DENVER – After the deadly shooting of an Adams County deputy this week, many viewers wondered why first responders rushed the deputy to Denver Health instead of a closer hospital, North Suburban Medical Center.

It’s a difference of roughly 15 minutes by car if you trust Google Maps.

The answer: Denver Health is a level one trauma center, equipped to handle the most severe injuries, especially dangerous gunshot wounds.

Both level one and level two trauma centers have surgeons ready at all times and they have blood supplies built to serve and stabilize critical patients.

The only real difference between a level one and a level two center is level one centers do more research and are often teaching hospitals, according to Randy Kuykendall, division director for the Health Facilities and Emergency Medical Services Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.

Under state law, first responders in the metro area have established a protocol for where to take patients with certain injuries.

“If these certain conditions exist then the patient has to go to this level of trauma center,” Kuykendall explained.

The most severe must go to level one or level two centers.

In the case of Deputy Heath Gumm, the closest level one or level two center was Denver Health.

There are three adult level one trauma centers in the state of Colorado and all are in the Denver Metro area: Denver Health, St. Anthony Hospital and Swedish Medical Center. Children’s Hospital Colorado is a level one pediatric trauma center.

There are five level two trauma centers in the Denver metro area: Littleton Adventist, Medical Center of Aurora, Parker Adventist, Sky Ridge Medical Center and the University of Colorado Hospital.

There are plenty of other level two centers near the metro area including Good Samaritan in Lafayette, Boulder Community Hospital, North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley and Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland.