Personal crisis could be shared online

If you're in a car accident or have a heart attack, privacy is probably the last thing from your mind, but if it happens in public, that private moment could be posted for the world to see. And it's completely legal.

The I-Team looked into Wisconsin law and found there are no protections during some emergencies.

Laws allow first responders, doctors and other medical professionals to protect your privacy behind closed doors, but in public those rules don't apply.

"There really isn't much we can do as far as being videotaped in public," said Capt. David Bandomir of the West Allis Fire Department.

The constitution protects your right to take pictures and video in public spaces. Wisconsin's law does allow you to civilly sue someone for highly offensive intrusion on privacy, but, that is limited to private places and trespassing.

HIPAA law protects your personal medical information. But, if you have a medical emergency in public, first responders can only do their best to block views of what's going on.

They try to act fast, especially in crowded places.

"We need to get them and their privacy out of that public arena as soon as possible," Bandomir said.

Bell Ambulance EMT Ryan Janaus said the more dramatic a scene, the more cameras show up.

"If there's somebody unconscious on the ground, then you tend to get a lot of attention," he said.

Mostly, Janaus said he focuses on helping the person on the ground,  not what people broadcasting over social media might be saying.

"Usually I can't even tell what they're saying exactly, but I can tell they're narrating," he explained.

He does think about why someone's recording, though.

"Sometimes people are trying to find something wrong with what we're doing, trying to make an issue of it, sometimes people just want it as a keepsake, a family member interested in what's going on, concerned about the patient and there's always those people who are just doing it for fun," Janaus said.

"We assume we are being recorded," Bandomir said.

He said crews will talk with people in public about recording.

"We'll try and take them just back a little bit or have someone have a discussion with them," he said.

And he wants people to use their phones not for drama, but for good.

"We want people to instead of recording with their phone, to respond to those emergencies," he said.

He urges people to call 911 and start CPR if it's needed.

"That's a neighbor, we know that that's a friend of someone, we know it's a family member," Bandomir said.

If you do want to start CPR after you've called 911, there's an app you can use. It's call Pulse Point and it walks you through the steps of CPR until help gets there. 

GET THE PULSE POINT APP HERE 

Print this article Back to Top