Tasers are made by Taser International, which is based out of Arizona. The two types in circulation are the standard M26 and the more advanced X26, which is smaller, looks a little bit stubbier and more futuristic, and is capable of delivering an effective shock even if the barbs do not penetrate the target person’s clothing.
Tasers differ from older Stun Guns in several ways. Stun Guns have variable settings and must be touched to the target person; upon contact, barbs deliver a shock that interferes with the transmission of signals between the target person’s brain and muscles. Tasers fire two probes; a much higher Voltage overrides the target person’s central nervous system with the command telling all muscles to clench.
Upon contact, the Taser delivers a 5-second burst of 50,000 Volts electricity that overrides your central nervous system with the command to curl up into a ball clenching all muscles (officers can vary the duration of the burst as well as the number of pulses per second). Unlike old Stun Guns, this system has been proven effective even against people who are "goal-oriented"--meaning that even if you are mentally and physically prepared to resist Tasers, you will still be overcome by the electro-muscular disruption. As long as the targeted person remains connected to one of the Taser barbs, the police officer is capable of delivering further shocks.
First aid considerations Edit
The purpose of the Taser is to aid in controlling and apprehending somebody--that is, incapacitating a person so that a police officer may arrest them. Considering this, it is unlikely that medics in a demonstration setting will treat large numbers of Taser injuries. However, the following treatments have been discussed over the action-medical listserv and in trainings:
- Calm, comfort, reassure, empower the person; rehumanize the situation.
- Restore the electrolyte level of the person's body. This can be done with Emergen-C, or water with a banana.
- Treat injuries resulting from falls (videos on the manufacturer’s website show very jarring falls)
- Treating barbs as impaled objects--stabilize them and bring to further care (with consent)
- Treat burns left by the barbs.
- In the event of localized muscle spasms, ice the affected area.
- Monitor/treat for shock, advise rest.
- This weapon takes control of a person's body away from them while simultaneously delivering a lot of pain. Remember the importance of consent when somebody has been attacked with such a frightening, dehumanizing weapon.
Thick clothing, aluminum foil are not adequate protection Edit
Some people say that the two probes fired from the Taser are capable of penetrating up to two inches of clothing. However, is is the electric pulse from the probes themselves that can penetrate two inches of clothing, suggesting that even thick clothing like leather will be penetrated by the Taser shock. Rumors of Taser defense via a layer of aluminum foil are considered inaccurate. To my knowledge, no trials have been conducted to see what types of body armor are impervious to Taser probes or to determine what, if anything, could cause sufficient disruption of the Taser’s circuit that would render it ineffective. Aluminum foil has been hypothesized on ftaaimc.org; this information is considered inaccurate, untested, and based on faulty speculation about electric circuitry.
The probes don’t have to make contact with the skin in order to deliver the shock. The Taser model M26 may use up to 90% of the energy in the shock merely breaching the barrier of skin and clothing. The more advanced X26 uses refined technology; one energy pulse creates an electrical bridge from the probe to the body; the second pulse travels along this electrical bridge, delivering the incapacitating shock without the probe necessarily touching or penetrating the skin.
If a Taser is not loaded with a cartridge with probes, it can still deliver a shock by being touched to the target person’s body.
This material is intended as a training supplement. Reading this material is no substitute for first aid / medical training with a qualified trainer. We encourage you to pursue ongoing education, reviewing and upgrading your skills-- for the safety of both yourself and anyone you treat.