Imagine being in an office building or a government institution. There are phones – landlines – everywhere. The kind that have cords that plug into the wall. Or maybe you’re in a hotel and there, on the bedside table or desk, is a phone. How quaint, you think.

In fact, landlines remain popular for many places like hotels because they offer greater security. While you prefer your Galaxy or iPhone, landlines can actually identify a person’s exact location rather than just the estimated area provided by a mobile device. That matters, especially in emergency situations. What also matters is that when using a landline to summon help in an emergency, dialing ‘9’ to get an outside line is no longer required.

On January 23, 2017, Congress enacted the bill H.R. 582. Known as Kari’s Law Act, it was signed into law on February 16, 2018. It requires direct dialing of 911, without dialing ‘9’ first, from offices, government institutions, educational facilities, hotels, and more. It also dictated that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) develop 911 calling regulations for multi-line telephone systems. These multi-line systems, known as MLTS, are the most common landline systems used in offices, governments, education, and hotels.

What is Kari’s Law?

Kari’s Law is named for Kari Hunt Dunn, a young mother who was stabbed to death by her estranged husband in 2013. The incident took place in the bathroom of a Texas hotel. With Mrs. Dunn at the time was her 9-year-old daughter who frantically tried to call 911 from the hotel bedroom, but was unable to because she didn’t know to first dial ‘9’ for an outside line.

The enacting of this law will now make such a tragedy avoidable. This applies to all landlines including multi-line telephone systems. And it means that any business that utilizes the practice of dialing ‘9’ to reach an outside line, and any business that has an operational MLTS, must comply.

The FCC has also created rules, pursuant to Ray Baum’s Act also signed into law in 2018, for the dispatching of precise location information.

What should you do?

The law requires compliance by February 2020. While that may seem very soon, there is still time to do what you need to in order to make sure your phone systems allow for emergency calls with the universally understood ‘911’.

  1. Create a checklist.
  2. Disable any prefix (like ‘9’) within your office/hotel phone system.
  3. Implement notifications to all personnel when emergency services have been contacted. This can be done via email, SMS/Text, or phone call.

Sounds easy enough, right?

Bottom line

If your business operates with a multi-line telephone system that requires dialing an additional number to reach an outside line, you must allow for emergency calls from anywhere within your business with just ‘911.’ Your system must also be able to provide notification of the call and the exact location the call emanates from. On-site notifications will also allow your employees to help until outside help arrives.

If your organization has yet to comply with Kari’s Law, contact us. We can help you achieve compliance while keeping your company secure and your employees and guests safe.

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