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Just Following The Rules

From KPHO [via CNN]: Deputies Find Diabetic Man Kicked Off Train

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — A 65-year-old St. Louis man who Amtrak personnel kicked off a train in the middle of a national forest in Williams has been found dehydrated and disoriented two miles from where he was dropped off.

Amtrak officials said train workers followed policy when they put off the train a man they thought was drunk, but the man’s family says he was in diabetic shock at the time.

Police said Roosevelt Sims, a factory worker who had just retired last week, was discovered Thursday night walking along the railroad tracks barefoot by Coconino County sheriff’s deputies.
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Deputies said he was dehydrated and disoriented.

He was rushed to a Flagstaff hospital for emergency treatment, deputies said.

Sims headed to Los Angeles but was asked to leave the train shortly before 10 p.m. Sunday at a railroad crossing five miles outside Williams.


While the symptoms of Diabetic hypoglycemia, are similar to alcohol intoxication, there is a very simple procedure for checking. I know about the procedure because I was certified as a Breathalyzer operator in the state of New York and checking for the problem was required of all operators.

You start off by asking the simple question: are you a diabetic? You check for medical alert jewelry, and you can just give them a sugar packet to eat. If you had any reason to believe the individual was diabetic, you shipped them to the hospital. There are drunk diabetics, but that is also a medical problem that law enforcement is not equipped to deal with.

I’ve dealt with drunks and diabetics, and they are similar, but not the same if you make the effort. Dumping someone off a train in the middle of nowhere is not a proper procedure, whether they are drunk or diabetic, unless you are trying to make a trial lawyer wealthy.

32 comments

1 John McKay { 06.29.07 at 5:21 pm }

I had a severely diabetic housemate in college and got to be quite good at catching the warning signs. He usually had some candy on him for that purpose. As soon as he started to get spacey, we’d ask a few questions and if he was slipping we’d get out the candy watch him till he finished it. Inevitably, during the end of the semester rush when no one was sleeping or eating regularly, he’d collapse somewhere and we’d get a panicked phone call from a student or teacher.

2 Bryan { 06.29.07 at 5:55 pm }

We had orange juice in the squad room specifically for diabetics, because we had a lot of them in our area, mostly students. Of course, we also had spare packets of sugar from Dunkin’ Donuts. [Just because it’s a stereotype doesn’t mean it’s false. Only place to get a cup of coffee after 10PM.]

3 hipparchia { 06.29.07 at 6:05 pm }

I did find another article that said that an Amtrak employee waited at the drop-off point with the “drunk” until police arrived, at which point the poor guy ran off into the night. Don’t know if this is a revised version, attempting to put a better spin on things, or if it really happened that way.

It’s easy enough to offer someone a candy bar or fruit juice or coke or cookie or granola bar or packet of sugar or … and then wait 20 minutes. Lots of junk food floating around these days that’s just chock-full of high-fructose corn syrup.

I have to admit, though, that I’ve been in that state a few times myself and have been just disoriented [and snarly] enough to refuse to eat. If you’re responsible for the safety of a whole bus/train/plane load of people, have an unruly person going ballistic in your midst, and are several hours away from the nearest medical facility, what do you do?

Whatever you decide to do, dropping a person off in the middle of nowhere in the dead of night is just a bad decision.

4 Bryan { 06.29.07 at 8:51 pm }

The guy was so “unruly” that they only left ONE person with him? I dealt with unruly, and if you don’t need at least two people, you don’t have unruly.

They had a confused individual slurring his speech and everyone assumed he was drunk. If he was a threat, they wouldn’t have left him with a single employee at a remote location waiting for a sheriff to show up. The corporate attorneys are trying spin control, when they should just apologize, give the family a small payment, and the problem goes away. Instead, they are going to push this into court and get their heads handed to them.

5 hipparchia { 06.30.07 at 12:23 am }

if you don’t need at least two people, you don’t have unruly.

can’t argue with that definition!

pretty bad when you have a whole trainload of employees and apparently not a one of them has ever learned how to deal with a lone drunk, let alone learned to recognize some basic medical problems. makes you wonder… if you grab your throat and turn blue, would they know what a heimlich maneuver is? or if you grab your chest and keel over, do they know what to do with the aed?

i hope they do get their heads handed to them.

one conductor, apparently.

6 Bryan { 06.30.07 at 12:46 am }

If you want unruly try PSP PCP – a guy so out of it that he dislocates his elbow trying to escape and is flailing at you with his flapping lower arm – that’s unruly.

We had constant first aid training when I was in law enforcement, including birthing, and we were a 5 minute ambulance ride from two hospitals. I can’t believe they don’t have an EMT on that train which crosses some of the least populated areas of the US.

7 hipparchia { 06.30.07 at 1:46 am }

ah yes, horse tranquilizers. i spent a few years working for large animal vets. nothing like a strung-out wild-eyed 1000-lb alien species for making a disoriented human being with slurred speech look positively friendly by comparison.

i tried to come up with some realistic figures some time ago, what it might cost to have a couple of sky marshals on every single flight, and came up with about $50 per ticket for the average domestic flight. i’d pay that, or even twice that. same for medical personnel of some kind on long train rides [or plane rides], how much more can it really cost if you spread it out over all the passengers?

8 whig { 06.30.07 at 3:28 am }

I had the thought that the “one conductor” wasn’t even real. Would the train have waited for him, or left him standing in the middle of the national forest with this guy until the police came and then stand there until the next train came?

It’s just not making sense. I’m not saying they’re lying exactly, but…well, they might be lying.

9 whig { 06.30.07 at 3:41 am }

PCP, not PSP. I was confused for a second there. Playstations may make you twitch too, though.

10 Bryan { 06.30.07 at 10:10 am }

It was in fashion for a while for certain dealers to add PCP to their marijuana for extra kick. It was not a good time for those of us wearing blue, because people weren’t ready for what happened when they smoked it. In addition to an increase in officer and suspect injuries, it meant we had to start making marijuana arrests again, after everyone in the system had privately agreed they were a total waste of resources.

These were the early years of the Rockefeller drugs laws, and they were a total waste of time and resources as we were dealing the natural increase in crime caused by the Baby Boom.

All of the stewardesses on the early passenger aircraft were RNs, Hipparchia. It wouldn’t be that expensive to send people to EMT training.

Right you are, Whig, PCP. It’s been a while, thanks, and that whole conductor story sounds bogus to me. Trains don’t run often enough any more, to make dropping someone off at an empty station seem reasonable.

11 whig { 06.30.07 at 6:17 pm }

Would you arrest people in possession of strawberries because some antisocial character was selling poisoned strawberries?

12 Bryan { 06.30.07 at 8:25 pm }

When people are getting hurt, it ceases to be a victimless crime, Whig. When people are dying, you have to do something, and people were dying. If people had let us know who was doctoring the grass, we could have been more targeted, but when people are getting their brains beat in, the public wants action.

The oath is to enforce the laws. You do it or find another line of work. You really don’t want cops making decisions that belong to the legislature or the courts. That’s is essentially what is going on right now with this administration, and there is no justice to be found.

13 whig { 07.01.07 at 1:18 am }

PCP is the problem, then. Why not find out where the PCP is coming from and interdict that?

I’m not saying do nothing. I’m saying be smart and address the cause of the harm, not cannabis which has no demonstrated capacity to do harm to humans at all. Not a single human fatality has been caused by cannabis. Water is more toxic.

Cannabis prohibition has killed many people, and caused needless suffering for many more.

I don’t know what oath you took or the precise wording, so I have no comment on that.

14 whig { 07.01.07 at 1:19 am }

The entire drug war metaphor needs to be scrapped and replaced with a system of regulation that focuses on reducing harm.

That is my position. I wonder whether you think this is something you can agree with.

15 Bryan { 07.01.07 at 3:04 pm }

Whig, the PCP was on the marijuana, you follow the trail you have back to the source.

The “war on drugs” is a total waste of resources. Prohibition didn’t work, and the “war of drugs” is no different. It shouldn’t be a law enforcement issue, it should be a medical issue, but politicians make the laws.

People need to force the politicians to change the laws. Law enforcement doesn’t get to pick and choose. It’s a political problem that will only yield to a political solution.

16 whig { 07.01.07 at 9:25 pm }

We’re trying Bryan but part of the problem is the Law & Order establishment keeps lying. Most recently a DEA guy in Florida claimed that the new cannabis out there is 20x stronger and might be fatally overdosed.

If he’s talking about PCP he had better say so because that brings discredit on law enforcement when your guys don’t tell the truth in order to affect our ability to change the laws.

17 whig { 07.01.07 at 9:28 pm }

Do you know this Mark Trouville? He said 200% stronger, not 20x, I misstated that. But he is also saying:

“This ain’t your grandfather’s or your father’s marijuana,” Trouville said. “This will hurt you. This will addict you. This will kill you.”

That’s a lie.

18 hipparchia { 07.01.07 at 10:04 pm }

question for you on the war on drugs: if we legalized it all, gave up the war on drugs completely, do you think there would be a corresponding cutback in the militarization of our police forces?

19 whig { 07.01.07 at 10:23 pm }

By the way, the article I linked above has apparently been pulled behind a registration wall. Here is the full text:

Pot Grow Houses a Budding Problem
Their increasing prevalence in Fla. is overwhelming local law enforcement.

By JIM ELLIS
The Associated Press

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS – Marijuana grow houses are becoming so prevalent in Florida that local law enforcement are calling on the state to create an intelligence repository to combat the problem.

And Florida isn’t alone, officials said.

More than 400,000 plants with a potential annual value of $6.4 billion were seized from grow houses in the U.S. last year – up from about 270,000 the year before, the DEA said.

“The days of mom and pop growing a couple pots of grass in their house is gone,” said Mark R. Trouville, chief of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Miami office.

The upswing of indoor marijuana growers in Florida culminated Thursday in a meeting among officials from the DEA and local and state authorities.

“We’re so overwhelmed with the operational side of things and we’re only working in our own little functional jurisdictions,” Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton said.

Florida has the second-highest number of indoor marijuana growers behind California, Trouville said. In 2006, officials in 41 of Florida’s 67 counties uncovered indoor growers, he said.

“Local law enforcement is keeping up with the day-to-day operations, but we’re missing the intelligence piece to pull it all together,” Benton said.

In these houses, the marijuana is typically grown hydroponically – that is, using a nutrient solution instead of soil. It is usually cut, dried and packaged on the premises.

Marijuana grown this way is as much as 200 percent more potent than if the drug were grown outdoors, Trouville said. Growers can harvest the drug in three months as opposed to six months in the fields.

“This ain’t your grandfather’s or your father’s marijuana,” Trouville said. “This will hurt you. This will addict you. This will kill you.”

20 whig { 07.01.07 at 10:25 pm }

hipparchia: I don’t know if you were addressing Bryan or me, but I think the lessons of Alcohol prohibition are clear. Replacing it with Regulation definitely cut down the militarization of our police forces of the time.

21 hipparchia { 07.01.07 at 10:31 pm }

i hadn’t thought about tracing the historical aspects, whig, but now you’ve got me intrigued on that point. can you point me to any links on the subject?

22 Bryan { 07.01.07 at 10:54 pm }

Whig, DEA is NOT, repeat: NOT, law enforcement. Those miserable SOBs should be put on a decaying submarine and left in the Marianna Trench. They get people killed for no reason. They protect murders to pursue their delusions. They are scum of the lowest sort. They are worse than the people they supposedly pursue, and they have been known to allow poisoned drugs on the street to be used for tracing.

You may notice that DEA allies itself with elected law enforcement officials, i.e. county sheriffs, and sucks them in with money making schemes, like asset seizures. They are a source of corruption in law enforcement.

If they are talking they are lying, and I would appreciate it if you would never, ever refer to them as law enforcement.

As for grow houses – you contact the utility company and ask to be tipped off about major increases in electrical use. Then you check the houses with a thermal scanner. If the scan shows unusually high temperatures, you establish surveillance until you can get probable cause for a warrant. Slow, easy, and legal yields a good case.

Of course, DEA would request a tactical nuclear strike, and find out they had the address wrong from their worthless lying informants.

There is no reliable scientific research that supports the claims made by this idiot regarding a doubling of THC, even if it occurred, and there is plenty of research being carried on outside of the US.

Marijuana has been in the top three of Florida’s cash crops for the last three decades, according to the Florida Agriculture Department [and yes, the Florida Ag Department tracks it], so that’s not very surprising. We also produce an awful lot of moonshine, but no one tracks that any more.

23 Bryan { 07.01.07 at 11:00 pm }

Hipparchia, the Chicago PD and Al Capone should yield more than enough reading on the subject. Capone had a winter place over in Niceville, so there’s local history involved. They would bring in rum from Cuba and send it north.

You don’t want to look too closely at the source of money used to develop Destin.

24 whig { 07.01.07 at 11:26 pm }

Bryan, I hope you won’t mind me copying your reply to Cannabis News. I think there might be an interesting exchange of views.

25 Bryan { 07.02.07 at 12:14 am }

Whig, I really hate DEA. They corrupt good people, and create a lot of unnecessary violence. They are a paramilitary group, not law enforcement. They have no great regard for the law or facts.

26 whig { 07.02.07 at 12:29 pm }

Bryan, have you considered joining LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition?

27 Bryan { 07.02.07 at 4:47 pm }

Whig, I left law enforcement behind when I was having issues concerning my personal anger management. When you can’t be sure you’ll follow the rules, it’s time to leave.

As for that DEA statement, you are allowing them to define terms. I would have attacked the statement based on the basic evidence standard – it is based on facts not in evidence, i.e. he is not a chemist, or physician and is making statements that require research and expert testimony to be admissible. The strength claim, 200% increase, as compared to what – the stuff that grows wild in Nebraska? The addiction claim is based on what evidence? There are people “addicted” to blogging.

A badge is evidence of a knowledge of some laws and procedures, not a knowledge of pharmacology and psychology.

Actually this guy sounds like a lobbyist campaigning for more funding – a new threat that is going to require more money to combat. I used to be part of those battles defending my budget against raids by the guys in patrol.

You want to take DEA out of the picture, go with rate of return on investment. Make them prove that what they do is worth the money spent. Attack their claims as funding requests, not law enforcement analysis. They get support from local agencies they provide funding to, not agencies that believe in their mission.

If you look at the arguments put forward, they will inevitably contain a statement about lacking the resources to combat something. They are funding requests.

28 whig { 07.02.07 at 10:05 pm }

The deception undergirding the rest is that cannabis is capable of causing death.

I don’t want to argue about how strong the pot is, because it doesn’t matter if it was 3x as strong or 10x as strong, people titrate their dose to achieve desired effect and the only consequence of taking too much is you might take a nap.

29 Bryan { 07.02.07 at 11:16 pm }

The real point is, there is no basis to accept any of the claims made, which is in line with most of the claims by the current administration. This is a DEA riff on the yellowcake uranium claims.

The only reasonable response is: who did the research and was it peer-reviewed. If not, it is an opinion, not a fact.

30 whig { 07.03.07 at 1:50 am }

That isn’t the way to understand this at all, he isn’t claiming to have studies at all. He’s just blowing smoke and talking about killer pot.

If you would like studies on behalf of my own proposition that cannabis cannot be fatally overdosed no matter the potency, I will be happy to provide them.

31 Bryan { 07.03.07 at 10:44 am }

That’s what I’m saying Whig: he’s lying and getting away with it because people are not asking for proof. He shouldn’t be allowed to make the claims without evidence to back them up. The media parrots the claims, and never challenges them. You have to establish the fact that these people lie.

When you present contrary evidence the media turns it into their standard “he said/she said” paradigm. Simply go after them for their lack of evidence and establish the fact that they are liars. That’s how the “game” is played with the media. That’s why Al Gore is always framed as a liar and exaggerator by the press.

32 whig { 07.04.07 at 12:34 am }

You can’t win in their own game, they control all the angles, including the ability to dictate media coverage.