HARRISBURG – First responders will know of any confirmed COVID-19 cases at addresses to which they are called for emergencies, under legislation sponsored by Senator Kim Ward (R-39) and headed to the governor for enactment.
During declared emergency disasters for global pandemics, Senate Bill 1110 requires the Pennsylvania Department of Health and local health agencies to provide 911 dispatch centers with the address of any known positive case of a communicable disease that is infectious through aerosolized transmission. The addresses must be provided within 24 hours of the state or local agencies receiving confirmation of the case.
Police officers, fire fighters, and EMS personnel will be told when responding to an emergency if there is a confirmed case of the communicable disease at the address they are being sent.
The location information is limited to just those diseases that are the subject of an emergency disaster proclamation by the governor and can only be shared up to 60 days after the expiration or termination of the disaster emergency. The bill authorizes access to the information only to those who need it for emergency responders to perform an essential job function at the address.
“If state, county or local governments have this vital information, there is no reason it cannot be shared with our first responders. These folks have been on the front lines fighting the effects of COVID-19 since day one without the ability to ‘stay home and stay safe,’” said Ward.
The availability of personal protective equipment continues to be a challenge for emergency responders. Senate Bill 1110 is in response to requests by emergency management and first responders for specific location information of confirmed COVID-19 so they can better prioritize the use of scarce PPEs.
The information will also be released to coroners and medical examiners.
“Senate Bill 1110 will give our police, fire fighters, EMS, coroners and medical examiners a tool to help keep them as safe as possible, both in this current pandemic and in any future ones,” said Ward. “It is in the best interest of all of us for our first responders to know as much as possible about their risk of exposure to a highly communicable novel virus like COVID-19 when they are responding to a call.”
Senate Bill 1110 passed the General Assembly unanimously is now before to the governor to be signed into law.
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