When 911 Fails in Hotels

January 14, 2014

If you have ever tried making a call from your hotel room, you usually have to dial 9 to get an outside line; then you can dial your number. This is exactly what happened to a nine-year-old girl who tried to dial 911 to get help to save her mother.

The child could hear her mother dying from the stab wounds inflicted on her by her estranged husband who had entered their hotel room and took his wife into the bathroom, leaving his three children outside.

Their daughter tried to dial 911 as she had been trained to do in an emergency. She dialed it four times but each time, all she got was static. The children eventually ran into the hallway and found someone in a nearby room to call 911 but not before the husband took their younger daughter and fled the hotel.

The grandfather has launched a national petition to require hotels and other businesses to do away with dialing anything before calling 911. So far, they have gotten 390,000 signatures and the push is on to make it easier to get help in an emergency.

For many hotels, this may mean a new telephone system or it could mean getting a technician to reprogram the phones. There might even be the possibility of putting a special phone in rooms that are preprogrammed to dial 911 to make it easier for children and foreigners who can’t read English.

We’re only hearing about this one situation but my guess is that there have been many more emergencies that have either gone unreported or were reported too late to do anything about it.

In a medical emergency, hotel staffs are likely trained to call 911 or to call for an ambulance, but if children and foreigners don’t know how to call the front desk and can’t reach 911, it will probably be too late to help the victim.

I don’t know if it’s necessary to pass a law to get hotels and businesses to comply with this but my guess is that now that there is public awareness and a petition with so many names after it just made the news, these businesses will change their dialing system to avoid lawsuits from the families of victims.

It’s sad that this had to happen but maybe this is an issue that is long overdue for being addressed and now the time has come to remedy the situation.

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