First responders in Georgia will now be notified of 911 calls involving the home of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Gov. Brian Kemp’s office announced the move on Tuesday to provide increased protection for police, fire and ambulance crews. The action is a collaboration between the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency and the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Hospitals, acute care facilities and labs have been reporting their COVID-19 cases to DPH. Under the plan, GEMA/HS will be able to access that information and send it to 911 centers across the state, according to the announcement.
The information will consist of the newest addresses of COVID-19 positive patients within the 911 center’s jurisdiction. To ensure the confidentiality of the patients, only the address will be shared with 911 centers.
With this new information, whenever a call is made to 911 from that address within the 21-day period of when a patient was potentially infectious, the dispatch center will alert the responding personnel of the presence of a patient with COVID-19 at that address.
This process and information shared will follow guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, according to the news release.
Regardless of an addressee’s COVID-19 status, first responders will continue to take precautions on all calls since most cases of COVID-19 in the community are unknown, according to the release.
Officials are still urging 911 centers to continue to ask COVID-19 screening questions for all requested responses
“The health and safety of first responders is critical. Screening 911 callers and notifying responding personnel in a timely manner of any exposure to COVID-19 allow first responders to keep themselves, their families and the general public safe, and help Georgia reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Michael Nix, executive director of the Georgia Emergency Communications Authority in the news release.