Aurora Fire Rescue will not renew ketamine waiver with the state

Problem Solvers

AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — The medical director for Aurora Fire Rescue will not attempt to renew his ketamine waiver, which allows Aurora paramedics to sedate agitated patients in a pre-hospital setting, when his current waiver expires in June.

“The medical direction team based their decision primarily on the fact that the state review of the waiver program is still ongoing,” said Sherri-Jo Stowell, a spokesperson for the department.

As the FOX31 Problem Solvers have extensively reported, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced last summer that it would review the state’s ketamine program with a diverse group of experts after many people raised concerns following the death of Elijah McClain and our reporting on another incident involving a man named Elijah McKnight.

That process, however, stalled multiple times and did not officially get underway until this year. CDPHE also opted to make the process a private investigation, despite many public questions and concerns about it.

Peter Myers, a spokesperson for the health department, confirmed to the Problem Solvers in March that a review board had been established, but he would not reveal who was selected for the board or what professions or areas of expertise the board members represented.

“As previously mentioned, information on the investigation will be released at the conclusion of the investigation,” he said.

Stowell said Aurora Fire Rescue would re-evaluate its plans after receiving the state’s findings.

“Any reimplementation of the waivered medication in the future would take into consideration any training modifications, protocol changes and findings from the CDPHE review,” said Stowell.  “Aurora Fire Rescue aspires to provide professional, high quality emergency medical care to our community members and the medical direction team is confident that this approach will assist in meeting this mission.”

During a presentation to the Public Safety, Courts, and Civil Service Policy Committee on Thursday, Aurora Fire Rescue Leaders laid out a timeline for changes at the fire department after it received recommendations from a City-hired consultant who reviewed the fire department’s response to the McClain case.

The department has plans for additional training to improve the manner in which a suspect who is in police custody is transferred to a medic’s care. 

Leaders also said they had conducted recent research on other ways to improve the quality of their services to patients. While they did not commit to any future purchases, they looked into body cameras and glasses as well as a technology that would allow crews to roll a stretcher onto a mat that provides a patient’s estimated weight.

Wednesday, a ketamine-related bill, proposed by Rep. Leslie Herod and Rep. Yadira Caraveo, will be discussed in the House Judiciary Committee.

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