CHEATHAM COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Cheatham County is the first EMS agency in the state to equip its personnel with body cameras.
In addition, every Cheatham County EMS ambulance is also equipped with a dashcam.
“It is a tough time or can be a tough time when an emergency vehicle approaches traffic whether at an intersection or a two-lane highway. We want to know if our folks were in compliance or running people off the road or doing what they are supposed to do and allow people to yield to emergency traffic,” says Assistant Chief BJ Hudspeth.
According to Hudspeth, approximately six months ago, Cheatham EMS purchased eight dash cameras for vehicles and 15 body cams for EMT’s.
“It is the change in our times these days. You can not be too safe. It is out there for our folk’s protection and the protection of the patient.”
Hudspeth says his crews have gotten use to wearing the cameras, activating them the moment they arrive on the scene.
“In the beginning it was tough. It was something extra they had to turn on, to activate, amongst all the other things they have to do. But now it is routine.”
Hudspeth says because of HIPPA concerns, the video is not available to just anybody. He says nobody except supervisors have access to the video and nobody in the public will see any of the videos without a court order.
“If they get out of the truck, it is policy they activate their camera and that is for the duration of the call. The guy in the back, he keeps his running for the entire call. There are limitations. We don’t run these in hospitals for HIPPA reasons. And we don’t run them in nursing homes or extended-care facilities.”
According to Hudspeth, body cams are worn to document problems and allegations of wrongdoing.
“There are claims, not here, but elsewhere, where folks might say someone was touched inappropriately or mistreated and that is easy to combat if you have video footage and proof.”
EMS officials tell News 2 the body cams and dash cams cost less than $5,000 and came out of the agency’s normal operating budget.
All the cameras are password protected for HIPPA reasons and only the supervisor has the access code so no video can be altered or deleted or viewed by anyone but supervisory staff.