Aurora mayor calls on fire department paramedics to suspend use of ketamine

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman is calling on the city’s fire department to suspend its use of the controversial drug ketamine. The drug, used to sedate agitated patients, came under scrutiny after it was used on Elijah McClain before he died.

Coffman’s comments come days before the Aurora City Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution that if passed, would suspend medical crews in the city from sedating patients with ketamine.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced last month it would launch an investigation into the use of ketamine. The City of Aurora also hired an independent medical expert to review department protocols and how the drug was used on McClain. 

“To use it right now when there are two independent investigations going on, I think would not be appropriate,” said Coffman.

Coffman posted on social media Thursday calling ketamine a “powerful sedative,” and saying Aurora Fire Rescue paramedics should suspend using it until the investigations are complete and ketamine is deemed safe for further use.

The post received backlash from users who identify as paramedics or medical professionals. Some argued that ketamine is a safe drug for patients with severe agitation and not allowing it would take away a valuable safety tool.

Dr. Eric Hill, the medical director for Aurora Fire Rescue said in the past ketamine is a widely used medication with a good safety profile. 

“I know that there is a cost of doing this by virtue of the fact that this tool will not be utilized during a limited period of time. But I do think it’s important to wait,” said Coffman. “It may be that we have to curtail some of the circumstances in which we do deploy this particular drug. I just want to know that information before we go forward.”

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