Law requiring direct access to 9-1-1 by September 1st

Published: Aug. 17, 2016 at 8:16 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2016 at 10:37 PM CDT
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A new law will ensure that all Texans can easily dial 911 during emergencies

Most parents teach their kids to dial 911 in an emergency, but this law is taking effect to make sure it's as simple as dialing just those three digits.

Owners of multi-line telephone systems in Texas are now required by law to provide direct access to 911 without having to dial an additional digit such as 9 before getting an outside line.

It's known as Kari's Law and was created after a young girl was witnessing the attack of her mother. She dialed 911 as she was taught from the hotel room.

"The little girl tried several times to dial 911, but wasn't able to get anyone on the line because she needed to dial that extra nine to get an outside line and so her mother passed away," says Leticia Truex with the Potter-Randall County Emergency Communications District.

To ensure this does not happen again, owners of businesses with these multi-lines must make the conversion. We spoke with management at multiple businesses in Amarillo who tell us they are already using the system.

But if you are not, it's a rather easy fix if you have an up-to-date phone system.

"You can program the phone to dial what's called a dial plan," says Andrew Brandt with All Star Computer Service. "If you dial 911 to automatically go to the emergency services, as opposed to having to dial a 9 or a 1 or a 0 to select an open phone line."

Because the conversion may be expensive and time consuming for some, a one year waiver can be granted to businesses who need more time. Currently, Illinois, Maryland Tennessee and now Texas have passed the legislation.

"Lives are on the line and so we go out and we think 911 it should be there from any phone, any time and so anybody should be able to reach 911 without having to think about another additional number, additional step," says Truex. "It's just 911 and we should be able to get contact with a dispatcher."

If you would like to apply for a waiver, visit

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