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Aurora City Council Approves Temporary Ketamine Ban For First Responders

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) - In a unanimous vote Monday night, Aurora City Council approved a resolution to temporarily ban first responders from administering ketamine to subdue patients during an arrest. Ketamine was the drug that paramedics used to sedate Elijah McClain on the night of Aug. 24, 2019.

Police confronted McClain as he was walking home from a convenience store. A struggle ensued and McClain was placed in a carotid hold before paramedics administered 500 mg of ketamine. McClain went into cardiac arrest twice on the way to the hospital and died days later.

Elijah McClain (credit: CBS)

The City of Aurora has launched a review of McClain's arrest and subsequent death. Included in that review will be the administration of ketamine. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will also task a committee to review the drug's use for purposes of sedation and treatment of excited delirium.

Councilman Curtis Gardner introduced the proposal to stop ketamine sedation by paramedics and said he weighed the potential risks to first responders.

curtis gardner (Facebook)
Aurora City Councilman Curtis Gardner (credit: Facebook)

"That was important to me because I didn't want to put our first responders or firefighters at a disadvantage or take a way a tool without giving them an alternative," Gardner said.

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman said in a tweet Monday night that he supports the ban.

Earlier this month, the Colorado Society of Anesthesiologists issued a statement urging CDPHE to suspend its ketamine waiver program until the state review is completed. The organization said it firmly opposes the use of ketamine or any other sedative to incapacitate someone for a law enforcement purpose and not for a legitimate medical reason.

"Our concern stems from the reported large number of uses of ketamine for this purpose in the past 2 1/2 years (more than 902 uses), reported doses that are equal or greater to that used to produce general anesthesia, and the high reported complication rate (24% in 2019 including at least one death)," stated CSA.

RELATED: Elijah McClain's Family Files Federal Lawsuit Against Aurora, Others Involved In Death

Aurora's ketamine ban is temporary. It is set to expire 30 days after a consultant releases their review of the McClain case to the city.

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