Richland County, SC – A Presser/Protest has been scheduled for 10:00am Monday, August 14 at the Richland County Administrative Building following the statement made by Richland County Assistant Administrator.
On August 10, Kevin Bronson, the Richland County Assistant County Administrator made a comment in a room full of county EMS employees at a monthly inservice training stating “if it’s really that bad you can just kill yourself or leave.” So far one Council Member has publicly requested Bronson’s dismissal as reported by ABC Columbia:
Columbia, S.C. (WOLO)– In a statement sent to ABC Columbia News, Richland County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson said in part, “Please know that County Council highly respects our employee and value their service.”
Dickerson gave the statement in regards to a “disparaging remark by Kevin Bronson, a Richland County employee while in a meeting.”
Bronson is Richland County’s assistant county administrator. Gerald Seals, Richland County Administrator, said the inappropriate comment was made during an internal meeting for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) employees. The statement said Bronson’s comment referenced suicide, and “any reference to suicide in a cavalier manner is unacceptable and a public apology is warranted– and given.” Seals said comments like those will not be tolerated, and Bronson has been disciplined. Seals echoed Dickerson’s sentiment saying, “I am committed to ensuring all County employees know they are valued and respected.”
This incident has First Responders across the country upset, and with good reason. Suicide is a real problem facing the First Responder community, in fact, one recent study suggested 6.6% of EMS workers had attempted suicide, which is a staggering number compared with the Center for Disease Control’s reported .5% average in America.
This subject is still an open wound for the First Responder community in Richland County, where on the 28th of July, 28 year old Deputy Derek Fish finished his patrol, parked his cruiser in the back of his department’s regional headquarters, and used his service gun to end his own life in the cruiser. Now only weeks later these comments from the county administration are not sitting well with many.
Bronson did respond with a written apology in the form of an email.