Firefighters Suspended After Alive Woman was Pronounced Dead

A pair of Denver firefighters are reportedly facing disciplinary action after asking a doctor to declare a woman dead when she was still alive.

Lieutenant Patrick Lopez and firefighter Marshall Henry were reportedly suspended without pay for their respective roles in the June 24 incident, reported The Denver

“The serious nature of this misconduct cannot be understated — the patient was pronounced, though she was in fact alive, and the medical care she deserved was delayed,” Mary Dulacki, chief deputy executive director of the Denver Department of Public Safety, said in a disciplinary letter obtained by The Denver Post.

The Denver Department of Public Safety did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Lopez and Henry responded to the scene after a father requested a welfare check on his daughter, whom he hadn’t heard from in several days, according to a disciplinary letter from the Denver Department of Public Safety obtained.

The woman reportedly had recently undergone stomach surgery, according to the newspaper and FOX affiliate KDVR.

Neither Lopez nor Henry entered the home to assess the woman, but relied on a description from Denver police officer Eugene McComas, according to reports.

Upon arrival, McComas entered the home and found the woman with discolored skin and leaking fluids, per the reports. It was also alleged that the officer believed it smelled like the body was decomposing.

According to a statement from Lopez, he claimed that the officer said there was no need to enter the building as the woman was “obviously dead,” reported KDVR. The Denver Post reported that McComas has denied telling firefighters not to enter the building

After McComas relayed his findings to Lopez, the lieutenant called the on-call emergency department physician at Denver Health Medical Center for a pronouncement of death, according to the reports.

Henry ultimately took over the call, according to the letter obtained by The Denver Post. When asked if there were any signs of trauma or if she had a pulse, although he had not assessed her himself, Henry said there was not, the newspaper reported.

The firefighter claimed the woman was “in an advanced state of death,” according to KUSA. The doctor then made a pronouncement of death.

Afterwards, Fire and EMS crews left the scene, per the reports. However, upon re-entering the home, McComas saw the woman moving and asked crews to return.

The woman was then transported to a local hospital, and ultimately survived, the outlets reported.

That same day, Henry informed his district chief and an EMS educator of the incident, KUSA reported. Lopez informed his supervisor afterward.

Henry has been issued a 240-hour unpaid suspension in addition to having his emergency medical technician certification suspended, according to the reports. Lopez has been issued a 336-hour unpaid suspension and has been demoted.

Lopez apologized for the incident while speaking with investigators.

Original Article

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