• Lost data could impact thousands of EMS patients

    By: Greg Suskin

    Updated:

    LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. - Anyone who had to take an ambulance ride over a 10-year period in Lancaster County may have had their personal information compromised.

    Back in April, county employees were cleaning out a storage room in the basement of the Lancaster County Administration Building. That room had a small safe, which contained hard drives flash drives with back up data from county EMS.

    At the time, it was discovered the safe was missing.

    "Of course, we hate that it happened," said Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis. "We are taking steps to make sure that doesn't ever happen again."

    The data held personal information for anyone who rode in an ambulance from 2004 to 2014.  It had names, addresses, and Social Security numbers of potentially thousands of patients, including medical details about each call.

    After a detailed search back in April, county leaders called in the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to investigate. The safe has not been found. SLED told Channel 9 Wednesday that they could not comment on a still ongoing investigation.

    Willis said there's no evidence that this was done deliberately or that any of it fell into the wrong hands. 

    "I think it (the safe) was most likely just inadvertently discarded at that time. We have no reason to believe anyone's information was compromised," he said.

    Last year, county EMS ran roughly 13,000 transports, so there could be more than 100,000 records now missing, and the drives were unencrypted.

    "Hopeful we've dodged a bullet on this one," Willis said.

    However, Lancaster residents like John Robertson can't fathom how something like that can just disappear.

    "For it to get gone out of this building, I think that's pretty poor," Robertson said.

    Ruben Benson is sorry for all those transported by ambulance who could have had their personal information exposed.

    "We trust these people, you know, and we're being let down. It's sad. Just sad," he said.

    This week, the county began sending out letters explaining what happened, and offering a year of free credit monitoring to anyone whose personal information was on those drives.

    A hotline has also been set up to answer questions about the lost data. That number is 1-877-509-8356.

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