Saturday, August 25, 2007

New E.P.D. Medical Policy

I suppose this change in medical screening policy the Eureka Police Department made makes sense in light of recent events. You can't help but wonder how effective a medical screening would have been in the Cotton case, him supposedly still being violent all the way to jail. How could the medical folks evaluate him, assuming he's still fighting?

It does cover everyone's ass a bit better, though, but that doesn't necessarily equate with saved lives. Sometimes shit happens, regardless.
I can recall a couple incidents with regard to medical screening when I worked at Humboldt County Juvenile Hall. In one case, I suppose I actually violated procedure, with no harm done. In another, I/ we followed procedure but ended up with an almost dead kid.

In the first case, a young indian girl we were quite familiar with was arrested for drunk in public, or some such. She was supposedly really out of it and fighting the sheriff's deputies tooth and nail. The deputies took her to the hospital for medical screening as was standard procedure for intoxicated minors at the time.

Except a short time after we were called, the deputies show up at the door with the girl telling us she was fighting so hard they couldn't draw blood from her and they didn't know what else to do but bring her to us.

We weren't supposed to admit kids like that without medical screening. What to do? This was graveyard shift and it was just me and one female working.

I said to bring her on in and as they led her in I said to the girl (we'd always gotten along well), "R****a, I hear you've started your own little indian uprising...", or something like that.

She started laughing and said, "Hi, Fred.". She seemed to really settle down once she saw some friendly faces. We ended up taking the girl to a room and had her changed into juvy clothes. She hopped onto the bed to go to sleep. Last thing she said to me as I closed the door was, "Don't forget to wake me up for activities.". She seemed fine to me.

Not quite the end of the problem because that was a breach of procedure. When one of the day shift guys showed up a few hours later he was really uncomfortable with the situation. There wasn't much he could do at the time but he was not happy about skipping the medical screen.

I was never reprimanded for that, which surprised me.

In hindsight I wonder if I could of talked her into going back to the hospital with the deputies. That might well have worked. Didn't think of it at the time, though, and it all turned out ok in the end.
The second case was one where a kid was brought back to us as a group home failure. Happens all the time: Kid goes to group home. It doesn't work out and he's back in The Hall again.

As I recall, this wasn't an in custody transfer, meaning he was brought to The Hall by his parents or the group home people. I can't recall who brought him in but he came in willingly. He had plenty of chances to run.

So, I go through the booking procedure and get all his info. He said he was on some medication but didn't have any with him. I can't recall all the medical questions but everything in that case seemed normal at the time.

He is showered, given juvy clothes and taken to a room.

Maybe an hour or so later we go to let the kids out for activities. Kristy opens this kid's door and finds the guy pretty much unconscious on the floor. We had no idea what had happened. Jim, the senior on shift, and I grab the kid and put him in a car. I drive him to the St. Joseph's Hospital emergency room.

(We decided later on that a better choice would been to call an ambulance but hindsight is almost always better than making decisions on the spot.)

He ends up in the emergency room and I did some back and forth with Jim on the phone while at the hospital. We'd came to the conclusion that he must of overdosed on whatever medication he said he'd been taking. He had none with him so he probably took it all before being admitted.

We told the emergency room staff about his likely overdose and I left to go back to The Hall about the time they were shoving a tube down his throat and pumping charcoal, or some such, into him.

The kid actually survived and lives in Eureka to this day. I've seen his face in the local papers at least a couple times when the cops are looking for him. He lives not far from me.

The drug the kid was taking was Elavil, something for some kind of mental condition, depression or some such. One of the other Hall staff told me he talked to one of the county medical staff about the incident. He said the doctor told him, "If you overdose on elavil, you die".

Kid lucked out, despite going through the proper medical screening, at least proper for back in those days. Shit happens, and I don't know any way we could screen a guy for a drug overdose he took just before he was admitted to juvenile hall.


At 7:31 PM, Blogger Kristabel said...

Hi Fred,

I'm not sure when you worked at Juvenile Hall, but I was a volunteer there in the early 90's. I was there running a rec. program one evening when there was a big breakout - a kid grabbed some metal pipes from the bathroom, started breaking out windows and threatening staff until they gave him the keys. I think four kids got out. They had a getaway car, but three of them left the kid who'd been the most violent standing in the parking lot, and he was immediately caught. Do you remember that?

At 6:43 AM, Blogger Fred said...

By golly, I sure do, except I wasn't there when it happened. I was down in Sacramento attending required training for Juvenile Hall Counselors.

Last I heard, two of the participants in that escape were in prison (for adult offenses). One I haven't heard of since, and the one you describe as the most violent during the escape I was surprised to see quoted some years ago in a Times- Standard story on one of the local carnivals. He became a "carny".

As an aside, that most violent fellow was one of our easy keepers. Really out of character for him to do something like that.

So, you must have been with the HSU recreation group that came in one or two(?) nights a week to run activity periods?

At 8:35 AM, Blogger Kristabel said...

Yep, I was. I think a lot of the staff thought it was a pain having us there...especially that night, but I really liked that program even though we needed better training. Do you know if it still exists?

That's interesting to hear about what happened to them. You're right, that kid seemed so mild-mannered; it was surprising.

At 8:49 AM, Blogger Fred said...

I have no idea if that program still exists.

I'll have to admit to being one of the staff that wasn't too fond of having the HSU rec group showing up. It's been a while so I can't remember exactly why. I think it was just because it limited staff options as to how we went about running the shift.

Kristy, who you might remember, was the staff coordinator with the HSU group. I mentioned to her one time I got annoyed having to shift gears to accomodate the HSU group. She didn't appreciate my comment at all.

On the plus side, I feel safe in saying that all staff enjoyed having some extra adult bodies around. It gave us a psychological advantage, if nothing else, over the kids. Didn't seem to work on the night of the escape, though.

One other group that was a pain to some of us, at least they were to me, was the church groups. Certain churches would volunteer to hold services at The Hall on Sunday evenings.

I appreciated their volunteerism but they were still annoying if only because the time they'd come for services was time when the kids would normally be locked down. It was between dinner and the evening activities.

That was one of the rare windows of time we had where staff might be able to relax a bit and take a break, assuming nothing went wrong.

If the church groups forgot to show up, which happened every now and again, I'd enjoy the break. If they showed up, it would be even more work than we'd normally have on the evening shift because one of our rare break times was interrupted.

At 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Homeless man found dead under tarp in Redwood Park this morning. Subject is thought to have died of exposure.

Witnesses had called APD early this morning to report a homeless man sleeping in Redwood Park. Officers shortly arrived and contacted the subject and determined that the subject was deceased. Ambulance was called to remove the body and officers hauled the homeless mans belongings away.

At 9:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exposure? In the summer? Who the hell could freeze at this time of year? What a tall tale.

At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exposure? In the summer? Who the hell could freeze at this time of year? What a tall tale.

9:12 PM

Exposure could kill at this time of year if a person were elderly, or if a person had circulatory problems, or had other health problems that rendered them more sensitive to heat and cold than the average person.

Easy assumptions are often wrong. That's why research is such a good idea. Either research or a Google search.


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