At Friday’s session at Fire-Rescue Med in Las Vegas, “Social Networking Gone Wrong: An EMS Dilemma,” Jeff Dyar and Paul Le Sage shared some words of wisdom on how departments should handle social media. The problem? There is no one answer or solution to the many challenges presented by the Internet.


“Every single thing we do, we need to think about it,” Dyar said, reminding the audience to think about some of the following questions when questioning whether something is appropriate to post on a social media site: is it a HIPAA violation? Does it violate patient confidentiality? Dyar said everything comes with a risk, but he also stressed the value in taking the time to understand the risks and decide what the benefits of different technologies might be for your agency.


Le Sage stressed the importance of creating a policy unique to your department when handling these issues. For example, if your department issues a phone with Internet, photo and/or video capabilities, your agency should spell out what use is appropriate. If you give them a device, you need to write about it in your policy. Can someone read work e-mail at home on a device you give them? What if an employee is using the device for something illegal and/or inappropriate?  A policy would help to settle these questions.


When creating a policy, Le Sage said to “beg, borrow and steal” from any other policies that you can find.


Dyer and Le Sage stressed that fairness is the key when thinking about social networking, emphasizing that everyone has different life experiences and different definitions of what they deem “fair” when it comes to privacy and rules about these mediums.


Dyer and Le Sage closed with some important tips for all to remember:  Make sure everything with your logo or name on it is owned and addressed in your policy and addresses ALL the ways it can be used for social media, web access, photos, digital movies, and that it very clearly states who owns the media and addresses personal use. Consider web-monitoring software and make sure you understand the technology, and seek out younger or more savvy people who can explain it to you.


Though this issue won’t be solved overnight, I think Dyer and Le Sage gave viewers many valuable insights to consider.

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Comment by Allison Moen on May 17, 2011 at 11:44am
Thanks so much for pointing out my typo :( I made the fix.
Comment by Joe Paczkowski on May 13, 2011 at 7:33pm
Since this looks like an article that may be published, may I suggest either changing "HIPPA" to "HIPAA" or adding a "[sic]" to the article?
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