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Sunday, March 31, 2013

FDNY/EMS workers post private photos of patients online

The New York paramedic who became the center of a firestorm over racist tweets is also a part of a disturbing practice of posting photos of the victims that emergency personnel are paid to help.

Timothy Dluhos, the self-professed 'bad lieutenant' who works as an EMT with the Fire Department of New York, had posted photos of accident victims - a violation of federal privacy regulations - that were seen along with his hate-filled Twitter rants.

In one instance, he posted a photo of an obese woman in a wheelchair, and added the words 'wide load.'

The New York Post reported exclusively that Dluhos is not alone, as a number of EMTs post gruesome photos on their social media pages or in what are known as 'gore books.'

A former EMT, who was not identified, told the paper that the practice is common, saying: 'Lots of people have them - patients galore, all ripped apart and mangled,' he said.

One image posted to the EMT/Paramedic Facebook page show victims with horrific wounds suffered in everything from accidents to vicious assaults.

Some emergency officials have made the posting of such graphic images into a contest.

The EMT source told the Post: 'I saw one where this victim’s head and spinal column were completely removed from his body,' he said.

An image posted by another FDNY EMT, Anthony Palmigiano, showed a startling open neck wound.

When contacted by the Post, Palmigiano said that someone had hacked into his Facebook account and posted the gruesome images on his behalf.

As for Dluhos, his Twitter account has since been taken down.

He broke down in tears on the street last week when he was confronted by a Post reporter over racist tweets and offense comments he made on the microblogging site.

His postings called New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is Jewish, 'King Heeb,' and referred to black people as 'coloreds' and Asians 'chinks,' according to reports.

He also tweeted that his most prized possession is Nazi gold pin with a German U-Boat and a swastika.

The FDNY has said that Dluhos' posts are 'under review.'

The Post reported that Dluhos' online comments are part of a troubling epidemic at the FDNY, which is so packed with white men that federal courts have ordered it to change its hiring practices and become more diverse.

'He is not an isolated case,' retired veteran of the city EMS said of Dluhos. 'He’s a symptom of a sick system. If you work in the city for police, fire or EMS and tell me you’re surprised by this, you’re a liar.'

The 34-year-old veteran of the department made 93,000 in 2011.

His behavior is the latest in a series of troublesome social media mishaps for the FDNY.

The son of New York City's fire commissioner resigned earlier this month following his apology for posting offensive messages on Twitter.

Joseph Cassano worked as a fire department emergency medical technician.

Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano calls the situation 'very painful.' He said Monday he loves his son and believes his resignation was the right decision.

The commissioner said the department has worked hard to achieve diversity, inclusiveness and a good reputation.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was among those who found Cassano's messages offensive.

The younger Cassano said he regretted the posts and had treated every patient with great care and respect.

The New York Post reported the statements included a derogatory term to describe blacks, and a tweet stating he liked Jews about as much as Hitler did.

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