There are two federal laws going into effect: Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act. Each law has specific requirements and compliance expectations for corporate teams. Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act will change the requirements for businesses and how they manage their 911 solutions.

Let’s learn about them.

Kari’s Law: Enabling Direct 911 Dialing

Kari’s Law requires businesses to enable direct dialing of 911, without prefix or other digits required. (Businesses may provide additional patterns, such as 9911.) Kari’s Law also requires an on-site notification of the 911 call that includes the details of the dispatchable location, to decrease response time. Kari’s Law went into effect in February 2020.

Kari’s Law was enacted after a horrific event at a hotel in Texas where a 13-year-old girl could not call 911 when the mother’s estranged husband attacked. The hotel phone required an access code to reach an outside line, and the daughter did not understand this requirement. She tried calling 911 multiple times but could not reach anyone due to the outside access code requirement. Kari Hunt Dunn’s family ultimately sued the hotel and ownership group and won a settlement of more than $40 million and emergency response training requirements for the staff.

What does this mean for your organization? It means that any 911 calls need to be sent out to 911 Services without any delay or prefix. Users within the organization need to be able to walk up to any phone, dial 911, and reach a 911 dispatcher outside of the organization. In addition, a notification of said calls needs to be sent to a central point of contact in the organization where the notification will be heard or seen (such as a front desk). This notification can be sent in many formats, if the notification does not delay the 911 call:

1) Computer application

2) Text message

3) Email

4) Other type of notification system

It is best to send the notification simultaneously, but it can be sent after the 911 call if sending simultaneously is not technically feasible. The callback number presented in the PSAP ALI database must be associated to an ELIN (Emergency Location Identification Number) that matches location information for the caller. This is a DID (Direct Inward Dial) number that the PSAP can call to reconnect with the caller if the call is disconnected or more information is necessary from the caller.

Ray Baum’s Act: Ensuring an Accurate Dispatchable Location

The second law is Ray Baum’s Act, which requires organizations to ensure that every 911 call conveys a dispatchable location and callback number to the PSAP (the 911 dispatcher). Organizations must comply with Ray Baum’s by January 6, 2021, for fixed locations and by January 6, 2022, for non-fixed locations.

A dispatchable location is “the street address of the calling party, and additional information such as room number, floor number, or similar information necessary to adequately identify the location of the calling party.” Dispatchable locations need to be determined by the organization on how best to direct emergency responders to the correct location of the individual in need of emergency services. This rule applies to 3 different types of devices:

  • Fixed MLTS (multi-line telephone system) calls: These are stationary devices that do not move within the organization. They must provide a “dispatchable location” to the PSAP.
  • Non-fixed MLTS calls: These are devices inside the organization that will move, such as a soft phone or wireless phone. They may provide alternate location information to the PSAP.
  • Off-premises, non-fixed calls: These are devices that connect to the system from a remote site. They are outside of the organization’s control and rely on the end user for location information. What does this mean for your organization? It means that, in some cases, more than just an address will need to be given to the PSAP when making a 911 call. This completely depends on the layout of the building and proper signage on premises.

For example, if the user dials 911 from a conference room on the 5th floor, how will dispatch know where to find that emergency if only a street address is given? In the case of a multi-floor building, floor number should also be given to the PSAP. Depending on the size of the floor, is the conference room easily identified with signage? If not, maybe a directional or room number will also need to be presented. Ray Baum’s Act is intended to get the emergency responder to the emergency site as quickly as possible.

How To Know If Your System Is Affected

These laws apply to any phone system installed, sold, or leased after February 16, 2020: on-premises, cloud, or hybrid. If your current system was installed pre-2/16/2020, you do not have to comply. However, it is highly recommended to keep up with these federal regulations. They improve the safety of all employees.

If you are deploying a new phone system, you must meet the requirements for Kari’s Law. Ray Baum’s Act takes effect in 2021, but we recommend planning for compliance now. Take these important factors into consideration when designing your new system:

1) Dial Plan and 911 Call Routing

2) Distributed vs. Centralized 911 Calling

3) When introducing centralized call paths, consideration for local 911 routing in the event the centralized path is not available needs to be taken into consideration. In these scenarios, a local PSTN circuit to the location is highly recommended.

4) Impact of Direct 911 Dialing to Your Dial Plan

It’s important for organizations to understand each of these laws and how they apply to their businesses, and to also understand how to be in compliance with existing technology and any new technology upgrades.

Contact us today for more information!

To learn more, access https://www.911.gov/project_mltsdispatchablelocation.html