There has been some controversy regarding the use of the Taser in controlling subjects in police custody, including reports of deaths. In a paper to be presented at the 2007 Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) Annual Meeting, preliminary results of Taser exposure on healthy subjects will show that no short-term effects were observed.
Human volunteers from law enforcement agreed to receive a single, 5 second exposure from a Taser X26, a model reported to be used by more than 30% of police agencies in the United States. Cardiovascular and blood parameters were measured before exposure and for 60 minutes afterwards. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures, heart rate, calcium, sodium, potassium, bicarbonate and lactate levels and blood pH were measured in 32 subjects. Systolic blood pressure decreased after the Taser due to a likely heightened anxiety before the test. Other measures changed slightly, but there were no clinically significant or lasting changes in the subjects noted during the one-hour observation period.
According to the author, Gary Vilke, MD, Professor of Clinical Medicine, Director, Clinical Research for Emergency Medicine, University of California, San Diego Medical Center, "Evaluating in-custody deaths following use of a Taser is a process that requires looking at the totality of the event. It is like putting a puzzle together. The data from this study help shape another piece of the puzzle by looking at the physiological effects of a single Taser activation in human subjects."
The presentation is entitled "Cardiovascular and Metabolic Effects of the Taser on Human Subjects" by Gary M Vilke MD. This paper will be presented at the 2007 SAEM Annual Meeting, May 16-19, 2007, Chicago, IL on Thursday, May 17, in the moderated poster session beginning at 2:30 PM in the River Exhibition Hall A & B of the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. Abstracts of the papers presented are published in Volume 14, Issue 5S, the May 2007 supplement of the official journal of the SAEM, Academic Emergency Medicine.