DENVER — Denver Health Medical Center paramedics respond to nearly 120,000 calls each year, taking more than 80,000 patients to the hospital. Fifteen of them received awards for their heroic actions at the annual Denver Health Paramedics Award Ceremony on Thursday.
Cpt. Julie Arellano and Lt. Tim Brown have seen a lot in their combined 24 years as Denver Health paramedics, but Jan. 27 was a harrowing ordeal. They responded to an incident in which two Denver police officers were shot.
“It was pretty scary, pretty loud. We just wanted to get these guys out and take care of them. Seeing Rich (Jamarillo) get hit and knowing they were both shot, just really tears at your heart… almost unbelievable in the moment,” Arellano said.
“It’s pretty intense, there’s a lot happening. For us, you develop a certain amount of task focus. For both Julie and I, there’s enough routine in what we do,” Brown said.
Even as the gunfire continued, Arellano and Brown didn’t hesitate going in to help officers Richard Jaramillo and Steve Gameroz.
“Being in that moment with the injuries that I had, my life was in their hands and I completely trusted them. Their training, their tactics, their courage was outstanding. Easily one of the reasons we are still here,” Gameroz said.
The paramedics say their training kicked in and they focused on the task at hand, getting the officers out of the area and to the hospital. Both say they do not consider themselves heroes.
But Jaramillo disagrees.
“They are heroes. These paramedics are armed with nothing but steel resolve and they’re running towards me to help me out. There’s not enough words. Here I am with a bulletproof vest, three guns on me and I get hurt. Then I see a paramedic run toward me in the middle of a gunfight and I say to myself, ‘That person’s made of steel.’ I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them and the professionalism they showed me and giving me the right mindset to survive the encounter,” Jaramillo said.
Arellano and Brown received the Medal of Valor for their heroic actions.
“So one of the most humbling things for us is how routinely these guys go into situations like that and they do everything they can to keep us out of these type of situations,” Brown said.
Among the others who received awards: 13-year-old Felix Martinez. He saved his 2-year-old brother’s life. The toddler was about to run into a street with a car coming. Felix was able to grab his brother just in the nick of time. His leg slipped under the car and he broke his leg.
Felix received the Legion of Merit Award.
“I should be proud of myself for what I did. I didn’t hesitate when I went to get him,” he said.
His father, Josh Martinez, agrees.
“I’m just super proud of him. It’s a real surprise he did it. He didn’t think. It’s nice to know he has that in him,” Josh said.
Felix said after meeting all these first responders, he wants to become a paramedic when he grows up.