Confusion Over 911 Responders ‘Public Duty’ Rule


To save one life or rescue many is a tough question many first responders battle with. But, a recent lawsuit puts that question to the test.

A local department was taken to court when crews didn’t make it to a home in time and someone died.

First responders say their duty is to protect the general public, not just one individual. The Public Duty Rule states municipalities have an obligation to serve the general public over one person. They want a law to better explain that.

The rule came under fire when a woman called 911 because she fell ill. After miscommunication, crews arrived late and she died, which caused her family to sue.

In January, the Illinois Supreme Court took up the case. The Public Duty Rule was struck down. Employees are still protected under laws and now cities are worried the change can affect how they prioritize cases causing even more expensive lawsuits.

The Legislature can reinstate the Public Duty Rule to cover the gap which leaves public employees vulnerable. The bill hasn’t been voted on yet in committee. The changes became effective in January.

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