Two Denver firefighter are facing lengthy suspensions for their roles in a botched death pronouncement of a woman who was still alive. The incident occurred on June 24, 2022, when Lieutenant Patrick Lopez and FF Marshal Henry responded with police on a welfare check.
The details of what occurred differ between the firefighters and police, but the 57-year old woman reportedly smelled of decomposition, had lividity, and was leaking fluids. The firefighters did not assess the woman for breathing or a pulse, and instead contacted medical control for a death pronouncement. They assured the med control physician they had personally checked the patient despite not having done so, and med control made the pronouncement.
Later a police officer went back into the residence and observed the woman moving. At that point, firefighters returned to the scene and she was transported to the hospital.
A lengthy investigation followed, resulting in Lopez being demoted to firefighter and suspended without pay for 336 hours (14-shifts). He is also prohibited from being promoted for 5 years, and faces termination for any further infractions. Henry was suspended without pay for 240 hours (10 shifts).
The Tri-City Herald quoted from a fire department email from Captain J.D. Chism to media outlets stating:
- The Denver Fire Department took immediate action to address this incident and ensure the patient was transported and admitted to the hospital.
- Following a thorough review subject to DFD’s discipline process, those involved were appropriately disciplined.