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On the ground and suffering a seizure, a Palo Alto woman pleaded to be taken to the hospital. But police kept paramedics from helping her for 14 long minutes.

In a cascading series of mistakes and violations of city of Palo Alto policies, it took more than 40 minutes to get a Palo Alto resident to the hospital

In this filtered screenshot from video shot by the body-worn camera of Palo Alto police Officer Yolanda Franco-Clausen, a Palo Alto woman with a brain tumor (top left) struggles to speak and begs Clausen to get her medical aid on June 3. Photo courtesy of Palo Alto Police Department.

A 54-year-old Palo Alto woman sat hunched over on the ground outside her home in early June, pleading repeatedly with police officers to get her medical help.

As one officer peppered her with questions, including whether she had been drinking or was on medication, she became more and more desperate, fearing she was suffering a potential deadly stroke.

"I've got to go," she told police, who were standing over her. "I've got to go. I've got to go right now. I don't think I have a lot of time left. There's something really wrong."

The crews of a fire engine and a paramedic unit were on hand and ready to treat her, having arrived within just five minutes of the 911 call. But the city of Palo Alto dispatcher ordered them to remain out of sight a block away, where they waited eight-and-a-half minutes until police arrived and then another five minutes before police allowed them in.

It was one of many actions by the police during the incident that violated city policy, including an unexplained five minute stop by the responding officer three blocks from the woman's house, the absence of body-worn camera footage of a police sergeant, missing GPS data for the sergeant's patrol car, a search of the woman's house and the sharing of confidential information about the incident by a police officer with her spouse, who then conveyed it to others.

For more than two months, the Weekly as well as the woman and her husband have sought answers from the city about the handling of the incident. City staff initially refused to disclose any information, forcing the family to engage an attorney for help. Eventually, the city provided some, but not all, time-stamped police audio and body-worn camera video, fire dispatch tapes and logs, recordings of the 911 call and fire department reports.

The Weekly also sought interviews with city staff, who initially agreed only to answer written questions. When pressed for in-person interviews, City Manager Ed Shikada agreed to make himself and Police Chief Bob Jonsen available. But he then changed his mind and said no one at the city would answer any questions pertaining to the incident, in writing or in person. He gave no explanation for the refusal and instead only issued an eight-paragraph statement. (Read more in "A tug of war.")

The woman and her husband provided the recordings they'd obtained to the Palo Alto Weekly, saying they were concerned that what happened to her could lead to tragic consequences for others if the police department's violations of protocol and lack of effective training are not corrected.

'I was starting to disintegrate as a person'

The petite Palo Alto resident, whose identity the Weekly is withholding to protect her privacy, started experiencing strange neurological symptoms similar to a stroke around noon on June 3. She began seeing double vertically, was dizzy and felt increasingly disoriented. She had a sense of losing awareness of one part of her body, she said.

Too impaired and confused to find her phone and call 911, she went out to her front yard to seek help from neighbor children she heard playing basketball.

"I thought: 'If I lay down on this bed I'm going to die. I need to go outside. If I collapse on the street, someone will find me,'" she told the Weekly during an interview in July. "I ran. I just ran toward the noise. I was starting to forget who I was. I was losing my awareness of who I was, where I was. I was starting to disintegrate as a person."

She encountered a 10-year-old neighbor boy and, stuttering, she struggled to ask for help.

"I had great difficulty. I remember getting really scared. I said, 'Please call 911. I need medical attention or I'm going to die. If I don't get medical attention, I'm going to die.' I said this several times," she recalled.

The boy, his older brother and their father tried to comfort her. The father stayed with her as the 14-year-old boy called 911 on a cellphone.

But the response the woman got from the city was anything but the life-saving help she expected.

The dispatcher who answered the 14-year-old's 911 call, Brina Elmore, immediately dispatched fire units to the scene, but within 60 seconds, she ordered those responders to hold up around the corner from the victim and "stage" until police arrived.

Moments later a second police dispatcher initiated the lowest possible non-emergency police response, stating that it "sounds like it's going to be more 5150 than medical," indicating dispatchers had concluded that they were dealing with a psychiatric problem rather than a medical emergency.

The sudden change in response came because of a single statement made by the 14-year-old, prompted by Elmore asking him to assess the woman's medical condition within the first two minutes of the 911 call.

After obtaining the address from the eighth-grader and dispatching paramedics, Elmore asked, "Do you think it's a medical issue or is she having some type of psychological issue?" according to recordings.

Taken aback, the boy said, "I don't — it seems psychological to me, but I am not the one to make a decision on that." He told Elmore that the woman was repeatedly asking for medical assistance and saying that she was going to die. At the dispatcher's prompting, he said the woman had no weapons and confirmed that the woman was not behaving as she normally did.

Elmore's decision to characterize the call as a non-emergency psychiatric call, heard via radio by responding police and medical units, not only set in motion a delay in medical help but shaped how both police and fire personnel approached the urgency and severity of the incident.

In the end, the woman waited for over a half hour before finally being loaded into the ambulance. En route to Stanford Hospital, paramedics realized that her medical emergency was actually a seizure, which had begun around noon and became more severe in the ambulance, according to the woman. It developed into a grand mal seizure upon arriving in the emergency room, 42 minutes after the 911 call. After tests were done, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and has since undergone brain surgery.

Staging gone wrong

The handling of the 911 call has raised questions about how a policy that prioritizes paramedics' rapid access to patients morphed into an unwritten practice that put police in charge of making medical diagnoses when a patient exhibits possible psychiatric symptoms — and about the urgency, or lack thereof, attached to those calls.

Police Officer Yolanda Franco-Clausen, who was dispatched a minute after the fire department was, traveled without lights or siren from less than a mile away and arrived at a point three blocks from the woman within six minutes, according to police GPS tracking data. For a still-unexplained reason and without informing the dispatcher, she then stopped for five minutes two blocks away from the waiting fire personnel and less than a 30-second drive from the woman's location, according to the GPS data.

It took Clausen 11 minutes to get to the address. Her supervisor, Sgt. Adrienne Moore, met up with Clausen there and made a point of reminding her to turn on her body-worn camera as she got out of her patrol car. According to the city, Moore's vehicle and body cam footage does not exist, but it has not explained why.

Clausen's body cam video chronicled what happened next: The two officers approached the woman, who was sitting on the ground with her neighbor, who had his hand on her knee. His two boys stood nearby. Despite it being obvious that the woman posed no danger to firefighters that required any further delay in getting her medical assistance, Clausen instead proceeded to try and determine what might be wrong with her, talking with her for five minutes.

The video shows the woman exhibiting a neurological condition known as aphasia, in which a person uses partial and nonsensical words. Aphasia is a symptom of some strokes, head injuries and brain tumors, according to the American Stroke Association. The city's own protocols describe aphasia as an indication of a possible stroke.

"What's happening to me is — I have some kind of a serious — helpl — uh, help. I have a serious — serious — OK. I — I'm gonna lose my ability to — to make a — Please take me to ...," the woman said, according to Clausen's body-camera footage.

At this point, Clausen told the woman, "We have an ambulance on the way right now. ... I just have to ask you a few questions. Do you feel like harming yourself today?"

"What? No. I have some kind of serious — help! I need help!" the woman said.

"I'm trying to understand what kind of help we need today. Are you injured?" Clausen said.

The woman put her hands to her face as she struggled for the words.

"Um, please take me to — helpital, uh, uh," she said.

"Do you want to go to the hospital or do you want to see a psychiatrist?" Clausen asked.

"No no no no no no no. Oh my god," the woman said.

"What do you need? Tell me what you need," Clausen said as the woman became more panicked and struggled for words.

"Here is what I need. I need — I need — I need helple."

"Have you had anything to drink today?" Clausen replied.

As the exchange continued, the fire captain, who had walked down the street and joined the officers, radioed for the paramedic and fire crews to come to the scene.

When police make medical decisions

The gaffes made during this emergency raise questions about why the police failed to follow city protocols or if they were unaware of those rules.

The city's staging policy is specific. Staging is required for all incidents involving violence. Violent incidents are defined as "shootings, stabbings, assaults, or any other type of incident in which fire department personnel may be exposed to harm as a result of a violent act."

For incidents in which the city's emergency dispatch center staff know or suspect that violence has been involved, or the potential exists, the call will be dispatched with instructions to "Proceed with caution."

For calls in which the dispatcher knows or suspects that the potential for further violence exists, such as a sniper, fight in progress or violent perpetrator in the area, the call will be dispatched with instructions to "stage and await P.D. arrival."

The woman did not exhibit any of the traits required for staging under the city's policy. The boy told the dispatcher the woman was not armed. She had not displayed any tendency toward violence and the boyexpressed no fear of harm or violence. Still, the dispatcher noted in the computer log, "Neighbor came over and she's stuttering and he's not sure it's a psychological issue or not." Later in the log, the dispatcher said the boy had informed her the woman "seems psychological not medical but he isn't sure." The woman didn't have any weapons, the dispatcher informed the fire department.

In a July 8 meeting with the woman's husband, Jonsen expressed concern for how the dispatcher handled the call, according to the husband. Jonsen said the conditions under which fire personnel are staged has "drifted" from the policy over time to include situations where there is a psychological factor. Jonsen told the husband he is changing the policy to explicitly require officers to show up faster and to quickly assess whether the person poses a threat, and if not, to get out of the way so that medical first responders can tend to the person.

The actual procedures employed during the woman's medical crisis evolved due to the 2015 Christmas Day fatal police shooting of William Raff, a psychiatric patient who ran toward police with a table knife after he made a 911 call about an alleged threatening person at a residence, Jonsen told the woman's husband. (As with other city staff, Jonsen declined to answer questions from the Weekly.)

But expecting police officers to make medical assessments, especially recognizing the signs of a serious neurological condition, has been problematic for the city in the past. In April 2014, 63-year old Palo Alto resident William Bedwell suffered a hemorrhagic stroke while driving on El Camino Real to his job as a research scientist at SRI International. He struck three cars and kept going. When police arrived, he had trouble keeping his balance, appeared disoriented and bumped into an officer. Instead of summoning paramedics to evaluate the man, police officers cited him for hit-and-run and a tow-truck driver took him to work. When he arrived at SRI, co-workers called paramedics, who transported him to Stanford Hospital. He died three days later after surgery for severe brain injury.

Bedwell's sister, a doctor, wrote a letter to the City Council, then-Police Chief Dennis Burns and other city leaders raising an alarm over how police handled the incident.

"I am appalled that this could happen in your community," she wrote.

Bedwell's wife told the Weekly at the time, "It's not about wanting to get anything out of this. We feel what happened was unacceptable, and we don't want this to happen to anyone else."

Shikada, in response to the June 3 incident, issued a statement saying that additional training had been provided to dispatchers and that the city has "clarified" and "reinforced" policies regarding dispatching police to medical emergencies and staging protocols.

In a follow-up email, he said the city's policy for handling psychiatric-related calls, as the June 3 incident was erroneously determined to be, requires the police officer to "quickly evaluate if medical attention is needed and request medical support as soon as it is safe to do so."

The city's staging policy, however, makes scant mention of police responsibility to evaluate the need for medical attention. The Palo Alto Police Department policy manual does not specifically give police the discretion to make medical diagnoses.

The city's unwillingness to answer questions has made it impossible to reconcile the apparent contradictions or clarify how a similar incident will be handled in the future.

Shikada's statement concluded: "We deeply sympathize with the individuals involved and their family, recognizing the difficulty of the circumstances involved. We understand the concerns raised with the handling of this call and would like to express our appreciation for bringing these issues to our attention."

But the woman involved in the June 3 incident said that such reassurances are meaningless without accountability.

"If the police and fire departments had followed existing policy, this wouldn't have happened. The fact that seemingly no one is being held accountable for failing to follow policy means it's likely to happen again. Our City Council should hold the city staff accountable before someone else suffers potentially fatal consequences," she said.

Illegal searching and other problems

Additional concerns have arisen in the June 3 incident about invasion of privacy, illegal searching and the use of body-worn cameras.

When paramedics finally began attending to the woman, Clausen conversed with the woman's husband, whom the neighbor had reached at work on his cellphone. Clausen asked if she could peek into the home.

"I just want to verify with you, if the door is unlocked can I just see if anything is lying on the floor or anything in the immediate location in the front there?" she said, according to the body cam video.

The husband agreed. But while still talking with him, Clausen entered the home and searched the woman's knitting basket, which was sitting on a foyer table. Without telling the husband, she proceeded to walk farther into the home through the dining room, kitchen and breakfast nook. She searched the woman's purse, then peeked into what appeared to be a study or a bedroom. On her way out, she checked a parcel underneath the foyer table.

Clausen can be heard telling the husband that she hadn't found any drugs or alcohol or any sign of what might account for the woman's disorientation. However, neither the husband nor the woman were aware of the extensive search until they obtained the body cam video recording weeks later from the city, they told the Weekly.

In addition to Clausen's search of the woman's residence beyond what the husband had authorized, Moore appears to have violated department policy, adopted in 2018, when the body-worn cameras were first deployed, requiring officers to verify that both the in-car video system and body cams are operational at the beginning of their shifts and to report any problems immediately. During the incident, she should have activated her body cam; the car video cameras are supposed to automatically activate. The recordings are also supposed to be automatically downloaded and preserved under specific procedures, and they cannot be altered or deleted, according to policy.

Finally, in another wrinkle that raises additional questions about police conduct, the Weekly obtained copies of text messages sent by Clausen's spouse, Shay, that conveyed confidential information about the incident to an acquaintance, another violation of department policy.

Shay and a woman were texting when the woman commented about the Palo Alto resident having had a medical crisis. Shay then volunteered that Clausen had been at the scene and that "It wasn't true."

In a later text to the same person, Shay stated the Palo Alto resident "is not telling the truth, that's all I can say." She also accused the resident of filing a complaint against Clausen, which the resident later said she had not.

Preventing future tragedies

All of these questions continue to nag at the woman, who said she wants reform so that similar incidents won't endanger other Palo Alto residents who call for help in a medical crisis, especially a neurological one for which delayed treatment has severe consequences.

"It was excruciating for the 20 minutes I waited for help," she said during the July interview.

"I'm a middle-aged woman in pajamas and slippers sitting in the dirt in the street. I had no weapon of any kind and wasn't acting threatening to myself or anyone else, nor was I intoxicated, and my neighbor confirmed that to the dispatcher before the first responders arrived," she said. She noted that she is a teetotaler and hasn't drank alcohol of any kind for more than 30 years.

If police really suspected she was somehow dangerous, it would have made sense to move people away from her or clear the area for her privacy, she said.

"The wrong people came. ... Even after I was in the ambulance and on my way to the hospital, the police were still insisting to my neighbors that my illness wasn't 'physical' but 'just some sort of episode.'"

The woman, who has a background as a wilderness first responder, said she was struck by the fire department incident commander's ineffectiveness during the exchange with police.

He "is standing nearby watching me struggle and not taking command of the scene as incident commander but is allowing police to continue to try to 5150 me (the term for putting a patient on a 72-hour psychiatric hold). No one has yet checked my level of orientation (name, place, date, situation), asked whether I have bumped my head, fell, take insulin, have epilepsy, eaten anything I might be allergic to — nothing.

"No one has done a FAST check (stroke-determination criteria), even though I was having trouble speaking," she said.

The long lag caused by the police delayed the diagnostic scans she needed and the delivery of needed anti-seizure medication, she said.

"I was pleading for help and I didn't get it. I was incredibly scared and at one point said to my neighbor: 'I'm going to die today.'

"I had done the right thing. I had got myself outside. I had got myself to humans. I had asked for medical help and 911 was called. But when they came, they didn't help me. If I had actually been having a stroke, I could have been dead.

"This is just a botched response from minute to minute. ... The city's response showed no respect for my dignity or privacy as a patient," she said.

Stacey Leyton, an attorney with Altshuler Berzon LLP who is representing the woman, said in an email that her client has not thus far filed a complaint with the city or a lawsuit.

"My client was deprived of emergency medical attention that she desperately needed and had every right to expect," Leyton wrote. "In seeking an explanation for the police response, my client exercised her right under California's public records laws to obtain from the city documents and video that should have been readily available to her. It should not have required a lawyer's involvement for her to obtain access, but it did.

"We have obtained information from the city that sheds some light on the incident, but critical information is still missing from the city's response. The city has not provided any explanation thus far for these gaps in information.

"This (medical) delay had serious emotional and physical consequences and could have been life threatening. No individual who calls for emergency assistance should have to worry that help will be withheld in this manner," Leyton wrote.

Related content:

A tug of war: City keeps changing its mind over releasing information about the June 3 incident

The 12 questions the city won't answer

TIMELINE: The 911 call: What happened when

Editorial: When local government leaders refuse to answer questions, they become their own worst enemies

City Council has questions about mishandled 911 call

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Comments

39 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 7:52 am

Sadly, this is unlikely to happen, but, what should happen is that this incident, along with several others, be used to develop new protocols. New procedures to handle incidents like this. What went wrong. How it should have been handled. How other incidents involving people in various situations resulting in impairment of unknown origin should be handled.

Unfortunately, the city is putting itself in a defensive position, and is unlikely to learn anything except to call a lawyer before they do or say anything.


109 people like this
Posted by A Moral Compass
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 20, 2019 at 7:58 am

A Moral Compass is a registered user.

Absolutely INCREDIBLE...a life is at stake & all of these subsequent distractions + counterproductive measures by PA public safety.

The police were over-reactionary & dispatch did not adequately communicate the emergency.

The only ones attempting (and prepared) to do their jobs were the paramedics but they were held at bay while the emergency was being further DEFINED by law enforcement.

Meanwhile the PA City Manager & all those directly responsible have taken a vow of silence in regards to the incident.

Palo Altans should be outraged by this recent incident/aftermath & even more dismayed by the exorbitant salaries these 'public officials' are 'earning' + their CALPERS benefits.


Like this comment
Posted by Christina Hicks
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Sep 20, 2019 at 9:41 am

[Post removed.]


78 people like this
Posted by Mark
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 20, 2019 at 9:44 am

So the actions of the PA responders hinged on a question asked of a 14 year old person that was in a new and stressful situation? Guess that young person was outside of this statement "The city's staging policy, however, makes scant mention of police responsibility to evaluate the need for medical attention. The Palo Alto Police Department policy manual does not specifically give police the discretion to make medical diagnoses." But no problem with "Hey kid, how does she look to you?"

It's all too easy to see why Shikada and Jonsen are ducking and obfuscating this issue as much as they can, but the actions of Elmore, Clausen, Moore, and Shay are all shameful/illegal and I hope they are all help responsible for them in one way or another.

Thanks to PA Weekly and Sue Dremman for staying on top of this story and publishing an informative story that I hope will be a springboard for drastic changes in how incidents like this may be handled in the future.


43 people like this
Posted by Another woman been done that harm to
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 10:03 am

"The handling of the 911 call has raised questions about how a policy that prioritizes paramedics' rapid access to patients morphed into an unwritten practice that put police in charge of making medical diagnoses when a patient exhibits possible psychiatric symptoms — and about the urgency, or lack thereof, attached to those calls."

Answer:
"A 54-year-old ... woman"

If you still don't get it, consider the origins of the word "hysteria" and how biases still affect how women get care from start to finish. She's "lucky" she had a seizure on the way, or the people in the ER would likely have peppered her over and over again with the same questions to figure out whether she was "lying" (quote from a medical resident, they really do that, especially to middle-aged women).

According to the Mayo Clinic:
"Women tend to show up in emergency rooms after heart damage has already occurred because their symptoms are not those usually associated with a heart attack, and because women may downplay their symptoms."

Why do women downplay their symptoms (here's an article about women and hysteria in the history of mental health which doesn't necessarily come to terms with the continuation of the problem today, but shows that "hysteria" as applied exclusively to women was in the DSM manual until the 1980 version. !980. That means a lot of doctors trained today learned that in medical school or were trained by men who learned that in medical school and didn't have anything to overtly counter it from the male-dominated culture.

Couple that with the invisibility problem for middle-aged women, and it's a toxic mix for any woman experiencing symptoms that could be stroke, silent stroke, heart attack or seizure related. I hope this very serious bias problem that still threatens all women is not missed from this situation.

I wish the woman the best in healing from both the trauma and this serious brain tumor.


37 people like this
Posted by Another woman ....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 10:12 am

here's the link, women and hysteria in the history of mental health
Web Link

2018
Web Link
"In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences over the summer, researchers found that women are less likely to survive a heart attack when they’re treated by a male physician." Researcher " studied more than 500,000 heart attack patient cases in Florida hospitals from 1991 to 2010."

Gender bias in healthcare still unaddressed and hurts women:
Web Link
Web Link

Web Link
"Consider this: women in pain are much more likely than men to receive prescriptions for sedatives, rather than pain medication, for their ailments. One study even showed women who received coronary bypass surgery were only half as likely to be prescribed painkillers, as compared to men who had undergone the same procedure"

I hope the very, very obvious wrong here will help be a catalyst for change, because this story is just so emblematic of wrongs done to millions of women every day, globally, but still in the West as well.


63 people like this
Posted by eph85
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 20, 2019 at 10:17 am

eph85 is a registered user.

A very sad story, but excellent reporting. Thanks for shedding light on this disturbing case.


15 people like this
Posted by withheld
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 20, 2019 at 10:49 am

Lay this situation directly upon our tolerance of all the 5150 cases continually circulating in our community. The police blotter will show that true medical issues are vastly outnumbered by dispatches to incidents of psychological derangement. Our officers are conditioned to expect mental cases.


19 people like this
Posted by Note to Sue Dremann
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 20, 2019 at 10:57 am

Agreed its a good story, but the headline currently contains a copy-editing error.

Standard North-American simple past form of plead is "pled," not "pleaded." The reason journalists are forgetting that today is their frequent writing about criminal-law cases. Criminal law records the special form "pleaded" which is nonstandard US English. In ordinary writing, the word is "pled."


57 people like this
Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 20, 2019 at 10:57 am

eileen is a registered user.

I am horrified that the City Manager has not addressed this incident! This very same thing happened to a good friend while she was getting gas in Redwood City. The attendant called 911 and she was eventually treated for a brain tumor.
She was having difficulty speaking and disoriented. The Redwood City police helped get an ambulance right away.
I'm not sure if I can trust our police department after reading about this.


46 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 20, 2019 at 11:03 am

Sadly the culture of non transparency and lawlessness have become so acceptable at city hall that a woman’s very life was threatened.

The Council needs to give clear direction to the city manager to follow all the laws of the city and to serve the residents and businesses, woman men and children , that they are paid to serve without bias, secrecy or preferential treatment that gives special benefits To certain individuals.


47 people like this
Posted by Hilda
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 20, 2019 at 11:15 am

2019! And Palo Alto 911 cannot rush to the aid of a woman in desperate need? This is despicable behavior by everyone who was called upon to help! I hope everyone who was in command of some portion of the debacle is put on notice without pay, as well as treated to receive psychological treatment and paid for by themselves. What if they were in the woman’s frightening situation?

Is our society so backwards, afraid of surprising experiences? I just helped a friend, woman 54, with a nervous breakdown via texting. She luckily could text and read in order for help to get to her.


53 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 20, 2019 at 11:16 am

This whole situation is outrageous but unfortunately too typical of the lack of accountability from our city employees, consultants and elected officials. For this we're paying the highest salaries in the state??

Remember that our city manager, formerly a high official in San Jose and one of the top 3 highest paid in the state, got the City Council to approve extra year's salary if he got fired in Palo Alto. Either way he wins and we the residents and taxpayers lose.

We need some REAL answers and leadership. Thanks for covering this and please keep it up.



42 people like this
Posted by Healthy, thank goodness
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Sep 20, 2019 at 11:17 am

Wow. A dispatcher is an over-the-phone-through-a-third-party diagnostician. I hope I don't get her or anyone else trained or managed by her org. Staging the paramedics, a cop that had to stop to check social media perhaps and then act as a gatekeeper for medical attention. Then a police chief and city manager that won't talk? It sounds like there is a need for constructive reorganization of a few departments. A police force and a city manager that don't answer to the people is sounding like a trend setting in in DC at the highest levels of government.
The city council had petty hold the responsible to be accountable with suitable discipline. Thank god these were not who responded when my brother had a stroke in southern California or we might not have him with us today.


19 people like this
Posted by Gina
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 20, 2019 at 11:24 am

How many nut jobs call in a medical call and their just crazy. I think this lady must be the one squeaky wheel. I say bravo to the Palo Alto police for a job well done. I am sure this is a white lady of privilege. Bring up other calls of non whites and see how those were handled


36 people like this
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 20, 2019 at 11:28 am

Yet another systemic failure in training: if your only tool is a hammer, every situation looks like a nail.


95 people like this
Posted by People Are Watching
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 20, 2019 at 11:29 am

I'm really shocked by this. The police clearly screwed up - failed to follow policy, conducted an illegal search of the house, put a resident a risk of death and disability. Then the City violated the CA Public Records Act by refusing to disclose info until the residents hired a lawyer to make them - a cover-up. Then the City decided they would not talk with the press to answer any further questions - more cover-up.

The City Council needs to step in here. These actions are not acceptable, and the Council Members are our representatives, responsible for overseeing the staff's work, including and especially the City Manager and Police Chief. If they don't, the message to the staff is clear: do what you like, we'll look the other way.

I hope and expect there will be a public assessment and admonishment of staff, starting at the next City Council meeting on Monday. The people are watching.


48 people like this
Posted by You're Fired
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 20, 2019 at 11:32 am

Tender your resignation letter if you want to work in LE somewhere else.
PAPD blew it, that's 100% clear.
They will be measured by how they handle this failure.


54 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 20, 2019 at 11:36 am

A psychiatric emergency may be referred to as a 5150, but it is still a MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Police do no have the capacity nor are they legally entitled to calilarify, diagnose, or determine a medical condition. Only physicians are trained to diagnose. A 14 year old boy's opinion is not clinical evidence to.be used to determine if a person in distress is experiencing a psychiatric or physical emergency. The city of Palo Alto- police, fire department personnel and the city manager desperately need re- training and are an embarrassments to this community. Palo Altans pay a lot to live in the city- the lsckmof professionalism in this case is appalling.


38 people like this
Posted by GrandmaKK
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 20, 2019 at 11:36 am

As a long time resident of Palo Alto who has experienced eight lacunar strokes and has epilepsy and migraine syndrome, I have had to call 911 for help. My experience was positive, with paramedics once climbing in a window to reach me when I couldn’t open the door. My greatest fear is an incident like this woman experienced, when I am incoherent and unable to convince them of my needs.
I once fell into a hole in Carmel, shattering my ankle. When the paramedics arrived, they hammered me with questions about what medications I was taking and what I had had to drink. I do not drink alcohol and my med list is very long. It took many minutes before they finally got me into the ambulance as they kept asking if I could walk! Duh, no, my ankle is in pieces.
Protocol be damned, use some common sense....


2 people like this
Posted by Citizen3
a resident of Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Sep 20, 2019 at 11:39 am

[Post removed due to inaccurate statement of fact.]


14 people like this
Posted by Tammy
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 20, 2019 at 11:44 am

[Portion removed.] How is someone being relayed information over a phone supposed to know what type of medical or psychological emergency someone is having? These are people who work hours and hours and are trained with the state. Instead of going after the officers and dispatcher if you don’t like the response move.
You can google them and see how much they made but it doesn’t state how many hours those people work, how long their shifts are and how much time they put into their careers. [Portion removed.]
I would say job well done by the trained individuals. The article was written by someone who has zero experience in police, fire or dispatching.
Let’s not look past the department having an article published of a administrative ranked officer using racial slurs, I guess the cops and dispatchers doing their job warrant a article and that we will sweep under the rug.


3 people like this
Posted by Kosovina
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 20, 2019 at 11:47 am

[Post removed due to factually inaccurate statements.]


3 people like this
Posted by Retiredoldman
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 20, 2019 at 11:49 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


32 people like this
Posted by Faye
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Sep 20, 2019 at 11:52 am

Palo Alto Police and Dispatch are hiring if anyone thinks they can do a better job than these trained individuals. If you want to complain and act like you know better maybe apply and see if you can do a better job.

Pay and benefits are great!
You can apply on the city website HR department


65 people like this
Posted by Please do apply
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 20, 2019 at 12:16 pm

@Faye, its not that a mistake was made, that happens, it's how they handled it and continue to handle it, that stinks. Stonewalling as if they hope it all goes away.

Yes, many can do better at admitting and taking ownership of their mistakes and I hope we rid the dept of those who cannot do this and replace them with people who can.

Admit the mistake, discipline the people if appropriate, apologize and then explain how it won't happen again. That's the path that people with integrity would take; the path so far un-taken by the PAPD.
That's what people with integrity do


9 people like this
Posted by Faye
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Sep 20, 2019 at 12:24 pm

@please do apply

Why would the employees need to apologize if that’s how they are trained.
You don’t just apply and answer phones these are people who have been in months / years of training. I don’t think anyone needs to apologize.
Apologizing admits wrong and I don’t know who the patient is but I highly doubt they are a cop fireman dispatcher or doctor
[Portion removed.]


21 people like this
Posted by cvvhrn
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 20, 2019 at 12:29 pm

cvvhrn is a registered user.

WOW look at the rush to condemn here. We do not have 100% of the facts it seems and yes it does look like the ball was dropped here but:

First of the title of the article is not correct. She was not having a seizure rather a stroke etc. This misleading title makes it look like they causally left the person convulsing on the ground.

Violence against healthcare and EMS personnel is at epidemic levels with no abatement so its not unreasonable if they had a suspicion that the person was a 5150 then they need to make sure that the scene was safe.

Again I'm not sure of the particulars and it does look like alot of time elapsed but this rush to judge is a bit much...........


24 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 20, 2019 at 12:39 pm

And yet when police rush into these situations and it turns out to be a person in mental distress who ends up getting injured or causing injury to others they are damned for their “aggressive” tactics. What precisely does the community want? A measured detailed response or flying to the scene of an unknown situation putting all parties in danger?


50 people like this
Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 20, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Why did this take 3 months to be reported on?
Sounds like we need an entire new team at the top.
This was the City Manager that was hired without competition.
If someone asks to be taken to the hospital. Take them to the hospital!
GEEEEESH


33 people like this
Posted by Rots from the head
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 20, 2019 at 12:50 pm

It took a large management failure to get to the point where both the police and fire departments were routinely violating their policies. That piece is unreported here but probably most important. What's the iceberg that this is the tip of? How are Jonsen, Blackshire, etc. presiding over this degree of poor training and mismanagement?

Unless there's accountability at the top, nothing will change. Citizens should look to Mayor Filseth and the City Council for answers and management of senior staff.


20 people like this
Posted by Brock
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 20, 2019 at 12:58 pm

“I'm a middle-aged woman in pajamas and slippers sitting in the dirt in the street.” If I was to see this I would be calling it in as welfare check on someone’s MENTAL state.

The dispatcher did everything she was suppose to INCLUDING staging medics, considering I’ve heard of many departments not even staging medics for A call like that. And every step the officers took, is how they would respond to any call, but since this is a middle age entitled white women she feels like she should be treated different. Because if the patient was black in this situation we wouldn’t be questioning why the officers went in and looked for drugs or alcohol. [Portion removed.]

The men and women of the PAPD risk their lives everyday so people like you feel safe in your neighborhood. They are the ones working days, nights, holidays, going days without seeing their family members.

[Portion removed.]


42 people like this
Posted by Another woman...
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 1:00 pm

@cvvhrn
Wow, look at your own rush to judge and get it wrong — You did not read the article she was having a seizure, not a stroke. A seizure because of what was found at the hospital to be a BRAIN TUMOR.

Emergency protocols exist to get someone in this situation to the hospital. You people trying to rationalize the way this woman was treated are being vile.

The attitude of people to cover up rather than fix this is what will get us sued (same goes in medicine, by the way).

We had a gender bias problem in medicine AND Silicon Valley that is an extreme of a global and longstanding bias against women in healthcare. People are too quick to believe a woman is crazy, exaggerating,malingering, hysterical, and not all get the medical care before it’s too late. I am extremely grateful to the woman for trying to make sure this doesn’t happen to others, and really angry that it could happen here. This needs to be unraveled so that all the contributing mistakes and biases are addressed.

This is all too common to happen to women. We’re supposed to react calmly, be the good little girls, to a dangerous situation even if we are confused, disoriented, angry, in danger, etc, or somehow we deserve to be hurt. There are way too many commonalities between this and the woman who was recently mocked by the dispatcher as her flood-trapped car filled with water and she died. And of course all the many times women are hurt in ERs because they aren’t taken seriously. Big studies show that this bias against women is still a huge and deadly problem.



35 people like this
Posted by PA citizen
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 20, 2019 at 1:15 pm

@Brock

"The dispatcher did everything she was suppose to INCLUDING staging medics, considering I’ve heard of many departments not even staging medics for A call like that."

Sorry, fake news. As the story says, department policy is to only stage medics when there is an imminent threat of violence. There was no suggestion of that. The dispatcher violated PAPD policy, though it sounds like she had plenty of company.

"The men and women of the PAPD risk their lives everyday so people like you feel safe in your neighborhood. They are the ones working days, nights, holidays, going days without seeing their family members."

Thank you, PAPD, for your service. But please follow your own policy and don't make stupid mistakes that endanger the public.


26 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 1:18 pm

@Brokc"since this is a middle age entitled white women she feels like she should be treated different. Because if the patient was black in this situation we wouldn’t be questioning why the officers went in and looked for drugs or alcohol."

[Portion removed.] The woman had a brain tumor and was having an ^*&^*ing SEIZURE and needed emergency medical care after calling 911. You think someone with an emergency seizure because of a brain tumor doesn't deserve City emergency services because she is WHITE and middle-aged, just because other people of color have been treated the way they shouldn't have been, too? That's how we should be running our city services, to make sure EVERYONE anyone is biased against gets equally harmed??? Seriously?! If you did a even a little bit of work, you would discover that women, especially middle-aged women, are way more likely to be treated badly and be disabled or die because of biases in medical care, biases in their mental health than men. Some "privilege".

Women are more likely to die of a heart attack than men, and it's directly related to bias.
"prehospital delays linked to more deaths among women"
Web Link

If this woman had had a heart attack or stroke, she would be just another statistic resulting from deadly gender bias in medicine and our society.

The attitude of some above to now libel this woman is really disturbing,especially @Brock. I wouldn't act to fire anyone in this instance, unless they dug in on their mistakes and tried to further harm this woman who is trying to help make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else. (Studies of medical malpractice shows that in the vast majority of cases, people who are demonstrably harmed do not sue, like 500 to 1, and of those who do, the vast majority would not have sued if the medical services had behaved in a way to make a "sincere" effort to apologize and make it right.) Anyone who responded the way @Brock has on this thread should be fired. Anyone whose response was to try to figure out what happened and make it right should get a raise and our respect.


47 people like this
Posted by Screeedek
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 20, 2019 at 1:21 pm

Screeedek is a registered user.

Please file a lawsuit and make it BIG and make it HURT. It seems to be the only thing this city will understand.


39 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto native
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 20, 2019 at 1:34 pm

This is absolutely unacceptable. The City Manager MUST be held accountable. The officers involved from dispatch to ambulance must be held accountable. As a single woman with a neurological disorder, this scares the hell out of me. We must be able to trust our law enforcement officers and emergency responders to respond professionally, efficiently, and compassionately. They failed this woman in every way. Shame on them.


16 people like this
Posted by Morris Day
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 20, 2019 at 1:58 pm

WOW everyone is quick to jump to conclusions why not wait for the other side of the story... there are always 2 sides to the story. This isn't a "women" issue so stop with the women's medical coverage. [Portion removed.] If she herself did not know what was wrong with her how could a person on the other end of a phone know. Don't sue or fire anyone "how about you all just learn" from this incident and move on. The Police, Fire and Medics did what they were taught. Change their policy before you start blaming. The police, fire are always damed if they do and damed if they don't.


21 people like this
Posted by Blarryg
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 20, 2019 at 2:00 pm

Blarryg is a registered user.

I've been healthy my whole life, still taking no medications ... but I have accumulated some good amount of age and as I get older, the odds that some medical event happening goes up.

(1) It's pretty obvious that once police establish that there isn't a threat, they should let medical personel make a quick assesment.

(2) For quicker decision making, the police ought to cover basic neurological symptoms and how to tell them apart. For example, aphasia is always a sign of some bad medical condition (it can be caused by injury to the brain from various illegal drugs for example, but at that point it is a medical emergency). If it was stroke caused, then every minute matters. It can be a symptom of dementia which is not an emergency, but that ought to be assessed by medical people.

(3) The [police officer's] spouse should shut up. We're a smallish community and if someone has a medical or psychiatric problem, maybe respect that person's privacy, especially for example when someone has what may be a fixable or temorary problem where the social consequences may long out last the medical. I can see a police officer needing to de-stress after work to a spouse, but also keep it professional.


11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 20, 2019 at 2:08 pm

@Morris Day - I'd love to hear the "other side of the story" if there is one. Unfortunately, the police and city staff are refusing to talk to the press. Plus they stonewalled the PRA request. They are covering-up the story.

That's not on the dispatchers and responding officers, though it sounds like the PD has some issues to keep them busy there. The cover-up is on the city manager and the police chief, and, if it doesn't do anything, the city council. If they've got a story, well, they should tell it. If not, we have to go with what we know.


10 people like this
Posted by Beyond Annoyed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 2:17 pm

@blarryG

I’m sorry have pd learn neurological stuff?

First it’s how to handle mentally ill people
Second how to “not be” military like in certain situations
Third how to handle homes less
And now you want them to be semi doctors

You all complain they make to much? Has anyone looked at staffing? Our police department is insanely low staffed along with their dispatch center. Both are constantly hiring. All you know it alls DO APPLY

This city residents are an absolute joke. How about everyone just shuts their mouth and see if a second side of this story is released this entire thing is being told be the “patient” who didn’t even know what was going on herself.
Someone who’s never met her is supposed to diagnose her over a phone, an officer who might have never seen her before should just know what is going on and this “isn’t her normal”
News flash people some of your “wealthy educated neighbors” also have drug or psych issues that’s why precautions are taken!

If fire was there first and their “medically trained” they have the right to say this is medical ... no ones stopping them.

This entire thing is just to bash the department like the city loves doing
Why is this city okay with raciest bigot officers in admin positions really making the money.. but not okay with people doing their job how they are trained to do.
I don’t believe the patient “knows policy” for the department
Heads up each department has their own direct boss so instead of going after a Individually involved employees why don’t you ask supervisors questions like how much training is offered, staffing issues, etc

Fire: Chief Blackshire
Dispatch: Mark Chase
Police: Chief Jonsen

These are all people who work directly with the city manager and are often times seen lunching and rubbing elbows with him and very close so don’t think your turning anyone against each other in city hall. The city manager will very much stand behind “his people”

Everyone is looking for a hand out. You realize if this was somewhere like San Francisco and a women in pajamas was acting strange it would be chalked up to a mentally ill women and firemen and medics wouldn’t be called. Why is she any different? There is one answer cause she’s a whistle blower loud mouth who things she deserves special treatment cause she isn’t crazy. (Insert eye roll)

This is an article being forced
This is an article written by someone embarrassed of a medical issue she had.
Great she knew to walk outside, oh she needs praise for saving herself?

All hail the women who knew she didn’t feel good!
Is that good enough? Can she crawl back to where she came from now?

And if anyone thinks police officers and fire personnel don’t go home and tell spouses and family about calls they have been on your all stupid and delusional.


20 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 2:20 pm

@ Morris Day,
There aren't ALWAYS two sides to a story, especially when a powerful side is trying to shirk responsibility for doing something wrong.

" If she herself did not know what was wrong with her how could a person on the other end of a phone know."

Um, that's why she called 911 and why the police should have followed protocols, which were objectively violated (and which the story reports on, if you had read it). (She did have a background in emergency response, according to the story, and did follow best practices to get help and not die alone.)

The fact is, being read like she is probably crazy also happens to be all too common (per lots of research) with deadly consequences to women, and that absolutely MUST be part of this discussion. Ever heard the phrase "nuts and sluts"? Women who try to assert their rights in court get attacked in those two ways, and it works because our culture is so quick to believe women are just mentally deficient, weak, complaining, neurotic, hysterical, etc etc. Plenty of research shows it's still hurting and killing women, IN THIS PARTICULAR KIND OF CIRCUMSTANCE where a woman is having exactly these kinds of symptoms.

Web Link
Web Link
How medicine dismisses and misdiagnoses women's symptoms
"Women are regarded as unreliable narrators who can’t even be trusted to speak for themselves or to testify to their own pain." "In “Doing Harm,” this cultural distrust of women — ancient and ingrained — is shown to govern quality of care at every stage of treatment.""women are seven times more likely to be sent home from a hospital while in the middle of a heart attack."

NO they are not "damned if they do and damned if they don't". People are fallible and make mistakes, that's why we have policies and practices that should be followed where life and death are at issue. That's why it's important to examine practices when things go wrong. No one has called for any firing of those who made the mistakes, but as a citizen, I think we should consider replacing the city manager and anyone who acted in a kneejerk way to cover things up or behave bizarrely like some of the above posters to try to attack the woman or the public for trying to figure out what went wrong and improve things. We do NOT need people like that in our City government, period.


10 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 20, 2019 at 2:21 pm

I am so sick of the way this country is going, and this city along with it. Who in a
responsible position asked the medical advice of a 14 year old in a possible life or
death situation.

The 14 year old said the right thing, but then gave an opinion anyway, which he
should not have and has no business commenting on.

I have heard second hand of a situation somewhat like this where the victim was
dehydrated and the circulation of the crystals in his inner ear were not circulating
well, or doing something wrong ( not any more a medical expert than the 14 year
old ) but they were having almost the exact same symptoms - feeling dissociated
and kind of dizzy with visual problems because could not focus or maintain the
correct understanding of their physical orientation. I just hope what this woman
had was something simply like that.

To me, this underscores the importance of having Univeral Health Care to put all
the other incentives in line. With a Universal health care system there is no need
to worry about being stuck with the bill, so police and city representatives do not
have to play stupid and dangerous games with people's lives.

What a sad story. Get it right Palo Alto ... start learning from the many mistakes
we are starting to see from the PAPD.


9 people like this
Posted by Beyond annoyed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 2:25 pm

@another women
Your web links are annoying and I am curious what policies were violated since you seem to know so much?

Please let me know what was violated and your training in dispatch, police and fire?

Oh I’m sure none


13 people like this
Posted by Morris Day
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 20, 2019 at 2:48 pm

@Resident
How do you know the City of Palo Alto, Police and Fire do not have a protocol they following in responding to reporters. Just like the police, Fire and Medics do and did in the case of this lady. With everything that is going on in this world (shootings, drugs, death, fires) you think we would respect our First Responders but NO you always have to bash them when something is not run like you would like it. The lady is telling her story and for someone being SOOOO GREATLY Ill , she sure can remember a lot about what happened, didn't know her name or what was wrong but knew the police were doing a bad job. - maybe you don't like the 14 min response time the police gave - but that was how they are trained to handle calls.


19 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 3:19 pm

@Beyond,
"I am curious what policies were violated since you seem to know so much"

According to THE ARTICLE WE ARE COMMENTING TO:
"In a cascading series of mistakes and violations of city of Palo Alto policies"

The article describes violations "It was one of many actions by the police during the incident that violated city policy, including..."

"The handling of the 911 call has raised questions about how a policy that prioritizes paramedics' rapid access to patients morphed into an unwritten practice that put police in charge of making medical diagnoses"

"The gaffes made during this emergency raise questions about why the police failed to follow city protocols or if they were unaware of those rules.
The city's staging policy is specific."

"The Palo Alto Police Department policy manual does not specifically give police the discretion to make medical diagnoses."

The entire article is about the many violations of policy that resulted in this egregious situation. Did you even read it before lambasting others? (apparently not)

Criticism to try to fix an error is NOT "bashing", and anyone in the City or departments who reacts that way is displaying unprofessional incompetence. The initial incident can be fixed, so I don't think the mistake itself should result in firing. Anyone who dug in on covering up or worse, reacting the way you just did, SHOULD be fired. We don't need that kind of kneejerk defensiveness and unprofessional behavior in any of our city departments when life and safety are on the line.


25 people like this
Posted by Makes sense
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 20, 2019 at 3:20 pm

Morris, thanks for your explanation. If I see you by the side of the road begging for help, it's good to know I can grab a coffee and make a few phone calls before I do anything about it!


20 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 3:31 pm

If the long diatribe by "Beyond Annoyed" is from or indicative of the attitude of anyone at City Hall or in a service department of our City that involves safety, we need a careful review of personnel and to let those people go.

People with such negative and unprofessional attitudes should not be in professionals that deal with the public safety, it is a menace and dangerous. If the City does NOT do the right thing here, they really are increasing the liability of all who work in the department.


9 people like this
Posted by Beyond annoyed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 3:36 pm

@another women
And what should the city do? Fire someone for doing their job? You apparently know how to handle this in the police fire and dispatch side so out your HR hat on and let me know what the city should be doing.
And no I am a tax paying city resident for the last 25 years “petite” like the patient here.


9 people like this
Posted by Beyond annoyed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 3:40 pm

@another women

You have also yet to lay out factual policies and not what a “article” says. FAKE NEWS

Yes I read the article and it says “violated policies” yet no one published those actual policies.

Maybe you should do more research maybe there a link you can attach that shows the policies


12 people like this
Posted by Citizen3
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 20, 2019 at 3:44 pm

It’s because this woman’s white. If this happened across the freeway in EPA no one would think twice. This “victim” clearly has white privilege and the means and time. If this was a black woman in pajamas in the dirt this wouldn’t be a issue or even make Palo Alto online.


3 people like this
Posted by Citizen3
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 20, 2019 at 3:47 pm

[Post removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 3:50 pm

@Beyond annoying,
Everyone is capable of looking up policies, which are described in how they are violated in the article above. If you think it's "fake news" you can take it up with the Weekly.

"And what should the city do? Fire someone for doing their job? "

If you had been reading my posts [portion removed] you would have your answer. As I have said more than once:

The City should not fire someone for a mistake. The City should, however, investigate whether we have members of City safety departments with such disparaging and dangerous opinions of residents that you do, and whether anyone acted to cover up rather than understand and fix mistakes.

The latter behavior is what they should be fired for -- trying to cover up mistakes is NOT want we want anyone in a public safety position to think is in any way "doing their job". The kind of [portion removed] statements above (some made by you), that attempt to deflect rather than examine and fix mistakes, is NOT something we want in our safety departments. I am grateful for the woman for persisting so that we can do something about it before you or anyone with such unprofessional attitudes hurts someone else.

How people (mis)handled the follow up to the mistake is what deserves being fired for. It makes me wonder if you are really someone who is trying to "defend" the police or you are someone who hates our police and fire professionals and is trying to make them look bad, just as the City manager did with the coverup behavior.


4 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 3:54 pm

@Citizen3,
"It’s because this woman’s white. If this happened across the freeway in EPA no one would think twice. This “victim” clearly has white privilege and the means and time. If this was a black woman in pajamas in the dirt this wouldn’t be a issue or even make Palo Alto online."

So, you're saying that because there is racism in medical and police response, that "white" people who call 911 should also be treated in a lifethreatening way out of racism? Really?

When mistakes are made, they should be fixed. Anyone who has as racist and unprofessional view [portion removed], if they work for our department, should be fired (not the actual people who made the mistake, unless they are the same).


11 people like this
Posted by Citizen3
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 20, 2019 at 3:58 pm

No what I’m saying is that if this was a black woman in pj in front of your Palo Alto house what would you tell the dispatcher? This is a psychological issue of medical issue. The kid told her he thought psychological so that’s the steps that were followed. I’m saying white peoples always havin to blame someone. If it was a black girl in Palo Alto you would of called in a suspicious person or a drunk. You ain’t fooling me


16 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 3:59 pm

As a biracial person who looked more like one race than another at different times of my life, I can tell you unequivocally that being a woman results in far greater and more dangerous bias in medical care of the two. But that's my experience, I also lost a close African American friend to a heart failure that I am very sure would have been dealt with more proactively had he been white. This loss does not in any way make me want to make all medical care dangerous for everyone, as the above poster, but to investigate and shed light on and FIX bias that results in medical and other mistakes.

Being a white woman does not protect women from the extreme negative biases that result in poorer medical care -- specifically women getting to emergency care after longer delays per research -- and the damage and death caused by it.


8 people like this
Posted by withheld
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 20, 2019 at 4:07 pm

Looks like we'll be required to throw somebody under the bus.


7 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 4:08 pm

"No what I’m saying is that if this was a black woman in pj in front of your Palo Alto house what would you tell the dispatcher? "

If any woman was in front of my house in her pajamas, desperately trying to get help, I would call 911 and try to get help. I have in my own past had to call to get emergency medical attention for a middle-aged woman stranger having a heart attack and had to deal with that kind of misogyny to get them to take it seriously, but I'm not a 14-year-old kid and knew at least in that situation how not to play into that. The department should not have made major decisions, in contravention of policy, about emergency medical based on a cursory question like that of a 14-year-old who admitted to not being the right person to ask that question.

[Portion removed.] If you work for the department, please resign now and don't wait until an investigation figures out who has such [portion removed] attitudes towards people you are supposed to be working to take care of.


1 person likes this
Posted by Citizen3
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 20, 2019 at 4:12 pm

[Post removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by Beyond annoyed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 4:14 pm

@another women

[Portion removed.]

You guys really research the departments before acting like a acting like
Your race or your friends race would delay any treatment. The officer and dispatcher are also women so why would the patient be the victim here being a women calling 911.

I was fortunate enough to participate in the city’s citizen academy and I got to meet the people responding the calls I got to sit in with the people taking 911 calls and all the other city BS calls they take during their 12 hour shifts. Everyone should be educated on the training the career and the day to day stress these people go through before telling them how their jobs should be done.

You know these people are the ones taking barking dog complaints, delivering babies over the phone giving cpr instructions while also handling all utilities and day to day police calls

These officers are the same
Ones citing cars parked in front of your driveway
Handling city traffic issues
Also the ones arriving to see train suicides or handling the constant suicidal kids in our city, these officers and personnel then go home to their own families their own issues and also have the weight of our issues on their shoulders

Everyone in this town is so small minded I doubt that cross their mind
I know it didn’t for me until I got to meet and experience their world

Anyone interested in the citizen academy call the department or look online it’s very insightful


9 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 4:17 pm

@Citizen3,
Do you even know what police, fire, and paramedics do? They save lives. That's their job. If their not following policies results in a risk to someone's life, then professionals examine what went wrong and try to fix it. The mistake could have resulted in a death. A situation like this needs to be examined, and policies improved so everyone is safer.

For whatever reason, you want to try to make it look like our departments act with kneejerk CYA instead of intelligence in trying to improve the department's procedures and safety response. I can't figure out whether you are just someone who should not be working in such a profession or you have a vendetta and are trying to make our local police look bad. But I think our City should act swiftly to ensure that employees inclined to fixing mistakes are rewarded and those inclined to try to cover up and blame the victim (eesh, in such a horrid way as you did above) do not remain employee here or anywhere else in public safety.


Like this comment
Posted by Beyond annoyed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 4:21 pm

@another women

Just so I am not lost in this where did citizen3 say they worked in public safety?

I am only seeing comments about their opinion if there was to happen in another city or not be a typical resident ?

Was something removed


12 people like this
Posted by Morris Day
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 20, 2019 at 4:28 pm

@another women
Don’t be ignorant. Police jobs are not to save lives. It to serve the community. I was in law enforcement for 34 years. Tell me different [Portion removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 4:30 pm

"The officer and dispatcher are also women so why would the patient be the victim here being a women calling 911.
"

Gender bias in medicine and emergency response toward women is exhibited by both men and women, although in the case of a heart attack, it's clear that women are better oIff with women doctors -- on average. (In case you didn't know, racism toward blacks can be exhibited by blacks.)

I am a great supporter of our police here in Palo Alto, I think we have a fabulous police and fire department. It is BECAUSE of my support that I want mistakes to be fixed rather than to fester, and for everyone who works there to have a healthy and positive attitude toward improvement and the people they serve (all people).

The attitude you display in your posts would hurt excellence and thus hurt the reputation of and performance of the good men and women who serve in our police and fire departments. Once again criticism of a mistake and attempts to improve things are important ways humans do difficult jobs like this well. Covering them up only hurts them and the people they serve. Anyone with a kneejerk CYA attitude like you displayed should not be working in public safety, and that kind of horrendously negative and biased attitude toward residents (like your attitude this woman just because she's "white") should be investigated and anyone like that fired. It has no place in any public safety department.


9 people like this
Posted by Morris day
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 20, 2019 at 4:35 pm

@another women
I can use my name what are you hiding behind. Race does play a roll in this. If she was black from EPA it would NOT have made the news. This only made the news because the lady is whit from PA. So let race play a roll learn from it so when the next black person dressed in pj’s rolling on the ground sick - they can expect the same treatment as this lady. But I’m sure they won’t.


8 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 4:36 pm

@ Morris
"Police jobs are not to save lives. It to serve the community. "

You think these are mutually exclusive? Really?

The Palo Alto police mission statement is to
"Mission Statement
To proudly serve and protect the public with respect and integrity."

I do not see an asterisk that "protect" doesn't include saving lives. I thank you for your service but hope you are not serving on our department currently with that negative attitude toward the public and toward improving by learning from mistakes.


14 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 4:40 pm

@Morris,
This made the news because this is a Palo Alto newspaper and the woman is from Palo Alto, and there are complaints/actions being taken by those harmed to ensure the mistakes don't happen again, which we should all be grateful for.

I am equally grateful for how this sheds light on the kind of unprofessional response to kneejerk cover things up, which is ultimately a huge threat to the excellence of police and fire departments in the future.

I really take issue with your overwhelmingly damaging attitude toward "social justice" in that you have expressed several times that a woman with a brain tumor should be treated in a substandard way because she's white.


28 people like this
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 20, 2019 at 4:41 pm

Jeff is a registered user.

It's the training. I studied 911 systems, and it's flaws in protocols that are interpreted by biased (subconscious/implicit otherwise) individuals exercising the maximum discretion allowed within those protocols that lead to tragic outcomes.


14 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 4:45 pm

@Jeff,
Thanks. There is a huge problem for women (especially women as they age) in medical and emergency situations. This keeps getting printed about in major research studies but nothing changes.


1 person likes this
Posted by Morris Day
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 20, 2019 at 4:46 pm

[Post removed.]


15 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 4:56 pm

@Morris,
You are right about one thing, and that is that black women get even the shorter end of the stick when it comes to the kind of dangerous and deadly bias that hurts ALL women in medical and emergency response. The statistics on women getting worse treatment than men when it comes to heart attacks, strokes, emergency response, etc, are pretty bad, but it is in fact worse, on average for women of color.

But sheesh, I cannot agree with anyone whose response to that is that social justice means ALL women should be treated even worse than they already are. The kind of misogyny and deadly bias that ALL women are subject to in medicine and emergency response should be addressed and fixed. It is unspeakably vile to insist that we should not learn from a situation in which a woman suffering a seizure from a brain tumor was treated so badly (in a way that could have resulted in her death if it had been a stroke which causes similar symptoms), because of her race.


7 people like this
Posted by Rush to judgement
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 20, 2019 at 7:05 pm

I personally appreciate the comments about two sides to every story and having some respect for our emergency responders. [Portion removed.]

Police and fire do follow protocols and training and updates are always good ideas. If a mistake was made here thank God it caused no harm in this case. I appreciate our local press but the cover art and number of articles on this one made me wince. It’s sensationalistic reporting.


43 people like this
Posted by HMM
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 20, 2019 at 7:45 pm

If this had been a stroke, this woman could have died, or have suffered serious impairment. Time in a stroke is crucial. I have an enormous amount of empathy and respect for the police, but, their first job is to serve the community. The woman had no weapon, she was sitting, confused, unarmed, on the ground. Even if she was having a psychotic episode, she posed no risk. First responders' job was to get her to a hospital, not perform an illegal search of her house.


25 people like this
Posted by Ray
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 20, 2019 at 7:48 pm

This story brought back terrible memories for me. In 1994 my daughter was asleep in her apartment at 5:30 on a Sunday morning when a man broke in, stabbed her in the back 17 times and left with her wallet. She still had the strength to call an operator for help who transferred her call to the emergency dispatch in Lexington, Massachusetts where she lived. This was before 911 was active. The dispatcher couldn't understand her and wrote it off as a hoax call. The subsequent dispatcher, reviewing the tape, couldn't believe what had happened and dispatched two police cars to the address my daughter had said. That was closer to 10 a.m. and of course, they found her body. A system designed to provide help should never fail.


43 people like this
Posted by jim
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 20, 2019 at 7:50 pm

The ugliness displayed in this thread is shameful.
If someone calls 911 for help, they are not physically threatening with a weapon, or don't even have a weapon then they should immediately be taken to the hospital.

Medical staff, not 14 year olds or officers should make time critical health decisions.If there is no weapon or threat the police need to get out of the way and let medical people intervene quickly. Isn't this common sense?
If YOU someday have a brain problem, seizure, stroke or serious brain injury that potentially needs immediate treatment don't you want to be taken to a hospital quickly? Bringing race into this discussion is simply trolling.There's a reason we have 911 service.


21 people like this
Posted by Another woman ....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2019 at 8:10 pm

@Ray,
I'm so sorry for what your family went through and how this must bring back the trauma. Thank you for including your voice in the mix. If we can prevent mistakes like this, we have to.


28 people like this
Posted by Fraxinus
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 20, 2019 at 8:46 pm

Fraxinus is a registered user.

Unbelievable!

With Palo Alto’s aging population our Emergency Services should be assessing for stroke symptoms right away as time is so critical.


31 people like this
Posted by Alvin
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 21, 2019 at 8:33 am

Alvin is a registered user.

I don't who this Sue Dremann is, but damn, keep up the great work! We need more journalists like her.


19 people like this
Posted by Another Woman..../Me Too
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2019 at 10:44 am

I posted under the editorial, because this was temporarily restricted, but it really belongs here:

"Their treatment of the woman, documented in the body cam footage, is excruciating to watch as the officer attempted for five minutes to lead the woman to say she needed psychiatric help."

""Do you want to go to the hospital or do you want to see a psychiatrist?" Clausen asked.
"No no no no no no no. Oh my god," the woman said.

"What do you need? Tell me what you need," Clausen said as the woman became more panicked and struggled for words.

"Here is what I need. I need — I need — I need helple."

"Have you had anything to drink today?" Clausen replied.”

Can you pinpoint the precise moment in which the woman, who was seizing and afraid she was going to die, experiences the humiliating and terrifying realization that she is being treated as an object not an equal human being who needs urgent help? This is the experience of bias against millions of women in all kinds of medical and emergency response situations.

In Dr. Jody Heymann’s book “Equal Partners”, the Harvard Medical School and Kennedy School of Government graduate describes an experience very much like this when she, too, had a seizure because of an undiagnosed brain tumor. Only in her case, the paramedics accused her of being on drugs.

Yes, there needs to be a frank, open, and honest examination of what went wrong. We the public need to witness a spirit of drive to improve constantly by fixing mistakes, and where there has been a drive to CYA, we must eliminate those influences from our departments for everyone’s safety.

But make no mistake, the snap judgments about women played a role here. For many women who have suffered serious medical conditions, this kind of dehumanizing, dangerous treatment is all too familiar. It causes such humiliation, trauma, and powerlessness, I have heard women describe these situations like assaults. Of course it’s excruciating to watch, we know the outcome. But what if the woman had a silent heart attack and the paramedics didn’t see what was wrong on the way to the hospital? The woman would have been “treated” to more humiliation similar to the above.

This article is spot on in its call for the City to care about correcting mistakes. But as a progressive City, we should also care about our vulnerability to future incidents because of the serious bias against women, especially older women.


22 people like this
Posted by Another Woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2019 at 10:51 am

I would like to add my support for the 14-year-old in this situation, who should never have been asked that question. The woman was lucky to have him there to call 911 and the fact that she was able to find people ultimately did save her life.

I hope the 14-year-old can appreciate that the criticism related to his answer is of adults, not of him. He should be really proud of trying to take care of another human being in crisis.

Now lets use this situation to make things better. Shame on everyone with the CYA attacks, they have no place in public safety.


7 people like this
Posted by cvvhrn
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 21, 2019 at 11:03 am

cvvhrn is a registered user.

@ Another woman reread the article yourself. Based on how the woman was acting, it clearly looking like a stroke and if she was really seizing she would not have been sitting up and talking rather she would have been well seizing. If she started seizing in the rig heading to the ED that's another issue. But since we are talking about the events that let up to that trip its a topic for a different thread IMHO.

meanwhile back on the ranch........

The principals of Triage do apply. If the citizenry of Palo Alto want a full on response FOR every 911 call then we had be better be prepared for alot of $$$$$$$ as we would need to quadruple the size fo the EMS and Police system


23 people like this
Posted by Concerned party
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2019 at 11:21 am

Sadly, I don't see these expensive emergency services personnels were acting with urgency to protect the citizen.
I was mad reading the dialogue between the officer and victim. The victim's initial request for help was specific and reasonable and yet the officer seemed willfully delaying a response to her request. She(the officer) had no right to delay help to the victim when the situation(other than victim's symtoms) was apparently in control.


19 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2019 at 11:26 am

I really do not get the point of your digging in on your de facto wrong understanding of what a seizure is. If it "clearly looked like a stroke" as you admit -- and it did -- then the delays could have killed her and it's clearly a mistake that she wasn't put on an ambulance with NO delays.

But it was in fact a seizure, according to the article, that began with the symptoms. If it was a seizure, then those symptoms do not rule out a seizure.

I did read the article, I appear to be the only one of us who has. As the article states:
“…[the woman] started experiencing strange neurological symptoms similar to a stroke around noon on June 3"

"En route to Stanford Hospital, paramedics realized that her medical emergency was actually a seizure, which had begun around noon and became more severe in the ambulance"

As I pointed out above, women are seven times more likely to be sent home from a hospital in a middle of a heart attack than men. Women are more likely to have strokes, including mini-strokes, that aren't caught or treated. They are more likely to present with stroke, heart attack, and others in ATYPICAL WAYS because all these conditions have been defined, studied, and medications developed, primarily for men, and there is still, today, gross demonstrable negative gender bias in medical and emergency response that has serious and deadly consequences to women.

What happened to this woman, where bias trumped policy, and the woman's communications were ignored, is all too familiar.

I think we're all better off if we let facts, including the facts in this case, help us improve our systems. Mistakes like this are preventable and should never happen again. Shame on the City manager, people like you @cvvhrn, and anyone using City resources to keep us from improving our emergency services.


7 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2019 at 11:29 am

@Concerned party,
Sorry, I was replying above to @cvvhrn, not to you -- we must have posted simultaneously.

The situation should have gone differently, agreed. All we can do now is learn from the situation -- and counter the crazy weird pushback against learning from and improving from mistakes. This is an important moment for us where we can ferret out the kinds of people who are inclined to cover up rather than do the right thing in crisis situations.


24 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 21, 2019 at 1:21 pm

Beyond the training, systems and individual error issues involving the first responders, there is a critical issue that the editorial focused on. The top two city officers, the city manager and the city attorney, appear to have deliberately attempted to evade their obligations under state law. Neither of them have asserted or provided any evidence of an “investigation” that might have justified them not turning over to The Weekly the public documents that were requested.
This is a serious issue that, as others have stated, requires intervention by the city council who those city executives report to. Interestingly, a mid year performance review of those officers was just canceled. Why?


3 people like this
Posted by Shut it
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 21, 2019 at 3:12 pm

[Portion removed.]

Calls only go as far as the reporting party gives that would mean what the 14 year old is telling the person who answered the line.
Another women must be a doctor a cop a dispatcher a city manager all these hats to pass such judgment on other people

[Portion removed.]


18 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2019 at 5:37 pm

@Offensively-named “Shut”
What happened to this woman was a mistake, and a public safety department not functioning optimally. Public safety protocols are supposed to be designed to work despite human error.

In order to improve things so this never happens to anyone else, the mistakes must be understood and improvements made. There is no place for deliberate ignorance or CYA. Anyone engaged in trying to prevent public safety from being improved or in turning this into false denials of the facts should be summarily fired. You can retrain someone who made a mistake and fix protocols, but you can’t fix the damaging effects of a CYA mentality in public safety.

The 14 year old answered a question under duress that he should never have been asked, and even expressed that he was not qualified to answer such a question. There were numerous protocols violated resulting in emergency services not doing their job well, digging in on that helps no one, especially not the professionals involved who would face career-ending mistakes in the future if the right things are not learned here.


15 people like this
Posted by Joe D
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 21, 2019 at 8:54 pm

Can’t say I’m surprised. I grew up in Palo Alto since 1964 and the cops have always been arrogant jerks. Someone remind the cops who pays their salary. Cops protecting bad cops is even worse, and it appears we have no shortage of that. Can we please stop calling them and firemen ‘first responder heroes’? They’re not heros, the just do a job, and often poorly.


6 people like this
Posted by theAlex
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 21, 2019 at 9:02 pm

theAlex is a registered user.

Just today I experience the incompetence and dismissiveness of two police dispatchers when I called 911 and also the non-emergency number. This is absolutely unacceptable and reflects not only on the dispatchers, but more so on police leadership. These people are on the front lines of saving peoples lives and they are woefully incompetent. How can this happen in our city? It's infuriating and baffling and I am sick and tired of it! I WILL be following up on these incidents.


53 people like this
Posted by Medical emergencies - ALL
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 21, 2019 at 10:07 pm

Let's be clear. This was OBVIOUSLY a MEDICAL emergency.
The police are NOT qualified to diagnose medical conditions. They can assess public safety concerns. Very quickly it would have be clear that there was NO public safety issue.

This woman had serious medical symptoms: panic, difficulty speaking, confusion, collapse on the ground, and she requested 911 and to be taken to a hospital.

It DOES NOT MATTER if the cause of these symptoms is a stroke, a seizure, a drug or alcohol overdose, or an underlying psychological condition. At that moment, it was a MEDICAL emergency and a MEDICAL professional was desperately needed to diagnose and treat this woman.

The BRAIN is a part of your BODY. If your brain is mis-functioning for WHATEVER reason, that is a medical emergency and requires medical assistance.
The police needed to do a very fast assessment for public safety and then get out of the way so trained medical professionals (EMTs) could do their job.


25 people like this
Posted by theAlex
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 21, 2019 at 10:14 pm

theAlex is a registered user.

I am coming to the sad conclusion that our police department spends more time protecting itself than the public.


16 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2019 at 10:53 pm

I learned a LOT from this article. Thank you, PA Weekly.


14 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of another community
on Sep 22, 2019 at 8:12 am

Regardless of circumstances, this is very sad. For everyone involved.


17 people like this
Posted by theAlex
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 22, 2019 at 8:57 am

theAlex is a registered user.

I believe we are spending 50 million on a new police building. I think that's still happening. [Portion removed.]. Maybe we need to save that money for better leadership, personnel and lawsuits.


33 people like this
Posted by A Reprimand Is In Order
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 22, 2019 at 1:19 pm

Officer Clausen & the dispatcher need to be reprimanded for dereliction of duty...time to send out a message to the other public safety employees.


12 people like this
Posted by Grew Up Here
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2019 at 2:32 pm

Real tired of people criticizing law enforcement behind the alias of their computers when they don't have the guts to wear the uniform. Hindsight is always 20/20. Sure, the woman should have been helped sooner, but in psych cases, law enforcement needs to protect everyone, including firemen and EMT so they need to be the first ones on the scene. Chief Jonsen cannot be responsible for everyone, he is not at every scene where human judgement is a factor.

It's not easy being a police officer in Palo Alto with all the entitled residents with elite school degrees. I know someone who was a PAPD officer in the 80s and he quit because the Palo Altans treated him like a servant: "We pay our taxes, go find him!" When in fact, people should respect these officers for keeping the public safe and risking their lives for us everyday. What do you do when there is a break-in at your house? You call the police to go inside and risk their lives for you.

Did you know that our 911 dispatchers are trained while in some states, the 911 dispatchers are simply temp workers from temp agencies? How do you think they would do on the job?


41 people like this
Posted by Gunn neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 22, 2019 at 3:13 pm

"Hindsight is always 20/20. Sure, the woman should have been helped sooner, but in psych cases, law enforcement needs to protect everyone, including firemen and EMT so they need to be the first ones on the scene."

I hope this isn't a PAPD officer but it could easily be. 2 problems:

1. The idea that this was a "psych case" was apparently based on a single question to a 14 year old - and even he said, "Hey I'm not qualified to give an opinion!" Did the 911 dispatcher think she was talking to a psychiatrist?
2. Even if it were a "psych case" that's not a reason for waiting for police to arrive, ACCORDING TO THE PAPD'S OWN POLICY. Everybody from the dispatcher on up and across was VIOLATING THE DEPARTMENT'S OWN POLICY! Did anyone object?

That's just bad management and bad training. Is Jonsen responsible for that? YES!!! What else would he be responsible for?

As to the idea that because I'm not a policeman, I'm just supposed to accept bad performance: I don't think so. I'm not an electrician. If I hire one and she burns down my house with bad wiring, I'M STILL GOING TO BE UPSET! And I'll be right.


54 people like this
Posted by Gunn neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 22, 2019 at 3:32 pm

I gotta make one more point:

"law enforcement needs to protect everyone, including firemen and EMT"

There was ONE PERSON who actually needed to be protected on the scene - THE VICTIM! How come it was more important to protect the EMTs and firefighters from a lady in pajamas based on literally nothing, than it was to protect the PERSON HAVING A SEIZURE!?! They can run into a burning building, but can't help a lady sitting in the dirt begging for help?

I can see why Shikada, Jonsen, and Blackshire don't want to answer questions and instead to hide behind THE DESKS THAT WE ARE PAYING FOR!


31 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 23, 2019 at 7:09 am

Any response yet from our City Council members? We need some accountability here. Many of us have had bad experiences with the arrogant police dispatchers. I certainly did when I called about a very loud 2AM street fight in front of my house that she repeatedly claimed wasn't happening! I walked the phone to the window, saying "Can you hear them NOW?" That's when published reports showed a night dispatcher was making $300,000 with over-time.

High time that our highly compensated city managers realize they're here to serve US and that we have the right to real answers, not obfuscation and self-protective nonsense.


2 people like this
Posted by theAlex
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2019 at 8:36 am

theAlex is a registered user.

I spoke to a male dispatcher as I'm calling 911, to reference my previous comment. I told him, "it was the same guy I reported before that 'pulled' the 14 inch k-bar knife on me at a coffee shop". The dispatcher responds saying something like, "you told us he 'showed' it to you".

I can't remember exactly now, but I said something like, "listen, we'll get the details straight later, why are we discussing this now". I was just followed home as I was riding my bike, by the guy that showed/pulled a 14 inch knife on me in a Palo Alto coffee shop, with many people and children present. I will not let this stand.

I hope this isn't written too poorly, since I got about an hour of sleep. Thanks for reading this.


5 people like this
Posted by Beyond annoyed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2019 at 8:50 am

@obline name
That’s a lie I can tell you no dispatcher is making 300k
Yes the overtime brings up their money a lot but that’s not a dispatchers fault. Are you aware they are under staffed and it’s MANDATED overtime? [Portion removed.]

Whoever commented dispatchers out of state are not trained and temp employees is exactly right. They are the same ones being hired for non emergency call centers

California dispatchers go through an academy, have state test, they have yearly training hours and they also go through over a year of circuit training.
Someone asking a “do you still hear or see them fighting” is exactly what WE are trained to do.

Everyone here commenting on the jobs they have never done is comical. I would never go to someone’s job and tell them how to do better. I would never tell a cop or a fireman how to do their job cause I am not trained to be either.

Before passing judgment realize this article is written with one side giving their story. If she is so confident realer the tape, that will prove everything.
When agencies have had malpractice you hear that tape on the news. Where is the recording?

And continue with you “resign now if you work for the city comments” thanks ahead for OUR taxes paying my salary cause I happen to live here too and my money goes to MY city also.


2 people like this
Posted by theAlex
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2019 at 8:53 am

theAlex is a registered user.

@Beyond annoyed:

Do you care to respond to my last comment, also. You seem to have all the answers. And yes I'm being sarcastic.


3 people like this
Posted by Beyond annoyed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2019 at 9:04 am

@the Alex

If you have dispatch questions I can happily answer since that is my profession.


Like this comment
Posted by theAlex
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2019 at 9:12 am

theAlex is a registered user.

[Post removed. Please rephrase showing respect.]


5 people like this
Posted by Beyond annoyed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2019 at 9:23 am

I don’t think you know a single person that works in the center. Your one bad experience can be from a 12 hour shift of rude callers or someone in their 11th day of work. Or even their 15th day of work.
How would you act when someone your helping is cussing you out telling you how to do your job and you asked a question your trained to ask “do you still see them or hear them fighting” and someone decides to help out over that?
I’m sure you will have some smart response back but until you have done the job your Monday morning quarter backing is just that.

Everyone is welcome to attend city council meetings and complain to the fact they have been understaffed for years and need to hire more people. That would take effort though and you sitting behind your keyboard being a warrior doesn’t take much.


2 people like this
Posted by theAlex
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2019 at 9:33 am

theAlex is a registered user.

Ok, sorry.

@Beyond annoyed:

It's more than one experience, and it's with more than one Palo Alto Police dispatcher. Please address that.

Thank you,

-------alex


1 person likes this
Posted by Help
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2019 at 9:40 am

Everything is recorded, have you contacted the supervisor Mark Chase?
He can pull recordings and address those issues with the dispatcher.
I can not personally state why you had multiple bad experiences since I am not familiar with which calls your referring to.
Some people don’t like questions they are asked, some people don’t understand why when they dial 911 we don’t know their exact location. When people call for help regarding anything you never know how the caller will be reacting.
If you have a date and time frame you Called and received treatment you think warrants a complaint you should report it.

Mark Chase 650-329-2114



18 people like this
Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 23, 2019 at 10:01 am

eileen is a registered user.

The comments above are NOT meant to rebuke all first responders. The point of this article is hopefully to get the city and police force to admit there was a serious problem with how dispatcher Brina Elmore and Police Officer Yolanda Franco-Clausen failed to realize the serious medical danger the woman was in and to bring in the waiting medical help Right Away! There was and still is NO REASON to not have a trained medical person standing right there next to officer Clausen especially when it was ovious she was no threat. God forbid that any of the citizens of this city have to go through something similar. Use common sense! Clausen should have been able to assess the situation immediately and realize that the resident was not a threat to herself or anyone alse! I'm beyond shocked by the heavy-handedness of this response! The Ciy Manager needs to step up and explain to the residents what he plans to do about this horrible response to a woman just asking to go to the hospital! It does not matter why. Let the trained medical responder in FIRST!


Like this comment
Posted by theAlex
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2019 at 10:03 am

theAlex is a registered user.

@help:

Thank you very much. I'm currently contacting someone. At this point, with all the wagon-circling, I don't feel comfortable talking directly to them. Thanks again, though, and It'll be helpful later and maybe to other people with issues.

Thanks again @help,

------alex


7 people like this
Posted by Disappointed PA Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 23, 2019 at 12:13 pm

The police, especially the officers at the scene need to take responsibility here and at the very least have the officers involved apologize to the woman and promise to do better. When someone is in dire need of help we can't have our system fail them no matter how jaded the officers have become. That is what procedures are in place for. They need to be followed.


7 people like this
Posted by Also disappointed
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 23, 2019 at 12:19 pm

I don't think the dispatcher and officer are the only culprits here. Mark Chase is the dispatcher supervisor, according to one of the earlier messages here. Why did he allow his dispatchers to deviate from policy? Or did he direct them to deviate? I imagine this wasn't the first time. How many times has this happened before?

Until the city says why the policy was violated in the first place, there is no reason to think it won't happen again.


7 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2019 at 12:28 pm

> Any response yet from our City Council members?

It’s doubtful that there will be much interest in this issue by the Council unless there is a lot of public outrage. The Police Department does not report to the Council. In fact, there is no reference to the Police Department in the City Charter—so it is effectively an independent department that does not have a clear role in City government or reporting structure.

Council members almost never comment on police misconduct issues. There are exceptions, but for the most part misconduct on the part of police and utility employees in the past has generated little more than a big yawn from Council members.

If someone decides to elevate a police misconduct matter to the level of a court case, then the Council will hide behind the typical “can’t comment on pending legal matters” and then all discussion among the Council will be behind closed doors and never made public. It's unlikely that the public would ever come to know what individual Council members think about this, or other instances of alleged police misconduct.

The relationship between the City Manager and the Chief of Police is generally very cozy. It’s unlikely that this City Manager will do much unless a Court becomes involved and rules against the City.


11 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2019 at 2:58 pm

@Beyond annoyed,
You keep digging in a number of false ideas, vociferously, and one wonders why.

First false idea: That anyone who has a concern or criticism of this situation, in which emergency response was delayed unacceptably to a woman in a serious medical crisis, is criticizing all first responders and first responders in general. That is just not true. Stop trying to make our first responders feel like they don't have the support of our community just because this situation needs addressing and emergency response improved.

Second false idea: That the public can't have any input about public safety because they are not first responders themselves. If you had to have an organ removed and your doctor removed the wrong one because she failed to follow procedures, would you have no right to criticize just because doctors have to deal with all kinds of bad patients and because you're not a doctor yourself? Of course not.

The incident here violated the expectations the public have of performance in emergency response, they don't have to be first responders to see that, anymore than you have to be a doctor to complain if your doctor removes a kidney instead of your gallbladder. They don't have to be first responders to see that policies were breached.

If there is something about this situation that only a first responder would know that is relevant to why it happened, then it needs to be openly discussed so that procedures can be improved. It helps no one, least of all the first responders whose careers go down the toilet, if the same mistakes happen over and over again because of CYA.

These first responders work for a public agency, and thus are answerable to the public. Anyone who is such a snowflake that they can't talk to anyone who isn't exactly in their same profession with the same exactly experience in order to improve a public safety agency's function is in the wrong profession. (Read that again please and consider that in light of your own clearly maladaptive responses to this.)

One thing all this CYA does is deflect from the issue of bias against women in these situations, and how easy it is for women in crisis to be characterized as having a mental problem or to otherwise dehumanize them, with characteristically serious consequences. The issue needs to be an aspect of this discussion, it will save many more lives.


6 people like this
Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 23, 2019 at 3:40 pm

eileen is a registered user.

Both my mother, sister and brother-in-law have all suffered strokes or seizures. Fortunately, they all got help right away because someone close to them knew what was happening. I want our police personnel to allow medical professionals to come to the aid of residents asking to go to the hospital, as this woman did, right away! Was officer Clausen really afraid that this woman, sitting on the ground, was going to hurt someone? And why did she search the woman's home looking for drugs or alcohol?? What does that have to do with someone crying for help?? It's still a medical emergency!! Where is common sense in this situation?? I believe that our first responders are to be respected but when something goes terribly wrong, questions must be answered and procedural changes need to happen.
Over 112 people have responded to this thread, most asking for answers from the people at the top. We want answers because many residents are afraid it could be them on the ground someday asking for help and it might come too late! I hope we get some kind of statement from our city manager or police chief that addresses residents' concerns. What procedure changes are the police putting in place to alleviate anxiety about calling 911 for MEDICAL help?


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Posted by theAlex
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2019 at 3:42 pm

theAlex is a registered user.

Just spoke with the Palo Alto Police non-emergency number person (different from the other two I referenced in my other comments). I left a message for Sargent David Lee. This was a new dispatcher (to me). While more pleasant, he was still in a hurry to get me off the phone. Again, this was 650-329-2413, the non emergency number. Why aren't these people trained to be patient and not dismissive. I cannot understand it.

-------alex


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Posted by theAlex
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2019 at 3:48 pm

theAlex is a registered user.

I just left a message for Mark Chase and I am 99% sure he was the one that I spoke to a few minutes ago when I called the non-emergency number (refer to my previous comment). Interesting, since he was in a hurry to get me off the phone, without explaining himself or his urgency. I simply find this whole situation hard to believe.

-----alex


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Posted by theAlex
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2019 at 4:15 pm

theAlex is a registered user.

There is a word that describes exactly what I feel I am going through with the PAPD and it is, "gaslighting". I am going to try to get some sleep.

Thank you Palo Alto Online for your comments section moderating, which has allowed me to communicate to the community and also document what is going on. Feel free to contact me, if you'd like.

------alex




4 people like this
Posted by Beyond annoyed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2019 at 4:21 pm

@another women
Your snowflake reference is cute. Trust me if you knew the group of men and women in dispatch you would quickly know there are now delicate snowflakes answering those phones. Those are hard working strong willed individuals who deal with the biggest [portion removed] daily and get called things left and right no ones a snow flake in that department.

I am not saying the public can’t have their opinion. But the public thinking they will dictate what’s punishable and not will not happen. No one in the comment section except the people who proudly said they work in the field have a right to tell someone how to do their job. And NO I don’t tell my doctor how to do her job. If she messes up that’s malpractice but if a policy is violated why has no one come forward with that policy? It’s got to be printed somewhere? I find it suspicious the policy and the call have no been made public and I can Tell you first hand it’s cause no policy exist.

The caller reported a female having “possibly” a medical issue. It’s on the discretion of the dispatcher and officers responding to confirm it’s a Medical or think possibly a psychological issue which in most cases are.
Someone being asked if they have had anything to drink or drugs isn’t off quilter here.
To be exact one of the medical question is “have you taken any drugs in the last 12 hours” ... should we stop asking that cause if offends people?


4 people like this
Posted by theAlex
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2019 at 4:42 pm

theAlex is a registered user.

@Beyond annoyed:

Customer service is hard. What dispatchers are doing is, in essence, customer service. Granted, the stakes are high (life and death), but it is still customer service.

Obviously dispatchers need to be paid enough to attract competent people that can handle life and death situations with professionalism. Maybe this is the problem. I don't know.

Your tone and attitude in your comments illustrate how you don't understand the most basic principals of customer service.

We are not a big city and we can afford better than this.

-----alex


5 people like this
Posted by Birdwatcher
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 23, 2019 at 4:45 pm

Dispatchers and police are not medical experts. If the woman had been yelling at the dispatcher, sounded drunk or psychotic, the dispatcher would have considered sending police in case the woman was violent. It seems the paramedics were initially standing by to ensure the scene was safe. We can’t expect paramedics to enter a situation in which they could be injured; hence dispatching of police.


21 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 23, 2019 at 5:45 pm

Joe wrote " Any response yet from our City Council members?

It’s doubtful that there will be much interest in this issue by the Council unless there is a lot of public outrage. The Police Department does not report to the Council. In fact, there is no reference to the Police Department in the City Charter—so it is effectively an independent department that does not have a clear role in City government or reporting structure."

I want their reaction to the City Manager's decision to stomewall and refuse to answer questions from the media. How much "public outrage" does it take to get real meaningful responses in Palo Alto? 3,000 petitions against traffic "improvements" aren't enough.

@Beyond Annoyed wrote, "That’s a lie I can tell you no dispatcher is making 300kYes the overtime brings up their money a lot but that’s not a dispatchers fault."

I wasn't lying; I was quoting a PUBLISHED compensation report that included over-time pay and was widely remarked on by all the neighbors woken up by the street fight in front of our homes with remarks like "boy, are we in the wrong field" and "for $300,000, you get extra rudeness" which IS the dispatcher's fault.


13 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 23, 2019 at 6:41 pm

Annette is a registered user.

I am slack-jawed at the fact that the dispatcher asked a 14 year old kid for the sort of information that was asked. And it sounds like the kid, at least, immediately understood the absurdity of that. Kudos to him - and his parents.

Our military has a couple of acronyms for situations that are wholly messed up. The City must evaluate all aspects of this incident and make sorely needed changes. The City Manager should be required to report on this weekly in his public comments to City Council until the Council is satisfied that if a comparable situation were to happen there would be an immediate and appropriate response. Council should also make certain that there is accountability for any shortcomings.

Emergency Services are the most essential part of government; they save lives.


12 people like this
Posted by plantfruittrees
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Sep 23, 2019 at 7:15 pm

plantfruittrees is a registered user.

This is scary to me, given that a neurologist at Stanford Hospital told me after a car accident that I could start having seizures from it at some random time in the future. It's been years and it hasn't happened yet, but I have to be able to trust in the first responders doing the right thing. As do we all. Their actions were so far off from what they should have been and this must never happen again.

That people from the City are stonewalling makes it so much worse and makes me hope the woman sues.


14 people like this
Posted by Pro LE
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 23, 2019 at 7:38 pm

Oh how many people wouldn’t be commenting if they had to use their name


13 people like this
Posted by theAlex
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2019 at 7:48 pm

theAlex is a registered user.

@Pro LE

You know, your comment sounds pretty ominous to me, considering "Pro LE" would mean "Pro Law Enforcement" to me. Maybe you should explain what you mean.

It sounds like you're implying that we're cowards and that since we know some dispatchers' and police officers' names, it's unfair to them. I'll state the obvious, that you are not using your real name.

You seem to provide a great example of the unacceptable, unprofessional attitude we're talking about. Thanks for that.


18 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of another community
on Sep 23, 2019 at 8:22 pm

You don't have to be a medical professional or law enforcement to know how to handle calls like this. All it takes is common sense. Get her to the hospital immediately, and let the medical professionals figure out where she belongs. They know what to do. A dispatcher asking a 14 year old to diagnose her is absurd, and everything afterwards is sad and pathetic. They should all be fired. None of them know what they're doing. Incompetence all the way around.


6 people like this
Posted by theAlex
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2019 at 8:29 pm

theAlex is a registered user.

@Nick

Exactly. This all comes down to a lack of common sense, common courtesy, and a correct temperament. The PAPD dispatchers I have talked to, three total at this point, have shown me that they don't have any of those qualities. We need to demand better. In this political climate, It's especially eerie.


16 people like this
Posted by Pro LE
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 23, 2019 at 8:39 pm

Why is it the second someone stands up for cops or fireman they immediately are the bad guys and “in on it”. Yes that’s exactly what “my name” stands for. Pro Law Enforcement I stick behind the people protecting my family. I didn’t @ anyone or call anyone out yet my comment gets attacked. Shows the animal behavior by uneducated on the topic simpletons. Welcome to Silicon Valley.


12 people like this
Posted by theAlex
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2019 at 8:49 pm

theAlex is a registered user.

@Pro LE

You wrote, "I stick behind the people protecting my family."

I don't think you thought that comment out, either. Why would somebody stick behind the people protecting their family when those people don't act correctly? Please explain.

It sounds like you're saying that you're forced to side with whoever is protecting your family, no matter their actions. I'm sure you can see the problems with that.

You continue to worry me, honestly.


--------alex


11 people like this
Posted by A Moral Compass
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 24, 2019 at 8:04 am

A Moral Compass is a registered user.

Given what transpired, if the person seeking medical assistance had been a 'person of color'(i.e. an African-American)...it is not unreasonable to assume that the police questionings & delays might have been extended even further due to certain ingrained racial stereotypes and profiling perspectives.

Hopefully the woman/patient in this incident is on the way to a speedy recovery and prognosis.

The final pecuniary outcome is now in the hands of her attorneys who will cite ALL parties responsible for this municipal oversight.


7 people like this
Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 24, 2019 at 11:02 am

Anneke is a registered user.

Several years ago, my husband of 83 years old then, who was an avid biker, rode on Bryant Street near University Avenue, when suddenly a very large SUV driven by a Palo Alto fireman, stopped a yard from the side walk and opened his huge door..... and, yes, my husband hit that door, fell, cracked his helmet and felt somewhat confused. When asked what day or date it was, he could not remember.

Even though the overall support was fine, after having rushed to the scene, I heard one support person say "We have a man with dementia here." I was very disturbed, as my husband has absolutely no dementia, and strongly felt that no first aid person should make those kinds of comments without knowing the facts.

The police found the driver guilty; however, we never received an apology from him.


13 people like this
Posted by Bohemianglass
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 24, 2019 at 11:32 am

Beyond the incredibly irresponsible response by dispatch, police, medics and now City Council is the fact that the woman’s home and personal belongings were illegally searched. We should all be equally outraged by that as well. The PAPD degragated that woman’s human right for safety and protection. After all, they are paid by us to “serve and protect”. Can any of us feel at peace knowing this too could happen to us and/or a loved one.

And with teenage stress and self harm rates so high, did the dispatcher even think of the impact such a life or death question would have on the child tasked to call for help? Knowing it was their response that started the cascade of incompetence by dispatch on down. No doubt they are traumatized by the situation.

As a citizen of the area and reliant on our well paid police and medical personnel, I demand the responsible parties be taken to task on this.



5 people like this
Posted by Note to Sue Dremann
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 24, 2019 at 12:50 pm

(I'm sticking to the screen name used in my earlier comment, but this one -- which again concerns language -- responds to Anneke's recent comment above.)

Anneke, I'm very sorry to read of your husband's experience, and I sympathize. The communication that you reported has an aspect you may be unaware of.

The term "dementia" is employed loosely by many people (including some healthcare professionals) for a range of congitive-function impairments, including temporary ones. It is not *always* used to mean a steady impairment even if that is the general popular-culture perception of the word.

I experienced this diversity of language use when my father, of mature years, underwent some surgeries and displayed temporary but very obvious "dementia" for periods of time after general anesthesia. (Medical professionals explained, by the way, that it is a common side effect of general anesthesia in older patients.)

So my guess is that what you overheard referred only to a practical assessment of a current state (consistent with his behavior that you decribed), rather than any assumption about long-term cognitive impairment.


5 people like this
Posted by Need New Chief of Police
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2019 at 2:57 pm

We need new experience police officer with no ego, new chief of police and new city manager and council. They are all failing the people they are to serve and protect. Also they are violating their contitutaional right. I believe that when they went to the police Academic they were told about unlwful searches. They need to go back to the academy. This is happening in Palo Alto? Really?


5 people like this
Posted by KJH
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 24, 2019 at 8:09 pm

KJH is a registered user.

I think folks who comment should at least be required to use their real names. I have moved away from P.A., and, unfortunately, the online version of my current daily paper has decided to not allow any public comment at all. Although, on second thought, maybe not allowing public comment is OK. I find this public exchange of nastiness extremely upsetting.


2 people like this
Posted by theAlex
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2019 at 8:17 pm

theAlex is a registered user.

@KJH

I spoke with the dispatchers' supervisor, Mark Chase, and also Officer Cuevas earlier today, about my case. They both seemed very empathetic, understanding, patient, and very competent.

I hope that makes things more hopeful for everyone.

--------alex


2 people like this
Posted by theAlex
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2019 at 8:28 pm

theAlex is a registered user.

@KJH

To add to my comment above:

I had spoken to Officer Sighetti a couple of days ago about my case. He was also very empathetic, understanding, patient, and very competent.

More hope!


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Posted by MVresident2003
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 24, 2019 at 10:26 pm

MVresident2003 is a registered user.

@A moral compass......”if”, “assume”, “might have been”. Hmmm, maybe we can stick to the facts for once?


10 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2019 at 5:33 pm

@Beyond annoying,

"A clueless and conceited [person] that cannot handle critical thinking from others. In other words, a deluded jerk. Snowflakes are deluded into thinking that they are without question, entitled to preferential treatment."

You keep claiming that people the people involved here are so privileged, and their opinions so untouchable and work so mysterious and unknowable, that no one could possibly judge the OUTCOME of that work, even when it violates the fundamental expectations of that work.

If your doctor removes the wrong organ, that's an unacceptable outcome, just as the long delay (and misogynistic bias) in the case of a medical emergency like this is an unacceptable outcome. It doesn't take any expertise to see that this is an unacceptable outcome. Emergency services all over the country are capable of responding to exactly this kind of situation without such unacceptable delays or unacceptable behavior (such as searching the woman's home). Someone who tries to deflect any examination of how something like this happened so it could never happen again is a snowflake by the definition.

Stop making pathetic excuses. You are only destroying respect for the people you are ostensibly defending, and at the very least making me think we need to ensure that you don't work here. I hope we don't have others who think like you do who are such snowflakes they can't handle criticism and critically thinking about mistakes, much less VALUE learning from mistakes which is essential for improvement.

Malpractice is making mistakes that damage patients. You are making a distinction without a difference. If your doctor takes the wrong organ in surgery, you still seem to be saying that only another doctor can have anything to say about it. Y

ou do realize that our whole judicial system is based on the fact that 12 untrained people can actually listen to the evidence and come to a good decision? In fact, the system is known to NOT function well if any of the jurors has too much “expert” knowledge:
Web Link
"Speculative "expertise" introduced by a juror can pose problems just as real as "junk science" introduced by a hired-gun expert witness.” "In fact, the risks to accuracy may be less when expertise is offered by a witness than when it is introduced by a juror, because the witness will be subject to cross-examination and rebuttal.” [rebuttal by people who are also not “experts”]

The people closest to this incident should NOT be insular about it, using excuses about how only they can possibly understand the mysteries of the work, that actually introduces an unacceptable bias, which can clearly be seen in the kneejerk defensiveness instead of openness, maturity, and professionalism to try to take responsibility and make sure it never happens again. If you cannot stand the heat of public scrutiny, take your snowflake views to a different profession that doesn’t involve serving the public or professional standards of outcome and expectations.


6 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2019 at 5:36 pm

@Beyond annoying,
Forgot to cite the Urban Dictionary for the above definition of snowflake. Not that another definition uses 45 as an example, someone who isn't "delicate" (per your understanding) either -- it's the unwillingness to take critical thinking from others that defines a snowflake.


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Posted by Just a thought
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2019 at 3:32 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Things don't always go perfectly
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 29, 2019 at 12:10 am

It sounds as though we need more information to decide if this case was handled well or not.

I read a story that seem biased towards this unfortunate women and negative towards the police but what little I understand is that in this day of handling potentially "psychological" disorders carefully so as not to endanger the person with the problem or the police - precautions have to be taken. That is why I'm assuming they had the paramedic team wait for the police to check her out.

There are still questions about why the police took so long to reach the house and when calls are considered emergency or not, that I think we would all like answered. But the people who answer the 911 calls need to make the best decision that they can given, in this case, very little good information. How can a child making a 911 call answer questions of a medical or psychological nature well and how can the 911 operator make good decisions.

This seem like a case where most of the people involved tried to do the right thing and it just, in hind sight, turned out poorly. Bad things sometimes happen to us in life. Perhaps this is the case this time. Different choices could have been made that may have made this outcome better but another time could have made the outcome worse. And we expect each case to turn out perfectly, but life rarely does.

Still it would be nice to have more details about this case without assuming that there was ill intent and also to be told what sort of information to relay to a 911 operator to assure them that there is a true medical emergency.


7 people like this
Posted by Another woman....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2019 at 2:20 am

“It sounds as though we need more information to decide if this case was handled well or not. ”

No, we don’t need any more information to know it wasn’t handled well, because it produced an outcome that falls outside of reasonable operational standards per the public.

There are lots of reasons planes can crash and nuclear reactors can explode, but we don’t throw our hands up and say, oh well, things don’t go perfectly, oops there goes another jumbo jet or Chernobyl this week. There are complex industries with significant risks and complexities yet with minuscule accident rates. Why? Because doing that is a real science, I.e. lucky for the traveling public we don’t just blithely work by such uninformed speculations about safety and low standards. Emergency services is another one of those areas with high complexity and a need for high standards despite the world being imperfect.

We know something went wrong, we just need people engaged in understanding and improving rather than CYA or a dangerous attitude that oops it can’t be helped.

Anyone engaged in CYA is a danger to safety and we should use this as an opportunity to see and get rid of such destructive influences.

At the very least, if there is to be a this day and age oops we can’t treat medical emergencies like they’re urgent because it might be psychiatric, then it is VERY important for the analysis to include a look at all the research affirming how women are hurt by biases that cause people to wrongly say they are mentally ill, malingering, exaggerating their pain, etc etc etc. it is a known problem with research showing that itt is deadly and damaging to women, especially older women.

Lastly, no it doesn’t sound like there is bias in favor of the woman or she wouldn’t have been treated so badly and unprofessionally during AND after the incident. In fact, we have seen disturbing racist posts attacking her.on TS.




8 people like this
Posted by Nicholas Kaposhilin
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 29, 2019 at 2:21 am

My heart goes out to our resident who suffered this treatment. And I for one will be more likely to call Stanford or PAMF or my medical Insurance helpline first before calling 911 if i am having a medical emergency after reading this story. But I agree with others who have differentiated between the mistakes of the officers who are human and who are fallible but who willingly put themselves into these super challenging situations every day trying their best to help citizens. These officers need more and better training but they also need our support. It is the leaders who define and determine the officers work environment, training and operating procedures who are failing here and need to be held accountable. This whole affair is super disturbing. Not only did the Police and dispatchers run amok demonstrating a systemic problem with protocols and operating procedures, but now the city manager and city legal counsel are turning this into an adversarial situation with the press and residents through their lack of transparency and refusal to cooperate openly. The city manager works for US. The city legal counsel works for US. They are suppose to serve the citizens. If the city screwed up, then so be it, let's get it all out in the open. Let's fix it. It is OUR city. It is OUR problem. But when city managers act like they are working for, and representing their own private organization, then we have a BIG problem. Shikada and the city legal counsel should be fired immediately. They are not fit to manage a city; Not fit to work for a government of the people. They demonstrate no accountability.


10 people like this
Posted by Another woman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2019 at 8:01 am

@Nicholas
I agree with you 100%, especially about city legal counsel, for this and many past reasons.

Although I love our police and firefighters and have myself had many positive stories to tell and remember so many ways they really are heroes, I did have a disturbing experience in the past year in which I reported a misdemeanor crime in process (theft) and the person on the line not only wasn’t going to send someone out, they indicated a resentful sentiment as if all Palo Altan’s are so rich, they weren’t going to respond to the incident.

Given how a similar kind of ugly resentment surfaced in this thread, I still think it’s very important to use this incident to understand if we have any employees nursing such dangerous attitudes towards residents. It not only makes the possibility of future harm to residents more possible, influences like those can destroy the reputations of everyone in the department.

Over the years, word of nastiness among city hall employees towards residents has leaked, but we always thought safety personnel were above that. One wonders if the reason for the reticence to share the information stems from wanting to cover up such dangerously denigrating attitudes, which staff may share, such as have been expressed on these threads about the woman and residents. I,too, don’t believe anyone should be fired for the mistake, and feel it’s an opportunity to improve procedures. But what if what’s being covered up here isn’t just a mistake but negative attitudes bordering on hateful biases among personnel?

I hope that’s not why, but if it is, it’s all the more reason to shake out those involved in cover up.


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Posted by Also another women
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 29, 2019 at 8:15 am

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of another community
on Sep 29, 2019 at 8:44 am

In my earlier post I said do your job properly, be held accountable, or there are consequences. Like being fired. I still feel that way.

But I will defend dispatchers. Some people will call the police over ANYTHING. They call the police over music they don't like, the neighbors car is 2 inches in their driveway, the neighbors dog is barking, etc. That's why dispatchers get annoyed. They have to field unnecessary calls.

Quit calling the police over every little thing that annoys you. It's ridiculous, and it takes time away from REAL CALLS TO THE POLICE. The police prioritize, and you're wasting taxpayer dollars.


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Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 30, 2019 at 2:49 pm

[Post removed.]


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