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Disability Law

City seeks guardianship for 911 ‘super user’

Posted Nov 12, 2013 3:01 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Unsure how to curb frequent 911 calls by a system “super user,” Washington, D.C., officials met earlier this year to discuss a solution. Their decision: Seek a guardianship to handle the woman’s medical affairs.

Their guardianship petition alleges the woman, Martha Rigsby, 58, has bipolar and borderline personality disorders, the Washington Post reports. A guardian may not be able to stop Rigsby’s calls, but he or she could hire a home health aide to help her, for example, or could recommend a different living arrangement.

Rigsby has dialed 911 more than any other Washington, D.C., resident, the story says. She began making the calls in 1977; in the past year, 266 calls have been placed because of her fainting spells or falls. About 40 percent of the time she makes her own calls for help; bystanders placed the other calls after seeing her fall. About 55 percent of the time, she declines to get in the ambulance.

Other cities have tried similar measures. The city of San Francisco, for example, sought conservatorships for as many as a dozen frequent 911 callers each year during a pilot program to curb super users.

Rigsby is fighting the guardianship petition with the help of a court-appointed lawyer. The case has been delayed until January to allow for a neuropsychological evaluation.

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