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The Double Edged Sword of Social Media

Social media and crowd sourcing comes in various forms and is ever present as part of our daily lives. Tweets, podcasts, posts, and educational blogs like this are today, just as commonplace as answering the phone or sending an internal email communication. It's no secret that technology has advanced greatly over the past two decades -- it comes with benefits and drawbacks in our industry and this blog will carefully and concisely highlight the good and the bad.

PROS - (leverage it fully as a tool for good)

Community Outreach and Engagement

Recruitment/Staffing campaigns

Crowdsourcing - CPR applications to increase OHCA survival rates

Increased access to quality Fire/EMS education

Live info on Weather emergencies/Major events/Road closures

Highlighting New Equipment or Personnel

Improve agency reputation/credibility

Clear policies can provide excellent guardrails for its proper use

CONS - (be extremely cautious as it can backfire when used incorrectly)

HIPAA violations (images, videos, text) - discipline and/or termination usually follow

Political debates

Generalized insensitive comments (race, creed, religion, sexual orientation)

Our personal and professional lives can begin to blur

Fact checking can be an issue -- it's certainly not required on most platforms

Social media overload can increase incidence of depression & suicidal ideation

Destroy agency reputation/credibility

An absence of a social media policy can spell trouble


  • Develop a Strategy

  • Include a Business case around your professional website/media platform

  • Minimize who has admin access

  • Be focused

  • Post relevant information often -- don't be another static page

In summary, know that the various social media tools on our mobile devices aren't going anywhere. It's actually evolving and becoming more complex with each passing year. Some would argue that it's changing our industry (both positively and negatively). Be thoughtful and safe with its overall use - it can be a beneficial addition, but it you don't plan ahead or if its use is unmonitored, it can have disastrous effects on your agency, and the personnel on the roster. We all bear this added responsibility, as we are ALL end users in some form or another. May commonsense approaches always prevail.

May 15, 2023

Author: Joshua Ishmael, MBA, MLS(ASCP)CM, NRP

Pass with PASS, LLC.

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