Emergency Communications Bill Passed By Frederick County Council

It requires users of multi-line phone systems to easily nine 911 in emergencies;



Frederick, Md (KM) All businesses which have multi-line telephone systems, such as hotels, motels and large complexes, need to make it easier for users  to dial 911 during emergencies. A bill with that requirement was adopted Tuesday by the Frederick County Council.

Tom Coe, Chief of the County’s Division of Fire and Rescue Services, says this legislation is called “Kari’s Law.” In December, 2013, Kari Dawn Hunt was brutally murdered in front of her children in a hotel room in Marshall, Texas. “Kari’s daughter tried multiple times to call 911 for assistance in a hotel they were in,” says Chief Coe. “But unbeknownst to her, the phone required that she dial 9 before she dialed  911. So she didn’t dial the extra 9, she was unable to get her mother the assistance that she needed, and subsequently she died from an attack that she sustained.”

This bill would require hotels, motels and other businesses with multi-line phones to make it easier to dial 911 directly rather than dialing 9 to get an outside line, or getting connected to an operator. “When 911 is activated, seconds counts when it comes to saving lives,” Chief Coe says.

Congress passed Kari’s Law in 2016. “Maryland enacted Kari’s Law on October 1st, 2020. And tied future 911 center funding to local jurisdictional compliance and enforcement of Kari’s law,” he says.

But Coe says Frederick County will rely mostly on education rather than enforcement when it comes to getting local businesses to comply with the law.

These days, most people carry cell phones which can successfully  complete calls to 911 centers during emergencies. But Chief Coe says even that can present some problems. “There’s situations where folks that may be staying in from out of town. Their cell phone might be out of range and might not work. So we want to make sure every phone someone picks up can directly dial the emergency number to get the appropriate services,” he says.

The legislation passed by the Council goes into effect  60 days after the County Executive signs it.



By Kevin McManus