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What would you expect if you dialed 911?

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If someone is seriously injured or in danger and you dial 911 you expect a dispatcher to send the police, fire and/or an ambulance to your location immediately. In the United States and Canada the ‘E911’ system has made this possible. The E911 system automatically identifies your location enabling the dispatcher to send the appropriate response to the correct location. Dialing 911 was designed and first used in 1968 for requesting assistance quickly even if you are in a panic state. In the not too distant past one needed to contact police, fire or ambulance directly using traditional telephone numbers. The numbers 911 were chosen because the designers believed they would be easily remembered and significantly reduce the time needed to request and receive assistance. The simplicity and effectiveness of the E911 system has prompted parents and others to teach children how and when to use the system.

Children are taught during what scenarios they should call 911 and what to do and not do after a dispatcher responds verbally. For example, they are taught not to hang up after making contact. Unmistakably, one scenario in need of calling 911 is during a time of violence against a human being. There have been numerous instances when children, even very young children, have dialed 911 and in some cases saving the person’s life in need of assistance. Overall, the E911 system is effective even for children.

US News & World reported that sometime on December 1, 2013 Kari Rene Hunt was brutally murdered in a Texas motel in view of her three children ages 3, 4 and 9. Her estranged husband killed her after she agreed to meet him at the motel to arrange a visit with their children. They were planning to divorce. A struggle ensued in the motel room and sometime during the struggle their oldest daughter dialed 911 as she had been taught by her mother using the motel room telephone. Unfortunately and understandably, her oldest daughter was not taught that in most motels, hotels and other businesses in the United States you need to dial a ‘9’ before dialing 911. Eventually the police were contacted but too late for Kari Rene Hunt. We will never know if her life could have been saved if the original call to 911 was successful.

The family of the murdered mother posted a petition asking the U.S. Congress to enact a federal law requiring all hotels and motels in the United States to implement the E911 system. As such, dialing a ‘9’ prior to dialing 911 would not be required. The petition posted on change.org was signed by just over 428,000 signatures within two-weeks.

The family initiated petition has caught the attention of U.S. Congressman Louis Gohmert of Texas the state where Kari Rene Hunt was murdered. This is important as Representative Gohmert has the ability to introduce Kari’s law or a version thereof to the congress. As of this writing no such bill has been introduced in the United States House or Senate.

Dialing 911 is an automatic reflex for most of us. The system saves lives. Having to have the presence of mind and consider that a ‘9’ or any other number must be dialed prior to dialing 911 is a lot to ask of anyone when facing a traumatic event especially a child. Kari’s law would require that the telephone systems in motels and hotels drop the need to access an outside line prior to connecting with a 911 dispatcher. Kari’s law could save lives.

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