Long Beach police and fire departments explain sedative used to subdue people

Midazolam has been used in Long Beach for years, but a year ago both the police and fire departments started working together.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- In Long Beach, the police and fire departments have been teaming up with the disaster and communications department when trying to help people who are in a behavioral crisis or could be violent.

"Someone's who's acting extremely agitated, very sweaty, super human strength, incoherent," said Xavier Espino, chief of the Long Beach Fire Department.

This response involves paramedics working alongside police officers to administer a sedative called Midazolam, also known by its brand name Versed.

Midazolam has been used in Long Beach for years, but a year ago both the police and fire departments started working with one another.

"We set up a plan, police department goes in first and gets ahold of the patient, when it's safe for the fire department, paramedics to go on the scene then they come in and administer the medicine and at that point the person becomes a patient," said Espino.

Paramedics administer Midazolam as an aerosol through the nose. After, the person is transported to the hospital.

"Over the last year in 2021, the Long Beach Police Department has responded to over 353,000 calls for service. Only 137 times did this dual response end up being deployed and out of the 137 times, 31% of the time our fire paramedics applied or administered the sedative," said Robert Luna, chief of the Long Beach Police Department.

The use of sedatives by law enforcement has been controversial.

"If used properly, it's a very safe drug. In large doses it can be a very unsafe drug in that it can cause people to stop breathing," said Morris Jagodowicz, an anesthesiologist.

Chief Espino says they can use a total of 20 milligrams of Midazolam in the field.

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