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Aurora Fire Rescue union on new sedative: 'They are trying to push this on us'

Aurora Fire Rescue union resists move to new sedative
Aurora Fire Rescue union resists move to new sedative 02:42

Aurora firefighters are resisting an administrative move to have them carry a new sedative, Droperidol, for use on combative patients.

"They are trying to push this on us and rush it," said Travis Pulliam, a firefighter/paramedic with Aurora Fire Rescue who is also president of the Aurora firefighter's union, that represents roughly 400 firefighters.

Two Aurora city council members, Curtis Gardner and Danielle Jurinsky, are introducing a measure Monday night to place a three-year moratorium on having firefighters use Droperidol or any other new sedative.

"They don't want to inject people with this," said Jurinsky, "It goes wrong one time and they could be facing murder charges."


The flap stems from the 2019 death of Elijah McClain. After Aurora police officers stopped him, McClain was eventually injected with the sedative Ketamine, which Aurora firefighters were using at the time. McClain later died and some medical professionals believe the large dose of Ketamine caused his death. Aurora fire eventually stopped stocking and using ketamine.

Last month, Dr. Eric Hill, the medical director overseeing Aurora Fire Rescue, told city council members ketamine would be replaced by another chemical sedative, Droperidol. 

"When you cannot manage (patients) any other way, that's what those medications are for. This is a widely used medication," said Hill, "across the state of Colorado, every Denver metro agency uses this."

But following the death of McClain, three police officers and two Aurora firefighter/paramedics were criminally charged, leading Pulliam and some politicians to suggest a moratorium on implementing the use of Droperidol.

"We were told that Ketamine was safe and two of our guys that followed policies are now pending trial," said Pulliam. "Let's just pump the brakes, let's get through the trial, let's see how things go. It feels like they are trying to push this on us and rush it."

He pointed out that Aurora firefighter/paramedics continue to carry another sedative, Versed, which he said they have carried for years with no problems.

"And the firefighters are pushing back," said Jurinsky. "They are worried. They want to see the outcome of the Elijah McClain trials."

Also pushing back, the Colorado Medical Society released a position paper on Sept. 16, supporting the use of the new sedative: "We oppose legislation where the practice of medicine is dictated by non-medical entities, as this can result in unsafe practice and dangers to our patients. The ability of medical providers to have access to a wide array of medications and treatments is important for safe, patient-centered care."

The group said it was concerned prohibiting the use of specified medications "will lead to patient harm."

Jurinsky told CBS News Colorado that if the moratorium proposal eventually gets to a vote by the city council, she expressed confidence it would pass.

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