Former paramedic Steve McDowell was blocked from NSW Ambulance Facebook page after criticising the organisation Photo: Dallas KilponenNSW Ambulance has hidden from public view Facebook comments by a former paramedic who wrote back to a woman’s concerning comment on an RUOK post and criticised his old employer’s response to the cry for help.
“It’s OK, not to be OK”, read NSW Ambulance’s Facebook page on Thursday.
The post included the an image of a paramedic dissolving behind the words “The community thinks you’re super heroes … but we know you’re human too”.
One reply stood out: “Today, I am not ok,” wrote one woman who Fairfax Media has decided not to name.
Former paramedic Steve McDowell responded, asking the woman: “Can I help at all?”
The pair continued to converse. Steve told the woman to “be kind” to herself and pointed her to his facebook page, “No More Neglect” a support group where paramedics share stories and raise issues about their employee.
His comments were also critical of NSW Ambulance, suggesting the organisation did not support its staff.
NSW Ambulance responded to the woman’s post two hours later, suggesting she reach out to staff support if she was a staff member or phone Triple Zero. The post also included the contact number for Lifeline.
Mr McDowell replied “Awesome effort NSWA it only took you two hours”.
His posts were subsequently hidden from public view. Posts by other Facebook users asking why Mr McDowell’s posted had been removed were also hidden. He was then blocked from accessing the Facebook page.
“It’s outrageous,” Mr McDowell said.
“I tried to help a member of the public who said she was not okay and two hours later I’d been blocked,” he said.
“It goes against everything they say they are trying to do: be transparent, telling paramedics they’re here for them. Then as soon as they’re challenged they delete,” he said.
Mr McDowell – who was medically discharged in January with post traumatic stress disorder – has been an outspoken critic of NSW Ambulance’s treatment of staff who have struggled with mental health issues.
Director of Marketing and Media at NSW Ambulance, Kristie Carter said “Steve McDowell was not blocked because he was critical of NSW Ambulance, but rather because he was critical of a response to someone in need.”
“We’d hate someone to feel like their personal issue that they’d been brave enough to raise publicly was overshadowed by any other agenda,” Ms Carter said.
NSW Ambulance said no comments had been removed, “however in line with our site administrator guidelines, some comments have been hidden from public view due to the personal distressing or concerns nature of their content”.
The woman removed her comments on Friday, which in turn removed the entire conversation train, they said.
NSW Ambulance said the purpose of the Facebook page was for engaging with the community, and “specific concerns, complaints and issues should not be published on this page”.