Disaster Zone

No Prefixes Required to Dial 911

Now that “Kari’s Law” is the law in all 50 states.

by Eric Holdeman / March 6, 2018

When you think about it, we have taught our children and grandchildren to call 911 if they or someone else, needs help. They don't know anything about "dialing 9 to get an outside line." Thus, it took a personal tragedy to motivate people and organizations to make sure that dialing 911 has not numerical obstacles in the way of reaching help.

See text of a news release below:


“Kari’s Law” Now the Law of the Land

Santa Clara, Calif. — February 21, 2018 — Avaya Holdings Corp. (NYSE: AVYA), a global market leader in contact center and unified communications solutions as well as call taking solutions for public safety communication centers, praised the United States Congress for passing “The Kari’s Law Act of 2017,” which requires direct dial access to 9-1-1 services from all devices. Emergency 9-1-1 services commenced in this country 50 years ago on February 16, when the first 9-1-1 call was placed in Haleyville, Alabama. With the signing of Kari’s Law on the anniversary date of that call, these services will now be available directly across all devices.

The campaign to pass Kari’s Law began in December 2013, when the namesake of the bill, Kari Hunt, was murdered by her estranged husband in a hotel room in Marshall, Texas. Hunt’s 9-year-old daughter attempted to dial 9-1-1 but was unable to reach emergency resources because the multi-line phone required a “9” to be dialed for an outside line. Kari’s father, Hank Hunt, made a promise to his granddaughter that this would never happen to another child. He worked tirelessly over the last four years to get laws passed at both the state and federal levels.

Since the tragic incident, Avaya took up advocacy for direct dial 9-1-1 from multiline telephone systems (MLTS), supporting Mr. Hunt on his mission to change the dialing practices that were no longer necessary, and which contributed to the tragedy for his family. Advocacy included education and testimony to legislative and standards organizations here in the United States as well as across the globe. Avaya raised awareness of new and advanced business practices and technologies now available on virtually all modern communications systems that eliminate the requirement for access codes that have historically complicated emergency calling. As a result, laws similar to Kari’s Law were passed in Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, Tennessee and Maine.

“From the beginning, Avaya was the first company dedicated to changing how various states implement 9-1-1 services,” said Hank Hunt. “I cannot thank Avaya enough for its unwavering leadership, working side-by-side with me to drive this legislation forward. I also want to thank the 612,000 supporters for their signatures on Change.org where this initiative began four years ago, soon after Kari’s passing. Because of all these efforts, I know that Kari’s death was not in vain.”

Kari’s Law requires the configuration allowing users to directly initiate a call to 9-1-1 without dialing any additional digit, code, prefix or suffix. Separate versions of the bill were initially passed in 2017 in the House and Senate. Committees then worked to combine the two versions into a single bill H.R. 582.

“Hank and his family’s loss have deeply affected us. We are glad to have been able to help Hank keep his promise to his granddaughter,” said Jim Chirico, president and chief executive officerof Avaya. “The technology fix was available, we just needed to drive public awareness. Direct access to emergency services has always been a core capability of Avaya communications platforms, and so teaming up with Mr. Hunt to improve education and access to emergency services was something we took up immediately. Thanks to his tireless efforts, we got it done.”

“Today represents a giant step to help ensure that everyone in the U.S., regardless of location or device, can simply dial 9-1-1 to engage emergency assistance,” said Jean Turgeon, vice president and chief technologist of Digital Transformation and Evangelists at Avaya. “Our public safety solutions teams will be dedicated to helping roll out ‘Kari’s Law’ across all 50 states. The law and the technology fixes have and will continue to save lives.”