In 2016, Kari’s Law was signed in Texas. This means that businesses with multi-line telephone systems (MLTS), also known as PBX phones, must now provide direct access to 9-1-1 without having to dial an additional digit such as 9. Texas is not the only state that has adopted a Kari’s Law- Illinois, Tennessee, Maryland and New York City have as well. More states are working on their own version and this year (2018) President Trump signed a federal Kari’s Law into law.
Kari’s Law represents a culmination of efforts in the aftermath of the tragic murder of Kari Hunt. For those who do not know the story, Kari Hunt met her estranged husband in a motel room in Marshall, Texas with their kids. During the meeting, Kari’s husband attacked her in the bathroom and ultimately killed her. Kari’s 9-year-old daughter attempted to dial 9-1-1 multiple times and was unable to get through because the hotel phone required you to dial a 9 first to get an outside line. By the time help was able to arrive, it was sadly too late.
Since Kari’s death, her father Hank Hunt has made it his mission to educate the public as well as elected officials across the U.S. about the important need to change all MLTS phones to provide direct access to 9-1-1. It is important that businesses comply with this law. You can find more information about this law and how it works at www.texas911.org.
The Commission on State Emergency Communications (CSEC) has created a PSA to bring awareness to the law. There is also a toolkit available to assist 9-1-1 educators and coordinators with their efforts in educating businesses and the public. The toolkit includes a media release template, a brochure, a list of business outreach opportunities and a letter template to send out to business service users (BSUs) who have MLTS phones. You can find the toolkit here. Utilizing the toolkit can help in ensuring compliance efforts.