Firefighter on “modified duty” and concerns about accident scene photos raised at council

Six Nations Elected Councillor Mark Hill says media need to be more sensitive to the trauma local families are experiencing while enduring car accidents, fires or other crisis events.

Hills comments came during Wednesday’s Corporate and Emergency Services meeting in a discussion with Six Nations Fire and Emergency Services Fire Chief Matthew Miller.

Hill told Miller he received a number of complaints from community members about a Six Nations newspaper, the Turtle Island News, following an inaccurate article about a local house fire.

On June 13, Turtle Island News posted an article to their website, including photos of the scene, and erroneously reported the fire was taking place at a nearby business, Sit’n Bull Construction which is owned by Six Nations businessman Ken Hill.

The story was labelled under the header “breaking news”.

Councillor Hill expressed frustrations that the loss of a Six Nation’s family home would be considered “breaking news”.

“When car accidents happen or when homes burn down: that’s not breaking news to me. These people who are experiencing these traumatic events are already going through enough…let alone having to be seeing their home on the front page of the papers or on social media,” said Hill.

Hill said he has serious concerns about media on Six Nations territory accessing the scene of a crisis in the community where there has been serious injury or loss of life, taking video or pictures of the scene and then distributing them online or on social media prior to family notifications by officials.

Hill addressed Miller to ask if there was anything the fire department could do to prevent media from accessing the scene of a crisis and stop photos from being taken.

SNFES Fire Chief Miller said media using analog scanners will listen for details and send reporters to the scene.

Miller previously told Two Row Times that Six Nation Police and Firefighters work together to secure the scene of an accident or fire to prevent bystanders from being injured and secure a zone where only first responders have access to as they manage victims and extinguish any fires.

Miller said that while the coverage of local events has been helpful in some respects to raise the profile of specific issues, that he does not agree with the way tragic incidents are framed as breaking news.

Hill said local news organizations can report facts and keep a public record without the need for exploiting the trauma of community member families.

Hill then said that one of the Six Nations Firefighters is currently on “modified duty” because of a related incident.

Neither Miller or Hill would confirm who is on modified duty, when it occurred or what the breech was for.

Hill then asked about the confidentiality currently required of Six Nations Firefighters.

One of Six Nations volunteer firefighters, Martin McNaughton, says on his personal Facebook page that he is the Associate Publisher and Editor of the Turtle Island News. Another volunteer firefighter, Dakota Brant, is an occasional editorial contributor to the newspaper as well.

Hill asked if firefighters are required to sign confidentiality agreements before they serve the community.

Miller did not confirm if volunteer firefighters are required to sign confidentiality agreements in the meeting — but he did nod in agreement when Hill said that confidentiality was an important aspect involved in serving as a first responder.

Miller said that there is sometimes benefit to sharing information about accidents as a deterrent, in the case of showing the seriousness of the dangers and potential tragedy that can occur from texting and driving.

Miller suggested that some training for local media and members of the community could be a possible solution, though he did not specify what kind of training.

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1 Comment

  1. What to think about this article. Hm. Limiting access to the press. Um No. The duty of the press is to be the counter balance to the social construct of elected officials and their offices. Using one local paper to criticize another, um No. Discussing an employees modified duties verging on the edge of a Privacy Violation, um No. If that employee being referenced wants assistance in filing a privacy complaint please contact me! Not declaring a conflict of interest in referencing your family’s business as an elected official, a violation of policy and public trust. The utmost respect here for all concerned just not the ideology or the positions taken. Elected Council training media and community members, reminds me of the holocaust. A weak article and contains many ethical red flags in my opinion.

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