We can release information that would expedite treatment. Forr example...everyone on my volunteer rescue squad in my very rural area knows where "Joe Blow" lives...a lot of us don't know where 12345 CR 123 is. So...we are going to have a faster response if we are told we have a man with chest pain at "Joe Blow's farm" than if we are told we have a man with chest pain at 12345 CR 123.
Also, if there is a crime scene at an EMS call, I think the crime overrides HIPAA. So...they can release 911 tapes with a caller requesting help because his brother was stabbed.
But...EMS is usually very careful to keep disclosure to a minimum. We have more secure radio channels to call report to the hospital and we almost never mention patient names on the radio. I can think of ONE time in over ten years when a patient's name was mentioned on the radio.
And...most dispatching centers are not exclusively EMS based, so they aren't under the HIPAA law the way that they would be if they were just EMS.
Anyone can gain access to the recordings by submitting a written request to the local government via the "Freedom of Information Act." Identifying information such as name, address, phone number, and victim/witness information can be removed prior to releasing the recording.
In states not covered by the "Freedom of Information Act," there must be a court order to release the recording.
It always amazes me that people want to listen to them. I find them really distressing. Listening to people at their most vulnerable, often crying and hysterical, really isn't my idea of entertainment regardless of whether they are a public figure or not. We live in a very sick world... Some things really just shouldn't be in the public domain.
Certain things are considered public records. In Texas, for example, when you get or renew your nursing license they ask for specific medical information such as have you ever been treated for or diagnosed with yadi yadi. Your answers to the board of nursing become part of the public record! Scary isn't it?