Woman calls 911 too often, Washington wants to get her a guardian

911 woman
Washington, D.C. city officials want to appoint a guardian for a woman who calls 911 every other day.
Credit: Getty

Martha Rigsby has dialed 911 226 times this past year and took an ambulance to the hospital 117 times. This number was reported on Nov. 8 and may be even larger now.

Rigsby has been a major headache for firefighters in Washington, D.C., and responders can recite her birth date and Social Security number, reports the Washington Post. In the past 30 years, Rigsby has dialed 911 the most in the history of the city: She’s called the number thousands of times after falling down. Rigsby alone has caused such a drain on the city’s resources that a group of officials convened to figure out how to address the issue.

They are requesting that the city grants her a guardian, which would preclude her need to dial 911. The Department of Behavior Health filed a court petition in April, claiming that Rigsby is not mentally capable of handling her own medical affairs. The petition alleged that the 58-year-old suffers from borderline and bipolar disorders.

Though Rigsby has health insurance, she still owes the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services $61,366.33. She and her court-apponted attorney are arguing that Rigsby is capable of making her own decisions when it comes to her health.

Typically, Rigsby calls 911 after feeling faint and collapsing. About four out of 10 times, she calls herself, and the remainder of the time, other people dial after seeing her fall. She has refused medical help over half of the time and signs a waiver to not take the ambulance. A psychiatrist with the Department of Behavioral Health told the court that Rigsby’s symptoms do not correlate with any medical problems she has. Even more distressing is the fact that in December, Rigsby called 911 and threatened to hurt herself. The move prompted city authorities to try to solve the issue by requesting a guardian for her.


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