ALBERTA

Alberta judge calls for police training to recognize signs of excited delirium

10/08/2014 02:03 EDT | Updated 12/08/2014 05:59 EST
MEDICINE HAT, Alta. - A judge in southern Alberta wants the RCMP to better train its officers to identify a medical condition called excited delirium.

It's one of five recommendations made in a fatality inquiry report into the 2009 death of a man in Brooks.

The report says Grant William Prentice had high levels of cocaine in his system when he was found staggering door-to-door, asking people for help.

When police arrived, it took several officers to restrain the 40-year-old, who seemed to have super-human strength.

He then went limp and turned blue and later died in hospital.

Experts testified that Prentice showed signs of excited delirium and early medical intervention, such as the use of sedatives, may have saved him.

"It cannot be stressed strongly enough the importance of time when dealing with a person in this situation," wrote Judge Eric Brooks. "Firsthand observations and impressions provided to an attending physician might well make the difference between life and death."

The judge also heard evidence that officers fired a Taser while trying to subdue Prentice but its cycle of electricity lasted only one second and was stopped unintentionally during the struggle.

Prentice's official cause of death was listed as acute cocaine toxicity combined with excited delirium syndrome.

The judge said excited delirium is still considered a new area of study, but all first-responders should be aware of it.

He also recommended dispatchers for police and ambulances receive annual training on the syndrome and adopt a common terminology to talk about it.

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