Dial 911 Without 9 First: Lifesaving Change To Hotel Phone Policy?

9-1-1 is three easy-to-remember digits for a reason: to make contact with emergency services as easy as possible when you're least likely to be able to think straight. So why do so many hotels and other establishments require patrons to dial out before they call for help? It's a cause taken up by Texan grandfather Hank Hunt, who's petitioning hotels and small businesses to abolish a dial-out number before 911, after his nine-year-old granddaughter couldn't call medics to her wounded mother.

Hunt has launched an online petition which calls for a federal law to abolish a dial-out code, and has received 390,000 signatures so far. "Kari's Law" would be named after his daughter Kari Hunt Dunn, who was stabbed to death, allegedly by her estranged husband, at an East Texas hotel last year.

The law would require hotels and motels to upgrade to "Enhanced 911" systems, enabling guests to call for help by dialing 911 without having to dial another figure, like 7 or 8, first. It would also give the operator the caller's exact location.

It's hard to argue against since a logical proposal, and it's one certainly supported by the National Emergency Number Association. Government affairs director Trey Forgety says that Kari's case "does sort of beg the question: how many identical situations are out there that we just don't hear about?"

Asked whether an Enhanced 911 system would have saved Kari's life, detective Sonya Johnson, who was on the murder scene, said: "We have no sense of knowing, because [Kari's daughter] never did make the call."

But Hank Hunt says his granddaughter assured him she did call 911 — but that "it just wouldn't work".

However, there are a couple of issues: For example, being able to dial inside a hotel and reach staff there could, hypothetically, get first aid-trained staff to the injured person faster than an ambulance. Additionally, some people are concerned that messing with the 911 code in general could confuse citizens and damage the life-saving "brand."

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