AUSTIN (KXAN) — One of the most well-known and obvious lessons taught to children and remembered through adulthood makes Hank Hunt feel angry, yet guilty.
“We all teach our children to dial 911,” said Hunt about the three digits ingrained in everyone’s head in case of an emergency. But it took tragedy for Hunt to realize those three digits do not always work.
In December of 2013, Hunt’s daughter Kari Dunn was stabbed to death inside a Marshall, Texas hotel room. Her estranged husband is now charged with her murder. Dunn’s 9-year-old daughter was inside the hotel room and dialed 911 four times.
Each time, the call failed.
“If you ever need help, dial 911,” said Hunt. “That is what we taught her, that is what she did and we let her down.”
That is the source of Hunt’s anger and guilt. His granddaughter dialed 911 trying to find help for her mother, but the hotel rooms at the Baymont Inn & Suites required guests to dial a “9” before all outside calls. Hunt feels that is a problem and Kari’s Law can be the fix.
“Any device, anywhere, anytime,” said Hunt. “That is it.”
Kari’s Law has received support from nearly 500,000 online signatures and would require that all who dial the three digits 911 would be connected to an emergency dispatcher regardless of the multi-line telephone system (MTLS). Right now, dialing 911 at an office building, school, or hotel MLTS may or may not get the caller they help they are seeking. As Hunt travels the country to speak about Kari’s Law, he takes notice in each hotel room where he stays.
“Some hotels we stayed in say dial 6821 for emergency,” said Hunt about the inconsistencies he has come across. “Toss a coin, you do not know.”
On Wednesday, he was at a Commission on State Emergency Communications Workshop in Austin once again telling the story of his daughter’s death with the hope it will save someone else’s life.
“I believe Texas does have legislation for 911, but it is not a consistent legislation,” said Hunt.
Consistency is what he believes all phone systems should have when it comes to an emergency number and the Federal Communications Commission has taken notice. The FCC is investigating the feasibility of what Kari’s Law would require, but Illinois and Suffolk County, New York have already passed a form of the law.
The American Hotel and Lodging Association conducted a survey and found 47 percent of franchised hotels did not require an access code for 911. That number dropped to 32 percent for independently owned hotels.