Aurora Fire Rescue will now review all cases involving sedative use

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — The Aurora Fire Rescue Medical Direction Team will now automatically review cases in which drugs are administered to patients for the purpose of calming them and when physical restraints are used.

“Reviewing these additional incidents ensures the highest level of scrutiny when it comes to caring for patients who exhibit combative and/or agitated behavior,” said Sherri-Jo Stowell, a spokesperson for the agency.

Stowell said the new policy was implemented at the start of 2021, while Aurora medics continue to use alternative medication instead of the sedative, ketamine. 

The Aurora City Council voted unanimously in September to halt the use of that drug while it continues to be reviewed by independent consultants examining the death of Elijah McClain.

McClain died in August 2019, days after a rough altercation with police in which the carotid hold was used and after receiving a 500 mg dose of ketamine. The City of Aurora hired a trio of independent experts to review the actions of the police and fire department, including the paramedics’ use of ketamine to sedate McClain. Those experts are expected to present their findings to the city on Feb. 22.

“The ketamine moratorium remains in place, and that medication is no longer on our units,” said Stowell. “Our paramedics understand that they are to contact medical control if they encounter a situation that is unique or challenging when treating a patient. Typically this means a call to an Emergency Department physician where the patient is being transported.”

“Aurora Fire Rescue leans on the Medical Director and Medical Direction Team to make decisions about medical protocols and any changes to those protocols. There have been discussions here about how body worn camera footage could be included in future initial EMS case review by the Aurora Fire Rescue Medical Direction Team. Right now, it is uncommon for Medical Directors or EMS agencies in Colorado to be routinely given body worn camera footage to review,” said Stowell.

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