The nature of excited delirium is debated among medical professionals and police trainers. Whatever its causes, and no matter what we call it, excited delirium exists, and it is dangerous.
A person who is in a state of excited delirium is clearly a threat to the officers and others, but they are also in danger from themselves. Oftentimes in-custody deaths are related to a suspect being in a state of excited delirium.
The best bet for an officer to avoid an in-custody death related to excited delirium, is to recognize the symptoms and summon emergency medical assistance when you encounter it.
Some of the symptoms attributed to excited delirium as identified by the Street Survival seminar are:
- profuse sweating
- aggression toward objects (especially glass)
- hallucinating (especially that bugs are crawling on them)
- thrashing before/after restraint
Keep in mind that someone with these symptoms may not be in a state of excited delirium, but it is far better to have EMS respond and clear the subject, than to have him or her die in your back seat.