In the early-morning hours of Thanksgiving Day, Catherine Starkes and April Savage huddled in an office with several other employees at the Springfield Hospital Center in Carroll County as patients rioted around them.
Starkes and Savage said patients threw chairs, knocked over file cabinets and tried to break into the staff's Plexiglas-enclosed refuge. The patients poured cooking oil over the floors, making them slippery. One patient tried to crawl into the office through the suspended ceiling, Starkes recalled.
It was like no other night she could remember in 22 years of working with dangerously mentally ill patients at Maryland state hospitals.
"They wanted to...