If your business owns or operates a multi-line telephone service (MLTS), you are required to comply with two new pieces of legislation regarding emergency dialing: Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act.
Both pieces of legislation are meant to improve the efficacy of emergency response to 9-1-1 calls, enabling quicker correspondence and more accurate data transmission between victims and responders. The hope is that these efficiencies will save lives.
To stay compliant, businesses may need to adapt their business phone systems. Let’s take a look at what each piece of legislation requires. We’ll cover:
- Kari’s Law Requirements
- Ray Baum’s Act Requirements
- How Business Phone Systems Are Affected
Please note that the following information is not intended as legal counsel. It’s simply a high-level overview of the legislation based on publicly available records.
With that in mind, here’s what these laws entail.
Kari’s Law Requirements
Kari’s Law requires that multi-line telephone systems allow users to dial 9-1-1 directly, without first having to dial a prefix. In other words, instead of having to dial 1+ and then 9-1-1, emergency callers must be able to dial 9-1-1 and immediately connect to emergency support.
The law also requires that multi-line telephone systems notify a central location on-site or off-site where someone is likely to see or hear the notification. The idea is that people involved with the facility will be made aware of the situation and be able to admit responders accordingly.
These requirements are fairly straightforward, but there are a few nuances to consider.
First, it’s worthwhile to define what a “multi-line telephone system” is. Here’s how the FCC defines the term:
“MLTS include a widely embedded base of legacy private branch exchange (PBX), Centrex, and Key Telephone systems, IP-based systems, and hybrid systems. MLTS serve millions of employees, residents, and guests of businesses and educational facilities, including corporate parks, hotels, college campuses, and planned community developments. These systems can support anywhere from ten to thousands of telephone station/numbers.”
Note that the statutory definition of MLTS includes both IP-based and circuit switched systems – so, even if your office uses VoIP technology instead of physical lines, this regulation will still apply.
The second nuance to consider is that Kari’s Law is “forward-looking,” which means that it applies to MLTS that are sold after its implementation. Hypothetically, this might allow legacy systems to get off of the hook, but things get a bit tricky here – current operators of MLTS must comply with Kari’s Law. In other words, if you use an MLTS, you must use one compliant with the legislation; the takeaway is that liability for older, non-compliant systems no longer rests with their original vendors.
Ray Baum’s Act Requirements
Ray Baum’s Act is often referenced together with Kari’s Law because both pieces of legislation deal with the configuration of MLTS for emergency response.
The act requires that all emergency (9-1-1) calls convey a dispatchable location to response centers. The idea is that, when responders receive a call, they immediately have the information they need to dispatch to the correct location. This is meant to prevent confusion – a scenario where first responders arrive at a facility but aren’t sure where in the facility to go.
Accordingly, the primary nuance in this legislation involves a clarification of the term “dispatchable location.” Here’s how the FCC describes it:
“Dispatchable location means a location delivered to the PSAP with a 911 call that consists of the validated street address of the calling party, plus additional information such as suite, apartment, or similar information necessary to adequately identify the location of the calling party.”
It’s important to note that Ray Baum’s Act requires both the phone system and phone service to be compliant. Teltek can enable your organization to be in compliance with this regulation since our SIP phone service is compliant with Ray Baum’s Act and can be configured on any premise-based phone system.
Ray Baum’s Act applies to the same entities that Kari’s Law does. However, the act will take effect in January 2021, while Kari’s Law became effective in February of 2020.
How Business Phone Systems Are Affected
As we’ve seen in the requirements to each piece of legislation, the majority of business phone systems will be affected.
Essentially, if your business has multiple lines (meaning workstations, numbers, or devices), then you must ensure that you are compliant. Many systems can be configured to align with these protocols. However, for some legacy systems, replacement may be needed.
Need Help with Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act Compliance?
Do you need help complying with Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act? Are your current systems out-of-date with the legislation – or are you unsure whether or not they are?
We can help.
At Teltek, we’re a Maryland-based business serving healthcare, education, manufacturing, office buildings, senior housing and long-term care facilities, and nonprofits by providing better phone services. We’ve helped organizations throughout the area optimize or implement solutions for compliance with Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act – and we can ensure your organization meets these standards.
If you need to make a switch, we can make it seamless. We always come onsite to perform an assessment before you’re a client. And we’ll never push you toward a single brand solution – we offer a range of products, and we’ll make sure you get the system that’s compliant and the best fit for your organization’s needs.
If you’re in Maryland or the DC area and you’re looking to ensure you’re compliant with these pieces of legislation, give us a call to take the first step today.