By CBSLA Staff

LONG BEACH (CBSLA) – A pilot program in Long Beach is teaching first responders how to recognize a person experiencing “agitated delirium,” and then having a trained paramedic administer a sedative to the person, in hopes of reducing the likelihood of using force to subdue them.

Body-cam video from last November shows LBPD trying to detain a man at a Metro Rail Station. The situation lasted for more than 30 minutes before the man jumped through a busted out train window toward officers.

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It’s these types of situations, according to Police Chief Robert Luna, that instead of officers using excessive force, a fire paramedic came and sedated the man with a sedative known as Midazolam.

Long Beach Fire and Police Departments have been using the sedative Midazolam as part of a pilot program since January. (credit: CBS)

“And then immediately got him to the hospital where he needs to be. He doesn’t need to be in jail. He needs immediate medical care, and that’s exactly what we here, in Long Beach, did in this video” Chief Luna said.

The pilot program started in January and since then, paramedics have only had to administer the sedative to about three dozen people and so far, they say, the new approach has been successful.

Nearly 1,000 Long Beach firefighters, police officers and about 60 dispatchers are now trained to recognize a person in a state of agitated delirium, whether through drug or alcohol us, mental illness or uncontrolled anger.

On the scene, only a trained paramedic can asses the person and administer Midazolam in these cases.

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“Even though the fire department, our paramedics, have had protocol in place for many years to use Midazolam for different types of incidents, including agitated delirium, the big change is that now we’re working in concert with PD and now it’s a joint effort to, again, bring medical interventions to these folks,” said Chief Xavier Espino of the Long Beach Fire Department.

There is, however, major criticism surrounding whether any sedatives should be used outside a healthcare setting.

On Wednesday, three Colorado officers and two paramedics were indicted for the death of Elijah McClain, who prosecutors say was placed in a carotid hold and injected with ketamine after he was stopped while walking home in 2019.

The Long Beach pilot program is not using Ketamine, and officials said Midazolam has been adopted by agencies across the county.

“I think it’s important to note that everybody in public safety is always striving to improve our performance,” Chief Espino said.

“At the end of the day, the outcome is very positive for the person getting the care,” Chief Luna said.

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Both the fire and police chief said they will continue to monitor how the program is progressing, but they can’t say how long the program will run.