Beginning this week, local 911 centers will be getting updated information of positive COVID-19 cases in their jurisdiction in order to let first responders know of the risk when responding to an emergency call from an address where a positive case has been identified. This is going to be retroactive to identify each case for the safety of first responders.
According to a press release from Gov. Brian Kemp’s Office, this will be a collaborated exercise between the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency and the Georgia Department of Public Health. As hospitals, acute care facilities, and labs report their COVID-19 cases to the Georgia DPH, staff from the Georgia Emergency Communications Authority will pull the daily COVID-19 case list from the DPH reporting system and send each 911 center the newest addresses of COVID-19 positive patients in their jurisdiction. Only the address will be shared with 911 centers in accordance with guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights.
If a call comes in from that address within the 21-day period of when a patient was potentially infections, the dispatch center will alert the responding agency, including EMS, fire, and law enforcement, that there is a COVID-19 patient at that address. However, since most cases of COVID-19 in the community are unknown, first responders will continue to take precautions on all calls, regardless of whether the address has been flagged.
“We are urging 911 centers to continue to ask COVID-19 screening questions for all requested responses to ensure that first responders have as many details as possible before arriving on the scene of a call for service,” GECA Executive Director Michael Nix said in the press release.” The health and safety of first responders are 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.”