The Denco Area 9-1-1 District wants to notify business owners about a new law requiring multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) in Texas to provide direct-dial access to 9-1-1 without having to dial an additional digit such as 9 before getting an outside line.
Providers of multi-line telephone systems have until September 1, 2016 to comply.
Senate Bill 788, also known as Kari’s Law, which requires direct access to 9-1-1, was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott on May 15, 2015. The law represents a culmination of efforts in the aftermath of the murder of Kari Hunt Dunn in a motel room in Marshall, Texas who was attacked by her estranged husband.
Kari’s 9-year-old daughter tried to call 9-1-1 for help four times from the motel room phone. Unfortunately, the call never went through, because she did not know to first dial “9” for an outbound line before dialing 9-1-1. Tragically, Kari died before help could arrive.
Since Kari’s death, her father Hank Hunt and his family have made it their mission to educate the public and elected officials across the country about the need to change multi-line phone systems to provide direct access to 9-1-1. Their concerns were heard by representatives of the Texas 9-1-1 authorities, elected officials in Texas, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Currently, Illinois, Maryland, Texas and Tennessee have all passed similar legislation.
“Seconds count, and when a 9-year old little girl is mature and brave enough to attempt to dial 9-1-1 for help, she should be answered,” said Mr. Hunt.
MLTS owners must do their diligence and provide direct access to 9-1-1 and comply with Kari’s Law. If the existing MLTS cannot be re-programmed or replaced to meet the direct access requirement, a one-year waiver shall be granted upon timely submission of an affidavit. Business owners should contact their MLTS provider to learn if their phone system is compliant. Some new phone systems need to be reprogrammed (not replaced) and costs, if any, should be minimal. If a waiver is granted, the business owner is subject to additional requirements.
“This is an important step forward in public safety,” said Mark Payne, Executive Director of the Denco Area 9-1-1 District, “Denco is prepared to assist MLTS owners understand their obligations under the law and if necessary, applying for a waiver.”
For more information on the history of Kari’s Law, the requirements to comply or to request a waiver, visit www.denco.org/karis-law.
Denco Area 9-1-1 District is the coordinating agency for 9-1-1 emergency service throughout Denton County and the City of Carrollton. The district was created by special election in 1987 and is overseen by a locally elected or appointed Board of Managers. The District provides the network, database, call processing and mapping equipment for 9-1-1 service as well as 24/7 support for the system, public education and Telecommunicator training.