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 9‑1‑1 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: http://www.csec.texas.gov/9-1-1/mlts. 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.