USciences Professor Educates Police Officers About Diabetes

By Jenna Pizzi

Published on August 1, 2018

Kitty KofferKatherine Koffer PharmD, CDE, Assistant Professor of Clinical Pharmacy, took her instruction out of the clinic and classroom, and to the police station to help officers from the Lower Makefield Police Department learn about diabetes.

Officers learned the basics of both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes as well as how to identify someone suffering hypo or hyperglycemic (low or high blood sugar) emergencies, and how best to respond.

“For instance, a person with diabetes may look like they are intoxicated when in fact they have a dangerously low blood glucose level,” said Dr. Koffer. “It is difficult for a police officer, who doesn't know how a person with diabetes presents, to jump to an incorrect and potentially deadly conclusion.”

Persons with diabetes must have access to medications, glucose monitoring devices, water and food. Assuming that an individual is inebriated and needs to “sleep it off” rather than providing medical care, could have dire consequences.

“The officers need to consider that when they encounter someone who has either lost consciousness or has a change in mental status, diabetes is a possibility,” Dr. Koffer said. “The officers now know the basic needs of someone with diabetes and why it is imperative they have access to medical care."

“Our officers encounter so much in their daily tour of duty,” said Kenneth D. Coluzzi, the township’s police chief. “They have to keep people safe and respond and react quickly to many different situations and it can be difficult to differentiate.”

Coluzzi welcomed the training and said it helps to keep the officers and the department safe when they understand of all of the different aspects of diseases they may encounter.

In addition to educating the officers about the symptoms, Dr. Koffer also showed the officers common medical devices used by individuals with diabetes, including insulin pens, syringes, glucose meters, lancets, glucose tablets , and  insulin pumps. This is important as having one of these items may be the fastest way to identify a person with diabetes who is unconscious.

Dr. Koffer was also joined by Alan Yatvin, Esq. chair emeritus of the legal advocacy subcommittee of the American Diabetes Association, who educated the officers on the legal issues relevant to use of force, arrest, and detention of persons with diabetes.

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