Passage of Texas House Bill 2646 Provides Protection for First Responders

Filed under: City |

DALLAS – Governor Greg Abbott has signed HB 2646, which authorizes the disclosure of information regarding communicable diseases to first responders and certain entities. HB 2646 amends the Texas Health and Safety Code permitting local health departments to release information through the computer-aided dispatch system; thereby making it possible for all first responders to have access.

ambulance“It is imperative for all first responders to have access to location information of individuals being monitored for communicable diseases during the disease monitoring period,” said Zachary Thompson, DCHHS director. “We appreciate State Representative Helen Giddings and State Senator Royce West for working with the Texas legislators to get House Bill 2646 passed.”

Sen. Royce West sponsored the bill, which was authored by Rep. Helen Giddings.

“I commend Dallas County for addressing the 2014 Ebola situation with the tools they had,” Giddings said. “Once HB 2646 becomes effective this September 1st, it will allow our first responders to take the necessary and proper precautions, whether it is with supplies or suiting up with appropriate protective clothing, to avoid an unnecessary risk of exposure to a communicable disease.”

HB 2646 states that the minimum necessary information be released under the following circumstances:

  • To governmental entities that provide first responders
  • To a local health department or local health authority during the disease monitoring period
  • The physical address be removed from the computer-aided dispatch system after the disease monitoring period ends

“This bill enhances the protection of first responders giving them the opportunity to take the necessary precautions with Personal Protective Equipment based on the disease the individual has been exposed to,” said Dr. Christopher Perkins, DCHHS medical director/health authority. “This bill protects first responders as well as citizens at large.”

HB 2646 becomes law effective September 1.