Hotel E911 Check-Up for Owners and Guests

This Avaya CONNECTED Blog
is also available as an MP3 Audio File

Tragedy always brings out awareness. Would you know what to do if you needed to dial 911 from your hotel room? If you operate a hotel, have you considered what guests need to do to place an emergency call? In many cases, too little or nothing has been done, or what were thought to be “best practices” are, in reality, not such a great idea according to the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and their model legislation for multiline telephone systems (MLTS/PBX).

Here’s a handy little Hotel 911 Check-up that you can do yourself.

Defining the Problem:
Before you can come up with a solution, you need to define the problem. The problem of 911 in MLTS/PBX systems, can be one that is very convoluted with many different facets depending on the environment. When we look at the hotel motel industry, this is a very simple E911 implementation environment, that doesn’t carry the extra baggage of location discovery, FCE data center environments, and work at home VPN users that a normal commercial enterprise MLTS PBX may have.

SOLUTION 1: Dialing 911 WITHOUT an access code (9-911)
In an emergency, we are all taught at a very early age to dial the digits 911 to reach police, fire or medical assistance. While we as adults may understand that dialing “9” for an outside line might be common practice, think about those that do not use a telephone on a large PBX, or a child, as in the case of the recent tragedy in East Texas that has sparked national attention.

Check out these pictures of good and bad Hotel placards contributed here.

The fact of the matter is that most modern PBX systems today can accommodate dialing 911 as well as 9 – 911, therefore in most cases, this should not even be an issue as it’s a matter of turning on a feature that is already there.

SOLUTION 2: On Site Notification
When dialing 911, time is usually of the essence. Help is needed for a medical emergency, or a physical assault. When hotel staff are alerted that a guest has dialed 911, they can then respond immediately while emergency services are in route to the location. They can assist with AED (automatic electronic defibrillator) devices, provide life-saving CPR, or the Heimlich maneuver, or their sheer presence may disrupt a physical assault just enough to make a difference, once again something that may have helped Kari Hunt when she was brutally attacked and murdered in her hotel room in East Texas.

SOLUTION 3: Getting the call to the 911 center
This is the one that often confuses people. Why? Because sometimes MLTS PBX systems, are programmed to redirect the 911 call to the hotel operator. In other cases, emergency numbers are advertised on the hotel room phones. There are several examples of hotel placards that instruct guests to dial a special internal number, or dial the operator in the event of an emergency. What people don’t realize is that by doing this, the caller is being delayed access to trained emergency dispatchers, who are equipped not only to dispatch emergency services to the location, but provide life saving instructions on everything from severe lacerations, CPR, and even childbirth.

Since 911 identifies the caller’s location based on the originating telephone number, unless a hotel motel has dedicated telephone numbers in each room, there is no easy way to signal to the PSAP or 911 center the originating room. At least not a way that is operationally manageable.

This goes back to solution number 2, where on-site notification becomes a critical factor. In the past, the common practice for MLTS PBX systems has been to manage what is known as the ALI database. This is also where the bulk of the expense of solutions has come from. When we step back from the problem, just a little bit, getting emergency services EN ROUTE to the proper address is the primary focus. When we couple that with on-site notification, not only can hotel staff assist prior to the arrival of emergency services if possible, they can certainly be expecting them, and direct them immediately to the location of the incident.

This practice allows a hotel motel to be responsive to the emergency situation, without any added expense in most cases, as these are common features found in most PBX systems today.

When you’re a guest in a hotel, take notice of your environment. Make sure you understand how to summon emergency services by making a mental checklist of these important items:

1. How do I dial 911? Do I need an access code? Make sure that you know this in advance.
2. What is the address of the hotel?(Hint: it’s usually printed on the telephone itself)
3. On what floor of the hotel is your room located?(Hint: it’s usually the first digit of your hotel room number)
4. What’s your room number?Although this may sound silly, it may not be on your telephone.
5. Understand how to get out of the building in the event of a fire or emergency.

Putting a system in place, without testing it could be as good is not having a system that all. But just how do you go about testing 911 without tying up valuable resources?

The very first step in testing for 911, is to get out the telephone book. Remember those?
If you can’t find one, go on the Internet in search for the police department in your local municipality.

Once you have found the administrative or non-emergency telephone number listing, call them and explain that you would like to test a 911 call from your facility to ensure the proper information was being displayed to the 911 call taker.

Each municipality may have explicit test instructions that you need to follow, as well as specific testing times and procedures. Follow those procedures, but you may also want to schedule a visit from your PBX maintenance provider to address any concerns that come out of that testing. It’s also a good idea for them to review the configuration of your PBX, and ensure that the 911 programming has been properly established. There is no sense in testing unless you think you are going to pass.

While these might sound like simple things, it’s amazing what you will forget in an emergency, and reacting to these things during the emergency is just not going to happen. Most people simply react to what we’ve been taught. What we have been taught is to dial 911, and that’s why 9-911 may never come to mind.

Want more Technology, News and Information from Avaya? Be sure to check out the Avaya Podcast Network landing page at . There you will find additional Podcasts from Industry Events such as Avaya Evolutions and INTEROP, as well as other informative series by the APN Staff.

APN Blog Banner

Thanks for stopping by and reading the Avaya CONNECTED Blog on E9-1-1, I value your opinions, so please feel free to comment below or if you prefer, you can email me privately.

Public comments, suggestions, corrections and loose change is all graciously accepted 😉
Until next week. . . dial carefully.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Fletch911


CacheFly LogoAPN is Powered by Cachefly
CacheFly is the world’s fastest CDN, delivering rich-media content up to 10x faster than traditional delivery methods. With a proven track record and over a decade’s worth of CDN experience, companies around the world choose the CacheFly CDN for reliable and unbeatable performance. For more information, visit

Views All Time
Views All Time
Views Today
Views Today