Victim of Paramedics' 'Selfie War' Demands $200K for Reparations

Victim of Paramedics' 'Selfie War' Demands $200K for Reparations

News Oct 04, 2017

The first of a large group of Okaloosa County paramedic “selfie war” victims has demanded reparation from county commissioners.

McKenzie Law Firm of Pensacola submitted a “notice of claim” letter to the Board of County Commissioners and Okaloosa County EMS in late September requesting $200,000 for its client, who attorney J. Alistair McKenzie asked the Daily News not to identify.

The demand was made “because of the negligence and inexcusable conduct of Okaloosa County EMS who work on behalf of the Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners,” according to the letter.

The 39-year-old victim, who court records indicate lives in Crestview, discovered following a Nov. 17, 2015, ride in the back of an ambulance that an Okaloosa EMT had taken photos of her without her consent, the letter states.

“As you are aware, this was part of the juvenile, sick, and inappropriate game known as the ‘selfie war’ competition which was going on for months at Okaloosa County EMS,” the law firm’s letter said. “Due to the breach of ... privacy and illegal publication of her protected information she has been injured.”

The selfie war was uncovered in May 2016 when three whistleblowers at EMS division went to their superiors with information regarding fellow employees.

It was learned Christopher Wimmer and Kayla Renee Dubois were engaged in a competition that involved taking photos or videos of patients inside their ambulances.

Many of the victims were intubated, sedated or unconscious at the time, Sheriff Larry Ashley said at a July press conference announcing the arrests of Wimmer and Dubois.

A group of five EMT’s and paramedics shared the 64 videos and 101 photos taken during the selfie war, Ashley said. Three more EMS employees were dismissed with Wimmer and Dubois for their less aggressive participation.

Ashley identified 41 patient victims of the selfie war.

Continue Reading

Of the 41, two later died and three more were determined to have willingly participated in the photography. The remaining 36 patients ranged in age from 24 to 86, with 19 women and 17 men victimized, Ashley said.

Asked Tuesday if he had other selfie war victim clients, McKenzie answered “possibly.”

The notice of claim letter the county received is sent to waive the sovereign immunity to which state entities are entitled, McKenzie said. The county has six months to respond.

McKenzie said the county has not yet responded to his demand letter, which he found somewhat surprising given the circumstances of the selfie war.

“The typical route is you send the government agency the letter and they ignore you,” he said. “But in this case it’s pretty egregious what happened. You’d think the county would want to take some action to right the wrong.”

Although County Attorney Greg Stewart was out of town this week on vacation, County Commissioner Nathan Boyles on Tuesday confirmed receipt of the notice of claim letter when he commented on it in his monthly newsletter.

“Wars are expensive, apparently, even selfie wars,” Boyles said.

Boyles reminded his readers that the EMS employees had paid a cost both legally and professionally for their antics, with Dubois receiving a probated criminal sentence and Wimmer being sent to jail for six months. But he warned county taxpayers they too could receive a bill for the EMS staffers’ transgressions.

“It looks like it may also cost you some money,” he said.

The commissioner opined that $200,000 seemed a steep price for photos that weren’t publicly distributed and only circulated among a small group of county employees.

“The demand, if paid, would represent a sizable bite out of the public safety budget, and there will no doubt be other claims from other victims,” the newsletter said. “Ambulance rides in Okaloosa County may get more expensive than they already are, all thanks to the juvenile shenanigans of two paramedics who abused a position of trust.”

Source
McClatchy
Northwest Florida Daily News, Fort Walton Beach
The budget cut allowed the department to cross-staff, using firefighters to staff ambulances due to medical calls outnumbering fire calls.
Starting next year, the insurer will reimburse treatment that doesn’t require the emergency department.
One of the two Northern California wildfires have been fully contained due to cooler temperatures and light rain.
Kenneth Scheppke challenged longstanding traditions in patient care that have not withstood current scrutiny.

EMTs and other first responders who treated the wounded on scene of the Vegas shooting could be at risk for post-traumatic stress.

All EMS, fire, and law enforcement agencies in the county will participate in the drill along with 100 volunteers portraying victims of the shooting.
As the state begins facing the effects of the opioid crisis, medical professionals, law enforcement and prosecutors join the national discussion on possible solutions to the epidemic.
Only one of three in the country, the "rapid extrication team" assists in rescuing injured firefighters while local crews battle the forest fires.
The paramedic-staffed chase car would respond to ALS calls in a timelier manner and help alleviate several local fire departments' calls.
Las Vegas and Orlando massacres set a solemn tone for the normally festive event.
In a project to raise grant funding that began a year ago, the Richmond Ambulance Authority and VCU Health teamed up to provide 35 of Richmond’s Public Schools with Bleeding Control (BCON) equipment. 
Mercy Health's new two-story, 29,000 square foot center features a Level 1 trauma center, an expanded surgical area, and more comfortable patient and visitor access.
Luigi Daberdaku has made 1,500 sandwiches so far for the North Bay first responders managing the wildfires in California.
The Vegas Strong Resiliency Center dedicated to providing resources to those affected by the mass shooting will open on Monday at 1523 Pinto Lane.
A community of nearly 500 deaf people were the last to be notified and evacuated during the wildfires in Sonoma County, calling for better emergency alert systems.