Business insights

In December of 2013, Kari Rene Hunt was stabbed to death by her estranged husband in a motel room in East Texas. Her 9-year-old daughter had tried to dial 9-1-1 several times during the attack, but was not able to because she did not know she had to first dial “9” to get an outside line.

Through this tragedy, law-makers realized there is a problem caused by many of the multi-line telephone systems typically found in hotels, offices and universities. These systems require users to dial an additional digit to use an outside line — even when they are trying to call 9-1-1.

Texas was the first to implement a law to eliminate this barrier to getting emergency help. On May 15, 2015, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 788 (Kari’s Law). On March 1, 2016, the requirement for direct access to 9-1-1 service was adopted and Kari’s Law went into effect.

Another 29 states have adopted similar laws and, in May of 2016, HR 4167, Kari’s Law, passed overwhelmingly in the U.S. House of Representatives — bringing it one step closer to becoming federal law.

The legislation requires multi-line telephone systems to be configured so dialing 9-1-1 directly connects to public safety. In addition, the law requires that a central point of contact for each system be notified when someone calls for emergency assistance. This provision is intended to help emergency responders entering large buildings actually locate the emergency caller in the building.

If your telephone system requires your employees and other users to dial a number to get an outside line, your business must comply with this law.

Steps to Verify Your Phone System Complies with Kari’s Law:

 
Fortunately, most of today’s newer telecom systems meet Kari’s Law. However, it’s important to verify your system works as required and that the emergency dispatcher sees the correct information for the location of the phone from which 9-1-1 is dialed.

You can verify your system and your phones using these six steps:

  1. Dial 9-1-1.
     
  2. Say the following to the emergency operator:
     
    • “Hello, this is (Name of Your Business).
       
    • This is a test; this is not an emergency.
       
    • May I ask you a couple of questions to verify our 9-1-1 information?
       
    • What business name is your display showing? (If the 9-1-1 operator asks what name they should see, tell them the name of your business.)
       
    • Can you confirm the address as: (repeat your site’s street address)?
       
    • What is the telephone number displaying on your screen?
       
    • Do you see the correct address?”
       
  3. If the 9-1-1 display is not correct, ask the operator to please fill out and send an inquiry form to update the E9-1-1 database with the correct information.
     
  4. Verify that the telephone number displayed on the 9-1-1 screen is valid by dialing that number to test that it rings back to your business.
     
  5. If you have PRI (Primary Rate Interface) lines with multiple outbound Caller ID displays, repeat this test for each unique user or instance.
     
  6. Verify that each 9-1-1 call notifies internally as an emergency call.

If your system is not able to reach 9-1-1 without dialing another number first, contact your telecom provider, who can make programming changes to your system to make it compliant. Once these programming changes are made, go back and conduct the six verification steps above to ensure your system works properly.

* Laws may vary from state to state. Please be sure to check your state and local laws.

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