911 centers to begin receiving list of confirmed COVID-19 patient addresses

STAFF REPORT ::

Beginning this week, 911 communication centers will receive a list identifying the locations of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the jurisdiction. Authorities say this measure is being implemented in an effort to protect Georgia’s first responders.

This will be a collaboration of the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency and Georgia Department of Public Health.

As hospitals, acute care facilities and labs report COVID-19 cases to the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), staff from the Georgia Emergency Communications Authority (GECA) at GEMA/HS 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.

To ensure patient confidentiality, only the address will be shared with 911 centers.

If a 911 call is made from that address within the 21-day period of when a patient was potentially infectious, the dispatch center will alert the responding personnel – including EMS, fire, and law enforcement – of the presence of a patient with COVID-19 at that location.

This process and the information shared follow guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.

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,” said GECA Executive Director Michael Nix. “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.”

DPH is also going to retroactively identify any potential exposures to ensure the safety of first responders across Georgia.

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