Texas murder raises alarm on hotel emergency services

A recent tragedy in an East Texas motel is resulting in an official investigation from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) into the effectiveness of the 911 system in hotels. According to the International Business Times, Kari Rene Hunt was stabbed by an assailant on Dec. 1, 2013 in a motel room, and her nine-year-old daughter was unable to call 911 for assistance as she had not realized it was necessary to dial "9" first to reach an outside line. Hunt's father, Hank, is pushing for a universal 911 service that bypasses internal phone systems.

“We are attempting to ensure that any person needing police, EMS or the Fire Department at any hotel or motel location may be able to dial the numbers 911 and receive emergency response,” Hank said in a petition on Change.org. “In a panic, any underage child - or for that matter, anyone in an emergency situation - should be able to depend on dialing 911 from any phone in the United States and receiving assistance.”

According to the Marshall News Messenger, Ajit Pai, commissioner for the FCC, decided to start an inquiry into the 911 system after meeting with Mark Fletcher, chief architect for worldwide public safety solutions at Avaya, who planned on contacting the FCC in order to raise awareness of the tragedy and subsequent petition.

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“Kari’s nine-year-old daughter did exactly what she had been taught to do during an emergency,” Pai told the News-Journal. “She picked up the phone and dialed 911. The call didn’t go through. Why? Because the hotel’s phone system required her to dial 9 to get an outside line.”

Backers of the law are arguing that 911 should reach emergency services wherever it is dialed, and that emergency medical attention could have saved Hunt's life.

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