Does Your Phone System Comply with New 911 Laws?

Does Your Phone System Comply with New 911 Laws?

Millions of Americans each year experience workplace emergencies related to injury, illness or violence. Complex business communications systems can make it difficult to get a rapid response from police, fire or medical personnel, however.

The multiline telephone systems (MLTS) commonly used in commercial businesses, schools and government facilities deliver a number of operational and budget benefits, but they’ve always been problematic for 911 systems. In addition to requiring users to dial trunk access prefixes to get an outside line, they don’t transmit detailed location and call-back information to emergency operators.

A pair of federal laws enacted in recent years address these challenges — and stipulate hefty fines for noncompliance. If you’re using a Mitel MiVoice Connect platform, however, there’s no need to worry. MiVoice has always been in compliance with both new laws.

A Tragic Backstory

The two companion pieces of legislation — Kari’s Law and RAY BAUM’S Act — require MLTS manufacturers and vendors to implement features enabling direct 911 dialing that conveys accurate location information to emergency operators. Kari’s Law went into effect on Feb. 16, 2020, while most elements of RAY BAUM’s Act went into effect on Jan. 6 of this year.

Kari’s Law is named for Kari Hunt Dunn, who was fatally stabbed by her estranged husband in a Marshall, Texas, hotel room in 2013. During the attack, the couple’s 9-year-old daughter called 911 four times but was unable to reach emergency services because she didn’t know she needed to dial 9 to get an outside line.

The law mandates that an MLTS must be configured to allow 911 calls without any additional digit — even if the system otherwise requires such a prefix for other calls outside the system. Additionally, the law requires systems to be configured to provide a notice to a central location when a user dials 911. This could be a front desk, a security office or the system administrator.

RAY BAUM’s Act requires a “dispatchable location” to be conveyed with 911 calls to eliminate delays and confusion among emergency responders. For years, 911 dispatchers have received information from the telephone company about the street address for incoming calls for landlines. However, that is not enough information for calls coming from hotels, school campuses or office buildings with dozens or hundreds of rooms. The new law requires additional information such as room number or floor number to accurately identify the location of the emergency.

Mitel’s Solution

The MiVoice Connect system can be paired with the Mitel Emergency Notification application to deliver multichannel alerts. To help ensure a coordinated response during critical and emergency situations, the application generates real-time phone, email and screen pop alerts to key personnel who can meet emergency responders and guide them to the appropriate location.

System administrators can set up event filters to generate alerts for various types of threats or emergencies. In addition to providing details about the physical location, alerts also convey granular details about the caller including the user’s name, telephone extension and the device’s unique MAC address.

Providing details about the hardware’s location is particularly important because IP phones can be easily moved between offices, classrooms or buildings without programming or configuration changes. It ensures responders get to the right location, even if a phone associated with one office is used to place an emergency call from a completely different building.

Accurate and timely information is essential for effective emergency response. If you’re unsure if your system complies with the new laws, give us a call. We can conduct a thorough assessment to evaluate your system’s capabilities. If necessary, we can also guide you through a migration to a compliant Mitel system.