Health service bosses confirmed yesterday they only discovered last week that all phone lines are channelled through one circuit into the recording system at the Donegal ambulance centre.
While ambulance control centres normally record calls from outside, internal conversations should not be taped as it is a breach of privacy.
Health service chiefs admitted they did not know if the internal recording system was in place in other ambulance centres and an independent review had been ordered to find out.
“This has come about as a result of how the telephone system in Ballyshannon was configured in the centre when it was re-developed in 2009,” a spokeswoman told the Irish Independent.
“Steps have already been undertaken to undo that configuration, introduce a second circuit and to ensure that ambulance-related calls only are recorded in the future,” said a spokeswoman.
The HSE has had to alert the Data Protection Commissioner about the breach and the office was “informed of the matter once a possible issue was identified”, she added.
“It is unacceptable that any calls other than those into and out of ambulance control rooms would be recorded,” she added.
The HSE has already started a review into the national ambulance service emergency phone systems to find out if the problem exists in other centres.
Meanwhile, the Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) said the upcoming local elections “will be extremely important for the protection of local fire and emergency services into the future”.
Speaking at the IFESA annual conference, chairman John Kidd said local election candidates “will have to clearly set out their policies for the future of local fire and emergency services under threat from cutbacks”.