Bad Publicity and Saving Face – Your Comments

Read the original post and the comments it generated: Bad Publicity and Saving Face

In my two years of blogging, I have seen what I considered to be a few “big” days.  A post goes up, it generates some buzz, and I get a decent amount of hits, usually a few hundred.  This past Monday though, any previous numbers I had seen were blown out the window.  In the first 24 hours that my post about Joshua Couce and the Newton First Aid Squad was up, I saw almost 4,000 visits to my site.   I received a number of comments about this post, and I thought that I would take some time to highlight some of them for you.

First of all, I would like to share with you a few comments from Newton FAS members:

Member of 15 years: “It is an unfortunate situation that has come about by someone that has been mentored by some of the finest EMT’s around, yes I am a member of the NFAS and I have to say yes Josh made a bad decision by over indulging in the truth, I believe that youth plays a big role in his decision making process. I am in NO WAY CONDONING his behavior or how he portrayed himself and the squad however there is not one person out there that has not made a bad decision weather it be in the professional sense or the personal sense, and unless your back yard is completely clean maybe people should reach out to Mr. Couce and help him grow and mature within the EMS community rather then hanging him out to dry along with the rest of the squad.”

Debora Baldwin Phillips: “Mr Kier, I thank you for your insightful post. Some of the points you address are valid. We, as the squad are aware of them. I will not address them in a public forum. However, I, as Captain of the squad, assure you, and anybody else concerned the issues are being addressed. Deborah Phillips, CT1”

Thanks to both of you for sharing your thoughts, especially you, Captain Phillips.  Believe it or not, I wish you well in your future endeavors and maybe even take a thing or two from my blog post.

As I stated previously, the time is now to take control of the squad’s destiny whatever that may be.  Maybe it is time to have an open house, or enlist a trusted member of the press to do a more accurate story about your squad and its members.  Whatever course you decide to take, I’d like to reiterate that I wish you all the best.   If there is ever anything that I can do for you publically or privately, please do not hesitate to ask.

Secondly, I received a few comments about the validity of “armchair quaterbacking” a situation such as this:

YankeeFF66: “And for those who believe that more attention to this is the answer, why? What good will come of drawing more atention to this for either Newton First Aid Squad or NJ EMS in general? If you can tell me, I would like to know. More debate? More arm chair quarterbacking? Yeah, thats gonna help a lot huh.”

During a discussion the other night with Random Ward, he pointed out to me the importance of “hot washing” such a situation.  We need to learn everything that we can from the entire situation, not just the specifics of it.  The only way to do that is through armchair quarterbacking.  Isn’t that really what the chart review piece of QA/QI is?  Its saying “I looked at the call and thought that you could have changed these things about your assessment and treatment.”  That is no different from dealing with a PR issue.  “Next time we deal with the press, here are the things we need to do differently. . . ”

So yes, there IS a place for armchair quarterbacking in a situation such as this.  How else are we going to learn?

I also got a few comments about allegedly hanging Mr. Couce out to dry.  Some people thought that I was a bit critical of him and the Newton First Aid Squad:

Medic23: “The kid is 18, and yes he screwed up!! But lets not hang one of are own out to dry because of some stupid, and immature comments. You all know you have had your moments.”

YankeeFF66: “This could happen to ANY organization, including yours! Would you want to be hung out to dry for it? Probably not. Actions are being taken. So before anyone goes and just pours more fuel on an already burning pile of crap, how about letting the Squad handle this internally first.”

First of all, I think we all need to remember that Mr. Couce was a willing and knowing participant in this article whether his comments were sensationalized by the writer or not.  When a person participates in an article such as this, and the comments in some way, shape, or form belongs to them, they open themselves up to feedback, whether that be positive or negative.  Personally, I did not agree with how he represented prehospital providers.  I do, however, hope that Joshua learned from his mistakes and can make amends.  An evaluation of his motivation to be involved EMS is definitely in order though.  Whatever he decides, I hope he makes the right choice, and I hope a few of the evaluations of his ability and character that I received in the comments are true.

As for the Newton First Aid Squad, my thoughts and direction for them was derived by my experience as a NJ cadet, later a mentor of a few cadets, and my experiences since both in the field, as a field training officer, and in leadership.  They are a reflection back on my views of structure, and its importance when mentoring young or new EMTs.

One of the most interesting comments I read was from Fossilmedic.  Mr. Ward stated that my response sounded like I was using a “20 pound sledgehammer to swat a fly.”  Well, in that same breath, don’t you think that one of the main reasons we have ended up where we have in this field (focus on response times, faster is better etc) is because our response to past situations has been lackluster at best and most of the time non-existent?

Dealing with public relations issues is never easy, and I think that leadership in EMS as a whole could do a lot more with their responses to many situations we encounter both positive and negative.  We commonly fail to accentuate the positive and fail to use the negative to properly educate the media and the public.

Finally, one of the best things about being part of the First Responders Network family is sometimes when one of us is unable to clearly finish a thought, someone else is able to step in.  Random Ward did just that for me.  In his comment below, he did a great job of summing up what I really intended to say in that last paragraph of my previous post:

For those of you not in the field; be aware that this article is not an accurate portrayal of what an EMS professional is. Joshua is passionate and motivated and we sincerely appreciate that, his zeal for EMS is palpable by the article. However, his enthusiasm is misguided; Joshua is the victim of a lack of mentorship and leadership that would teach him as a young EMS practitioner the value we place in competent and confident patient care. Joshua needs to understand that those stand before him, beside him, and behind him are fighting day and night to bring EMS into the new generation. We are a proud brotherhood of practitioners. We are not technicians; rather we are medical professionals with education and training that has granted us privilege to be an integral part in the chain of survival. The golden hour is not a deadline, rather a guideline for planning to provide the best care for victims of traumatic injuries.

Thanks, Random.  I needed an assist there!

Ultimately, I want to thank everyone for reading what I had to say, and to those of you who commented here on the blog, on Facebook, via email, or to me personally, thanks for sharing what you thought whether it be positive or negative.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: one of the best things about blogging and being part of this community is we are all entitled to our own opinions and we are all capable of sharing them as we see fit.

Stay safe out there, everyone.

  • Scott, I appreciate your willingness to show all views of this, even from the people who may not agree with you. Random’s point should be etched in stone. That why I love you guys!