Dial 9 before 9-1-1?

no9NeededSince we were little kids we were taught to dial 9-1-1 for help. If someone gets hurt, call 9-1-1. If you witness someone in trouble and you hear, “CALL 9-1-1” you call 9-1-1. We know that when you pick up the phone to dial for help, the phone will be answered by someone that can send an ambulance, the fire department or police. It’s easy right? We have been taught this and we teach our kids the same thing.

What if you’re dialing from a hotel? Did you know that you have to dial 9 before even dialing 9-1-1? I didn’t. Since I started my new job I have been staying at many hotels. I never thought to check the keypad to see what I needed to do in order to call for help. I was taught to dial 9-1-1 not 9-9-1-1. I guess I figured that since I would be calling from a “room” that I would be able to call direct. It’s not like I’m calling from an office building, I’m staying in this room. One would think it would be that easy but in fact, some hotels require different numbers in order to call 9-1-1.

One would think that in order for an issue like this to be noticed is for a tragedy to happen right? Well…it has. On December 1 2013 a young mother was murdered by her estranged husband. She had agreed to meet him at a hotel so that he could see their kids for a short visitation. As the incident unfolded the eldest child, a 9 year old, knew to call 9-1-1 for help but it didn’t work. The call would not go through. She didn’t know that she had to dial 9 to get an outside line and then dial 9-1-1. When the call didn’t go through she gathered her younger siblings and tried to get help. After an attempt for help from housekeeping that failed due to a language barrier she was able to get help from a neighboring room.

It’s hard to stomach. In a moment of panic you are not trying to read instructions on the phone, you are trying to dial the three numbers taught from a young age for help. Since this tragedy a number of people have stepped up to help spread the word on this and help pass a law named after the young mother who lost her life. Kari’s Law, according to a petition on Change.org and Fox News says that, “the law as described by the petition would require hotels and motels to upgrade to “Enhanced 911” systems that would let guests call for help just by dialing 911 and give the operator the caller’s exact location.”

Over 416,000 people have signed the petition. The law is being pushed forward but more awareness needs to be made. Read up on the situation and sign the petition. I will provide the link for the petition below as well as a few articles written by a friend and fellow emergency services professional and podcaster, Mark Fletcher of Avaya. Let’s do our part and help pass Kari’s Law so that no one ever has to suffer a similar tragedy due to a system run on old technology.

Mark Fletcher – Kari’s Lil’ HeroHotel E911 Check-Up for Owners and GuestsPBX E911 – An Open Letter to the FCC

Change it for Kari – Facebook

Change.org – Kari’s Law

A Give Forward Campaign supporting Kari’s children – Web