Airdrie paramedic suspended without pay following social media posts

An Airdrie paramedic who spoke at a town hall meeting last summer to highlight what is seen as a ‘continuing crisis’ over the availability of rural ambulances was suspended without pay earlier this month this because of his social media posts, according to his wife.

An Airdrie paramedic who spoke at a town hall meeting last summer to highlight what is seen as a ‘continuing crisis’ over the availability of rural ambulances was suspended without pay earlier this month this because of his social media posts, according to his wife.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) paramedic Ryan Middleton told a town hall Aug. 13 that Airdrie ambulances disproportionately handle emergencies in Calgary, while Local emergencies were attended to by ambulances from as far away as Three Hills and Olds.

He cited figures obtained through a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP) request. Middleton, who has been an AHS paramedic for 10 years, has since been advocating online for ambulance services locally through her personal Facebook page and the Airdrie EMS Citizen Action Group Facebook group.

He received a letter at the beginning of December informing him that he was under investigation because of Facebook posts he had made, without specifying which posts were under investigation. meticulous examination. Due to the nature of the investigation and a signed confidentiality agreement, Middleton’s wife, Angie, agreed to speak on his behalf.

According to Angie, Middleton attended the resulting meeting in mid-December and was informed that the investigation was ongoing over a message he had posted on the Vulcan County EMS Community Action Group Facebook page, as well than a message responding to a video broadcast by Airdrie-East. Congresswoman Angela Pitt had posted.

“Someone on one of the Vulcan pages had reached out to Ryan and asked if he had any stats for Vulcan, so he posted on their page,” she said. “The other post that was in question was [in response to] Video of Angela Pitt of herself in the House of Commons asking questions of Jason Copping (Alberta Health Minister).

“Ryan had commented on this video and was breaking down all of his responses to [Pitt’s] questions.”

Angie said AHS representatives claimed Middleton’s posts were crafted as if he was trying to speak on behalf of the health organization, asking him the question, “Can you see how the public would think that you speak on behalf of AHS?”

She added that her husband replied saying he didn’t see how this was possible as he was posting on his personal page and added that only those accepted as a friend could see that he was an employee of AHS.

Additionally, she said all information posted online was obtained through a FOIP request or taken directly from the AHS website. Regarding the investigation, Angie said the supervisor asked Middleton where he checked his information, to which he replied, “Who do you want me to check it from?”

“The supervisor was asking a very dumb question, but I think they were holding on to straws because he knows Ryan is following policy and procedures,” Angie said, adding that the meeting was more than a little unilateral.

“It’s the person who started the investigation who asks all the questions, you can’t really defend yourself,” she said. “You answer the questions they ask, and that’s about it.”

According to Angie, seven other staff on Middleton’s team are also being investigated for Facebook posts, all of which were directed by the same supervisor who has an alleged history of harassment and bullying.

After the first meeting, Ryan waited for an outcome meeting which was delayed over the holidays, resulting in his suspension from work for two shifts without pay.

Angie said the wrist slap is just one step in a series of disciplinary actions taken by AHS supervisors.

“You get one letter on your file first, and then for some people, if the disciplines aren’t related, you can go with three or four letters on your file,” she said. “It really depends on who is investigating and who is handing out discipline.

“You get a letter on your file, you get suspended for one day, then you get suspended for two, then three, then four and five, then they start thinking about firing.”

According to Angie, her husband has returned to work since the suspension but is now seeking revenge with the help of his union representative. He filed a grievance in hopes of fighting the suspension.

She said it will result in several more meetings with AHS staff and then it will go to arbitration if a resolution cannot be reached.

Despite the long road ahead and the confidentiality agreement, Angie said Ryan can still talk about stats and plans to continue posting on social media after a short hiatus for the sake of his own mental state.

“He will never be allowed to talk about the suspension or any discipline or anything like that, but he can always ask for FOIP – he can post things like that,” she said, adding that he plans to. exercise caution when posting online in the future. .

“If he posts, even if it’s something super minor, [he will] just literally write in asterisks, that he’s not speaking on behalf of AHS, and that’s his own opinion,” she said. “It’s just stupid that it has to be like this, but until this thing is sorted out with his supervisor, I think that’s how it’s going to be.”

Prior to the social media inquiry, Angie said Ryan had an excellent employment record and had never received a single patient complaint.

“He got recommendations from supervisors, he got praise from other colleagues,” she said.

She added that Middleton’s advocacy efforts stemmed from his desire to create a better working environment for himself and his colleagues, while bringing a greater range of ambulance services to Airdrie and surrounding areas.

“Ryan never hesitated to work, never refused to work. That’s not the point. The number of calls he gets per day makes no difference to him,” she said. declared. “His [about] have the appropriate resources where they are supposed to be.

“It’s not safe not to have an ambulance in Airdrie and when you think of Airdrie you also think of the other surrounding communities, and it’s like, what if it was a member of your family and that there was no ambulance?”

When contacted, AHS representatives said they could not comment specifically on personnel issues.

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