I live in Mobile, Alabama and made it the setting of my ebook, Body Wave, currently on sale at Amazon. My little block of the world recently made national and international headlines when an 18 y.o. student was shot dead by a campus policeman at the University of South Alabama. The known facts at the time was the student was acting erratically and was naked. Naturally, as a mother and as an alumni of South, I’ve followed the story. Yesterday, the Sheriff, showed the grieving family a video of what happened, and he said the student had ingested LSD.
My mind automatically flashed back to my days of working in a Level One Trauma Center ER. Naked, screaming men usually meant someone strung out on drugs, but also someone dangerous and aggressive with super human strength. I saw doctors and nurses flung around like rag dolls. After one such incident, I decided to leave the ER for a critical care unit. At that time police didn’t have Tasers, and they had a hard time subduing these people.
First, adults don’t disrobe in public unless they’re out of their normal mind and because they’re hot. Super hot. These people would be sweating profusely and the police had no way to grab hold of them. Often, it took many policeman to tackle these people and subduing one wasn’t easy. Most of these people had high temps and pounding pulses. In the ER, we had to strap these people down to treat them, and usually we had to treat injured officers and bystanders as well. Our doctors started calling it Excited Delirium or EXD.
The recent press hoopla of flesh eating zombies, like the guy that ate the face off a homeless man, were all cases of excited delirium. Clear?
Obviously, not all people who take drugs go out of their mind and exhibit symptoms of EXD. There is a subset of people who will experience this condition and sadly some die. Sometimes, normal presciption drugs in combination with an illegal drug will cause this syndrome to erupt. I hope this heart rending example leads to a general understanding of this problem. It’s real and its been going on for years.
These poor people will die if left alone or allowed to run wild. I’ve read recently that some civil rights groups think the term excited delirium is used too often for people who die in police custody. Maybe that’s true. But these crazed people, who strip off their clothes, sweat profusely, and have tachycardia are very real, and they’re scary when encountered. A person doesn’t have to be a buffed up weight lifter to act like one when this syndrome strikes. They feel no pain and can’t be reasoned with.
But it’s also true this is a Medical Emergency. How long did the student’s who were with this young man wait before calling police and paramedics? No, I’m not trying to spread blame, but if you do drugs, be aware this condition is real, its dangerous, it kills, and its a medical emergency.
The awful truth in Mobile this week is a college student was shot dead because campus police don’t have Tasers and because the officer was alone. Before Tasers police used billy clubs, flashlights, and yes, even lethal force to stop people with the symptoms of EXD. My heart goes out to the student’s family and friends. Please people, when teaching your kids about avoiding drugs be sure to mention the possibility of excited delirium. I can’t think of a stronger deterrent.
Note: I provided two links: One layman and the other medical on Excited Delerium. Please read both.