She had been down this road before and was ready for me.
"Do you know where you are?" I asked.
"Right here at home, 572 Fedora Street, Providence, Rhode Island, USA 02908."
"What day is it?"
"Thursday, May 26, 0737 hrs, SIR!" she snapped off a crisp salute.
"Who is the president?"
"President Barack Obama, sir!"
3-3. Not good. Time for Plan B.
"Lucy, the gentleman behind me is worried about you. he says you are not well."
"Too bad, I'm good as gold, better when you all get the hell out of my house."
"I'd like to take you to the VA to get checked out."
"Because you appear to be in the manic part of your bi-polar disorder."
Prove it. She had me. Called my bluff, answered all of the questions and left me standing there with nothing. When a patient suffers with bi-polar disorder, and presents in a manic phase, they are disarmingly brilliant, articulate and clever. I knew she was heading for trouble, and needed to be taken to the ER for a psych evaluation. I did not know how to get her there without stepping on her rights, or overstepping mine. The police were on scene and had decided that this was a "medical," and stood by in case we needed to restrain the patient. I knew that if I touched her, or tried to force her to cooperate, a struggle would ensue and she would fight until exhausted. The end result would be her tied or handcuffed to the stretcher.
The last person to know that they are mentally compromised is usually the person who is compromised. They will fight, and struggle and do everything in their power to hold on to their freedom.
"Lucy" is a twenty year honorably discharged Air Force Veteran. According to her case worker from the VA she had been up for three days, hallucinating and calling friends in the middle of the night. All of the window shades in her apartment were drawn, so the people outside couldn't see in, she explained. The place was in disarray, but her cat had food and clean water, and there was no safety issues in plain sight.
I knew she needed help. So did I. Legal help. Problem is, I don't have a lawyer in my med bag.
Check out Fire Law for some answers!
I had the pleasure of working with fellow author and blogger Chief Curt Varone for the first fifteen years of my career. I'm pretty sure he was a chief when I was sworn in in 1991. By all accounts, he was a good firefighter. I know he was a good chief. Anybody who has read his books and blog knows he is a good lawyer and writer. (Anybody reading this who is not in the fire service, "good" is the best compliment you can get.)
Chief Varone and I have decided to share our experience and his law expertise. By linking between the blogs, we hope you get a better understanding of how the law affects our decisions in the street.
*Every story on Rescuing Providence is hypothetical, based on hundreds of different scenarios pieced together for clarity