Paparazzi

It’s 2019 and most people in the UK have mobile telephones. Most of those phones are smartphones, and most of those smartphones have cameras built in. Now, almost everywhere you go, someone will have access to a camera that is connected to the Internet. While this can be fun, it can also be very wrong.

A number of times I attended incidents where some onlooker felt the twisted urge to film the emergency services in action. Often the focus of their attention was the victim(s), on occasion these jobs were fatalities. It is a fair assumption that this filming was not for personal usage and that it would make its way onto the public domain at some point. Usually, once spotted, the police would move the individual on, sometimes after ensuring the footage was first deleted. Other times the camera person would run once rumbled.

One of my fondest memories of payback occurred during the summertime. A small village by the sea was having a music festival in it’s small harbour area. The area was busy and an outsider had got caught in the crowd in their car. They had decided to attempt to negotiate their way out of the village and drove very slowly through the crowd. The crowd were in good spirits and happily moved out of the way…..except for one.

A small group of teens decided it would be funny to push one of their own in front of the car. Being a hot day, the tar of the road had softened and the unfortunate teen’s trendy trainers became quite grippy. The car driver reacted quickly and stopped the car, but, not giving way, the grippy trainers held the poor teen’s feet to the ground and both bones in their lower leg snapped.

We rocked up to a huge audience, all in a party mood. It took a couple of blasts of the sirens to clear the crowd. Happily, the band on the other side of the harbour kept playing, so there was a bit of a distraction. The police arrived just behind us, but they encountered little resistance.

It was very apparent the teen’s leg was broken. After the police had cleared the area so we had room to work, we set about administering some pain relief and applying a splint to the leg. The teen was taken into the Ambulance and I left them with my partner as I got out to try to get some details about the teen and the circumstances of the incident.

I noticed a bit of a ruckus going on a few meters away near the harbour wall. Two onlookers appeared to be in a heated discussion. Not wanting a second incident, I approached and asked what the problem was. “This person has a problem with me filming the incident. It’s a public place!”. At that point the other person took the filmer’s phone and tossed it over the wall into the harbour. “That’s my phone!!” exclaimed the filmer. The other person leaned forward so they were very close and in a cool voice, while pointing at the rear of the Ambulance stated “That’s my child!”.

After a moment of shocked silence, the filmer recomposed the self and demanded to speak to a police officer. Aware of the disturbance, two were already on their way over. One of the, a local sergeant, asked what the problem was. The filmer quickly explained. I pulled the sergeant aside and briefly explained what I had witnessed. The sergeant approached the parent. “Is this true?”. “Yes, that’s my child in there”. The sergeant stretched out his hand and shook theirs. “Thank you, you’ve saved us some work. And this person owes you thanks too. Without evidence we have no grounds to arrest them for a string of offences.”. Then they turned to a somewhat silent filmer. “Was there a problem you wished to discuss?”. “Erm….no.” they said in a sheepish voice. “Then I hope you’re a good swimmer!” said the sergeant as he walked away.

Filming incidents, other peoples’ misfortunes, is not cool. It’s rather sad that there are people out there who think it is. Who feel the need to post these photos and videos online to make them look better.

I’ve seen the effects these incidents have on the victims, and their relatives. Making them objects for twisted peoples’ entertainment is not helpful. Show respect, be thoughtful. It actually might be you one day….

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