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Paramedic Criticized For Making Disturbing 'Jokes' About The Death Of A Little Person

Photo: TikTok / @aubreysmalls
Zac Crickenberger, Aubrey Smalls

A man on TikTok named Zac Crickenberger (@TheSleepyParamedic), widely known for the videos and stories he posts about his job as an EMT, has recently come under fire after his most recent, now-deleted TikTok received a lot of criticism for the contents he revealed.

After responding to a comment asking, "What is a moment it took everything you had not to laugh at a patient?" Crickenberger began his video by saying, “If you’re easily offended, keep scrolling. Please don’t watch this video, I’m not joking, this is not nice. Understand that all first responders have a very f---ed up, dark sense of humor.”

In the video, Crickenberger made fun of a deceased patient with dwarfism.

Before being deleted, a man with dwarfism named Aubrey Taylor, also known as Aubrey Smalls on TikTok (@aubreysmalls), made a stitch with Crickenberger’s video and spoke out against the harmful views that the paramedic was sharing, as the paramedic was sharing them.

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“This paramedic was making fun of a little person that had passed away at his job,” Taylor said. “First of all, before I started, I wanted to say I have a lot of respect for first responders — nurses, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs. I think you guys do incredible work every single day and see incredibly traumatizing and heartbreaking things.”

   

   

Taylor wanted to emphasize that he understands some people might have their own ways of coping with those kinds of things, and he certainly isn’t trying to say that these people aren’t allowed to have those coping mechanisms. However, he said, “I just think that making fun of a deceased little person in front of their family to your 600,000 followers is just not a great way to cope with that trauma, but let's move on.”

Crickenberger told the story of what happened and what he thought was so funny about the experience.

He explained that he and his paramedic partner had responded to a call to a house where there was a deceased person. As you would expect, he said, their family was all in the front yard grieving, crying, and waiting for the paramedics to arrive.

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“When we got inside, we found the deceased person in the back bedroom, and this person was three foot tall,” Crickenberger explained. “Not a child, but a dwarf.” It’s important to note, as Taylor does as well, that "dwarf" is not the correct terminology to describe someone with dwarfism.

Taylor explained that “the medical terminology for people who have dwarfism is either person with dwarfism or little person or short-statured individual.” The fact that Crickenberger isn’t using the correct terminology, Taylor added, showed him that the paramedic wasn’t very educated about people with dwarfism and claims that it threw him off.

“You never find a deceased dwarf,” Crickenberger continued. “We really think they’re immortal. They just never get sick, they never call 911, we’ve never seen one.” This sounds like a joke, and one that Taylor doesn’t take to very kindly, adding that “disabled people’s bodies are not the basis of a joke.”

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The paramedic prefaced that the next part does make him an ‘a-hole,’ but said it was ‘really funny.’

After following procedure and telling the family of the deceased that there was nothing they could do — that all they could do now was wait for the coroner — Crickenberger claimed that he and his partner had gone back to their van and sat in plain view of the deceased’s family.

“Knowing full well that we had to keep a straight face, and knowing full well that the patient’s family could see him, I played this song on my phone while staring at him like this,” he said, before playing “The Lollipop Guild” from “The Wizard of Oz.”

“The Lollipop Guild” was originally performed in the movie by the “Munchkins,” a group that was portrayed by little people. Crickenberger played this song and made a goofy face to his partner as he moved his head to the beat, insensitively making fun of the deceased person and mocking their family’s grief.

“Imagine the family of that victim who passed away having to see this video,” Taylor said, interjecting at this moment, “of people they entrusted to take care of the body of your loved one making fun of the fact that they were a little person.”

   

   

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According to Insider, Crickenberger has since wiped all of his account’s content except for one six-minute-long apology video in which he sort of apologized for what he had done.

He said making dark jokes was how people in his line of work “learn to deal” with their trauma, but “that does not mean that people outside this community need to hear any of it.” He also said he doesn’t understand how he even got to the point where he could make a video like that and not see anything wrong with it.

Since then, that "apology" video has been deleted as well, leaving one final video about what being an EMT is like and whether or not it’s the right job for you with the comments turned off. “Maybe I just need to get off TikTok altogether,” Crickenberger said, and that seems to be exactly what he did.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor for YourTango who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics.