Paramedics will play a bigger role when Nashville police use Tasers, under a plan aimed at reducing deaths from a drug-induced condition known as “excited delirium,” The Tennessean reports. The new protocol is designed to prevent deaths such as that of a 21-year-old Nashville man in September, who was shocked up to 19 times by officers who found him under the influence and acting erratically outside a nightclub. When confronted with such cases in the future, police will move in immediately to restrain the person so paramedics can inject him with a tranquilizer, said Corey Slovis, emergency medicine chairman at Vanderbilt University and medical director of Nashville Fire Department.
Paramedics will begin training Friday to respond to situations in which people show symptoms of excited delirium and police officers could use Taser stun devices to subdue them. The move comes amid a rising number of deaths nationwide in which people who were shocked with Tasers later died of excited delirium. Two police officers remain under investigation in the Sept. 22 death of a man who told officers he was under the influence of drugs as he stripped naked and resisted arrest. An autopsy found that Lee had died of excited delirium. In June, Taser’s manuacturer warned police departments that repeatedly shocking suspects suffering from excited delirium could be deadly.