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Man in policy custody died of drug withdrawal

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. - A fatality report says RCMP officers were unaware of a doctor's medical concerns about a man who was taken from an Alberta hospital into police custody.

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. - A fatality report says RCMP officers were unaware of a doctor's medical concerns about a man who was taken from an Alberta hospital into police custody.

Charles Ramsay was arrested at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Grande Prairie on April 1, 2007, after he became disruptive and demanded narcotics from staff.

Ramsay had a history of alcohol and drug abuse, and the doctor who saw him that day was worried about the risks of withdrawal.

But the concern wasn't passed on to Mounties who arrested Ramsay for disturbing the peace and put him in a restraint chair at the detachment.

Ramsay was monitored for several hours, but eventually became unresponsive and was taken back to hospital, where he died a week later of ethanol and drug withdrawal.

Judge G. William Paul recommends in his report that RCMP officers who take someone from a health facility should be informed in writing of the person's health issues.

Paul also points out that police kept Ramsay in a restraint chair for longer than the two hours recommended by the manufacturer. A matron on the cellblock checked on him regularly and he remained constantly agitated for several hours, rocking back and forth, until he became unresponsive. Paramedics were called and performed CPR before he was taken back to hospital.

The judge says RCMP officers, matrons and guards are "not likely to be trained medical-care providers" and it "seems unfair to expect our front-line officers and personnel to recognize the possibility of consequences as drastic as occurred in this case."

Paul concludes by suggesting that it should be RCMP policy that no person should remain in a restraint chair or device longer than two hours without being assessed by a trained health-care provider.

 
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