Under most conditions, TASERs are non-lethal. Sometimes, however, they’re not. If the TASEee has “excited delirium syndrome” the result can be fatal. So how do first (or second or third) responders know if the citizen they’re attempting to restrain is bat-shit crazy or suffering from excited delirium syndrome or even if there’s a difference between the two? “If you have a crazy person running around naked in the street, you should be thinking about excited delirium, unless you’re at a carnival in Brazil,” Dr. Peter Antevy tells officer.com. The medical director for Davie (Fla.) Fire-Rescue Department’s put together a Powerpoint prez on ED (not that ED). It’s edutainment at it’s best. (You’ve got to register but it’s worth it.) For the chronologically challenged, make the jump to learn why cops occasionally TASE ED suffers to death . . .

While the number of people with excited delirium who die in custody has diminished, there are many reasons why they do, Antevy said. One of the principal reason is they can’t breathe, he said. Because they are overheated, sometimes reaching temperatures up to 107 degrees, and they are no longer sweating because of dehydration and other conditions, the only way left for people to try to cool their bodies is to breath rapidly, tachypnea, which is almost like panting, he said.

When excited delirium patients are “hogtied” and restrained in a prone position, they can’t breathe as effectively as their bodies need, Antevy said. It is far better to sedate the patient with drugs, including any of the Benzodiazephine family, including valium, Versed and Ativan, or a new one that’s gaining popularity, ketamine. Haldon might also be used, but it has effects that will need close monitoring and might hinder the patient’s natural ability to compensate, Antevy said.

And the answer is . . .

Instead of answering the agitation with force, such as hog ties and physical struggling, sedation is the answer when possible, Antevy said, noting that while many police officers might recognize the physiology of the emergency, they have to take the necessary steps to protect themselves and the public. That might include physical restraints and even use of a Taser on the patient/suspect.

“They want to get home to their families and I can understand that,” Antevy said. The more EMS and police work together, and are educated about the signs and symptoms, the more likely a patient will experience a good outcome, he said.

Likely but not certain. Meanwhile, think of all the lives saved by TASERs. Of all the suspects and perps and whackos the cops didn’t shoot with an actual gun. Just sayin’ . . .

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26 Responses to How TASERs Kill

  1. Maybe animal control should answer the bat shit crazy calls too. Hit ’em with a Special K dart if need be.

  2. The solution to keeping people from being killed by police taser is to abolish the police and ban tasers. It is simple, isn’t it?

    • that’s exactly what I was going to ask. I learned about ketamine for the first time in a book I read maybe ten years ago. Nothing new about Special K.

  3. nobody wants to be tased. but if that spares you a .45 hollowpoint go with the tazer. i wonder how the number of deaths from taser compares to the number of deaths from the old choke hold?

  4. I think the tasers need to be gone. We have enough people in custody mooching our tax dollars…. why ad more? Let the cops shoot em and keep em out of jail 😀

  5. Right now TASERS are the best thing we got. Sure if we had a fool proof way to subdue someone and be 100% effective and not cause harm great, go for it, but until then the Taser is here to stay.
    Cops shouldn’t have to second guess themselves if using less than lethal means to take someone down. Occasionally we have issues, due to unknown heart conditions, drugs etc, but all in all it is a great option for our officers to have.

  6. As a firefighter/ paramedic in a busy metro area, I have no issues whatsoever with the usage of tazers. They have saved the lives of countless that would have otherwise had a bullet in the head….. With that being said, I think the powerpoint was assembled to foster a mindset of communication with cops/ems. We both have different legalities/obligations, and as a whole, on the ems side of things, doctors are allowing paramedics to chemically restrain indivduals who are combative on an increasing basis (so much so, that in some jurisdictions, paramedics do not even get permission from a doctor before doing such). These medications have proven to be extremely effective in people who otherwise do not respond to tazers, etc…. At the end of the day, it is good for both the police and fire department to be on the same page, because at the end of the day, our goals are the same, to go home. While it may seem a little stupid, the powerpoint is only meant to keep everyone on the same page. Kudos for the department for trying to get everyone on the same page.

  7. Ok… I’m confused: The purpose of “use of force” is to “Stop” the violence. If cops have a choice between administering “high-speed, lead injections” to reduce or stop the violence… or the administration of “high-voltage, electron injections” to reduce or stop the violence…. and one will probable kill, but might not; as opposed to the other that will probably NOT kill, but might… who cares as long as the violence stops????

    You have to give credit to the idea that the cops might consider the one that will probably NOT kill, but might, as opposed to the cops that want to save money and just used the lead injections. However, if the “Bat-Shit” or Delirium (Drug Driven) nut is trying to get into a daycare (Austin, TX 1990’s, two blocks from my home), and my kids are in the daycare. What do I care about the long term effects of the injection as long as the children are safe and the violence stops?

    The real problem is that there are self-centered, egocentric, narcissistic losers that don’t want their spoiled rotten, low-life, scum-sucking, maggot infested, children being told that they can’t do what they want to do. In that case, I agree: use the lead and get it over with! Then sue the parents for making them that way!!!!!

    • While it would seem that cut and dry, meet violence with greater violence, it isn’t. Most cops I know are terrified of using their weapon, hell, they are treated like criminals after they use it in an incident! There are two schools of thought:
      1). Using a taser is another tool that keeps me from killing the miserable bastard that is causing the issue.
      2). Having a taser is just another liability that they will try to use against me in court, and ultimately, is making me that much slower at getting my gun.

      From small talk with several officers, option 1 seems to be the overall consensus.

  8. i see it this way, they got where they are due their own stupid choices/behavior…
    why should anyone else have to risk themselves because some chit4brainz makes a bad choice/move…
    i see these freaks every day, the only reason they are allowed to run around free to threaten other people is because they are a PGDVR (precious guaranteed democrat voting resource), they reduce the quality of life for everyone around them…
    want to end drug and alcohol addiction problems?
    simple, a death penalty for the users, if there’s no one alive to buy the stuff, there’s no market for it…
    i know, i know, its not sensitiviatiness and carwing…
    ask me if i give a damm…

  9. I’m all for cops having tasers. A taser is less violent and more effective than a baton, but the cops need better training. It becomes a problem that the cops start to think like hammers and treat every problem like a nail. Cops have tased incapacitated people and traffic violator.
    http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2012/06/robert-farago/omg-a-stun-gun-used-on-a-pregnant-woman/

    I know there are still cops out there who have never had to use force and never drawn their gun. They use a notebook and talk politely to people. I know they are lucky, not every officer has that luxury, but they tried. Those are the officers who deserve our attention, not the cops on a power trip. Sorry for the tangent…

  10. Tranquilizing dart guns. Let’s take it to the next level. And before the suspect passes out we can get a confessing statement out of him. Or how about sticky nets, giant spider webs.

  11. Tasers are just fine. There are any number of ways to die when doped up. Tasers, excited delirium, and death are not anything knew.

  12. Great, tranquilizer darts coming to police near you soon…in order to be more cautious/humane to potential excited delirium sufferers.

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