Monday, April 25, 2016

What You Need to Know about Kari’s Law

For those of you who are not familiar with the story of Kari Hunt, you might not know much about Kari’s Law. But if you are in the 9-1-1 world you are very much aware of this tragic event and the outcomes involving direct access to 9-1-1 from a multi-line telephone system.

Here’s the background story:

On December 1, 2013, Kari Hunt of Marshall, Texas met her estranged husband with their three children at a motel room. What happened next was unthinkable. Kari’s estranged husband became violent. During the struggle that occurred in the bathroom of the hotel, the oldest daughter tried to dial 9-1-1 for help several times. Unfortunately, her call to 9-1-1 was never received. Like most hotels (and many business including schools) with MLTS phones, you have to dial 9 or another digit first to get an outside line before you can dial 9-1-1.

Kari tragically lost her life that day. Since then, her father Hank Hunt has diligently pushed for Kari’s Law, which would allow anyone trying to call 9-1-1 from a MLTS phone to reach 9-1-1 when they need it without having to first dial 9 for an outside line.

In May of 2015, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 788, also known as Kari’s Law. Kari's Law requires direct access to 9-1-1 service from a telephone system that provides outbound dialing without having to first dial a prefix or other access number or code.

The law also requires all capable MLTS to be programmed to send notification of a 911 call to a central location on the premises of the site a 9-1-1 call is placed. Under Kari's Law, if an MLTS system cannot meet these requirements without substantial cost, a 1-year waiver of these requirements may be granted. If a waiver is granted, an instructional sticker must be placed adjacent to all noncompliant, outbound capable telephones that the phone is unable to directly access 9-1-1 without first requiring a prefix.

For more background information on Kari’s Law and how it transpired, you can visit the CSEC page here: In the future, CSEC will also make available an MLTS toolkit to assist 9-1-1 coordinators and educators with their efforts in making sure businesses are compliant with the new law.

While Texas paved the way for this law, there is still much to be done. And at the federal level, they agree. Kari’s father Hank was in Washington D.C this month addressing the committee about the need for Kari’s law on a national level. A proposed federal Kari’s law has now moved its way to the full house energy and commerce committee to be voted on. While the bill still has a ways to go before becoming national law, it is a wonderful step in the right direction.

A Texas website will be coming soon that will provide information on Kari’s Law including where waiver requests are to be submitted, as well as to clarify the placement of instructional stickers on non-compliant handsets. Everyone should have direct access to 9-1-1 in an emergency when seconds count.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

April Marks 9-1-1 Public Education Month and Telecommunicator’s Week!

April is a big month for 9-1-1. Not only do 9-1-1 educators have the opportunity to spread emergency services information all month long, but they also have the opportunity to show major appreciation to telecommunicators during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week  (April 10-16, 2016).

For those of you who do not know, telecommunicators, also known as call-takers or dispatchers, are individuals who work for an emergency service provider (usually 9-1-1) and are qualified to answer incoming emergency telephone calls and provide for the appropriate emergency response. They work incredibly hard each and every day answering tough calls in an effort to get the public whatever emergency service they need.  

In 1991, Congress recognized their efforts and created a week distinguishing who they are and the importance they play in our society. Then, in 2008, the House of Representatives passed a resolution to increase national awareness about the importance and appropriate use of 9-1-1. By creating a month dedicated to 9-1-1 education, Congress is able to encourage annual public awareness events, public advertising campaigns, target outreach activities and provide training for parents and teachers.

Below, we have compiled some important messages and current issues that the public should be more aware of so that they can get the most out of 9-1-1 services.

Call if You Can, Text if You Can’t: Many have the misconception that you can text 9-1-1 for help. We can do everything else through text, so why not contact 9-1-1 this way too? Unfortunately that is not the case. Luckily, many agencies are working hard to make this available across the United States. While more and more entities are incorporating text to 9-1-1, there is only still a small percentage of the country that has it available. If you see a sign or information in your region promoting that you can text to 9-1-1, then you can guarantee it is available. But if you do not, then please assume you can’t text to 9-1-1 and please call if you need help. Keep in mind that if you do text to 9-1-1 and it is NOT available in your area, you will receive a bounce back message instructing you to please call 9-1-1 for help.   

Know Your Location: Many people have smart phones these days. And on these smart phones we have maps that show us where we are, so it doesn’t seem farfetched to think that if we have GPS in our phone, then 9-1-1 should be able to find us when we call. This is actually not the case. When you call 9-1-1 from a cell phone/smart phone, dispatchers are only able to see approximately where you are and not specifically where you are located. Remember to always be aware and know your location. Look for mile markers, landmarks, cross streets and addresses on buildings. This information could potentially save your life or another life!

Stay Calm and Ready to Listen: When we call 9-1-1, it is usually for an emergency and this can be a stressful situation. But it is imperative that you try your best to stay calm and listen to the call-taker’s questions so that they can properly help you. A lot of people get confused when the call-taker is asking a lot of questions. They are panicking and want help right away. Trust us- the call-taker gets it and the reason they are asking questions is so that they can help you to the best of their ability. And help is usually always on the way already even while the call-taker is still asking questions.

As always, do not forget that 9-1-1 is for emergency use only and should never be abused or used for fun. It helps save lives and is an important tool in helping our society to get the aid they need. Call 9-1-1 when you or someone else’s life is in danger, or if there is a crime or fire occurring. We are here when you need us. For more information on 9-1-1 education, please visit