What is Kari's Law?
Kari's law is an amendment to the FCC's Communications Act that requires direct dialing of 9-1-1. It mandates that any multi-line telephone system allows users to dial 9-1-1 without having to dial a prefix, like 9. In other words, to dial 9-1-1, there's no extra 9 needed.
It also dictates that a notification is sent to security officials or other building management personnel.
Kari's Law, The Story.
The Kari’s Law story all started with the murder of Kari Hunt in a Marshall, Texas, hotel room in 2013. Kari Hunt was estranged from her husband and staying with family. As an act of kindness, she brought her three children to his hotel so he could see them. When she arrived, she and her husband settled the kids down to watch TV and then went into the next room to talk privately. While in the bathroom, Brad Dunn stabbed his wife 21 times. He then fled the scene with one child but was soon arrested with the help of an Amber Alert.
Kari’s nine-year-old daughter tried four times to call 911. She did not know she had to dial nine first to reach an outside line, so the multi-line phone system in use in the hotel did not allow the call to go through. Had Kari's daughter been able to contact emergency services in the immediate aftermath of the attack, lawyers for the Hunt family believe Kari may have lived.
Kari’s daughter also informed two hotel employees that she needed help, but the employees did not speak English and did not come to her aid or inform the hotel manager of the situation. This is the basis for Kari’s Law to require phone systems to notify the front desk, security office, or other designated authoritative personnel when someone has placed a 911 call from the building or campus.
How will Kari's Law change public safety?
By ensuring that multi-line telephone system phones no longer have to enter a prefix to dial 911, Kari's Law will expedite emergency calling and deliver help quicker than ever to the occupants of a building.
With Kari's Law in effect; school kids, travelers, office employees, or hotel workers; will not only avert any confusion they might experience in an emergency but will also help send accurate location data along to emergency services.
Having access to precise location data advances our approach to public safety. Emergency responders will not be delayed searching for callers, and can instead focus their efforts on getting to the scene as fast as possible. Many lives are lost each year because emergency services cannot find who they were trying to help. Having access to this data will cut that number down.
Kari's Law compliance.
Direct dialing of 911: Many multi-line phone systems, including hotel phones, require callers to dial a prefix, such as nine, to make a call outside the building. If a caller such as a visitor or a hotel guest does not know the prefix and tries to dial 911 directly; the call will not connect. Kari’s Law requires that 911 calls placed over multi-line phone systems will go through without dialing a code or prefix.
Onsite notification of a 911 call: Phone systems must also notify the office manager, school, or hotel that someone in the building has placed a 911 call. The notice must be sent at the time the person places a 911 call and can include screen popups or audible alarms for security desks, SMS notifications to cell phones, or email to administrators. This feature allows onsite staff at your central location to investigate the situation and provide additional assistance prior to emergency personnel arriving. There are three benefits: the caller benefits by speeding up the response time, the facility staff benefit by receiving vital information, and the first-response teams benefit by reduced confusion and delays when arriving on the scene.
How do Businesses become compliant with Kari's Law?
Here are some steps businesses can take to comply with the requirements of Kari’s Law:
- Review Your Multi-line Phone System If your office building uses a private branch exchange, or PBX, which connects calls between different enterprises and gives callers access to external phone lines. Or, your business could also have a different type of multi-line telephone phone system, with many different lines going to different departments.
Regardless, businesses will need to assess its multi-line phone system to determine how the phone system is routing calls to 911 centers without requiring a prefix. If your phone system requires more steps than just dialing 911, you will want to consult with a communication specialist to make the necessary configuration changes or consider an upgrade.
- Install a Phone Equipment or Software that's compliant under the new federal law, all new telephone systems manufactured, imported, sold, or leased after February 2020 are required to comply with Kari's Law. The law does not require you to purchase new hardware, but if this is something you’ve been considering, phone systems sold after this date should be compliant.
You can also check to see if your existing hardware can be upgraded with new software to make your system compliant with the law. For the most reliable and cost-effective upgrades, you’ll probably want to partner with a trusted PBX service provider.
- Make sure your E911 Is Properly Configured Enhanced 911 (E911) is the technology that automatically delivers the call’s address to 911 centers, along with a callback number. According to the FCC, E911 has been a lifesaving tool for conveying critical information in almost all circumstances, but especially when the caller cannot communicate the emergency location verbally or when the call suddenly drops.
FCC’s rules about E911 did not historically apply to multi-line phone systems, which typically provided only the system’s contact information. Businesses must now ensure that any new multi-line phone systems come with E911 technology that provides individual caller information. Simply having E911 capability is not enough. 911 dialing must be properly configured and working in the new system.
- Test Your Phone System When your new phone system installation is complete, you’ll want to make sure the correct location comes up and the 911 center matches your business’s physical location.
You should not necessarily pick up a phone and dial 911. It's important to contact your local public safety answering location (PSAP) and follow instructions to properly test 911 service without interrupting the 911 centers normal emergency workload. If you have a small business with a single office, the test should be easy. If you have hundreds of offices, you will need to perform this test for each location to make sure your phone systems are transmitting the correct geo-data.
Complying with Kari’s Law is critical:
Keep your employees and visitors safe: The most crucial reason to make sure your business is compliant with Kari’s Law is for the safety of anyone on your premises. In an emergency, your employees, customers, or visitors must be able to reach 911 and get help quickly. Financial Protection: There are penalties for businesses that do not comply with Kari’s Law. Fines and other penalties will increase with each day the business continues its noncompliance. It is critical for your business's financial protection to comply. It's the right thing to be compliant: Complying with Kari’s Law gives you the peace of mind of knowing that employees and guests can quickly dial emergency services and receive assistance. Direct access dialing as required under Kari’s Law will save lives. It has been proven essential for schools, offices, and hotels to comply with the law and help prevent needless tragedies.
As a business, you know that your employees, visitors, and hotel guests are of paramount importance. It would be a tragedy if anyone at your business called 911 four times and no one came to help. It’s a situation no company wants to ever imagine if one of your employees suffers a medical episode and could not reach a PSAP.
Gain the peace of mind of knowing help would be ready to assist your business immediately in an emergency with Voxtelesys. Upgrade your system today and comply with Kari’s Law. Our team of experts can evaluate your existing system and customize the most efficient, robust, and feature-rich phone system on the market today. We can help you make your communications reliable, high-tech, and effective; and keep your staff and clients protected.