Social media is the ultimate new age weapon that can make or break a point… literally. Media trends can either shush up a scandal or make a mountain out of a molehill.
The 1990 Ambulance service brought in from India has been the source of many “high-pitched discussions” in the last few months. Especially, because many were disturbed by the idea that the service would cause an influx of Indian personnel into the Sri Lankan job market, despite claims by the government that no such thing would happen.
Deputy Foreign Minister, Dr. Harsha De Silva, especially, has gone on record to state that there is zero connection between the ETCA and the Indian Ambulance Project.
While this a good way to get the point across to the public, it may not always be the best idea, for an individual minister to become the de facto spokesperson for the service, no matter how good his intentions maybe. The reason is simple. The public might automatically attach a bias to the service just because a minister is speaking on behalf of the service.
A certain Facebook post (all hail the mighty power of FB) worded very well and systematically, brought to light the positive side of the Ambulance service which has been subjected to much controversy. The author of the post went on to give his experiences with the service starting from the first “hello” to the admission of a patient who had sustained grave injuries from a fall.
The post shed some great insight into the level of service and care as well as efficiency that was shown by all of the staff starting from the officer who picked the call, to the paramedics and the doctors and nurses as Kalubowila Teaching Hospital. It was all positive and within a matter of hours the post was re-tweeted, shared, liked and commented upon.
Many of the commenters came out to offer their “thank yous” to the author for shedding light on a topic of much controversy from a first-hand experience point of view and were quite elevated by the thought of great service. Interestingly, the author of the post mentioned very clearly that there were no Indians to be seen in the ambulance service anywhere and said that they double-checked. It was said in good humour and went a long way, clearly, to put at ease, the minds of many, who were feeling a bit of trepidation over the many social media trends that speculated on whether this would bring about a possibility of Indian personnel entering the Sri Lankan job market.
The end of the article appealed to the compassionate and humane side of readers by mentioning a few of the bitter experiences that the staff had to endure owing to the immense negativity that was mostly spread through the masses thanks to the great social media giant.
As the post went on to elaborate, some of the employees in the service came out to say that despite the fact that they handle almost 3-5 such emergency cases on a daily basis, they are also at the receiving end of many prank calls that mislead them. Some of the employees also brought to light, the fact that they are also not immune to the odd “harsh” call where the caller would abuse them for being a part of the service. Considering all things, it does truly begin to look like people are turning a cold shoulder towards the plight and views of those who are employed for the ambulance service not to mention the emotional weight that such actions would inevitably carry. It also begins to look as if though, the staff themselves had no voice in the matter.
It is also worthy to note that the 1990 ambulance service does not have any social media platforms working for them and for such a high-profile initiative, it is indeed unfortunate, that they do not carry a communication strategy. Had this been put in place, a lot of miscommunication could have been cleared and many burning questions of the public would have been answered effectively and in a timely manner.
It’s great that more and more of the public is starting to voice their opinions on social media and taking a stand for they believe is correct while shifting trends from some of the more “unfair” biases which can be observed towards the services. However, it is important to bear in mind that not everything which is put out there may exist in its truest form. Fact checking could save all of us a lot of unnecessary heartburn and prevent unfounded worries from spreading through the masses.