Two Newark, New Jersey, EMT workers were suspended without pay after ignoring an emergency call to wait for their White Castle order.
On June 9, the two EMTs, who work for University Hospital, were live-streaming themselves from their ambulance on the Periscope app when they stopped at a White Castle for dinner, News 12 reports. When an emergency call came in, they did not immediately leave the drive-thru restaurant. Instead, they waited several minutes.
“Oh no they didn’t,” EMT James Hovan said after the call was heard on the radio.
A viewer of the live stream questioned their actions and was reportedly told by Hovan that he was not going to wait on his dinner to respond to a call that was most likely a “taxi ride.” A taxi ride is when people pretend to have a life-threatening emergency to get transportation to the hospital.
"What are we doing?," Hovan said on the video when asked why he did not respond to the call. "Waiting for our food. Didn't I get a call, yeah, but I was in the middle of ordering waiting for my food. Can't just drive off, I ordered my food before the call came in. What do you think, I just throw it up in the air and run off? No."
"I'd be willing to bet my paycheck this is a taxi ride," he said.
The EMTs did respond to a second call for a woman who was unconscious and struggling to breathe, but only after they received their dinner.
While driving to help the woman, Hovan and his partner mocked her condition.
“I’m struggling to eat my [expletive] mozzarella sticks,” they said.
EMTs are trained to respond immediately when they receive a call, according to Jamie Chebra, director of EMTs at JFK Hospital.
"We are ready to respond at a moment's notice," Chebra said. "Our protocols at JFK, from dispatch to wheels-rolling, is a 60-second expectation."
If an EMT does not respond in 60 seconds or less, Chebra said that would warrant an investigation.
Hovan and his partner have been placed on unpaid leave.
"University Hospital is deeply concerned about this matter,” Hospital spokeswoman Stacie Newton said. “The individuals involved have been placed on unpaid administrative leave pending an investigation.”
Hovan’s social media accounts have been deleted.