On Sunday night, CBSN Denver was live when paramedics maneuvered through crowds to get to the parking lot of Argonaut Liquor on Colfax. There, they helped guide a protester, who suffered a head wound, to an ambulance and transported him away from the scene.
Between Thursday and Sunday, Denver Health Paramedics treated 54 people on scene at protests and took another 57 to the hospital. That includes three Denver police officers and a civilian, who were hit by a driver Saturday night.
Throughout each night of protesting, the first repsonders wore ballistic vests and helmets, as well as gas masks, to reduce the risk of injury.
Planning included strategically placing ambulances and resources near protest areas, Denver Health said. Supervisors also traveled with each paramedic crew.
“It’s certainly stressful,” said Lt. Jake McCaig, a supervisor with the Denver Health Paramedic Division. “I’m super proud of all of my folks that I work for. They don’t hesitate. They go out there and work for people who are demonstrating, different public safety partners, police department, fire department.”
Still, there were challenges for paramedics, including maneuvering crowds that were blocking the roads, COVID-19 transmission concerns, and violence. Denver Health reports several ambulances and vehicles were attacked and damaged during the protests.
“Most of the folks who are out there exercising their rights were very happy to see us there,” McCaig said. “Unfortunately, as we’ve seen over the last few nights, that sentiment seems to change a little bit as the night goes on.”
No matter the situation, McCaig said the mission and level of care remained the same.
“We are there for them, we are supportive of their first amendment rights and we stand by them in that sense and want to be there to help them,” He said.
According to Denver Health, all paramedics and EMTs have been specially trained to enter volatile and dangerous situations for rapid care and extrication.