In A Small Pennsylvania City, A Mental Crisis Call To 911 Turns Tragic : Shots

Rulennis Munoz (center right) outside Lancaster Courthouse Oct. 14, after learning that the police officer who fatally shot her brother had been cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the Lancaster County District Attorney. Her mother, Miguelina Peña, and her attorney Michael Perna (far right) stood by.

Brett Sholtis/WITF


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Brett Sholtis/WITF

Rulennis Muñoz remembers the phone ringing on Sept. 13. Her mother was calling from the car, frustrated. Rulennis could also hear her brother Ricardo shouting in the background. Her mom told her that Ricardo, who was 27, wouldn’t take his medication. He had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia five years earlier.

Ricardo lived with his mother in Lancaster, Pa., but earlier that day he had been over at Rulennis’ house across town. Rulennis remembers that her brother had been having what she calls “an episode” that morning. Ricardo had become agitated because his phone charger was missing. When she found it for him, he insisted it wasn’t the same one.

Rulennis knew that her brother was in crisis and that he needed psychiatric care. But she also knew from experience that there were few emergency resources available for Ricardo unless a judge deemed him a threat to himself or others.

After talking with her mom, Rulennis called a county crisis intervention line to see if Ricardo could be committed for inpatient care. It was Sunday afternoon. The crisis worker told her to call the police to see if the officers could petition a judge to force Ricardo to go to the hospital for psychiatric treatment, in what’s called an involuntary commitment. Reluctant to call 911, and wanting more information, Rulennis dialed the non-emergency police number.

Meanwhile, her mother, Miguelina Peña, was back in her own neighborhood. Her other daughter, Deborah, lived only a few doors down. Peña started telling Deborah what was going on. Ricardo was becoming aggressive; he had punched the inside of the car. Back on their block, he was still yelling and upset, and couldn’t be calmed. Deborah called 911 to get help for Ricardo. She didn’t know that her sister was trying the non-emergency line.

The problems and perils of calling 911 for help with mental health

A recording and transcript of the 911 call show that the dispatcher gave Deborah three options: police, fire or ambulance. Deborah wasn’t sure, so she said “police.” Then she went on to explain that Ricardo was being aggressive, had a mental illness and needed to go to the hospital.

Meanwhile, Ricardo had moved on, walking up the street to where he and his mother lived. When the dispatcher questioned Deborah further, she also mentioned that Ricardo was trying “to break into” his mom’s house. She didn’t mention that Ricardo also lived in that house. She did mention that her mother “was afraid” to go back home with him.

The Muñoz family has since emphasized that Ricardo was never a threat to them. However, by the time police got the message, they believed they were responding to

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Advocates, restaurants call for extension of meals program

BERLIN, Vt. (AP) — Advocates for a program that uses federal coronavirus relief money to distribute free restaurant-made meals intended for people in need during the pandemic and to help those eateries stay afloat are calling for the program to be funded past mid-December.

The statewide Everyone Eats program offers restaurants financial support to cook healthy meals for the community, said Sue Minter, executive director of Capstone Community Action on Thursday.

In three months, $1.5 million has been allocated to the industry, allowing over 100 restaurants to prepare 150,000 meals distributed around the state — but the funding ends in December, she said at a press event at Central Vermont Medical Center, where 200 meals are given out weekly.


“Seven months into the pandemic hunger in Vermont is increasing,” Minter said. “And the impact of unemployment and the unfolding economic disruption is intensifying. And Vermonters are rising to the challenge together.”

One in four Vermonters now face food insecurity, compared to one in 10 before March, she said.

The pandemic has also had a dramatic impact on the state’s hospitality industry, particularly restaurants, which are now “on life support,” she said.

Cornerstone Pub & Kitchen, in Barre, provides 200 free meals each Thursday through the program, said owner Rich McSheffrey.

“I can’t stress enough the significance of it, I can’t stress enough the impact of it, and I definitely will say that if this program has any possibility of extending then it’s definitely in the best interest,” he said.

He believes ending the program in the winter is senseless, he said.

“It seems very stressful to me to think that so many people with food insecurities and so many people that are hungry are going to have a program stopped in Vermont in the winter,” he said.

In other developments related to the coronavirus on Thursday:

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UTILITY BILLS

Less than half of an $8 million COVID-19 pandemic relief program for people and small businesses behind on their utility bills has been used, and the state is encouraging those eligible to apply.

The Vermont COVID-19 Arrearage Assistance Program can help with past-due bills to keep the lights on, water flowing, and heat running as winter approaches.

“We only have six weeks left to essentially spend the full $8 million,” Riley Allen, deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service told MyChamplainValley.com on Wednesday.

Allen estimates that the total amount of unpaid bills in the state is much larger than what’s been awarded so far, the station reported.

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COLLEGE CASES

St. Michael’s College in Colchester is going to all remote classes after six positive cases of the coronavirus were detected in the latest round of surveillance testing. All the cases were asymptomatic.

In a message posted Thursday on the college’s website, college President Lorraine Sterritt said that, out of an abundance of caution, the school would move to all-remote classes and all in-person activities are suspended through the weekend. Dining will be takeout-only.

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THE NUMBERS

Vermont reported 15

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Senators call for pause to Army’s new Combat Fitness Test

Oct. 21 (UPI) — Two senators said Wednesday they have called for a delay in implementing the U.S. Army’s Combat Fitness Test, citing a possible detriment to creating a diverse force.

A letter signed by Sen. Kristin Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., sent a letter to the chairman and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees warning that rollout of the revised test was premature and deserved additional study.

“Significant concerns have been raised regarding the data used to develop the test, initial test scores, and logistical issues,” the senators wrote. “The ACFT will determine the career path and success of all soldiers currently serving, yet many information gaps and unknowns remain.”

It suggested that the ACFT could adversely impact soldiers’ professional prospects, upset recruitment efforts and disproportionally affect women in the Army, and noted that few women were included in early testing groups.

“In 2019, the Army identified the six events of the ACFT and began conducting field tests within 63 battalions across the organization,” the senators wrote. “Preliminary data was leaked showing an overall failure rate of 84 percent for females and 30 percent for males within these battalions.”

The test is an attempt by the Army to establish effective but gender-neutral standards for soldiers’ fitness and readiness, and replaces Army previous fitness tests which clearly displayed a bias but were less rigorous.

Six events are involved in the new test, including a dead lift, weighted ball throw and a “leg tuck,” in which soldiers lift themselves up from a pullup bar using their arm, core and leg muscles.

The leg tuck is largely responsible for the 65 percent failure rate for women and the 10 percent failure rate for men.

The letter from Gillibrand and Blumenthal cited a University of Iowa study that showing that the removal of the leg-tuck could significantly improve success rates. The letter said the leg tuck is “the same event which has no proven predictive value to military occupation.”

It also noted that the previously used Army Physical Fitness Test required no equipment other than a stopwatch, while “the ACFT requires approximately $3,000 worth of equipment to put one individual through the test.”

Gillibrand and Blumenthal added that the test is irrelevant, and possibly damaging, to the careers of Army lawyers, cybersecurity specialists and other non-combat enlistees.

The senators recommend that the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act include a provision allowing Congress to delay use of the ACFT until it is independently reviewed.

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Senators ask for pause on Army’s new fitness test, call it ‘premature’

Two senators are asking for a delay in the Army’s implementation of its new combat fitness test, or ACFT, pending an independent study of how it will effect critical career fields and soldiers deployed to austere outposts.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., asked in a letter sent Tuesday to the House and Senate armed services committees for the ACFT roll-out to be paused and studied.

“We acknowledge that the ACFT 2.0 is a work in progress, but we have considerable concerns regarding the negative impact it may already be having on so many careers,” the senators said in the letter, a copy of which was provided to Army Times. “It is imperative that we pause implementation until all questions and concerns are answered.”

The six-event ACFT is a noticeably more difficult test than that which it replaces, with higher failure rates recorded among women. The increased difficultly is often attributed to the ACFT’s emphasis on core and upper body strength through exercises like the deadlift and hanging leg-tuck.

Army cadets perform the three-repetition deadlift, the first of the six events of the Army Combat Fitness Test. (Eric Bartelt/Army)

The letter, first reported by the Washington Post, noted that Army data shows “a consistent” 65 percent failure rate for women and 10 percent failure rate for men. The letter cited a University of Iowa study that showed eliminating the leg-tuck would significantly reduce failure rates.

Gillibrand and Blumenthal said there are “significant concerns” regarding the data used to develop the ACFT that trace back to a study conducted several years ago.

That study demonstrated the leg-tuck was not a significant predictive variable of how a soldier would perform their duties, but was still included in the six-event test regardless. The study’s test group also underrepresented women, the senators added, with the average participant being a 24-year-old man.

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The Health 202: Health officials call an anti-lockdown paper ‘dangerous.’ Its authors say they just want the idea debated.

“I suspect if we had a chance to talk with Dr. Collins about what these ideas actually say instead of the misrepresentations, he wouldn’t have that response,” Bhattacharya told me in an interview yesterday.

The Barrington Declaration is triggering a heated and fraught debate over shutdowns as the winter approaches and infections rise.

The paper, co-written by two epidemiologists at Harvard University and the University of Oxford and signed by other academics and scientists, says measures to protect those most vulnerable to the virus should be the central goal of the public health response, rather than current shutdown policies. 

The authors argue that the harm from shuttering schools and businesses is so extensive that it’s not worth trying to limit the virus’s spread among healthy children and non-elderly adults. Targeted protections for the elderly and sick are the best way to minimize mortality and social harm, they wrote.

“The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits … is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk,” the paper says.

Yet the paper has provoked a firestorm within the scientific community — and is exposing fractures in the Trump administration.

The online document, published Wednesday by the medical journal Lancet, acknowledges the shutdowns have been damaging to people and the economy. Yet it rejects the idea that allowing the virus to spread unchecked among low-risk populations – an idea known as gaining herd immunity – would ultimately protect the vulnerable. The authors point to the nation’s already-steep death toll, noting that there could a hundreds of thousands more deaths if the virus is allowed to spread even among healthier Americans.

“This is a dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence,” says the memo, co-written by Harvard epidemiologists Bill Hanage and Marc Lipsitch and signed by more than 80 scientists. “Any pandemic management strategy relying upon immunity from natural infections for COVID-19 is flawed.”

Bhattacharya and his co-authors met last week with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who tweeted praise of their ideas afterward. 

Azar tweeted this last week:

But both Collins and Fauci have sharply criticized the declaration as departing from consensus among epidemiologists.

“Anybody who knows anything about epidemiology will tell you that that is nonsense and very dangerous, because … you will have killed a lot of people that would have been avoidable,” Fauci said.

Bhattacharya called the tension provoked by his letter “overwhelming.”

But he feels it sparked a conversation that was ignored up until now. While some have interpreted the declaration as a “let ‘er rip” strategy, he says that is a mischaracterization of the approach he is promoting. While the country will eventually reach herd immunity, the point at which 60 to 70 percent of the country is immune either from being infected or getting vaccinated, his aim is to protect the lives and well-being of the

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When Do You Call An Emergency Dentist?

Imagine yourself out and about in Los Angeles when suddenly you have a dental emergency. Dental emergency by definition means an emergency involving the teeth that needs the immediate attention of a dental professional. If you are in Los Angeles just for a vacation or a business trip, then you should read on just in case you find yourself in need of an emergency dentist while you are in town.

Before dialing the number of an emergency dentist, you have to assess if your dental problem is indeed an emergency. You do not want to visit a Los Angeles emergency dentist in the middle of the night when in reality, your dental problem can wait until morning. If you are having a severe toothache and it has become unbearable, that counts as a dental emergency. With a toothache that severe, there is no way you can get any sleep. The most common reason for a toothache is tooth decay and the pain will only go away if the decayed tooth is treated or filled. The best solution to your problem would be to contact a reliable Los Angeles emergency dentist immediately. There is no need for you to endure the pain for the entire night because an emergency dentist can help you no matter what time it is.

Another problem that could count as a dental emergency is when your tooth gets knocked out accidentally. This counts as a dental emergency especially if there is bleeding involved. You need to see an emergency dentist immediately because it increases the chances of your tooth being saved.

One can never tell when a dental emergency will occur so it helps to have a reliable dentist on your contact list. This is important so that you know the person to contact in case you have a dental problem in the wee hours of the morning and you simply cannot wait for regular clinic hours. When you are in severe pain and discomfort, you do not have to wait for morning to see your dentist. You can immediately contact an emergency dentist and get relief from the pain.

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Your Fitness Success – Just a Phone Call Away

Did you jump out of bed this morning, ready to exercise? Or was it another morning where the snooze button won over your best intentions? Do you have a crazy morning business schedule, but promise yourself you will work out at the end of the day? How many times have you actually followed through with that promise?

Most people know they should exercise, and many know how to do it, but simply can't get motivated. Many busy people have found their answer in a growing trend in fitness known as phone coaching.

You probably have heard of coaches for different facets of life personal, business, financial, etc. Fitness coaching by phone appeals to the busy person who is trying to balance work, family and personal care, and often finds their care at the bottom of the list. With our crazy schedules, it is hard to find the time to exercise, let alone make two to three appointments a week with a personal trainer at the health club. Fitness coaching by phone saves you time, frustration and money. With a phone coach you have a 20 to 30 minutes weekly phone session to determine your goals and exercise schedule for the week. You exercise on your own, whenever and wherever it is convenient.

Tara, a phone coaching client in California liked the convenience and the motivation her coaching program provided: A friend of mine at work suggested phone coaching. I said, why not? I did not have to go anywhere. I could call my coach from work and exercise by just walking out the front door of my office. Pretty soon, I found on my walks that my feet were wanting to fly over the pavement, so I started walking and running, then built up to where I would run the 30 minutes. It became addictive – I was actually looking forward to it!

Fitness coaching by phone is most valuable as a means of keeping people accountable. Too many people, for example, join a health club with expectations of attending regularly and getting fit. Its not too difficult to keep this commitment at first, but inevitably it becomes easier to find excuses to not go, especially when no one is checking up on you. Accountability is essential!

Researchers at Stanford University have been studying phone-based exercise counseling for over 20 years. They have found astounding results – after six months of phone coaching, up to 90% of the subjects were still exercising on their own. Those people who had a coach to guide them and to hold them accountable were more successful and exercised independently, working with their coach by phone.

One of the most important goals of phone coaching is to teach the participant how to become his or her own independent coach and motivator. By learning how to exercise on your own, you will be able to create a lifelong habit.

Fitness coaching by phone is a concept whose time has come. You can find fitness coaches all …

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