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Report: Paramedics dosed diabetic Black man with ketamine

Thanks to this horrifying story, Hennepin Healthcare and Minneapolis police have faced criticism in each of the the last three years for doping people with ketamine.

Thanks to this horrifying story, Hennepin Healthcare and Minneapolis police have faced criticism in each of the the last three years for doping people with ketamine. Tony Webster

On Thursday, Abby Wulfing published a Facebook post about the dangerous treatment her boyfriend, Max Johnson, received from EMS responders and Minneapolis police officers during a recent diabetic episode.

Wulfing wrote of waking up on July 26 to the sound of Johnson having a seizure, and called 911, telling an operator Johnson was diabetic and suffering from low blood sugar. She says when they arrived, paramedics believed Johnson was on drugs, and asked her to tell them "what he's on."

According to Wulfing, EMS workers for Hennepin Healthcare (formerly HCMC) hospital ignored her attempts to inform them of Johnson's diabetes, and instead radioed police for assistance.

"I told an older male EMS worker that their behavior, how they were talking to [Johnson] (loudly, angrily, commanding), and their physical restraint WASN’T HELPING and that he needed sugar," Wulfing wrote. "Instead of listening to me, he snapped at me to 'go let the cops in the front door,' as he had just called the MPD for backup."

In the course of treating Johnson, Wulfing says, EMS staff administered both Versed and ketamine. Ketamine is the same powerful sedative drug HCMC paramedics and MPD officers were criticized for using unnecessarily on arrestees in 2018... and again in 2019, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found the hospital chain's employees had continued doping people as part of a secretive, non-voluntary study even after they said they'd stopped.

Wulfing also observes that the dose of ketamine given to Johnson (500 milligrams) is the same amount that contributed to the recent death of Elijah McClain in Aurora, Colorado.

Johnson spent two days in the hospital's intensive care unit "on a ventilator," during which time Wulfing and others couldn't visit him, writes Wulfing.

"This happened because Max is a 6' 5" Black man," Wulfing wrote. "My whiteness was not enough to save him from the Hennepin Healthcare EMS and MPD’s egregious racism and life-threatening decisions. I believe that police brutality and racism is more of a health risk to Max than his Type I diabetes."

Wulfing also says Dr. Thomas Wyatt, director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Hennepin Healthcare, had agreed that Johnson's incident was handled differently because of his race. 

In a statement to the Star Tribune, a spokesperson said Hennepin Healthcare "[does] not discuss individual patient care publicly, but when a patient or family member has concerns we answer their questions about the medical decisions that were made."

Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder told City Pages the department is "aware of" Wulfing's story, and that it is "under internal review."

On Sunday, Rep. Mohamud Noor (DFL-Minneapolis) called for an investigation into the "disturbing incident," saying of the alleged drugging of Johnson: "It is unacceptable that this man, who was experiencing a medical emergency, was given this dangerous drug that can result in life-threatening conditions—as it did in this case."

Read Wulfing's full Facebook post here: