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Denver Health to change policy, allow firefighters to administer IVs

Change announced hours prior Denver7 Investigates story airs
IV 1.jpg
Denver Fire Chief
Posted at 9:45 PM, Jun 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-13 13:10:57-04

DENVER — Denver firefighters will soon be able to administer IVs to patients in need of urgent medical care.

This change in policy comes after the talks between Denver Fire and Denver Health to expand Denver Fire paramedics’ capabilities had stalled out roughly three years ago.

In the City of Denver’s current contract with Denver Health, firefighters cannot provide advanced care during emergencies, including administering IVs.

In an internal memo obtained by Denver7, Denver Health Medical Director Kevin McVaney said he was working with Denver Fire to maximize the care they provide to Denver EMS patients.

The memo was sent last month, hours before Denver7 Investigates aired a story that stated talks had stalled out in 2019. In that story, emails between Denver Fire Captain Jeff Linville and McVaney showcased frustration on Linville’s part as efforts were not moving forward at the time.

Click on the image below to enlarge the memo.

McVaney Memo.jpg

Denver7 Investigates also spoke to multiple firefighters who were upset that Denver firefighters could not provide advanced care on calls.

“I don’t think there’s a logical reason, personally,” Denver Fire Chief Desmond Fulton told Denver7 Investigates regarding why firefighters could not administer IVs.

Another firefighter, who spoke to Denver7 with their identity disguised, said they felt Denver Health was blocking firefighters from helping save lives.

“When you have the knowledge and capacity to do something and you are not allowed to do something, that’s frustrating," the person said.

Two months prior to sending the memo, McVaney told members of Denver City Council that “IVs rarely save lives” when explaining why Denver Fire was not permitted to start IVs.

Former Denver firefighter Kevin Apuron said he felt residents needed a better explanation regarding IVs.

“If I lived in Denver, I sure as hell would want to know,” he said. “I would want to know why — why were they not allowing this.”

In his memo, McVaney stated that the changes have not yet been implemented and that staff is working through protocols.

“Denver Health is continuing to have discussions with our public safety partners as we all work to improve the care for our community,” the memo read.

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Denver Fire’s Linville also sent a note to firefighters announcing the policy change shortly after McVaney’s memo went out.

“The Denver Fire Department is pleased to announce plans to increase and enhance emergency medical care provided by Denver Firefighters and EMTs by training our members to become IV certified,” the note read.

Denver Health declined interview requests regarding the change of policy with a spokesperson, commenting that there is a lack of trust with Denver7 Investigates that the interview would be fair and objective.

Denver7 has spent roughly a year reporting on questions surrounding the culture and performance of Denver Health’s paramedic division.

A statement from the spokesperson read: “Denver Health is working with our partners in Denver’s Emergency Medical Response System (EMRS) to improve the Basic Life Support (BLS) services that Denver Fire can use to serve our community. The changes include IVs and respiratory support skills for critical patients. Providing the very best care and emergency response for the people of Denver will always be a top priority.”