Central Cariboo Search and Rescue (CCSARS) deputy chief Kyle Cotterel, pictured above during the 2017 wildfires, has volunteered with CCSARS for eight years. Photo submitted

‘Very disrespectful’: B.C. first responder irked by motorists recording collisions on cellphones

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue deputy chief challenges motorists to break the habit

After attending the scene of a fatal collision on Highway 97 on the weekend, a Williams Lake search and rescue volunteer is speaking out over what he considers “disrespectful” use of cellphones at accident scenes.

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue (CCSAR) deputy chief Kyle Cotterell said he witnessed “cell phone after cell phone” being held out by motorists passing by recording the scene where CCSAR members were stationed along busy Highway 97 Saturday trying to protect and shield the accident scene where an elderly woman had died of her injuries.

READ MORE: Elderly woman victim of fatal McLeese Lake collision Saturday with semi truck

So upset by the experience, Cotterell was prompted to post his opinion publicly on Facebook which has since been widely shared.

“It was the last straw,” Cotterell said. “I just think it’s very disrespectful. The whole moral concept of it just isn’t right.”

In his post Cotterell said he was alarmed by the amount of drivers and passengers trying to video and photograph the scene, which he felt was a violation of not only the victims’ privacy but also the first responders.

“All agencies that respond from fire/rescue, BC Ambulance, RCMP, highways and other support services are doing what they are trained to do. They are processing internally what task is at hand,” Cotterell wrote. “Often struggling with the severity and technicalities at hand while remembering every other incident from the past and how they are triggered over and over again by sounds, smells and sights. The last thing I want is my picture being taken while I am processing and working a scene.”

“Think about this the next time you want to take a picture or video of a car accident.”

Cotterell went on to encourage those interested in the work to reach out and apply to volunteer with their local volunteer fire department instead of being an onlooker.

Steve Forseth, Cariboo Regional District Electoral Area D director, said he agrees with Cotterell’s message and also took to social media to remind residents to respect one another’s privacy in emergency situations.

“People … really don’t need to take pictures of the scenes and post them on social media,” Forseth told the Tribune. “These sorts of details should be learned directly from RCMP or in the case of a house fire, from the local fire chief and not on social media. In my area, this is a message that resonates well with my local residents.”


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