In my new work in progress I have a woman shot with a tranquilizer gun. She is a former head ER nurse and is on the road. She has a well stocked medical kit. What would she have that could be injected to counteract the tranquilizer? Is there a particular tranquilizer they would use on her? They want her alive.
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This is an interesting question that you ask. The first part that should be answered is what kinds of drugs are generally used in animal tranquilizer guns. I was fairly surprised to see some of the same drugs we use in humans like opiates (Morphine and Fentanyl.) Interestingly, it looks from this article that the opioid compound used is called M99 which is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and one drop is lethal to humans. It is reversible with a drug called Narcan or naloxone.
A second class of drugs that is used in humans also used in animal tranquilizer guns are the benzodiazepines. For humans these would be drugs like valium, ativan and versed. There is a reversal agent for this class of drugs as well. We call it flumazenil.
Two other drugs were listed in the article. Another drug that we use in humans was a substance that is related to ketamine but does not have a reversal agent. The last, azaperone, which is not familiar to me as a drug used in humans and is also not reversible.
If your ER nurse had a well stocked medical kit then she would have the drug naloxone on hand to reverse an opiate drug if that was used in the tranquilizer dart. What’s both interesting and sad about naloxone is that it is becoming readily available to the public because of the drug problem in the USA. So, even if your ER nurse didn’t have a well stocked medical kit she could probably find some as long as the dart didn’t immediately kill the victim. Opiates cause death by inhibiting your respiratory drive. You simply stop breathing. There are certainly other effects but this is the primary one.
The other drug, flumazenil, that reverses benzodiazepines isn’t as readily available so that might not be a great choice for your story.
It’s also important to note that from the article, just as in humans, a combination of drugs might be used. So, naloxone might reverse the opiate but not whatever else is in the syringe. Also, animal darts are likely loaded with more medication that would be more likely to produce toxic and dangerous effects to a human than say a bear.
I hope this answers your question and good luck with your novel!
5 thoughts on “Use of Animal Tranquilizer Guns in Humans”
In my story, i have a woman who has been shot in the back by an animal tranquilizer gun. Generally, how long would it take for the drug to take effect and knock her out?
It depends on what drugs are used in the tranquilizer gun as to how fast they would work. For instance, Ketamine injected into the muscle could take as long as five minutes to begin to work. I will say it’s never as fast as on TV which generally shows just seconds and the person is falling unconscious. In real life, it’s at least 3-5 minutes and then– depends on the drug.
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Working on an urban fantasy where someone is trying to kidnap a shapeshifter, and this answers every single question I was going to have to look up about a pivotal scene in one tidy package. Thank you so much! I will definitely be adding your blog to my regular bank of research resources … you write clearly, concisely, and cite your sources well!
I’m so glad the blog was helpful for you! Thanks for letting me know.