In just a short time, on January 6th 2021, the RAY BAUM’S Act §506 will go into effect nationwide for MLTS PBX systems. This legislation, which added additional language to Kari’s Law and promulgated over 2 years ago, adds in the requirement for what is called a “dispatchable location” to be provided to on-site personnel as well as public safety 911 call takers, when an emergency call takes place. While Kari was undoubtedly the icon behind the legislation, the issue has been boiling for over 30 years.
In 1987, the family of an Evanston, IL woman died in a fire in a downtown Chicago office high-rise at 111 E. Wacker Drive. Confusion over the vanity address of the building, One Illinois Center, delayed firefighters from reaching her in time. This prompted the first legislative push in Illinois in the late 90’s. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1995-04-13-9504130068-story.html
Almost a decade had passed when in 2006 Kaafee Billah walked into his Gaithersburg office shortly before 9 a.m. The 39-year-old medical sales rep, who had just recently started working at MedImmune Inc., called 911 about 9:40 to say he needed medical help. 10 hours later he was found in his office, deceased. On-Site notification may have saved him.
Things were quiet for 7 years, until in December of 2013 Kari Hunt was brutally murdered in a hotel in a Marshall Texas hotel. At the time, her brave nine-year-old daughter was unable to dial 911 from the hotel room because an access code was required for any outside call, including 911. Thanks to Kari’s Dad, Hank Hunt worked tirelessly with me for nearly 5 years to get Kari’s Law through Congress and to the President’s desk where it was signed on February 16th, 2018. I had the great honor of being present in the Oval office on that historic day, which was also the 50th anniversary of the very first 911 call that took place in Haleyville Alabama. This was the first major MLTS legislation in the US, and paved-the-way for the RAY BAUM’S Act §506 signed 3 weeks later that mandated a dispatchable location be provided to on-site personnel as well as public safety dispatchers.
While the legislation was in process, and Hank and I were traveling the country, problems continued. In 2014, a Utah man suffered a heart attack at an auto parts store, however the telephone system identified the call as coming from the company’s corporate headquarters. Paramedics rushed to the wrong location, and unfortunately the man perished prior to them realizing the error. News reports state that those close to the man believe that the resulting delay contributed to his death.
The following year, in 2015 a Delano, California boy dies after collapsing during gym class. Some say a mis-routed 911 call delayed help from arriving. Delano police report that as the boy was dying on the school track, several minutes were lost as the school’s 911 call was provision to route ALL 911 calls through a service in Canada; a service that is designed as a failsafe backup. And not intended for primary 911 traffic.
A year later, 2 similar events occurred in Alaska, while 911 callers were placed on hold while calls were again directed to Northern 911. Again, a service defined as a failsafe, or PSAP of last resort only designed to be used when all else fails, not by default! Calls in both incidents were related to medical emergencies according to APD, and the one case, which occurred at the Golden Lion Best Western Hotel, and when officers arrived (after being called by a cell phone) they found the front desk clerk on hold with what he thought was 911, according to APD administrative Captain David Koch.
The legislation, as well as these horrific stories, are prompting Enterprises to react, and finally address the problem. In addition to potentially heavy federal fines, imposed by the FCC, there is the substantial risk of a liability lawsuit for wrongful death. When the Hunt family brought their case to trial, they refused to settle out of court, and were awarded a judgment for $41.55 million, for Kari’s death.
Fortunately, unbiased and independent help is available. The Society for Communications Technologies Consultants, International, a professional group of telecom consultants that prides themselves on integrity and transparency, has formed a new tiger team to deal with this issue head on, and come up with best practices and guidelines for consultants to follow when dealing with this complex problem. Hank Hunt, who now runs the Kari Hunt Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to education for the industry and enterprise, is an advisor to the group to ensure Kari’s memory is preserved, and not commercialized.
In the meantime, for those currently in negotiations for a solution today, 911inform, would like to offer our top 10 requirements that enterprises can utilize when evaluating the solutions on the market today. We encourage you to do your research, understand the capabilities that are available, as well as the one time and recurring cost commitments.
10 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR 911 SOLUTION PROVIDER
- Can you dynamically configure location at the time of the call?
- Can you transmit multimedia content directly to the PSAP/First Responders?
- Does your solution move forward to NG911 AS IS, or need an upgrade?
- Can your solution update caller and location information DURING THE CALL?
- Can your solution integrate with the Rapid SOS NG911 Additional Data Repository?
- Can your solution report on cellular 911 calls originating inside your geofence?
- Can your solution support interaction with connected buildings and their resources?
- Is your solution vendor agnostic and available on premises, in the cloud, or as a hybrid?
- Does your solution have a built in LTE backup for alerting and information delivery?
- Do you provide NG911 or JUST E911 today?
If you answered ‘NO’ to any of those, we highly recommend that you reassess your current solution and capabilities.