Our Turn: Newspaper set first responder up to fail

The case against Adrian Robson is in two parts.

Robson has been suspended from participating in Richmond County Rescue Squad activities for violating unit policy. In addition, an investigation is ongoing as to whether or not the 20-year-old volunteer violated patient privacy laws.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com On the scene of an emergency, first-responders deserve the room necessary to perform their roles.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
On the scene of an emergency, first-responders deserve the room necessary to perform their roles.

First, Robson shared a PeeDeePost.com story on Tuesday afternoon. The Post had reported on the fatal shooting that took place early that afternoon in an otherwise quiet residential Rockingham neighborhood. The Post then shared that article on its Facebook page, and Robson was one of more than 100 people who shared the story on the world’s most popular social media network.

One could argue that the information in the Post report was already made public, so Robson — who responded to the scene and assisted FirstHealth emergency rescue personnel tend to the shooting victim — did nothing wrong in sharing the link. As we understand it, he’s not the only Richmond County Rescue Squad member to do so, though it is understood he is the only one to do so who also responded to the call. Honestly, we’re not sure that makes a difference.

While Robson told The Pee Dee Post he believes that’s why he is suspended, Capt. Jason Smith said that’s not the case. Instead, Smith said, Robson is suspended because he violated squad policy in talking to the media; specifically, that he provided a patient’s status and destination when he shouldn’t have said anything.

Reporter Melone Flomer of the Richmond County Daily Journal was on the scene of a woman reported to have been struck by a car in a convenience store parking lot on Fayetteville Road. The incident occurred on Nov. 7.

Flomer’s resulting story mentioned Robson: “Adrian Robson of the Richmond County Rescue Squad emerged from the ambulance several minutes later and reported the patient was in stable condition and would be taken to FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital for further evaluation.”

First, Robson said the situation as the reporter described is not what happened. Second, Smith said company policy clearly dictates no one but the chief speaks to the media.

“That is the one that he crossed,” Smith said, “and that is the reason he is suspended.”

If that’s the case, then it’s easily understood why Robson faced a suspension. It’s also understood that, after a period of time, Robson will be welcomed back with open arms. After all, not a single Richmond County Rescue Squad officer could be found who would say anything bad about Robson. Not once was his dedication and commitment to serving the community in a volunteer capacity questioned; instead, it seemed simply that the young man jumped the gun.

But let’s not stop pointing fingers. On the scene of emergencies across the country, law enforcement officers, firefighters and medical personnel routinely work with media. The best way that happens is to develop trust, and the Richmond County Daily Journal violated Robson’s when it used Robson as the source of the information.

It’s not difficult, on any emergency scene, to identify an incident commander. The reporter should have gone to that person for an official status on the patient. We know the reporter’s new to the field — according to a Daily Journal article, Flomer went from a Scotland County teacher to a reporter only in eight months ago and she has limited experience covering incidents like the one in the convenience store parking lot — so it’s imperative that Content Manager (editor) Corey Friedman, who is in charge of the newsroom, ensure such a step takes place. That failed to happen, and now we have this situation.

The newspaper had options; either use Robson’s status update but anonymously (which would not have altered the patient’s status and would have kept a source out of trouble) or find the right person to talk with. We recommend the latter. In all the emergency scenes the Post has been on since April 28, we have never named anyone but the official source from the paid professionals or volunteer first-responders for such updates. To do so is simply irresponsible and can lead to … well, instances just like this. Protecting one’s sources in Journalism 101: There are ways in which the  media can work to obtain the information needed for any report. It’s calling doing our jobs and gathering information. On the scene of an emergency, however, is the time to let emergency responders focus on doing their jobs.

The Pee Dee Post has worked very hard to establish trust and solid working relationships with public safety agencies in and around Richmond County. No doubt, the reporters at the Daily Journal have too, but on at least this one occasion, they let Robson down.




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  • Danette Hunt

    ooo shame on the initial reporter. Reporter error number one, NEVER disclose the condition, whereabouts, and certainly not the place of care in a criminal act. You just never know who or if anyone will be waiting to finish what they started. That knowledge is both common sense and taught.

  • getting tired of this

    so it’s the reporters fault for doing ther job and asking questions? this sounds like just more whining and complaining from an ex employee of the daily journal. grow up kevin spradlin. this comes off as desparate and pathetic. i expected better from you.

    • John Dudak

      I think the writer pointed out that a professional reporter would ask the right question to the right person; short of that, a trained reporter would know to protect his or her source.

      I’m getting tired of all these anonymous comments …

  • No wonder they’re alike

    Well, noiw it all makes sense! Kevin spells people’s names wrong and posts one-sided stories because he learned everything he knows from the Journal. They aren’t very good, but he isn’t any better. If anything there are more mistakes on PeeDee Post, but who’s counting…it’s a race to the bottom. This article is childish, and it’s all just Kevin’s opinion with no facts to back it up. Why should we care what he thinks?

    • John Dudak

      Childish, perhaps, but at least he puts his name on what he writes.

      • Randall Benton

        John…you are absolutely correct. It is a spineless baffoon who will make snobbish comments about someone but leave their name off. I have no respect for any coward that will shoot of their mouths but hide behind being “anonymous”.

        I think Kevin is doing a good job. It sounds to me that someone at The Daily Journal is unhappy because he reported the rest of the story. But that’s what happens in the business world. When you have professional competition….you screw up and some one else will eat your lunch.

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