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New York probes report EMTs ignored woman who died

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Fire department says the two are dispatchers but have EMT training
  • Eutisha Rennix collapsed while working at a Brooklyn cafe, later died at hospital
  • Her co-workers reportedly say two EMTs in the cafe refused to help, told them to call 911
  • The EMTs are suspended without pay while city investigates the reports
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New York (CNN) -- Officials are investigating reports that two fire department dispatchers trained in emergency medical care refused to help a pregnant worker who collapsed in a cafe they were visiting. The woman later died.

Eutisha Rennix collapsed while working at an Au Bon Pain restaurant in Brooklyn on December 9 and died at Long Island College Hospital, according to the district attorney's office for Brooklyn, which is looking into the incident. A spokesman for the office said Rennix was pregnant.

The district attorney's office identified the two dispatchers as Jason Green and Melissa Jackson.

The New York Fire Department has suspended them without pay pending a department investigation, spokesman Frank Dwyer said.

Although the two worked as dispatchers, they had been trained as emergency medical technicians, said Steve Ritea, another department spokesman. Emergency medical technicians receive several weeks of training in medical care, he said

Rennix's co-workers said Green and Jackson were in the cafe at the time Rennix collapsed, but left after telling her co-workers to call 911, local media outlets reported.

Rennix's mother, Cynthia, said she was told that her daughter's co-workers tried to get the two to help, but they refused, according to CNN affiliate NY1.

"If they were really caring and concerned, they would have taken a minute to see and probably, possibility, something to do or some way the could help her," Rennix said.

But Jeff Samerson, a spokesman for the EMT and paramedics union that represents Green and Jackson, told NY1 that Jackson herself called 911.

"These are people that are not in the field, that have not had patient contact in years. ... And they did the best they could," Samerson said.

The fire department, however, issued a statement saying, "All of our members have taken an oath to assist others in need of emergency medical care."

Cynthia Rennix told CNN that she feels the EMTs were "heartless" and "non-caring" and hopes that her daughter's tragedy will prompt the city of New York to implement some sort of training or classes to ensure that a situation like this won't happen again.

The victim's brother, Eudane Rennix, was overseas serving in the U.S. Army in Kuwait when he received the call about his sister's death. He came home on emergency leave and that is when, he said, the family broke down together.

"If this is your job, why wouldn't you want to help someone in need?" he said. "There's no excuse whatsoever."

Eutisha Rennix's fiance and the father of her unborn child, Harry Woodsen, said the losses have been hard on the whole family.

"Everybody has two losses," he said. "I lost a fiance, and I lost a child. Her brother lost a sister and niece. Her mother lost a grandchild and her daughter."

The outrage at the incident has rippled beyond Brooklyn.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg slammed the EMTs at a news conference Monday. "Somebody's dying down the street and they say 'Help them,' and they just sat there," he said. "There's no excuse whatsoever, as far as I can see."