A total of seven local first responders have lost their jobs over social media posts about Black Lives Matter protests the night of July 10.
Richland County on Monday said three additional ambulance workers were terminated or resigned in the wake of the interim county administrator’s investigation of what they wrote as 800 protesters clogged downtown streets and blocked the I-126 bridge.
A senior paramedic was fired last week, but the county didn’t name the worker, Tommy Boland, until Monday. Boland was a nine-year veteran of Emergency Medical Services, the county’s ambulance service.
Others identified Monday are Troy Beckham, a paramedic crew leader, who had been employed by the county for 12 1/2 years, according to a news release. He was fired.
Also terminated was Tyler Dixon, an emergency medical technician, who has worked for the county for five years.
Donald Oliver, also a medical technician, resigned in the wake of the investigation. Oliver was an eight-year employee, the county said.
The Columbia Fire Department fired three firefighters last week for similar posts, which the fire chief called unprofessional and threatening toward the protesters.
Boland, the senior paramedic, posted, “I’ll donate to whoever runs over protesters in the roaddway (sic),” the county said in announcing its disciplinary action and releasing heavily redacted versions of what was written.
“I’m down,” Dixon appears to respond on the post.
“Speed bumps come in all kinds of shapes,” Oliver wrote.
“1 engine connected to a hydrant and a deluge (sic) gun. Solves all the problems,” Beckham posted.
1 engine connected to a hydrant and a deluge (sic) gun. Solves all the problems
The investigation by interim county administrator Gerald Seals is finished, the county said.
Seals said he meted out discipline because ambulance service employees are, “called upon to serve citizens in times of duress. The statements on social media were threatening and could be taken as the county having individuals, who because of their bias, may adjust their care – and that erodes public trust.”
Seals said the ambulance workers violated the division’s zero tolerance for “actions which are grossly unprofessional or grossly violate the standards of Richland County, the department or a division.”
“The county expects its employees to conduct themselves and perform their work in concert with sound business practices and ethics,” Seals said in the news release. “At all times, whether in or outside the workplace, employees must act in the best interest of the county and must refrain from conduct that is unbecoming and/or that would reflect discredit of his/her department.”
Columbia fire Capt. Jimmy Morris along with senior firefighter Dave W. Proctor and probationary firefighter Edward Augustyn were laid off last week.
Morris, while working at the Eau Claire fire station the night of the protest, wrote, “If you attempt to shut down interstate, highway, etc on my way home, you best hope I’m not one of the first vehicles in line because your ass WILL get run over.” The others added their comments to the thread.
Staff Writer Noah Feit contributed.
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