Colo. Mom Collapsed Trying to Save Her Kids

DENVER --

A mother says she collapsed inside her burning home trying to rescue her children.

Patricia Garcia is talking publicly for the first time about the fire on Eliot Street in Denver in September.

Garcia and her two children were critically injured that night. You may remember their story because firefighters pulled the three from the burning home, revived them on the front lawn, but then the family waited 17 minutes for ambulances to arrive. Despite critical injuries, all three survived.

September 25

Garcia says when her husband woke up, their home was already engulfed in flames. Garcia says she ran to get her children, but collapsed.

"I want to remember. I was in front of their room and I could feel my son's hand holding mine, but I don't know if it happened or not," says Garcia. "I think that's what hurts worst, I couldn't get them out."

Garcia's daughter, 15-year-old Diana, says when she woke up in her bed, she saw flames shooting out of the closet.

"I remember I was crying, I was scared," Diana said.

Diana told 7NEWS she ran back to the bed, grabbed her little brother and headed for the door, but when she took a breath, she dropped her brother and she doesn't remember anything else.

7-year-old Juan suffered the worst burns. Juan was on breathing and feeding tubes for days. He still wears a special shirt to protect his wounds.

"I didn't think I would ever be able to walk or run or play with my friends," Juan said.

Patricia says if it wasn't for the firefighters that pulled them out of the burning home, they would all be dead.

"I love them and I am really lucky to have them," said Patricia.

Patricia's husband was not hurt. Fire investigators said the fire was started by an unattended candle.

The family does not have insurance and is not even sure where to start to rebuild their home. They are also in need of therapy. Patricia said the mental anguish is the worst and thinks counseling will help, but has no way to pay for it.

The family is staying with family until they get back on their feet.

Ambulance Policy

When the Eliot Street fire happened, a paramedic supervisor was on scene within seven minutes. But after firefighters pulled the family out, they had to wait for ambulances to arrive.

After 7NEWS started asking questions about why it took 17 minutes for an ambulance to arrive at the scene of the Eliot Street fire, Denver Health changed its policy.

Denver Health had a standing policy not to dispatch an ambulance to all structure fires, just a paramedic lieutenant who would assess the situation and then request an ambulance.

But three days after the fire, Denver Health said, "Effective immediately, both a paramedic lieutenant and an ambulance will be dispatched to all structure fires reported to Denver Paramedics. The response time in this case was too long."

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