Reprinted with Permission
COLLETON COUNTY, SC - A Colleton County paramedic and firefighter was fired over a video he posted on Facebook.
On February 11, Jason Brown was called into the director's office and questioned about the video he posted the previous night.
The Facebook post takes you to a YouTube-like site, where a video almost three minutes in length shows an exchange between two cartoon characters at a hospital.
One is a doctor, the other a paramedic.
In a letter of dismissal Brown provided, Colleton County Fire-Rescue Director Barry McRoy said, "You [Brown] displayed poor judgment in producing a derogatory video depicting a member of this department with a physician which is implied to be at Colleton Medical Center."
"There was no malicious attack to anybody involved personally or countywide or any certain department ever," said Brown, who spent two hours making what he described as a text-to-movie video.
On the web site xtranormal.com, you can create characters and even make them look like you. Users can type in a script and the cartoon-like character will say what you write.
"I'm not trying to make any doctor or any nurse look stupid," Brown said.
He said he wasn't even talking about Colleton Medical. He only used the name of a doctor who works at that hospital because he had recently seen him at a party.
It was supposed to be a funny, exaggerated and an almost unbelievable story of real life on-the-job experiences, Brown said.
"It's just general things that go on in the day-to-day business of us running calls within any fire department, any EMS," he added.
The dismissal letter also said, "This video has created an embarrassing situation for this department, our public image and the cooperative relationship we enjoy with Colleton Medical Center. It reflects poorly on you and Colleton County."
Brown appealed the decision, but his appeal was denied.
[See the rejection of appeal letter (pdf).]
Brown never meant any harm, he said.
"If I knew it was going to give me this much headache, I never would have made it in the first place," he added.
Brown said he was told his video was racist because the cartoon character playing the doctor role was African-American and during one of the exchanges the character said, "I don't want to lose my job and go back to being a janitor."
"That was never, ever in my actions or even thoughts when I made the video," Brown said.
When making the video, a black doctor was the only option offered, he added.
Getting fired was a little overboard, he said.
McRoy wouldn't give details about the Brown's firing because he said he couldn't discuss personnel matters.
But he said the Facebook incident wasn't the only reason Brown was fired.
Brown said he has never been seriously reprimanded and points to the dismissal letter as proof the Facebook post was the only reason he was fired.
If asked to take down the post, he would have done it and that would have been the end, he said.
Brown said after he was fired, he was escorted to the station where he returned all his gear, while two officers supervised him.
"I felt like a criminal," he said.
Prior to working at Colleton County Fire-Rescue for three and a half years, he worked at Berkeley County EMS and Goose Creek City Fire.
He said he left those two places because Colleton County paid more.