Denver Ambulance Response Policy May Change

7NEWS Investigation Questions Slow Response Times

Two days after a badly injured mother and her two children are pulled from a Denver house fire, Denver Health admits its ambulance response time was too slow.

This comes after 7NEWS reporter Dayle Cedars uncovered it took about 17 minutes for the first ambulance to arrive.

"An ambulance taking 17 minutes to get there is too long," said Scott Bookman, Denver Health chief paramedic.

Bookman said it's under investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and to see if policies need to be changed. During an interview Thursday he gave some possible issues that could have caused the delay.

"They were coming from too far away. Or they were dropping a patient off at the hospital and had to get out of the hospital and turn around. Or it could've been a busy time in the system and therefore the other ambulances were on calls."

According to records obtained by 7NEWS, the first ambulance dispatched to the fire was sent from near Sheridan Boulevard and Hampden Road. The house fire was at 455 South Elliot Street. At almost the same time, audio recordings indicate the Denver Health dispatcher sent an ambulance to 6th and Federal to wait for a call. That was before any ambulance every arrived at the house fire. That ambulance was then sent to the house fire about five minutes later, but cancelled according to documents because another ambulance was closer. About seven minutes later that same ambulance was dispatched back to the fire.

While it took 17 minutes for an ambulance to arrive, Bookman said a paramedic supervisor was on scene within seven minutes.

Thursday, Cedars spoke to several fire fighters who were outraged they pulled three people from a burning home, revived them, only to have to wait for ambulances to arrive. Sources said it is not uncommon to wait for an ambulance because of policies at Denver Health.

Patricia Garcia and her children, Diana and Juan, are in critical condition. All three have severe damage to their lungs and are on breathing tubes.

Bookman said Denver Health has dispatched supervisors to house fires, instead of ambulances for several years.

"We believe, and our partners believe, that this is the right response," said Bookman. "But now we need to go back and look at it and make sure that we are doing the right thing for everybody."

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