I work with paramedics on a daily basis and I can tell you they are good and caring people. I have seen them do things that go way beyond their call of duty. Knowing these men and women makes this story even harder to digest.
It is a story that I have been following for almost a month off and on. The incident happened on December 9th. Sorry, the article is a little long but when I attempted to cut it, some of the impact of the event was lost.
Asthma Blamed in Death of Pregnant Woman Allegedly Ignored by EMTs
Although that tentative finding still leaves open the question of whether the EMTs could have saved 25-year-old coffee shop worker Eutisha Rennix — and her unborn baby — there was no doubt about the answer for Rennix's mom.
"They should have helped her," said Cynthia Rennix after the autopsy at the Medical Examiner's Office in Brooklyn. "She would have been here today.
"This should never happen to another family again, because my family is destroyed right now," said the heartbroken mom outside the ME's office, where she was accompanied by relatives, including her daughter's 3-year-old son. "It makes me very angry."
Cynthia said the EMTs, Jason Green and Melisa Jackson, "could have given her the care that she needed to help her."
The autopsy was attended by former city medical examiner Michael Baden, who observed the procedure for the family.
The family's lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, said: "Preliminarily, it appears the cause of death was simply an asthma."
"Had the asthma attack been addressed by the EMTs, would she have died? That's the question that has to be answered," Rubenstein said. "If there is criminal culpability, the EMTs should be held accountable."
City authorities have said that the emergency workers had a duty to check on Rennix.
Baden said an autopsy that was performed yesterday on Rennix's daughter showed the baby died as a result of oxygen deprivation. She was delivered some time after Rennix died.
Rennix collapsed Dec. 9 in a back room of the Au Bon Pain at MetroTech Center in Downtown Brooklyn, where she worked. The coffee shop is a favorite of firefighters and emergency medical technicians who work upstairs at the FDNY's offices.
Shop workers said Green and Jackson blew off repeated pleas to check on Rennix themselves, saying, "We're on our break, so there's nothing we can do," as they waited for their orders of Asiago cheese bagels.
Jackson eventually called one of her fellow emergency dispatchers upstairs to notify them that a woman was having "difficulty breathing," but she and her boyfriend Green left with their bagels before an ambulance arrived — and without even looking at Rennix.
Rennix died hours later in a hospital, as did her baby.
Jackson and Green — who have been suspended by the Fire Department without pay — now are targets of a criminal investigation by the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office.
The EMTs' lawyer, Douglas Rosenthal, yesterday said, "It's premature to comment at this point."
This is disgusting. I can tell you that in health care we don't go on break. From the moment I drive onto the campus at work until the moment I am on the road home, I am an RN on duty. I may not be punched in, I might even be there for a meeting and off for the day. Either way, I would stop and help someone in distress. Even beyond that I will stop at the scene of an accident to assist as most of my colleagues would. We have the ability, we need to use it.
Our lunch break is taken in the department so that we can be called off at any time. It doesn't happen often and when I was a charge nurse I did it as a last resort but it is a part of the job.
As most of you know I work in an Emergency Room and we go from slow to crazy immediately. In good conscience none of us would sit and eat while a patient is in severe distress. There have been plenty of times when I have worked 12 hours without a break or lunch was at my workstation in between tasks.
I'm not whining, I love my job and accept the downsides. Reality is that we entered the health care field to help people, these two let this woman down.
The saddest part is that if she had an asthma attack, there is a good chance that mother and baby would still be alive if they had intervened early and treated her.
Quite frankly I hope they go to jail.