Few things in life are as traumatic as watching a loved one die or get seriously injured. For whatever reason, some people deal with witnessing human suffering in destructive ways. These individuals may not have ill intentions, but they sometimes end up hurting the loved ones of victims by reacting to tragedy inappropriately and without proper discretion.
Unfortunately, the ever-present camera phone is facilitating this kind of inappropriate response amongst some of society’s heroes: first responders. Some first responders have been taking pictures and/or videos of serious auto accidents and posting them online without the permission of victims or their families.
One particular case inspired New Jersey legislators to pass “Law,” and signed it into law in early August of this year. After the SUV that 40-year-old was driving slammed head-on into another SUV in 2009, she ultimately died of her injuries. For some reason, a volunteer firefighter responding to the scene took photos of suffering in the mangled SUV and posted them on Facebook.
As a result of Law, any first responder who posts videos or photos of accident victims without approval from the victims or their families will face fines up to $10,000 and up to 18 months imprisonment.
Working as a paid or volunteer first responder is a noble pursuit. However, it is extremely important that first responders not only treat victims medically, but also treat the suffering of the victims and their families with proper respect. Hopefully Law will serve as a reminder of that duty.