How a TASER® CEW Works
How does a TASER CEW Work?
First, let’s start with the basics:
Electricity is a flow of energy, or more specifically a flow of electric charge within a conductor. That conductor can be a copper wire, or it can be the human body. Much like water flows through a pipe, electrons flow through a wire. When we measure electricity, there are two key measures – Voltage, measured in Volts, and Current, measured in Amperes.
Voltage, which is also called Electro-Motive Force, is similar to the pressure in a water hose. The voltage provides the “pressure” to push an electric current through the wire.
Current is the measure of the actual flow of electricity – how many electrons are actually flowing through the wire.
In our analogy to flowing water, voltage is like pressure, measured in pounds per square inch. Current is the flow rate, similar to gallons per second in our water analogy.
By way of analogy, let’s compare a waterfall to rainfall. The pressure or voltage behind each droplet of water in the waterfall is actually a lot less than for each rain drop – because the rain drop is falling from a much greater height. So, the “voltage” of this waterfall is much less than for rain. However, the rate of flow or "current" for the waterfall is much, much higher than for the rain, which falls in small droplets separated in space and time compared to the continuous flow of the waterfall. Standing under the waterfall would certainly be a very dangerous place to be – much more so than in the rain. Similarly, being exposed to a high current electrical current – like the one out of your wall outlet, can be very dangerous, even at moderate voltages like 110 volts. Exposure to high voltage, low current shocks – such as a static discharge on a dry day, is far less dangerous. Static shocks regularly exceed 30,000 volts, yet they deliver very low amounts of electric charge, and there has never been a reported injury directly from the effects of a static shock, although there have been some secondary injuries from people who were surprised and may have fallen, etc.
When we think about electricity, the first term to come to mind is usually “volts.” This is because our electric power grid is a fixed voltage system, and is rated in volts.
However, when we talk about electric safety, the current in amperes is much more critical than voltage. For example, a TASER CEW has about a tenth of the peak current of a static shock.
So, if voltage is not the key factor in making an electrical stimulation effective, why does the TASER CEW have a high peak voltage?
The rainfall analogy is a very good one for a TASER CEW discharge. The drops of rain are separated by time and space such that the actual "current" or flow of water down from the sky is quite small.
Jamming the nervous system
So, this naturally begs the question – if the TASER CEW output current is so low, how can it be effective in stopping a violent subject?
The answer is because the TASER CEW current does not rely on brute force, or on sheer power. Instead, the TASER CEW pulsed output is really an elegant approach to incapacitating violent persons. The TASER CEW pulses mimic the electrical signals used within the human body to communicate between the brain and the muscles. The TASER CEW simulates the pulsed communications used within the nerves, and interferes with communication – like static on the telephone lines within the body.
Sometimes people will ask “Isn’t electricity dangerous?” The answer is – well yes, it can be. But electricity is actually necessary for life – we literally cannot live without it.
Electrical pulses control every thought we have, every breath we take, every sensation we feel, every sight we see, every sound we hear – every complex life process depends on these electrical signals within our bodies that occur billions of times every second.
The brain is like an incredibly complex conductor, leading a string section of incomprehensible complexity. As the brain uses electrical “pings” to stimulate the nerves in a complex and highly coordinated fashion, consciousness emerges and neuromuscular control becomes possible.
The probes deployed from a TASER CEW carry fine wires that connect to the target and deliver the TASER into his neural network. These pulses delivered by the TASER CEW overwhelm the normal nerve traffic, causing involuntary muscle contractions and impairment of motor skills.