Orlando firefighter investigated for recording emergency on GoPro

March 19 video raises questions of medical privacy

ORLANDO, Fla. – A veteran Orlando firefighter who used his personal GoPro video camera to record the attempted medical rescue of a 67-year-old man is under investigation for a potential violation of the department’s medical privacy policy.

The video, obtained by News 6, shows the firefighters pulling the limp body of a 67-year-old man from a side window of a burning home on the 1100 block in Parramore.

The 17-minute video contains three minutes of life-saving efforts. Officials with the Orlando Fire Department confirmed Monday that they are aware of the video.

"Patients in need of medical care have a right to privacy, under federal and state laws and also the Orlando Fire Department policies," public information manager Ashley Papagani said in a statement.

An internal investigation regarding the video is underway. Disciplinary action, if any, will be based on the outcome of the investigation, Papagani said.

The firefighter under investigation had used his GoPro to make video recordings of fire calls before, according to people familiar with the situation. It is unclear if the other video clips included medical situations.

Papagani said the firefighter will remain on the job during the investigation, but she stressed that department policy makes no exceptions to the medical privacy standard.

“The Orlando Fire Department has a well-deserved reputation for and is committed to serving the community with professionalism and integrity," Papagani said. "It is important that all members honor this reputation and exemplify these values in the performance of their duties. Furthermore, patients in need of medical care have a right to privacy under federal and state laws and also the Orlando Fire Department policies."

The video of the patient in distress raises questions about the dismissal of ousted EMT Joshua Granada.

Granada was terminated late last year by the city of Orlando in November for making an audio recording of a patient in distress during a medical call at a Double Tree hotel.

“My actions were to protect my crew after I felt threatened," Granada told News 6 in an interview shortly after his dismissal.

Granada’s cellphone recording, which was never made public, became a political land mine because the woman in distress was Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill.

Granada said Hill suggested during the incident that the first responders were touching her inappropriately.

He admitted to playing the 30-second audio clip to a handful of his coworkers, then erasing it a short time later.

While the audio was heard by a handful of people, sources said the rescue video has been seen by dozens of fire department employees.

According to one source, multiple city computers downloaded the video. 

Granada filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the city last month arguing that the department used the recording as an excuse to fire him.

Granada’s attorney, Geoff Bichler, said the termination was about by his client’s criticism of how the OFD handled the Pulse attack, not the 30-second audio recording.

“There doesn’t seem to be any substantive difference between the two recordings,” Bichler said. "Granada, named 2017 state firefighter of the year after saving 17 men and women wounded during the Pulse shooting, has been critical of how the department handled the deadly shooting."

Granada also told supervisors he was suffering from PTSD following the Pulse rescue. He declined to comment on the video investigation.

About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.