Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

November 14, 2011

Denver Police Deny Medics Access to Unconscious Patient

Photo CBS Denver Nov. 12, 2011

Denver Police Dept. Denies Medics Access to Unconscious, Unresponsive Patient

Press Release
For Immediate Release
November 13, 2011

Contact: Colorado Street Medics, 303-570-9362

November 12, 2011: After riot police stormed Civic Center Park and chased protesters to other locations, one demonstrator was observed being struck by officers and falling motionless on the traffic median dividing Colfax at Broadway.

Colorado Street Medics immediately attempted to access this patient to assess and provide first aid. SWAT officers refused to allow the medics access to this patient. The officer commanding the line refused to acknowledge medics when they attempted to explain concerns for the unconscious, unresponsive patient.

Police allowed an untrained bystander access to the patient, but refused to allow medics from Colorado Street Medics to access the patient. Officers threatened Colorado Street Medic volunteers with arrest if they attempted to approach the patient. When asked for their name and badge number, the officers refused to provide this information stating, “We don’t have to. That is not the law.”

Colorado Street Medic volunteers attempted to explain concern for serious bodily injuries as the patient lay on the traffic median unconscious and non-reactive to heavy traffic, bystanders and sirens around them. When SWAT officers pushed the medics away, Denver Paramedics had not yet arrived to treat the patient.

Colorado Street Medics are a volunteer first aid and community health organization that serves social movements. They have worked in the City of Denver and have had successful arrangements with Denver Paramedics, Denver Police Department and other state agencies in past events such as the Democratic National Convention in 2008 that improved patient care, handoffs and outcomes.

Across the board, research indicates that immediate intervention greatly improves patient outcomes and reduces mortality. Street Medics could have provided support for this individual’s airway, breathing and immobilizing his spine among other things while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

Colorado Street Medics condemn this blatant disregard for the wellbeing of an individual with potentially life-threatening injuries. Furthermore, Colorado Street Medics demand that officers be held accountable for both their excessive force and disregard to policy requiring them to provide identifying information to the public.

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