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A call that could save a life

A call that could save a life

Jeaneen Parsons December 20, 2018

Everyone knows that in an emergency situation, seconds can make a difference between life and death. We’re also taught to dial 911. But for a young Texas girl who tried to reach help as her mother was being mortally assaulted by her father, she couldn’t get the call through because their hotel, like many entities, required dialing ‘9’ (or some other digit) to get an outside line.

The idea of a law requiring direct access to 911 caught the attention of Dan Wilson ’84, a solutions engineer and certified emergency number professional at communication company RingCentral.

The 911 easy access bill championed by Dan Wilson in signed into law by President TrumpAfter learning the details of Kari Hunt’s murder, Wilson contacted a Suffolk County (New York) legislator to advocate for changing local laws to require direct 911 access. Being familiar with multiline phone systems through his job, Wilson knew that allowing a direct dial feature would, in most systems, be an easy reprogramming function.

Wilson’s efforts resulted in Suffolk County being the first in the nation to pass legislation mandating direct access. Simultaneously, work to enact a similar law covering the entire country was working its way through Congress, and on Feb. 16, 2018, Kari’s Law was signed by President Donald Trump — 50 years to the day that the first ever 911 call was made.

“Sometimes a small step, especially if it is a first step, can lead to big change,” Wilson said.