As a two-story home was going up in flames, a member of an EMT ambulance crew ordered a news videographer away from the scene, smacking the camera in his hand.
The EMT, who has been identified as Tameca VanBergen of the Coudersport Volunteer Ambulance Association, proved she is clueless when it comes to basic First Amendment law.
The incident took place last month in Northern Pennsylvania as Tim Hallman of CoudyNews.com was standing across the street, about two houses down from the raging fire.
Hallman turned his camera on VanBergen as soon as she began ordering him away from the scene. That was when she smacked his camera.
“Don’t touch me,” Hallman says.
“Do not take a picture of me, do not take a picture of me,” she responds.
“I have every right, you’re a public (official) and you’re in public,” he says.
“And I have the right to say no. I’m on duty.”
VanBergen has the right to say no all she wants, but her words have no legal bearing.
But she certainly has no right to smack the videographer’s camera.
Unfortunately, we have reached a point where it has become completely acceptable to smack a camera or photographer if you don’t like your photo being taken.
Hallman ends up moving a little closer to the fire, but his video is so shaky it hurts to watch. He blames the shakiness on VanBergen’s smack, claiming she possibly damaged his camera.
As usual with these stories, the comments from readers provide added insight and absurdity to the story.
One clueless commenter stated the following:
she was just doing her job people need to respect them. there keeping you safe and not being hurt. and the people close were probally local residents to the next house or the house burning. you shouldnt be talking crap on this woman for doing her job.
And another one said this:
Appears to me that the young lady controlling access to the incident did her job well. Yes, the media has a job to do- however that’s well down on the list of important things. (just so you know, priorities are saving life, property, evidence, and environment- then mundane things like media). Your reporter was obviously in the way of the responding fire trucks- and when told to move, argued then whined. I have to assume that the first responders have better things to do than argue with a recalcitrant reporter. Lucky, actually, that his interference didn’t appear to cause any harm.
Also lucky that it wasn’t me he was arguing with- I tend to not suffer fools when I’m busy.
God job young lady!
And another commenter said this:
She SHOULDNT be repremended. The camera man shoved the camera in her face, violating her personal space. HE should be repremended. She asked him to remove the video, and he wont, he was to close to the fire scene, putting the fire out is more important than capturing video. Reporters do have the right to capture video and pics, but they dont have the right to get into our first responders face that are only here to help our community. A majority of them are volunteer too.
But the best comment came from a person claiming to be a volunteer firefighter.
I also am a Volunteer for the Fire Dept. That person should not have done what she did to the reporter. He was NOT even close to the house. First the main thing here is that the Smith family is alright. Second the reporter was in the right. Third if any of our people would have done what she did Trust me no questions asked we would no longer be part of that department. To the reporter keep up the good work. To the volunteer our job is to help people not be mean or rude. That reporter was clearly not in anyones way. Dr. Smith Prayers to you and Your Family. God Bless each Firefighter, EMT, Auxillary member that was out there today. Thank You All!!!!