Memoir cost former Charleston EMS director his job, county termination letter states

Photo Source: WCSC
Photo Source: WCSC

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A letter released this week by Charleston County states the former director of Charleston County EMS who was fired in July lost his job because of questions raised by a book he wrote and self-published.

Don Lundy, who had served as the county's EMS director since 2000, wrote Paramedic of the Heart: True Stories of Lives Changed as a memoir about his career in EMS.

A grievance hearing in Lundy's termination was held Wednesday, but county spokesman Shawn Smetana could not provide additional information about the outcome of that hearing.

"Although you have described it as a memoir of sorts, the book includes discussion of your current position with Charleston County and references to various other County employees by name," the letter from Deputy Charleston County Administrator Christine O. DuRant dated July 27, 2015, states.

The letter goes into detail about descriptions of Lundy's coworkers.

"Significantly, the book includes discussion of EMS employees to whom you refer as 'life sucking, energy draining bags of annoying hell.' Although you claim them to be hypothetical or composite individuals, they bear notable likenesses to certain current Charleston County EMS employees with whose supervision you have been entrusted," the letter states. "In doing so, you have called into question your ability to fairly and equitably lead the department."

DuRant wrote employees who believed they were "discussed negatively" in Lundy's book claimed they had been defamed.

"Your actions also prompt concern relating to the possible use of your County position for personal gain," the letter states. "We do not have sufficient information from which to form an opinion on those issues but we say with certainty that your actions and lack of judgment are not consistent with the level of conduct and professionalism we expect from someone in your highly visible leadership position."

The letter states the county became aware of the book on July 9, about two weeks before the termination letter was written.

Charleston County Council Chair Elliott Summey reacted to the passage about EMS coworkers as the investigation was underway.

"I'll take my government hat off, and just being a normal person, I didn't like that," he said.

Lundy released a statement on the same day his termination was confirmed, stating he was "shocked and saddened" by the county's decision.

"Charleston County EMS has a tremendously talented group of professionals who are awesome in every way," Lundy said in the statement. "I have always spoken highly of them and will continue to do so. CCEMS has been nationally recognized as an outstanding department and I stand with them as part of that team. I have never spoken poorly about any of my current employees and the quote, taken out of context from my book, does not reflect, either directly or indirectly, on any of my team members. I am, frankly, bewildered at the reason being given for my termination."

Lundy had been placed on temporary leave during an internal human resources investigation after the county learned of the book.

The publisher for Paramedic of the Heart is CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Amazon's book self-publisher.

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