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Respiratory and Cardiovascular Response During Electronic Control Device (ECD) Exposure in Law Enforcement Trainees

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2010
33 pages
Twenty-three law enforcement trainees were exposed to electronic control devices (ECDs) and then examined for the effects of this exposure on respiration or cardiovascular response during application.
ECDs are widely used nationally and internationally by law enforcement officers as an alternative to lethal force in subduing an aggressive/resistant subject; however, little is known about the impact of ECD exposure on respiration, although recent observations suggest that some respiratory mechanisms may be momentarily impaired by the electrical discharge. The results show an absence of inspiratory movement during ECD exposure. Normal breathing resumed after the cessation of the ECD exposure. The results confirm previous work that shows ECD exposure does not apparently interfere with normal cardiac cycles in otherwise healthy law enforcement officers. Most trainees could recall either in the positive or negative their ability to breathe during ECD exposure. Only 2 of the 23 trainees reported that they did not attempt to breathe during the 5-second exposure; one of these reported holding his breath. Since the study focused on the ability of the trainees to breathe when exposed to ECD. Data from these two trainees were excluded from the study. Although three trainees reported that they were unsure about whether or not they tried to breathe, they were included in the analysis in so far as exposure to ECD may alter the ability to recall events during exposure. Forty-four percent of the trainees complied with the direction to try to sniff during ECD exposure. There was clear evidence that volitional breathing was difficult during the 5-second ECD exposure. Although a marked recovery was evident in inhalation and exhalation immediately upon ECD cessation, one trainee exhibited a similar degree of respiratory disruption during the 5-second period after ECD cessation. There was no evidence of cardiac disruption during an ECD application. 18 references

Date Published: September 1, 2010