In the event of a workplace emergency, even seconds can make a difference in the safety of your employees and customers.
If dialing 911 from a business phone system isn’t straightforward, that can cause dangerous delays or make it impossible to even call for help. Or if you place an emergency call from an office with multiple buildings, floors, suites, etc., and first responders aren’t sure exactly where the emergency is taking place, that can also cause critical delays in receiving help.
That’s why two new laws in the U.S. aim to improve the emergency capabilities of business phone systems and hopefully save lives. Together, Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act constitute what’s known as Enhanced 911 (E911) compliance.
If you purchased a phone system after February 16, 2020, you need to follow this E911 compliance. Even if you have an existing phone system that enables you to hold off on compliance for a while, you could be better following E911 compliance now, both for the safety of your employees/customers and so that you don’t run into compliance issues down the road.
To follow E911 compliance, your business phone system needs to have three main features:
- Direct 911 dialing: As part of Kari’s Law, phone systems need to be able to dial 911 directly, without having to use a prefix, as many companies require when placing outbound calls.
Tragically, this part of E911 compliance came to be because when Kari Hart Dunn’s nine-year-old daughter tried to call 911 in a Texas motel room to stop a homicide, she was unable to place the call because she didn’t know the phone system required dialing “9” first, before dialing “911.”
In an emergency, you don’t want employees to worry about access codes, especially if someone unfamiliar with the phone system, like a new employee or customer, tries to dial for help.
- Automatic internal notifications for 911 calls: Kari’s Law also requires that a central location needs to be notified if a 911 call is placed through your phone system, such as notifying an administrator via email or sending a text alert to on-site security teams. The party receiving the notification must receive the following:
– Notice that an emergency call occurred.
– A callback number for the party placing the 911 call.
– Location information sent to the public safety answering point (PSAP) during the 911 call.
- Automatic dispatching of geospatial location: Related to Kari’s Law is Ray Baum’s Act, which requires phone systems to dispatch more specific information than just a street address to the PSAP. The location information should include geospatial detail such as the building number, street address, floor number, room number, or other similar information, like coordinates that can be used to respond to the exact location of the calling party quickly.
Following E911 compliance is an important part of providing a safe workplace, and you want to avoid costly penalties for non-compliance. Please consider discussing these laws with your legal counsel, and for help with the technical aspects of compliance, Covene is here for you.