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Family plans to sue Dane County for dispatch delays

By Dannika Lewis, dlewis@wisctv.com
Published On: Jun 25 2014 08:07:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 25 2014 08:41:19 PM CDT

According to legal documents, the family of Chris Williams is ready to sue Dane County, its Public Safety Communications and 911 Center Director John Dejung.

MADISON, Wis. -

According to legal documents, the family of Chris Williams is ready to sue Dane County, its Public Safety Communications and 911 Center Director John Dejung.

In a notice of claim released to News 3 Wednesday, family members specifically mentioned those parties, connecting them to the “wrongful death” of Williams.

Williams died in an apartment fire on Madison’s south side in October. According to 911 dispatch records, it took the center three minutes and 48 seconds to send crews to Bridge Road in response to emergency calls.

In the document, the family claims “the delay in dispatching emergency services to the fire was a substantial factor in causing Mr. Williams’ wrongful death."

The Williams family attorney said Dane County has six months to deal with the damages the members of Williams' family feel they have endured for Williams' death.

In the document, the family listed claims for $250,000 in damages, on top of asking for judicial supervision of Dane County Public Safety Communications and a third-party audit of the department.

Also on Wednesday, the county’s 911 Center Board met to discuss the ongoing issues facing the dispatch center. Most of the conversation was in direct response to Dane County Executive Joe Parisi’s demands for change.

The board tabled any discussion about 911 Director Dejung, giving the board time to go into closed session on the issue of his evaluation and giving the chair time to consult with the county about proper evaluation protocol. The board’s next meeting is in July.

The board also voted to recommend that the Dane County Fire Chief's Association look at opportunities to drop boundaries and dispatch whatever units can get to a scene the quickest, regardless of city, town or village lines.

In addition, the board told the 911 center to take the priority off of abandoned calls. Instead, dispatchers are asked to respond to live calls first, and call back the numbers of abandoned calls in a timely manner.

The board also discussed tweaks in training for dispatchers, returning to protocol from 2010. Dejung told board members the center was still in the process of revising old procedures.

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