Smile - You May Be On Camera!

Last year, my two teenagers were with me in the car on the night of the Fourth of July. In most communities, nighttime on the Fourth of July is busy with fires and EMS calls. As we were heading home, an emergency call came in for a house fire only a...


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This incident, amid the tremendous proliferation of mobile and video phones that take pictures and growing concerns about patients' privacy rights, should raise alarm bells for fire departments. However, this is balanced by some fire departments that let employees take pictures and video of the scene so that they can show the emergency room staff the mechanism of injury.

Cameras and video recorders capable of capturing pictures and videos are becoming commonplace. There are advantages to this technology, but there are also opportunities for abuse. Because of potential abuses, firefighters should be fully aware of their departments' policies and their moral responsibilities when it comes to protecting patients and others from those who would exploit the technology for self-satisfaction or personal gain.

GARY LUDWIG, MS, EMT-P, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a deputy fire chief with the Memphis, TN, Fire Department. He has 30 years of fire-rescue service experience. Ludwig is chairman of the EMS Section for the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), has a master's degree in business and management, and is a licensed paramedic. He is a frequent speaker at EMS and fire conferences nationally and internationally, and can be reached through his website at www.garyludwig.com.