Category: News & Media

How To Become Compliant With Kari’s Law

How To Become Compliant With Kari’s Law

In December of 2013, Kari Hunt Dunn was stabbed to death by her husband in a motel room in east Texas. Her 9-year-old daughter repeatedly tried dialing 9-1-1, but the motel phone required “9” to be dialed to reach any outside line, including emergency services. This event launched Kari’s Law, which requires all organizations or businesses that utilize a multi-line telephone system (MLTS) to provide direct access to 9-1-1. Businesses must become compliant by February 16, 2020, however the federal version of Kari’s Law only applies to MLTS that will be installed after this deadline. If your business is within the state of Texas, however, all MLTS must be compliant or require a waiver.    

It is the responsibility of the business or organization utilizing the MLTS to maintain compliance. Texas was the first to pass a state version of this law, and compliance for all Texas organizations (or a waiver detailing why compliance) was required by September 1, 2016. If you’re struggling with next steps and how to become compliant to Kari’s Law, we can help. We’ll discuss what we learned in Texas over the past few years on our journey to compliance. 

How to become compliant with kari's law

Find Out Your Current Status

Before you do anything, you have to know where you stand. Contact the provider of your MLTS and ask them how they’re set up to reach 9-1-1. Specific questions you can ask include:

  • Do you offer direct access to 9-1-1?
  • Is your service compliant with Kari’s Law?
  • When did you become compliant? Or when will you become compliant?
  • Have you tested your system to ensure direct access to 9-1-1 is available?

If your MLTS provider is already compliant, then your work is almost done. If you can’t get any of these questions answered, you can contact your local 9-1-1 authority for advice on next steps. NCT9-1-1 is your 9-1-1 authority if your business is in our service area, but if you’re not sure who your authority is you can contact your local police or sheriff’s office by their 10-digit emergency number.  

Test Your System

If your MLTS provider confirms that their service offers direct access to 9-1-1, you shouldn’t just take their word for it. You need to test it. Contact your local Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) by their 10-digit emergency number and let them know you’re interested in testing your MLTS and ask what time and day would work best for them. When testing, don’t stop at confirming direct access into 9-1-1. Ensure that your provider also meets the standards of the Ray Baum’s Act and that a dispatchable location is also provided. That would mean a room or officer number is provided to the 9-1-1 telecommunicator, for example. 

What Happens If You’re Not Compliant? 

February 16 is the deadline for compliance for all organizations across the United States. Those who fail to become and stay compliant may face fees or fines, liability concerns, or, most importantly, are risking the health and safety of its employees and customers. 

Kari’s Law was inspired by a horrific event. Don’t wait to meet compliance and risk your place of business becoming the setting of the next one. 

 

Sources

https://searchunifiedcommunications.techtarget.com/tip/Test-your-PBX-and-phone-system-for-Karis-Law-compliance?elqTrackId=d5393cb5cae54d65b0078b42cd4ac22d&elqaid=11026&elqat=2

https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-353961A1.pdf

https://news.avaya.com/us-cp-kari-law-reg

http://www.texas911.org/

Press Release: Regional Telecommunicator Academy Graduates Class #009

Press Release: Regional Telecommunicator Academy Graduates Class #009

ARLINGTON, Texas, January 28, 2020 — The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1) will graduate 16 9-1-1 telecommunicators from its Regional Telecommunicator Academy (RTA) Class #009 on January 31 in Arlington. This class includes recruits from 12 different agencies, including Dallas ISD, the Mineral Wells Police Department, and the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office, among others.

 

The graduating recruits will have completed a rigorous four-week program that teaches equipment use, state mandates and regulations, how to handle emergency communications situations such as activeshootings, and more. Texas is the only state in the country that requires its telecommunicators to be licensed alongside peace officers and jailers, and NCT9-1-1 hosts the only 9-1-1 telecommunicator academy in the state. The district welcomes recruits from outside its region to participate and this year includes participants from Dallas ISD.

 

“At the academy, we’re not just training people to fill positions,” said NCT9-1-1 Training Coordinator Bret Batchelor. “We’re building a community of resiliency and comradery with our recruits. I want them to walk away with the skills to not only be successful at their new jobs, but to build a lifelong career as a 9-1-1 telecommunicator and to one day pass on their experiences to the next generation of dispatchers.” 

 

The program has graduated recruits from all over Texas and Arkansas since its inception in February of 2016 and continues to grow with classes held twice a year in the winter and summer.    

 

What: Graduation Ceremony for Regional Telecommunicator Academy Class #009 

Where: 600 Six Flags Drive Suite 226, Arlington, TX 76011 

When: January 31, 1:00 PM

Why: Celebrate the graduation of 16 new telecommunicators in North Texas

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About the North Central Texas Emergency Communications District

The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1) is responsible for 40 plus Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) in the 13 counties surrounding the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The district supports these PSAPs through maintaining and upgrading 9-1-1 equipment, providing up-to-date mapping information, training 9-1 telecommunicators, educating the public on the proper use of 9-1-1, and monitoring PSAP functionality and compliances. NCT9-1-1 serves a population of 1.7 million and 10,000+ square miles.

Your Old Phones Can Still Call 9-1-1

Your Old Phones Can Still Call 9-1-1

The proper amount and protocol for “screen time” has been a hot topic and often debated issue in parenting circles for a while now. Especially since technology has continued to affect every part of our lives. We at NCT9-1-1 aren’t here to pick a side — just to let you know that those old phones can still call 9-1-1. 

What is a non initialized phone call? 

As we near the end of 2019, NCT9-1-1 has started to pull some statistics on what 9-1-1 looked like for our region over the past year. The data we pulled included how many calls were made, how many were wireless versus wireline, how many texts to 9-1-1 occurred, the amount of abandoned calls, etc. One piece of data stood out to us: the number of non initialized phone calls. 

“Non initialized call” is industry jargon for a call made with a cell phone that is not connected to a calling service. Your old cell phones collecting dust in your kitchen junk drawer can still call 9-1-1 as long as it can be charged and turned on, though they do not provide a location or a call back number. This capability has saved lives in the past (an infamous example being the case of the Turpin children in California, whose daughter rescued herself and her siblings by calling 9-1-1 with a deactivated cell phone). 

However, few parents know that their old phones have this ability, and this leads to a huge amount of false calls to 9-1-1. Out of the 985,878 attempts to reach 9-1-1 in January to September in 2019, about 14% were from deactivated cell phones. Though a handful of these calls may have been legitimate 9-1-1 calls, the data is still skewed.

What should you do with your old phones?

If you’re not going to give your old phones to your kids to play with, what should you do with them? You can dispose of them properly or donate your old cell phones to a local women’s shelter where they will be utilized as untrackable, direct-to-9-1-1 devices. You can also keep your deactivated cell phone charged and in a central place in your home to use during an emergency.

Remember that when you give your old phone to your toddler, that phone can still call 9-1-1. If your child does happen to accidentally dial 9-1-1, the best thing you can do is stay on the line and explain the situation to the telecommunicator.

Reflections on 2019 from a 9-1-1 Perspective

Reflections on 2019 from a 9-1-1 Perspective

It’s that time of year again when we reflect on the previous year, contemplate lessons learned, and begin planning for the new year ahead. Last year I identified “unstoppable” as the word for 2019. All in all, I think that has been accurate. December 3rd marked the first anniversary of the North Central Texas Emergency Communications District or NCT9-1-1. Due to this transition and starting a new district without cash reserves, our biggest challenges in 2019 centered around funding. But being unstoppable, this did not hamper productivity and accomplishments.

During our first year as a district, a Board of Managers was created, a Strategic Advisory Committee was appointed, and the district joined and participated in the Texas 9-1-1 Alliance. NCT9-1-1 hosted Regional Telecommunicator Academy classes #007 and #008, added Lifecare EMS in Parker County as a secondary PSAP, and completed implementation of a SD WAN solution for network diversity and dynamic routing.

The GIS team completed the transition from EGDMS to the newly created Regional GIS Data Quality Control process and implemented a new county disbursement model, the technology team replaced Uninterrupted Power Sources (UPS) at 35 sites and completed the microwave network, and the strategic services team executed new Interlocal Agreements for all PSAPs. The operations team completed a quality assurance resource document and the data team conducted Real Time Text (RTT) research, testing, outreach, and training. The support team worked behind the scenes and assisted in many of the completed projects.

NCT9-1-1 focused on PSAP engagement this year. Regular efforts ensured PSAPs have greater awareness and more communications. The staff brought in companies to talk about new technologies, hosted PSAP focus groups on relevant issues, and included PSAP feedback in product development and implementation. A Generational Advisory Board was created this year in an effort to create a culture that will attract Millennials and Gen Z to our workforce and assist in retaining current employees. This concept has been well-received, and we hope to expand the scope to PSAPs in the coming years.

Streaming services have not just become popular with the way we watch television, but with public safety as well. NCT9-1-1 introduced optional services for the PSAPs this year with Waze and flood warning sensors. In addition, we entered into a contract for data analytics with a company that is revolutionizing the way we have historically provided call statistics through reporting. Phase I has been completed and the PSAPs now have improved reporting with a user-friendly platform to run reports and access a dashboard of near real time information. The next phase will allow us to bring in the health of all our systems.

Perhaps the greatest thing to happen to 9-1-1 in Texas in 2019 was the passing of House Bill 1090, which reclassified telecommunicators from clerical workers to first responders. This was the culmination of a long effort to give telecommunicators the recognition they deserve. NCT9-1-1 celebrated with our PSAPs by hosting a Commencement Ceremony.

On a national level, NCT9-1-1 continued to coordinate the Early Adopter Summit with the third annual event held in South Carolina. This effort brings together early adopters in the 9-1-1 space and innovative companies throughout the country to collaborate and plan for the future. It was the largest event to date and was considered a great success. Special thanks to the NCT9-1-1 planning team!

The FCC issued a report detailing the cause and impact of a nationwide CenturyLink outage that disrupted 911 service for approximately 17 million Americans in December 2018. The report, issued after a thorough investigation in which NCT9-1-1 participated, outlined lessons learned from the incident and identified network reliability best practices that could have prevented or mitigated the effects of the outage. The FCC continues to stress the importance of reliability and works to ensure that our nation’s communications networks remain robust, reliable, and resilient.
The FCC also adopted rules that will help first responders locate people who call 9-1-1 from wireless phones in multi-story buildings, such as apartments and offices. The new rules will help emergency responders determine the floor level of a 9-1-1 caller. Specifically, wireless providers must transmit the caller’s vertical location, within three meters above or below the phone, to the 9-1-1 call center. This requirement will help emergency responders more accurately identify the floor level for most 9-1-1 calls. However, this is only the beginning. To make the data actionable, local 9-1-1 entities will need to enhance their GIS offerings and begin to implement floor plans and/or 3D mapping. This is a long road, but NCT9-1-1 has already begun planning.

The National 9-1-1 Progress Report by the National 9-1-1 Program states NG9-1-1 has now emerged as the desired level of 9-1-1 service. The NG9-1-1 Maturity Model consists of the following nine data elements: governance, routing/location, GIS, core services, ESInet, call handling, security, operations and optional interfaces. NCT9-1-1 has been focusing on all of these elements for the last several years and continues to do so.

As you can see, 2019 has been another busy and productive year for NCT9-1-1 and this region. Of course, we couldn’t do it without our partners of staff, PSAPs, elected officials, NCTCOG administration, vendors, and fellow 9-1-1 authorities. Thanks to you all for assisting us in being unstoppable!

As we change our focus to 2020, resiliency will be our word of the year. NCT9-1-1’s goal for resiliency will be achieved by being reflective, resourceful, robust, and redundant. Systems and processes will be examined in order to be efficient, inclusive, and interoperable while continuing to mitigate risks. This requires the willingness and ability to adopt alternative strategies in response to changing circumstances. NCT9-1-1 will measure success as the capacity of the district to survive, adapt, and grow, regardless of the chronic stress of the industry and the acute shocks of service interruptions and temporary financial limitations. NCT9-1-1 seeks not to just survive but to thrive regardless of the challenge. We will continue saving lives and making a difference!