911 emergency dialing change coming to legacy phone system

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Passed in February 2018, federal law H.R. 582 placed new requirements on multi-line telephone systems (MLTSs) that are commonplace in hotels, office buildings, and university campuses. The bill requires MLTSs to allow users to directly dial 911 without additional digits or prefixes, such as “9” in order to reach an outside line.

Lehigh’s new Cisco phone system is already configured for direct 911 dialing. However, the university’s legacy PBX phone system currently requires dialing “9” before 911. Effective May 23, 2018, the prefix will no longer be required to reach 911 emergency services, but the call will still go through if the prefix is used.

Although calls to 911 are handled as quickly as possible, it is more efficient to contact the Campus Police directly in the event of an emergency (Ext. 84200 on-campus or 610-758-4200 off-campus). The LUPD is more familiar with campus and off-campus locations and may get to the emergency site more quickly.

What to do if you dial 911 in error:

This new dialing pattern may increase the possibility of dialing 911 accidentally, such as when making an international call. When you dial 911 from a campus phone, the Lehigh University Police Department (LUPD) is automatically notified where a 911 call originated on campus. If you dial 911 in error, you will be connected to a 911 dispatcher at either the City of Bethlehem or Northampton County.

In the event of a 911 misdial, please take the following steps:

  1. Stay on the line and let the 911 operator know that the call was placed in error.
  2. Dial the Lehigh Campus Police at 610-758-4200 and inform them of the accidental call.
  3. A dispatcher will send an LUPD officer to respond to your office/location to confirm that there is no emergency. We understand mistakes can happen, but for everyone’s safety, it is LUPD's policy to respond to all 911 calls and exceptions to this response cannot be made.

If you have any questions about this change, please contact Lizanne Hurst, Manager, Telecommunications & Network Infrastructure, at 610-758-5014.

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Note: This article has been updated to include LUPD's recommendation to contact Campus Police directly in the event of an emergency for the quickest possible response.