The mother of a pregnant Black woman who died after collapsing at a New York eatery called emergency workers are “inhuman” for refusing to come to her aid during their “coffee break.”
Cynthia Rennix, the mother of 25-year-old Eutisha Rennix, joined the chorus of angry New Yorkers, including Mayor Mike Bloomberg and state health officials, who described the circumstances as a callous disregard for human life.
"You are very inhuman; you don't need to have a job like you do," Cynthia Rennix said Wednesday.
According to witnesses, the two EMTs were ordering their lunch at the Au Bon Pain restaurant in Brooklyn on Dec. 9 when they were told that Rennix, an employee there and the mother of a 3-year-old son, had collapsed. Rennix, an asthma-sufferer, was six months pregnant with a girl.
The EMTs, Jason Green and Melissa Jackson, ignored the plea to help Rennix, took their lunch and left, according to witnesses, who said the duo told them to call 911.
Rennix and her too-premature baby died at a hospital shortly afterward.
On Tuesday, Green and Jackson were suspended without pay, and the Brooklyn district attorney has opened a criminal investigation into the case. The city fire department, which oversees EMTs, and New York state health officials, are also investigating.
However, Douglas Rosenthal, a lawyer representing the EMTs warned the public against a "rush to judgment," saying that the full facts will reveal that his clients had acted "appropriately to the best of their abilities."
Green, a 6-year veteran, and Jackson, a 4-year veteran, are emergency dispatchers, which requires them to be fully trained EMTs, according to a representative of the EMTs' union. “All dispatchers are required to be field-trained EMTs or paramedics in order to be more effective at their jobs, and are capable of getting involved in emergency situations,” The Associated Press reports, citing the representative.
"All of our members are qualified to make that initial assessment and in some cases, start medical care," said Robert Ungar, spokesman for the Uniformed EMTS and Paramedics, FDNY. "Being dispatchers is not a defense" for inaction, he said.
The New York Department of Health oversees the EMT certification program, which requires completion of a 120-hour course and 10 hours of clinical time. Candidates must also pass an exam and undergo periodic recertification.
"The charges are appalling, and the department is vigorously investigating both EMTs," department spokesman Jeffrey Hammond told AP.
Cynthia Rennix said she is not sure whether she will take any legal action, according to AP.