What cops need to know about ketamine

Recent incidents in Colorado have brought prehospital ketamine administration and police/EMS interactions under debate


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In August 2019, Elijah McKnight, who was allegedly intoxicated and struggled with a sheriff’s deputy, was TASERed, handcuffed and subdued by three people. Identifying the patient was experiencing excited delirium, the attending medics administered one 500 mg dose of ketamine and another dose of 250 mg about nine minutes later after consulting with a physician. The story elevated to the front-page level as body camera footage identified that deputies asked if the medics could "give him anything," to which a medic replied they can give him ketamine and, "he'll be sleeping like a baby," but would need to be transported.

A second case occurred that same month when another Colorado arrestee, Elijah McClain, was administered ketamine, went into cardiac arrest, and was subsequently declared brain dead and died on Aug 30, 2019. Last month the Aurora city council voted to temporarily ban paramedics from using ketamine to sedate patients. 

In this episode, host Jim Dudley speaks with EMS1 columnist Rob Lawrence and Dr. Will Smith, an EMS physician from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, about what law enforcement should know about ketamine and the current controversy surrounding its use.

They also discuss law enforcement's potential involvement in securing mass vaccination centers that could be used to distribute the COVID-19 vaccination when it is released to the public.

NEXT: 8 facts about excited delirium syndrome (ExDS)

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