Photo Credit – Kari’s law blog
Finally, the law has arrived!
United States senators approved “Kari’s Law” legislation—requiring the ability to direct-dial 911 on multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) frequently used by hotels, offices and other enterprises—by unanimous consent on Friday, greatly improving the potential for the bill to become law later this year.
The bill which was inspired by a tragedy in Marshall, won passage Thursday morning in the Texas Senate and will go to the House of Representatives, where the former mayor of that city waits to carry it to passage.
Although the vast majority of senators departed last Thursday for the traditional August recess, the body conducted a “pro forma” session on Friday that saw the passage of multiple pieces of telecommunications legislation, including S.123 sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), better known as “Kari’s Law.” The legislation would mandate that 911 callers be able to dial the emergency number directly, instead of having to include an additional number or code. On many MLTS systems, callers have to dial an additional number—often “9”—to get an outside line to make a normal phone call, so a 911 call would require the caller to dial “9-911.”
The namesake of the bill is Kari Hunt, whose estranged husband murdered her in a Texas hotel room in December 2013. While the murder took place, Hunt’s 9-year-old daughter tried calling 911 four times. Because the youngster didn’t know that the hotel required a prefix to be dialed to get an outside line, the call never went through.
Since then, Hank Hunt—Kari’s father—has worked to get laws passed at the local, state and federal levels that are designed to ensure that MLTS systems allow direct dialing to 911, according to Mark Fletcher, a leading advocate for “Kari’s Law” and Avaya’s chief architect. Kari’s Law has since then received support from nearly 500,000 online signatures and would require that all who dial the three digits 911 would be connected to an emergency dispatcher regardless of the multi-line telephone system (MTLS). Right now, dialing 911 at an office building, school, or hotel MLTS may or may not get the caller they help they are seeking.
The three basic tenets of the Karis’s Law and its implications
- Direct access to 911 from any device with or without an access code
- On-site notification that the event has occurred and from anywhere
- No local interception of the call, unless by trained individuals
These capabilities, coupled with the NENA model legislation that recommends reporting to the PSAP by building, floor and emergency response zone, a safe environment for any building can be established. This model is functional, efficient, and most importantly, affordable. It does not require a unique telephone number on each telephone device with an Automatic Location Information database record associated along with it, incurring monthly costs. This solution provides public safety with the information needed; when they need it. For larger more complex enterprise deployments, these solutions are completely in line with the NENA i3 Next Generation 911 Framework. This framework allows networks to contribute real-time information such as floor plans, heat sensor information as well as information about the facility, such as the location of nearby fire equipment or AEDs.
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