Social Media Assisted Career Suicide

Recently, Dave Statter of coined a brilliant term for an ever growing phenomenon in our industry, something Dave refers to as Social Media Assisted Career Suicide Syndrome or SMACSS. From the racist FDNY Lieutenant to the South Carolina firefighter paramedic who was dismissed after posting a cartoon of a firefighter berating a doctor at a hospital, it seems like the list of career postmortems that we can attribute to social media use gets longer by the day.

When I used to hear these stories, I would habitually begin considering how we in EMS education might prevent these incidents from occurring in the future. I even posted a warning to The EMT Spot readership to beware of the perils of indiscriminate social media posting. However, after a few of the more recent events, I’m starting to readjust my thinking on this subject. I think the thing that got me thinking differently about it was the term the Dave coined.

I remember earlier in my career how Dr. Jack Kevorkian really got the media establishment churning on the issue of physician assisted suicide. High profile cases like the Terri Schiavo ordeal brought the importance of a strong assisted suicide policy into the public consciousness. But for many of us in the medical field, it was all too obvious that some form of end of life termination of care guideline needed to be addressed. Many of us recognized the beneficial aspects of “physician assisted suicide”.

In much the same way, I’m now beginning to consider the benefits of social media assisted career suicide. You see, some of these cases involve perfectly adequate caregivers who had a momentary lapse in good judgement. But the more that I read about these cases, the more I’m recognizing that social media channels are an effective means for identifying people who shouldn’t be involved in a caregiver or public service role.

There is no place for racism in the fire service or EMS and I’m glad that this latest  fire officer is now on his way to the unemployment rolls. He should have never been afforded the honor of wearing a fire service uniform. He is an utter disgrace to our profession and if not for the large public bull-horn that social media can give individuals like this, he would still have his job.

That’s an important distinction. The problem here wasn’t Twitter or Facebook or any other social media outlet. The problem was a racist, hate filled individual pretending to be a public servant. And, if not for social media, he would still be responding to public calls for assistance. Score one for social media assisted suicide. In fact, I may become a huge advocate for SMACSS.

If you are callous, rude, hate filled, racist, sexist, bigoted or involved in emergency services for any reason other than to be of service to the human beings who call for help, I highly recommend that you open a Facebook account and announce yourself to the world. If you do not have the heart of a servant, we don’t need you. Please create a twitter name for yourself so you can stand up and be identified.

I don’t grieve for the EMS jobs lost to social media assisted career suicide. We are better off without them. Rest in peace.


  1. Steve, don’t you think the “callous, rude, hate filled, racist, sexist, bigoted” have already identified themselves to their co-workers in the day room, kitchen, apparatus bay, smoking area, or anywhere EMS or Fire personnel have a few minutes to shoot the breeze out of the watch of the public? I think we have all had a “come on, you can’t really believe that” conversation or an awkward shuffle away from a colleague that has just revealed his hate and bigotry. I am interested in your tips in how to handle those experiences and conversations because I am sure they are more frequent that social media outings.

  2. Good article STEVE and great comment Greg!

  3. This is a great read. I agree with you completely. I myself am starting to get into the social media side of EMS and am always worried about what I write and what I post. So much so that I find myself using my “alter ego” more times than not. I actually had someone at my service do this not to long ago, but he didn’t lose his job or face any repercussions. It totally blew my mind that nothing was done about it.

  4. That Video got him sacked? That video is just plain funny & simply a satirised version of what we put up with every day. This says more about the Director than anything else – more concerned about the minute possibility of his service being embarrassed than anything else. If more Ambulance managers took Doctors to task for unnecessary transports, resources would be freed up & people who truly need Ambulances may get one in a decent time frame – but heaven forbid we embarrass doctors.