Did the NYC Firefighters dispatch center workers have a duty to help Eutisha Rennix last December 9, as she lay on the floor of a bagel shop where she worked, unable to catch her breath and in stomach pain? The two had stopped at the cafe to buy their breakfasts when her coworkers told them of the woman's physical distress. Although they were in uniform, they did nothing to help her, other than to place a call for emergency services.
Since she and her unborn child died at the hospital several hours later, everyone has an opinion.
The Rennix family attorney, said "It is outrageous that emergency medical technicians who have a duty to provide emergency services to individuals could ignore someone who is in need of such services."
Ms. Rennix co-workers at the bagel shop were shocked at the "cold-hearted" response of the two EMTs: "They had a callous disregard for that woman... It's like they felt as if they couldn't be bothered to help that woman".
The EMTs lawyer claimed his clients were being vilified by a rush to judgment, and that they did all they could for Ms. Rennix. The attorney continued "I am confident the true facts and evidence will establish my clients acted appropriately to the best of their abilities."
Union leaders said that the two workers were licensed as EMT's but did not work "in the field".
The State Health Department plans on investigating; officials there stated it "expects EMT's to adhere by their employers code of conduct."
Mayor Bloomberg called the EMT's failure to act "Unconscionable."
The Brooklyn District Attorney plans on investigating, as criminal charges [reckless endangerment; official misconduct] may be appropriately brought against the two.
Recently, following the exhumation of Ms. Rennix body for autopsy, the family attorney reacted to a preliminary report which indicated that an asthma attack claimed her life. "Had the asthma attack been addressed, would she be alive today? That's the question that needs to be answered."
In considering the elements of a viable wrongful death claim, the Rennix family attorney is correct, if Ms. Rennix was not "savable" by the giving of emergency medical services, the "duty" that the EMT's had towards her will not matter.
On the other hand, if the autopsy indicates that asthma treatment would have relieved Ms. Rennix's symptoms on December 9, and she would have lived, the nature of the duty owed her by the two EMT's will be very relevant to the wrongful death lawsuit that is certain to follow.
None of the news articles concerning the EMT matter read by the blogger indicated that Ms. Rennix was married, however, she had a three year old son, who is her "distributee". A wrongful death lawsuit for pecuniary damages, and an accompanying personal injury suit for "pain and suffering" would be brought by her "personal representative.
Given the public reaction to the story of the EMT's failure to act, one can imagine the emotional argument of the woman lying on the floor, gasping for breath...