Aurora, CO

Aurora considers moratorium on sedatives

David Heitz

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By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Aurora, Colo.) The Aurora City Council will discuss Monday a moratorium proposed by councilmembers Curtis Gardner and Danielle Jurinsky on using sedatives on agitated people.

The proposed moratorium would be for three years, but a loophole allows the council to cancel it at any time. The moratorium presumably would affect Aurora Fire Rescue’s use of Droperidol. The moratorium would include any sedative not in use before 2022.

“During the three-year moratorium, City Council will actively monitor the issue of the administration of any chemical sedatives by Aurora Fire Rescue personnel through dialogue with all involved parties,” according to a memo from city staff to the council. “City Council reserves the right to modify this resolution at any time.”

Elijah McClain died after ketamine given

Aurora Police Department is operating under a consent decree after the death of Elijah McClain. Medics administered ketamine to McClain before he died. It is not clear whether council action such as this would require approval from the consent decree monitor.

“Aurora City Council recognizes concerns about administering any new sedatives during the pendency of criminal charges against two Aurora Fire Rescue paramedics related to the death of Elijah McClain in 2019,” states the proposed resolution in support of the moratorium. “The use of sedatives by paramedics and emergency medical technicians in the treatment of patients continues to be the subject of scrutiny.”

Droperidol replacing Ketamine

Instead of using Ketamine, the department has moved ahead with using Droperidol. According to the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, many Aurora medics oppose the use of Droperidol. “(Union President Travis) Pulliam fears paramedics will be placed in a no-win situation: Punishment for withholding medication if they don’t use Droperidol or punishment if they do use it and a patient suffers an injury or death,” the journal reports. “Droperidol is not a new drug. Originally licensed in the 1970s, the drug lost favor after regulators warned that it can increase the risk of cardiac events.”

The council can decide at its study session Monday whether to move the moratorium on sedatives to a regular council meeting for a formal vote.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

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