Two New 911 Laws

The President recently signed into law two statutes designed to improve emergency calling: 

(1) Kari’s Law applies to multi-line telephone systems (MLTS), which are telephone systems that serve consumers in environments such as office buildings, campuses, and hotels. Many businesses also may still have these. If you aren’t sure, please review your system and enact changes as part of your health and safety program.

Kari’s Law requires MLTS systems in the United States to enable users to dial 911 directly, without having to dial a prefix to reach an outside line, and to provide for notification (e.g., to a front desk or security office) when a 911 call is made. 

In 2013, Hank Hunt’s daughter, Kari, was attacked and killed by her estranged husband in a Marshall, Texas hotel room. Kari’s nine-year-old daughter was in the room and tried calling 911 on the hotel phone. Apparently, she dialed 911 four times during the attacked. But not one of her calls ever went through because a “9” had to be dialed for an outside line. Thanks to  Hank, the FCC and Congress enacted the law so that a “9” is no longer needed for 911 calls from multi-line systems like hotel phones. Kari’s Law became law on February 16, 2020.

 (2) RAY BAUM’S Act requires the Commission to conduct a rulemaking proceeding to consider rules to ensure that 911 call centers receive the caller’s location automatically and can dispatch responders more quickly. “Dispatchable location” is defined as “the street address of the calling party, and additional information such as room number, floor number, or similar information necessary to adequately identify the location of the calling party.” 

This is essential for safety. A related story happened on September 23, 2015 when Breann Lasley and her sister Kayli Lasley were “attacked, stabbed and nearly beaten” in their Salt Lake City home by a man who’d entered their home around midnight through a window.”  They struggled against Berger for 15 minutes but had managed to call 911 four times as they were repeatedly stabbed. The calls were never dispatched. Listening to an interview on NPR with the sisters was heart-wrenching.

“Instead of dispatching the calls and sending the police, the 911 dispatchers — using defendant Priority Dispatch Corp.’s rigid software dispatch system known as Police ProQA — were required to interrogate Bre[ann] and her sister by asking a series of scripted prompts and pre-determined questions before police could be dispatched,” court documents said.

Her sister was eventually able to escape the house during the attack and get a police officer’s attention outside.

“This is a national problem,” McDaniel said on Friday. “In 911, we don’t know where you are on literally 70 to 80 percent of the calls that happen. That’s the breakdown in this case. It’s tragic. We feel for it but we do need to make sure that the focus is on the right part here, which is the inability to find the patient and/or the victim to help give them the help that they needed.”

Image by nadine coco from Pixabay

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