Back in April I mentioned the shortcomings of two of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (BEMS) members on Twitter. One of those members, former @BkNorthLt Timothy “Bad Lieutenant” Dulhos, is in the news once again.
The Daily News reports that the patient who he photographed and then added the text “Wide Load” to the back of a wheelchair as crude Perez Hiltonesque commentary before tweeting the photo out is now suing him and the City of New York.
Now, I need to be honest here. I don’t condone his behavior in the slightest. I think he is an embarrassment to the FDNY (who he is no longer associated with), the City of New York (where reportedly he still lives), and to the profession (which he continues to work in, reportedly at Richmond County Ambulance Service in Staten Island). With that said, I wish I didn’t have to write this next paragraph, but it needs to be pointed out.
The truth is that had the patient not come forth to sue him and the city, and let’s be honest their really after the city since he is not worth all that much, we would not know who the patient was to this day. The patient, Teena Gamzon, wasn’t mentioned in the earlier news reports that I’ve read. I also would question the legality of the photograph. Was this taken in public view? If it was taken in a hospital, does the hospital post signs specifically forbidding photography? Do they enforce it? Taking the photo may have been totally and absolutely legal. Before you start screaming about private property (which since a hospital is open to the public it is considered a public space, just like a mall is) and HIPAA violations just because of the photo, I suggest you read an old (but still relevant) post on HIPAA and Photography.
My point is that just because it may have been immoral, unprofessional, and childish… that does not make it illegal.