1. #1
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    Default Use Of Cell Phones On Scene?

    Hey, what are your opinions on the use of cell phones while on scene? Member(s) often take(s) pictures of incidents to put on Facebook/Myspace, it irritates me some. I dont have much pull so i cant say much, i just want your take on this matter. . thanks!
    Last edited by Ashburn_2011; 11-08-2010 at 03:22 PM.

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    Default Phones

    They are banned here on the fire scene. They work instead of taking pictures and talking on them. We had the same problem here but we had the Chief put a stop to it.
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    Great. I dont see a problem in using them after the fire is extinguished and everything packed up, but while a house is rolling or while a wreck scene needs privacy, dont think so. . Work First, Play Later
    Last edited by Ashburn_2011; 11-08-2010 at 03:24 PM.

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    Shouldnt be allowed anywhere.How unprofessional can you get?!

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    Very True. Thanks.

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    Having an on scene photographer from the news is one thing ive been taught not to tolerate, so how is a cell phone camera and Facebook any different?
    Last edited by Ashburn_2011; 11-08-2010 at 03:18 PM.

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    My department allows observers to ride along, if there is an unoccupied seat on an apparatus rolling out. The observer is supposed to wear a hi-viz safety vest marked "OBSERVER" so that everyone will know to not ask that person to do anything. I've been told that the "official job" of the observer is to take photos.

    In reality, the observer rarely wears the specific safety vest (when one is needed, they just grab the first one they can find). Also in reality, the observer is usually a volunteer who is in training and not qualified to actually do anything, but wants to come along and see "how things are done in the real world". The observer is supposed to stay out of the way and not do anything, but the reality is they can sometimes get in pretty close, and sometimes do extremely simple things if asked, such as bracing or pulling a stretcher. Observers should not be touching patients or any EMS or fire/rescue equipment, unless maybe someone asked the observer to go grab something specific. But they shouldn't be operating anything.

    The photos are supposed to be "action shots". They can also be used for training purposes. No specific department policy regarding the content of the photos has ever been told to me. However, I am proud to say that I've learned from what I've read here! Before I ever started taking any on-scene photographs, I had read several threads about photos here, so when I had my first opportunity to take some, I was very careful to leave victims/bystanders OUT. When it was unavoidable to have them in the photo, I fuzzed out their faces before posting online (on the department's Facebook group page). I also fuzzed out license plates.

    So far, I've only photographed on one scene, a truck-vs.-SUV wreck involving six occupants in a Suburban. There were no serious injuries (as proof, Shock Trauma was negligibly farther from the scene than the local hospital, but everyone was taken to the local hospital). I believe I have this album set for public viewing. If I have included any inappropriate photos, let me know. Keep in mind that taking these photos did not keep me from doing my job, because this was my job. http://www.facebook.com/album.php?ai...9&l=f208abe036

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    We had a problem in this area with cell phone pictures making it online before the units were able to get back in service, or even on scene. A local news website soliciting such pictures didn't help any.

    Of course, sometimes the news manages to do the same thing. We had one newspaper photographer that sometimes managed to beat the first units to the scene... Along with the above mentioned cell phone picture issue, I contacted our local TV station about broadcasting information about victims along with pictures of vehicles involved as we have a much deployed military unit in the area and posting such images might be how a service member found out about something that happened to a loved one back home.

    After some pictures of a mill building fire, taken from the top of an aerial, showed up on line, the chief of that career FD declared "never again," and banned on-scene photography not sanctioned by the IC, specifically from "inside the tape." Can't really regulate what happens outside the tape.

    While there is no other specific ban on cell photography, cell phone or otherwise, on the scene around the county, some stern admonition to all responders from county leaders stemmed most of the problem.

    That said - cell phones can provide a number of benefits on the scene. Hopefully no one is actually using them for fire combat, but they are helpful for arranging support without tying up the usually strained radio channels, and for confidential messages.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

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    Well you might be able to control your members from taking pics but the public is a different issue altogether. I know, there's been a few MVA's that have popped up over the internet that were in our first due and we did not take the pics and people have accused us of taking and posting the pics.

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    Does your dept have a policy in place , if not they need one before they wind up on the news or in court

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ashburn_2011 View Post
    Having an on scene photographer from the news is one thing we do not tolerate, so how is a cell phone camera and Facebook any different?
    Your department can not prevent the news folks from taking photos, videos, etc.

    As far as that goes, they can not prevent Joe Citizen from taking photos, videos from the sidewalk across the street or from public property!
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptOldTimer View Post
    Your department can not prevent the news folks from taking photos, videos, etc.

    As far as that goes, they can not prevent Joe Citizen from taking photos, videos from the sidewalk across the street or from public property!

    Very true. thanks guys so much! keep em coming!
    Last edited by Ashburn_2011; 11-08-2010 at 03:11 PM.

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    thats the news and public.Not us! We are held to a higher accountabilty than them.Cordon the area off and have police control the press.As long as it does not come from our cell phones.Im sorry, people making excuses such as " good for training purposes" and having observers.I just dont agree with it.Using someone elses misfortune for training purposes is just not moral.Those people have a right to privacy and diginity.And it is part of our job to maintain their diginity.

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    Although we've never had a problem at the VFD with people using their personal cell phones and posting photos to Facebook, etc, in light of some of the negative press that's recently occurred nationwide, we have enacted a policy that prevents the use of non-department-owned cameras for recording incidents. Our engine, tanker, and heavy rescue all have cameras on them, and the photos are kept on a department-owned computer with password protection. We use some of the photos for documentation, some for our website, some for training.

    At work, we can use a camera on scene, but we MUST document it and the photos are reviewed for privacy concerns by our executive staff, and as long as they meet our department standards, they're put on one of the computer servers.

    The one common thread between both departments? You can NOT use your personal cell phone to document the incident!
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    To make a phone call, fine.

    To take pictures... that's immature and unprofessional.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

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    We use cells sometimes to reduce the radio traffic volume...Non-essential, but necesary stuff... However, it is a very gray area as to the use of cameras on phones. We have a couple of department photographers, gentlemen who dabble in photography and printing as businesses. Pictures are limited to distribution after the Chief has seen the pics and cleared them. This is not an official policy, rather a professional courtesy we have so far agreed to.

    Seeing the ramifications of this issue blown full out with the dismissal of a FF for circulating a video of a dead girl makes me think twice about policy and the need for change. (The incident I allude to occured recently and the cell video made its way back to the parents of the deceased. NOT GOOD, any way you cut it.) We are held to a higher standard and the failure to respect the public's right to privacy may seriously harm a departments credibility.
    Last edited by Fireeaterbob; 11-08-2010 at 04:36 PM. Reason: Spelling
    A coward stands by and watches wrongs committed without saying a word...Any opinions expressed are purely my own and not necessarily reflective of the views of my former departments

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    Wink Cell phones?

    I think your department should make an SOP regarding cell phones on scene.

    I think that if your department has radio reception, then there's no need for cell phone communication on scene, which leads to "Why would one need a cell phone on scene?". Then there's the issue of people taking inappropriate photos on scene and those images appearing where they shouldn't. If a department has a designated photographer (Photo documentation), then there's someone taking photos in a designated manner for official purposes.

    My department has such a big response area that our radio's don't cover us in all of the area so there are times when we rely on cell phones for communication.

    I work in a trauma hospital and there are times where I see people taking photo's with their cell phones in either E.R., or O.R.. And the common theme is that they want images of something just to show others because of the graphic nature (I.E. "Because it's cool").
    I disagree with people doing this. When I think about that, I think "How would I feel if I had a child that suffered major trauma and some responder was taking pictures of my child with their cell phone. I would be mad as hell!

    My personal opinion:
    If there's not a need for a cell phone on scene, then there shouldn't be anyone using theirs which will "Help" prevent images of patient's/victim's being seen where they shouldn't and their families being traumatized by seeing their loved-one's in a state that shouldn't be seen by the general public.

    It starts with each responder, but it's the officers on scene that should be acting as a "Patient advicate" on scene. Such an issue has a direct influence on how the general public views a department if it happens.

    Bottom line: Be professional and let the general public see it.
    Last edited by XRaysJL; 11-08-2010 at 06:51 PM.

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    There hasnt been any phone calls made that i can think of, but ever since ive been there, member(s) have pictures of every incident that occurs. It never fails. Keep em coming guys! thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    To make a phone call, fine.

    To take pictures... that's immature and unprofessional.
    Exactly what I was thinking. I've made a few phone calls while en route, on scene (Once I'm not needed at that particular moment), and when returning. Most of the time it's a common courtesy to a person if I was supposed to meet with them or something. For instance my mother (Yes I still live at home), I'll call her and say we just got a call and I may be awhile. Or the other day I called my dad, who was stuck in the country with a flat tire, telling him I wasn't going to be there right that instant to get him. He is on the department with me and heard the page, but I just wanted to make sure he knew I wasn't coming with air. As far as pictures with phones, we haven't had an issue (That I've known). We have a department camera that we take pictures with at most incidents for our own records, training, etc.

    In the volunteer realm, cell phones are fine to make a quick call to someone telling them where you are at if you had a commitment, but pictures, NO.

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    No issues with them myself. We have department cameras... POS... you buy one, two years later either the camera, the software, the memory card or the cable is toast... meanwhile most people have a 7 megapixal camera on their phone. If there is something on a scene that can be used as educational material and it is done in a professional manner than whats the issue?

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    If you are doing your job on the scene, you don't have the time to be using a cell phone. Beside, why should I use my cell phone for the department, when they have investigators and folks who are authorized to take any and all photographs.

    The only reason I would carry a cell phone was to call the fire dispatcher to get me help should I became trapped and the hand held radio crapped out and no one could hear my call for help.
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

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    Have an SOG and implement it !
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    During our training last week, this subject came up... Kinda... We were told that if we had our phones, when we pulled up to a PI/Structure fire/wild land fire, if we have a min, snap a picture or 2 right after we give our radio report. The reasoning for this was that with PIs that we cut the car apart, it will give investigators and picture of what the cars looked like post accident, pre FD cutting it all apart. For structure fires/grass fires it may assist in investigators for origin, and will ultimately help in writing the report about what we saw when we got onscene. A neighboring dept, at a structure fire last week, when their LT got onscene, he took his phone, set it to video, and walked 360 around the structure to get a total video of the house involvement. It came back that the video was a great asset to the investigators.

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    CaptOldtime said "Beside, why should I use my cell phone for the department, when they have investigators and folks who are authorized to take any and all photographs."

    Capt, not all departments and small towns have this. Often time it is the first on scene who is the IC, and in the case of structure fires, MVA's with PI, etc... it is not only helpful but often time educational to have photgraphs.

    Obviously doing your job is the number one concern, but documenting the scene and investigating is part of our job in some departments.

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    Not to be a Dick..... But Why are you even asking this? The only person that should even have to worry about a phone should be your Chief. Everyone else should have enough on their plate so that they couldn't even have time to mess around with a Phone. If your in a spot that you need a camera, then buy a camera. Period. Investigation should be done through out the incident, but that doesn't mean stopping to photograph everything before we start patient care/ tactics.

    And Facebook? Don't even get me started about that cesspool of mental retardation and stupidity.
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