A Mother Dies as EMTs Munch Bagels: Why?

In Brooklyn, New York, a pregnant woman went into cardiac arrest in front of  two EMT’s having breakfast at a coffee shop. They did nothing to help her, despite entreaties from others at the shop, reportedly because they were “on break.” And she died.

You can bank on hearing a lot more about the horrific incident in the coming days and weeks. Normally an obvious example of miserable human conduct wouldn’t be mentioned here, because there is no ethical controversy to consider. This one, however, raises important questions that have to be answered:

  • What kind of cultural values are lurking beneath the surface of our society that would lead two individuals to be so callous to endangered human life when they had the skill and responsibility to act? One person could be an aberration, but two suggests a much larger problem.
  • How can people capable of such conduct be recruited and employed by any Fire Department, anywhere?
  • It will be easy to heap condemnation on the two EMT’s who preferred to finish their bagels rather than to save a mother’s life. That won’t address the more important question of what we can and must do, not just to prevent anything like this happening again, but to identify and eradicate the toxic values in our society that could allow this to happen even once.

One thing seems certain: New York’s famous Christmas spirit isn’t what it used to be.