Bath salts have become a growing threat to emergency responders. According to KENS5.com, last week a paramedic in Austin, Texas was kicked so violently in the throat by a person she was trying to help, Giovanni Leask, who was on bath salts, that the paramedic also had to be taken to the hospital.
This is certainly not an isolated incident, and first responders often get the brunt of this dangerous bath salt behavior. Warren Hassinger, with Austin-Travis EMS, said, "Years ago paramedics getting assaulted was unheard of. There has been an increase for whatever reason."
Last week in Austin, witnesses saw Leask jumping off the top of the Pfluger Bridge near Lamar and Lady Bird Lake. He then swam to shore and became verbally abuse, causing a couple to call police. Officers found him wearing only boxer shorts. When paramedics attempted to put the 18-year-old onto a stretcher, he became violent.
Hassinger said, "We were really glad the police were there to help diffuse the situation with us. In this case the gentleman had an inordinate amount of strength." Hassinger referred to it as "super human strength." He also said, "He did not hesitate going after the whole group of people there. There were at least five people tending to him, and at some point he thought he was able to manhandle them."
According to court documents, Leask had consumed bath salts. Dr. Matt Wilkinson said, "Most of the bath salts are stimulants. They are sort of like synthetic amphetamine-like drugs. A lot of the effects you will see are cardiac effects. They will have rapid heartbeat. They will be sweaty and have tremors. It affects the central nervous system. There will be hallucinations and agitation." Dr. Wilkinson also warns the ER staff of safety issues with these sometimes violent and dangerous users. He said, "I am frequently involved in cases where I have to personally restrain with the help of our staff and security forces. You do at times, with some of the larger individuals, feel very unsafe."
Austin Emergency Responders have had specific training, focusing on what to do to diffuse these difficult and potentially dangerous situations.
If you know someone struggling with this dangerous addiction, please click here for more information.