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Get the 411 on Michigan's MLTS Law

Michigan's MLTS law and what it means for your business

If you are tasked with overseeing your organization’s Multi-line Telephone System (MLTS) you want to make sure that each phone works according to regulations if someone dials 911 from that phone. These regulations ensure that emergency personnel can easily know where the call originated so they can get there quickly to provide aid. In this post we will update you on Michigan’s E911 and ERL regulations included in the Multi-line Telephone Systems (MLTS) Law and how it will make you and your fellow employees safer.

What is ERL and Why Do We Need It?

New regulations for Emergency Response Location (ERL) went into effect on December 31, 2020 that further enhanced the existing Enhanced 911 (E911) system for organizations using MLTS. The existing E911 delivers an address to the local Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) when 911 is dialed. This was a huge leap forward in providing emergency response as there were many scenarios in the past when the caller could not provide their location. 

  • Someone was choking or having a heart attack or physical injury that keeps them from being able to speak.
  • Fear of speaking during a bank robbery or circumstance that might put the caller at risk.
  • Physical disability.
  • Caller was a child or visitor that did not know the specific location.
  • Caller could not speak English.

However, while E911 information was lifesaving for residences and small businesses in situations when the caller could not provide an address, it wasn’t as helpful for large businesses - in some cases, it was actually misleading. This is because the address stored in the E911 database for a large business often identifies the business main office and phone number, not the actual location on the business campus of the person in need. 

Under Michigan's MLTS law, every phone on a MLTS must transmit an ERL when 911 is dialed. An ERL gives specific information about the location of the caller as well as a call back number to emergency personnel. 

For example, imagine that Melissa is working for Acme Motors, a large corporation with an extensive MLTS. In the past, if Melissa dialed 911 from her cubicle, the PSAP may have received a E911 record that looked like this:

517-484-5000 12:23 2/17/2021 
Acme Motors
100 Main Road
Your City, MI

The phone number provided was the main front desk number and the address was the building's main address. None of this helped emergency personnel find Melissa if she was unable to speak and tell them where she was on the business’s campus. 

With ERL in place, better information is now sent to the PSAP. The new record would look like this:

517-484-4109 12:23 2/17/2021 
Acme Motors
100 Main Road - Building B
FLR 3 - NW CORNR
Your City, MI

Now Melissa can easily be found if she is unable to speak and give her location to the PSAP and her direct call back number is also provided. 

The new ERL law in Michigan extends E911 to ensure that people in large businesses using MLTS can get quick emergency attention that they have been unable to get previously under basic E911. 

Does the MLTS Law Apply to Me?

If you have a MLTS the law most likely applies to you, with the exception that if you have a single floor building with less than 7,000 sq ft of workspace, the law does not apply. 

Specifically, the September 2019 Guidelines for Multi-Line Telephone Systems issued by the State 911 Committee says, “The MLTS law obligates the operators of MLTS to ensure that 911 calls are capable of routing to the 911 network and specific location information to the appropriate local PSAP when 911 is dialed. The law requires “specific” location information: the location information sent to the PSAP through a MLTS indicates the precise location of the device. The specific information the MLTS operator must provide to the PSAP is determined by the type of structure or structures served by the MLTS.”

So the question is: Who’s responsible for compliance? To put it simply, your organization is responsible for ensuring that a 911 call placed from a MLTS is transmitted and received in accordance with this model, regardless of the MLTS technology used to generate the call. VanBelkum will work with you to ensure that each phone in your MLTS is capable of calling 911 and connecting to the nearest PSAP and that ERL information is correct. 

Questions to Ask Your Provider

If you’re unsure about your organization’s compliance with Michigan’s MLTS law, here are some important questions to ask your telephony provider:

  • When a user dials 911 from any phone on my MLTS, will their call go to the correct dispatch center?
  • When a user dials 911 from any phone on my MLTS, will the dispatch center get the proper ERL information needed to process the call?
  • If emergency responders are dispatched, is it reasonable they will be able to find the caller if no one is there to guide them to the caller?

High Risk Environments

Are you in a high risk environment? PSAPs have reported that many of the most dangerous scenarios occur when MLTS operators fail to provide accurate caller location in certain “high risk” environments. Take a look at the list below. If one of the descriptions describes your environment, make sure you work closely with your MLTS operator to make sure the PSAP receives accurate and helpful information when someone dials 911 from one of your phones.  

  • Multiple or remote buildings and locations with one address served by one central/host MLTS,  which serves as the location/address stored in the 911 database.
  • Multiple or remote buildings and locations in different responder jurisdictions with one address served by one central/host MLTS, which serves as the location/address stored in the 911  database.
  • Assisted living or medical facilities with a phone in each living unit or patient room, but with only the main address and front desk provisioned in the 911 database.
  • Sites that use a MLTS, but do not provide on-site notification that a 911 call was made; in this situation, the 24/7 attendant or security is unable to assist the PSAP during call-back to the ‘main line’ number provided.
  • Sites that use a MLTS, but do not have an on-site or 24/7 operator to answer a PSAP call-back to the ‘main line’ number provided. 

The Point is to Save Lives

The 911 system has gone through many improvements to help save lives. For example, Kari’s Law, named in honor of Kari Hunt, who was killed by her estranged husband in a motel room in Marshall, Texas in 2013 went into effect at a federal level last year. Ms. Hunt’s 9-year-old daughter tried to call 911 for help four times from the motel room phone, but the call never went through because she did not know that the motel’s phone system required dialing “9” for an outbound line before dialing 911. Congress responded by enacting Kari’s Law in 2018. Kari’s Law requires direct 911 dialing and notification capabilities in MLTS that are manufactured, imported, offered for first sale or lease, first sold or leased, or installed after February 16, 2020.

Equally, Michigan joins with 20 other states through the MLTS Law requiring ERL information for MLTS as part of the E911 system. Ultimately this is meant to improve the ability to provide life-saving emergency response to organizations using MLTS. 

Ready to Learn More?

Is your business in compliance with these new regulations? If you're not sure, it’s time to talk to a communications expert at VanBelkum. Fill out the info below to talk to a real, local person and get your questions answered quickly. 

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