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Dead Baby Hoax: Looking for Administrative Failures

Dead Baby Hoax: Looking for Administrative Failures


By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

For most people, finding a dead body is traumatic and shocking, because it is not something that happens every day. For public safety officials, there are protocols in place to make sure that a body is truly deceased and is no longer "workable" from an emergency medicine perspective.

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The Dead Baby Hoax in New York alarmed those in leadership positions because it appeared that administrative protocols might not have been handled properly. More importantly, the hoax could be a litmus test showing that employees also may not be following the appropriate protocols.

According to the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, police received a 911 call last month, claiming that someone had found a dead baby in a park. When police arrived, they found a baby lying facedown in the grass with the discoloration associated with corpses.

Emergency Medical Services was also called. But no one realized that the baby was actually a doll until the Medical Examiner's Office arrived. An investigation was launched.

Protocols Are in Place for a Reason

An article by Skip Kirkwood in EMS1.com highlights just how problematic these sorts of incidents are. Some individuals who were thought to be dead were actually alive. Protocols keep everything in check and make sure that people are still being attended to if there is a chance to save lives.

While it certainly is important to review the protocols and to make sure that employees are following them, the Dead Baby Hoax may be an opportunity for managers to understand whether their policies are actually being followed.

More importantly, managers may have the opportunity to determine whether it was an isolated error or indicative of a larger administrative problem.

Policy blunders like this often indicate a problematic administration. Administrative failures were evident in Hurricane Katrina and the Challenger disaster. Thus, it is important for those in leadership positions to carefully review the decisions made in the Dead Baby Hoax to fully understand the incident. Only through investigating these types of events can a department correct future administration issues.

The Dead Baby Hoax was likely awful for those involved, considering that they were working what appeared to be a horrific incident. Because of the nature of this incident, it will be of strategic importance for management to determine whether there was a breach of administrative policies at any level in order to prevent incidents like this from happening in the future.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.