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Social Media Use In EMS


As my readers might have noticed, I’m not a big fan of EMS providers using Social Media. To be clear, they should be able to do as they want, but it’s all too easy to hurt or even end your career by posting something someone doesn’t like.

Facebook and Twitter have become the favorite tools of lynch mobs in the 21st Century. As the saying goes, Facebook is good for posting cute pictures of your kids or grandkids, and should be limited to not all that much more. Twitter is even more dangerous, as Ambulance Driver says it’s 140 characters and not one brain cell. Even worse, it’s now 280 characters.

All of which is prolog to a story where Facebook helped save someone’s life, even if totally by chance.

Firefighters help save choking boy from 800 miles away

WAYLAND, Mass. — A team of firefighters from Wayland, Massachusetts, is being praised for coming to the aid of a woman about 800 miles away in Wayland, Michigan, who contacted them via Facebook in a panic to say her son was choking.

Normally, I’d wonder why someone would use Facebook in lieu of a telephone, but there is an answer for that,

The Massachusetts department’s Facebook page isn’t monitored 24/7, but firefighter Patrick Walkinshaw happened to be looking at it about 10:30 p.m. Saturday when the woman, who didn’t have access to a phone, sent her desperate plea to the wrong Wayland Fire Department.

She didn’t have access to a phone, so she used her computer. That’s not a bad idea, but as every public safety agency will tell you, do not use Facebook or their website in an emergency, call 9-1-1.

In this case she (and her son) were lucky. One firefighter stayed on line with her and gave first aid instructions, another looked up her address and traced it to Wayland, MI, while a third called the Wayland, MI Fire Department to give them the information so they could respond.

Luck and team work. And people who were paying attention in the first place.

The young man survived, which is the best part of all.

It’s not an ideal way to call for help, but in this case it worked out quite well for everyone.

This article,

Wrong Wayland Fire Dept. helps choking W MI teen

has more details. As it turns out, it was even luckier that she got the “wrong” Wayland FD as the “right” one was busy at a house fire and no one would have seen the message for some time.

For those who are keeping count, there are at least four towns named Wayland in the United States. She just happened to find the one that had a firefighter checking the Facebook page at the time she needed help.

“Of all the towns in all the word…”

I wonder what the odds are on that?

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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.