Concerns have been raised that personal information, including medical details and home addresses, used to dispatch emergency services to critical incidents is easily accessible and insecure.

The state government is investigating potential privacy breaches of the emergency service paging system, which sends out text alerts to thousands of staff and volunteers of the SES, CFA and Ambulance Victoria.

The text messages contain information that allows emergency personnel to respond quickly to incidents and can include private medical details, such as medications or medical conditions, when broadcast by Ambulance Victoria.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Kim Wells said he had been made aware of “serious” incidents where unauthorised people has been scanning emergency paging broadcasts. He said this was potentially in contravention of the Telecommunications Interception Act.

“When authorities are alerted, these potential breaches are taken very seriously and people are issued with a cease and desist by the Department of Justice,” he said. 

A spokesperson for the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority, which manages the system on behalf of the emergency services, said unauthorised scanning of the pager information was rare but did occur from time to time.

She said there were protocols covering the scanning of broadcasts and that enthusiasts had been listening to emergency broadcasts “for decades”.

But a whistleblower has reportedly claimed the private information is easily obtainable by people not part of the emergency services through basic internet searches.

“There is information on here about medication, where people keep their keys, about all sorts of stuff and it’s utterly insecure,” said 774 ABC Melbourne presenter Jon Faine, who had spoken with the whistleblower. 

He said the personal information was easy to find but did not provide information on how to obtain it to avoid breaking any privacy laws. 

Liberty Victoria president Jane Dixon said accessing private medical information broadcast by the pagers without authorisation could be a breach of privacy principles.

“The legislation imposes a lot of requirements, it sounds a bit to easy to get to this health information,” she told ABC Radio. 

More than one million text alerts were sent out to approximately 40,000 pagers using the service in 2012/13, including 524,065 emergency messages. The paging service is used by rural emergency services. 

Earlier this week an auditor-general report slammed ESTA’s performance over its handling of the state’s triple-zero service, saying it had not met ambulance emergency dispatch standards for three years.