Tuesday (December 9th) there was another story of a diabetic tasered by a police department. This time, the person was entirely non-responsive to commands, videotaped and the video released to the public.
Needless to say, many diabetics are in an uproar about the treatment of the diabetic after his truck went out of control. He was repeatedly warned to get out of his vehicle but did not respond. They used the taser in an effort to subdue him and remove him from his vehicle. According to reports, it was only after he was subdued did police realize he had exceedingly low blood sugar and called an ambulance.
People feel police should be better trained to recognize the difference between hypoglycemia behavior and excessive alcohol or drug consumption. I used google to research other incidences of tasers used against uncooperative diabetics with hypoglycemia. In a relatively quick search (ten google pages), I found eight separate incidences including one in Nova Scotia and one in Leeds, England. In some cases, officials knew the person was a diabetic; in other instances, they did not.
In my mind, there are two issues relative to public officials 1) Development of good quality training to establish rapid identification of hypoglycemia in people who are putting the police in an unknown situation in which they must protect themselves and 2) Development of a standard by which out of control, identified diabetics can be subdued without further injury to police or themselves.
There are also issues relative to personal responsibility from the diabetic and of their medical team in teaching better techniques, using all the available tools available today, instead of just labeling the patient “brittle” and throwing their hands up in the air.
So, what can we can we all do to help prevent situations like this from happening? I mean; what can we do to prevent situations in which police are even so inclined to try to subdue us? What kind of training is required to ensure police can easily identify a medical condition without causing further harm? What can we do to ensure they use this training and do not become unnecessarily overly aggressive even after they identify a medical situation? What is and should be the role of medical providers? What is our personal responsibility?
I’ll attempt to address these questions in my next blog ….
Doris J. Dickson