We get a call to assist law enforcement with a subject that had been tazed. These calls are usually interesting. When we arrive, we find 2 injured Deputies, an uninjured Sergeant, and one handcuffed female, who is writhing on the ground and squealing about various medical complaints.

On further inspection, the female has at least 4 darts stuck in her legs and torso. She is telling us about her chest pain, about the fact that she cannot feel the left side of her body, and repeatedly telling us that she NEEDS to go to the hospital, or she is going to die.

The police are telling me that she has been tazed 5 times. She pulled the darts out twice, and managed to injure the two cops. She can’t weigh more than 150 pounds, and is certainly NOT as large as the three deputies that she was roughing up. She is now wearing TWO pairs of handcuffs. It makes it hard to get to her radial pulses.

One of my fellow medics reminds her that she is going to jail whether she goes to the hospital or not. I move to take her pulse, and it is humming along at a healthy clip- 174 beats per minute. My first assessment question:

DM: “What drugs did you take tonight?”
PT: “I didn’t take nuthin’.”
DM “Then how did that crack pipe get on your living room floor over there?”
PT: “Sumdood musta left it there.”
DM: “Oh. Him again.

You hear about people dying in police custody after being tazed multiple times. After my own admittedly narrow experiences, I have a theory. These people are dying because of a combination of things. The massive exertion of fighting the cops, positional asphyxia (from being handcuffed in restrictive positions), combined with the tazing and the drug use, all combine to place stresses on the heart that it is not designed to take. I believe that the tazer use is the least important of these factors.

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