Seattle Pays Almost $2M After Delayed Emergency Response

Seattle has agreed to a $1.86 million settlement with the family of William Yurek, 48, who passed away from a heart attack in his townhouse in 2021. Yurek’s son had reached out to 911. Still, upon arrival, Seattle Fire Department medics hesitated to enter due to a caution note associated with the address, awaiting police presence, according to The Seattle Times.

The lawsuit alleged that Yurek was mistakenly placed on a caution list meant for individuals believed to be antagonistic toward emergency responders. The error stemmed from a prior tenant who lived there before Yurek and was on the list.

Medics, acting on the caution note, were advised to await police backup, the lawsuit highlighted. When Yurek’s health deteriorated, his 13-year-old son made another distress call to 911, even though the medics were already on site.

The medics finally entered without awaiting the police. Despite responder efforts, Yurek could not be saved. “They did everything possible to save Will after they entered,” Mark Lindquist, the family’s attorney, said. He also expressed the family’s gratitude to those medics who prioritized saving a life over following protocol.

Following this incident, Seattle updated its procedures related to these cautionary notes. Now, they either lapse after a year or undergo a review for renewal, shared Tim Robinson from the Seattle city attorney’s office.

Moreover, any alarm dispatched to addresses with these caution notes will require verification for any indications suggesting the need for police assistance due to potential hostility. Lindquist emphasized that depending solely on addresses can endanger renters and frequent movers.

In a related development, Seattle settled another case in August, paying $162,500 to a former 911 call center manager who claimed he was unfairly penalized for highlighting operational issues, including the controversial caution note practice.

Lindquist also mentioned a medical expert’s statement, which indicated that Yurek might have had a 25% survival chance without the delay in medical assistance.

Lindquist reiterated the family’s desire for the city to acknowledge its mistakes, which, he believes, has now occurred.