subscribe to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader?

12 thoughts on “The Real Problem with the Miami Dade Angry Captain Video”

  1. The first firefighter was IMHO handling the situation exactly right. He ASKED the videographer to stop recording. He didn’t cite HIPPA, he just said, “This is private information.”

    Had Captain Smart just kept his damn mouth shut and let his firefighter handle it, none of this discussion would have happened. Either the videographer would have agreed to give the patient some privacy while loading; or the videographer would have recorded himself being an insensitive ass and gawking at a sick person.

    Either way, a caregiver asking for some dignity for a patient is a lot better than someone physically assaulting a person and demanding they, “Respect Mah Authoritah!”

    1. There mere fact that he mentions “private information” means he’s citing HIPAA, he just assumes the civilian won’t know what that is. And he’s still wrong. People in public, even those under EMS care, have no expectation of privacy while in public.

      If the patient is that critical that a helo is necessary, maybe two paramedics would be better served assisting with patient care than assaulting an uninvolved civilian with their contaminated gloves. But I have my own thoughts about that issue.

      1. BH, I think you’re being overly harsh on the first firefighter. He did ask rather than demand, he never laid a finger on the photographer, and in fact he backed away as soon as Capt. Smart “asserted his authority”.

        Personally, I see no problem with politely asking the photographer to stop filming. The firefighter may have used poor wording (“private information”); but it’s not unreasonable to try and protect your patient’s dignity and privacy by politely asking the bystander to stop filming. As for whether he was needed in the ambulance, that’s a big assumption; we don’t know if he was an ambulance medic, an ambulance EMT, or assigned to the engine on scene.

        1. mpatk, I’m not being harsh at all. You’ve got to be joking if you think this constitutes “asking”. He approached in an angry, aggressive manner, and it only escalated from there. As the municipal employee AND supervisor on scene, he is held to a higher standard of behavior.

          If I’m the chief he gets a five-day unpaid vacation just for his unprofessional behavior unbecoming a fire captain that damages the reputation of our department. The assault with the visibly contaminated gloves (you’re not looking very hard, he DID make contact with the civilian) gets him terminated and possibly referred to the local licensing authority.

          There were plenty of ways to protect the patient’s “privacy” (they he doesn’t even have a legal right to since he’s in public) that don’t involve assaulting civilians hundreds of feet away.

          1. BH,


            If you watch the video when the confrontation starts, Captain Smart is NOT the first person to address the videographer. Another firefighter addresses the videographer first, saying, “Could you not record this please?” The videographer asks why, and the reply is, “There is private information there.” Poor wording (or he’s also clueless about HIPPA); but still in a reasonable tone of voice.

            Would the firefighter have gotten more aggressive? We’ll never know because Captain Smartass chose that moment to jump into the situation. At that point, the original firefighter retreats back while Captain Smartass proceeds to do his best Nazi impression. The original firefighter did not touch the videographer at all, only Captain Smartass laid hands on the guy; if I missed something, please tell me when in the video the other firefighter also assaulted the videographer.

            Dave Statter is probably right in that I’m thinking the first firefighter was reasonable because of the comparison to Captain Smartass; but at least he didn’t touch the videographer and didn’t raise his voice.

  2. Miami picked those vehicles because (a) they carry rescue gear and such, and (b) their standard crew is 3 people. I like it, and wish I could afford some, simply for the safety bit – having all crew members in forward facing seats, looking and communicating, is much better than some poor guy on the squad bench or captain’s chair on the way to a call!

  3. As usual, you have it right Justin. mpatk, as a former TV reporter I never had a problem with someone asking me to stop shooting something in a respectful way. Depending on the circumstances I would choose to do what they ask or not.

    While compared to the captain, the firefighter looked good, he was still really telling and ordering the guy to shut it off. Couldn’t these two guys have done more for the patient by holding a sheet in front as they moved him to the chopper?


  4. MPATK has it wrong. in florida ANY unwanted touching is battery and touching a person with a blody glove hit that mark but the crew should have concerned himself with PATIENT CARE and not some videographer. if it was a member of the media instead of a civilian, i’m sure Capt smart would be Capt suspended before it was a lead story

    the courts have alredy ruled that anything going on in the plain view of the public including EMS calls can be taped and is not a violation of HIPPA

    this guy is gonna get burned and since the enforcement bureau of the states ems bureau takes complaints seriously, i’m willing to bet two things

    the capatin is going to get seriously burned for this and there is some kind of past between them because the interaction seems like it

  5. Skip, thanks for the run down on the vehicle. Now that I know the crew is 3 (An entirely different line of questioning) this cab makes sense. Certainly a better choice than in the back. Thanks.

  6. The ambulance is a Spartan Furion/Braun. They have two of them at MDFR. One of them is one of the two pieces of red apparatus they have as a memorial to the FDNY firefighters killed on 9/11.

    As Skip notes, they run three people on every ambulance. Two FF/Paramedics and an officer. Kind of overkill, if you ask me, but obviously they don’t.

    As to the incident. Captain Smart wasn’t. Smart that is. He over reacted to something that the is 100% legal in public.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>