January 26, 2016

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Law Enforcement Response to Positional Asphyxia

Gordon Graham
Category: Law Enforcement

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. If you remember, last week we talked about the response of fire personnel to positional asphyxia. And Today’s Tip deals with the law enforcement response to Positional Asphyxia.

If the person becomes unresponsive, recognize this as a medical emergency.

Hopefully you are already aware of the dangers of positional asphyxia. Positional asphyxia is a serious condition that can become life threatening with little warning.

It’s important to understand which people are at risk and what you can do to prevent this from happening. An important part of prevention is to know the risk factorsPeople who are obese, or who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs are most likely to be affected.

If a person you place in restraints has been involved in a violent struggle with you and other officers or deputies they are also at risk. 

Positional Asphyxia becomes more likely when the person is restrained with their arms behind the back and in a stomach-down position. This is a risk no matter if they are on the ground or in the back of a patrol car or transport van.

To prevent positional asphyxia, get a person off their stomach and into the seated position as soon as practical. In the patrol car, make sure they are in an upright position and check their status frequently. Make frequent wellbeing checks and make sure they are not allowed to lay face down for any length of timeIf the use of leg restraints was necessary, then the person should be continually monitored.

If the person becomes unresponsive, recognize this as a medical emergency. Get medical personnel immediately and be sure to provide first aid within your level of training until help arrives. 

Remember the facts about positional asphyxia. Look for the risk factors that can cause it and the steps you can take to prevent it. 

Remember, Predictable is Preventable.

And that is Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham, signing off. 

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