Update: 12/21/09 - 12:39 pm: Eutisha Rennix mother blasts the EMT Service for not helping her daughter.
"People were calling out saying, 'She's turning blue! She's pregnant!' " said one of the witnesses. "I remember them saying they couldn't do anything because they were on their break," another worker said. "We started screaming and cursing at them."
The woman eventually started foaming at the nose and mouth.
Eventually, 911 was called and the ambulance arrived. By that time, it was too late to save Rennix. She was pronounced dead at 10:17 that morning. She had a 3-year-old son.
The Fire department, which runs the city's Emergency Medical Service, says it's going to investigate the incident. Also, the two EMTs who chose to do nothing have been put on paid but restricted duty and are not allowed to provide patient care.
What makes the case of Eutisha Rennix so sad is that the Fire department was right near the location of her death. Even sadder is the fact that the EMT dispatch center is in the same building. We can all agree that this never should have happened.
There are questions that need to be answered in order to get to the bottom of this. A young woman is dead, and according to family members, her 3-year old son has been asking for his mommy since she passed. Was this a bad judgment on the part of two individuals or some kind of company policy? While the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, has publicly reprimanded the actions of these two workers, I'd like to know for sure if they were not reacting to some kind of city policy that doesn't insure them in the event that they help someone when they are not on the job. If they'd tried to help Rennix and then she died, would they somehow be personally liable if anything went wrong? Are there any rules on the books stating that they shouldn't help anyone when they are on break, instead referring them to 911 emergency services?
If it is indeed the case that the EMTs were simply being neglectful, this leaves a horrible stain on the New York Fire Department, as well as other EMTs in the city. Eutisha is never coming back, all because they EMTs wanted to hurry up and eat their bagels. Based on what I've seen so far, I am personally disgusted.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.