On May 29, 2017, a photo post on Facebook appeared with the following caption:
Please look before gassing up there putting infected HIV needles In the gas stations plz warn every friend of yours and family members. Guys plz share share share
It was posted by the user Jesse Barbosa Costa with a photograph of a gas pump handle with a hypodermic needle affixed to the handle in such a way that whoever picked it up would receive an allegedly HIV-positive needle-stick injury. The hypodermic needle is circled several times in red.(1)
I found the post to be suspect given that it follows the format of many health-related internet hoaxes: shock photo and/or text, emotional appeal taking advantage of public fears, few (if any) relevant sources cited. I discussed a similar sort of thing in my post No Justice No EMS. In that case, the public fear was that protestors in the streets were preventing the transport of patients to the hospital; in this case, the public fear is that innocent people will be infected with HIV. (Note also how the fear in both cases is influenced by public attitudes towards minority groups viewed as threatening (protestors) and/or immoral (HIV-positive).)
When I did a quick Google search, I discovered that my gut instinct was correct: the gas pump needle-stick story is false. There was an email hoax that went around in 2000 that made the same claim as the May 29 post and was proven false. This hoax relied on passing on via email forwarding a message supposedly from the fictitious Abraham Sands of the nonexistent Jacksonville Police Department (Jacksonville’s law enforcement agency is the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office)(2-3).
Towards the end of last month, which is to say May 2017, there was a—”a” as in singular—report of a man in California who suffered a needle-stick injury via the same mechanism of injury as the email hoax from 2000. The case is currently under investigation, and the man has reportedly tested negative for HIV at this time. However, there is no evidence to support claims of a widespread outbreak of HIV-positive needle-stick injuries from gas pump handles.
In the wake of the surprising results of 2016’s presidential election, from which Donald J. Trump emerged as President-Elect, protests and demonstrations have been taking place throughout the country. On November 15, one week after Election Day, a report of anti-Trump protestors blocking an ambulance—with fatal results—began to circulate on social media. The report, which appears to be a screenshot of a Facebook private message, claims that the message’s author was transporting a patient, the father of a 4 year-old girl, when the ambulance was blocked from reaching its destination by a group of anti-Trump protesters, resulting in the death of the patient. The message in its entirety reads:
This post was originally written for the third blog post assignment of the class INFO281, Fall 2016. It was revised and updated May 2017.
This week’s guest speaker from the National Library of Medicine’s Disaster Health division highlighted the need for information in one’s go-bag, and specifically having a “digital go-bag” on a mobile device where one can store disaster health apps for easy access. This got me thinking about the place of information in a go-bag for more routine EMS operations than a large-scale disaster, and so I thought for this unit’s post I would go through my personal go-bag (that I use when I am not working with an agency that has their own equipment) with the aim of
1. seeing how information fits in, and
2. identifying possible ways to further incorporate information into my go-bag.
This blog contains mostly essays about various LIS- or EMS-related things. Posts for a specific class (e.g. INFO 281, Crisis and Disaster Health Informatics), will be categorized by course code (i.e. INFO 281). LIS-related things will go in the category Lisemily and EMS-related things go in the category Diesel Therapy. The Off Topic category denotes posts inspired by a class, but not in response to a specific assignment or activity. Posts that follow up on a previous post are, predictably, found in the Follow Up category, and reviews of platforms and services are, also predictably, filed under the category Reviews.