Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. On Thursday, February 23, 2017 the Nederland Fire Protection District held a training session with the Nederland Police Department instructing them how to use two drugs commonly used by emergency medical technicians, but not heretofore used by Ned law enforcement officers.
NFPD paramedic lieutenant Conor Moran led the discussion, which involved subduing patients under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs and patients who have overdosed on opiates and are in danger of going into cardiac arrest.
Moran presented a video depicting law officers approaching a man in the throes of excited delirium, which is a condition of sudden onset that has symptoms of bizarre and/or aggressive behavior, shouting, paranoia, panic, violence towards others, unexpected physical strength and hypothermia. The condition is most often caused by cocaine, but Methamphetamine, alcohol, PCP and LSD have also caused the symptoms.
In the video, a man lying on the side of the road becomes extremely agitated when approached by law enforcement officers who cannot get the man to sit up. Backup is called for and five officers were still unable to calm the man. “When you have a situation like this, a man in traffic, what do you do?” asked Moran. Law enforcement officers dealing with these situations are often left waiting for medics to arrive to sedate the patient.
Using a taser has been known to kill the patient, causing a rise in blood pressure and respiratory distress. Moran explained that Ketamine is now the sedation of choice, known to be the safer way to sedate a patient in excited delirium, calming them for at least two minutes. The NPD officers now have the ability to administer a dose instead of calling the fire department, making it safer for the officers and the patient.
NPD Sergeant Larry Johns suggested that the drug could be a tool used instead of force. NFPD chief Rick Dirr said the medics went through training to get up to speed, that Gilpin officers already use it and it takes away the long, sweaty, dangerous aspect of subduing a patient who is in an excited delirium stage.
Treating a patient who has overdosed on an opiate drug was the next portion of the training. Sometimes in an overdose situation, officers arrive to find the patient not breathing and the first thing they do is call for medical response. With the use of Narcan, the officers can reverse the effects of the drug quickly, allowing the patient to breathe again.
From now on, the NPD will have Narcan, Naloxone, with them, enabling them to save lives. The drug is administered by a nasal spray and is safer than starting an IV and much faster. Narcan reverses the effects of an overdose of heroin or opioid painkillers and has been used by emergency rooms and paramedics.
The NPD received 24 dosage units of Narcan from the Attorney General’s Office at no cost.
NPD chief Paul Carrill says, “This training and deployment of Narcan by the NPD was based on recent heroin overdoses and deaths in the Nederland area, in town and around the town, in the last two years.
“Since it’s common for an NPD Officer to arrive at an incident scene prior to EMS, it will be the protocol of the NPD that each NPD Officer will carry two dosage units of Narcan and rubber gloves as part of their duty gear, thereby being able to provide immediate medical attention for a possible overdose.”
The new NFPD protocol will provide assistance to the NPD in those incidents where a person is under the influence of drugs and experiencing excited delirium. This new protocol will provide for the immediate sedation of the party, thereby greatly reducing or eliminating possible injury during a police encounter.
“This also greatly reduces the amount of lawful force used during an encounter and will greatly reduce the chance of injury and/or death of an NPD Police Officer,” stated Chief Carrill.