EMT: Getting a call means drop everything and go

An University Hospital ambulance crew was caught ignoring an emergency in Newark while live-streaming video on Periscope.

An University Hospital ambulance crew was caught ignoring an emergency in Newark while live-streaming video on Periscope. (6/11/16)

News 12 New Jersey's report about an EMT who was suspended after being seen ignoring a call while waiting at a drive-thru has many wondering about typical protocol in such situations.

As News 12 has reported, James Hovan and his partner were using the Periscope app to live-stream video of themselves driving around Newark. The video appeared to show them ignoring a call while waiting for food at a White Castle, and then getting their food before responding to a second call about a woman who was struggling to breathe.

The video also appeared to show Hovan making disdainful comments about the people who needed help in the calls, saying that he bet one was a a "taxi ride," or someone who just wanted a lift to the hospital. The video showed him later mocking the condition of the patient mentioned in the second call.

News 12 set out to find out how EMTs are trained to respond in situations such as when they get a call after placing a food order.

Jamie Chebra, director of EMTs at JFK Hospital in Edison, is the boss of 165 staffers and has been an EMT for 20 years. He said unequivocally that when EMTs get a call, they must drop everything and go.

"We are ready to respond at a moment's notice," Chebra says. "Our protocols at JFK, from dispatch to wheels-rolling, is a 60-second expectation."  Anything over one minute would warrant an investigation, Cehbra says.

The video Hovan posted appeared to show him waiting for several minutes. When a follower asked why he hadn't left, he snapped,  "What are we doing?  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."

News 12 spoke to several EMTs who said they've eaten many cold meals. Generally, they say the rule is to ask for the people to hold your food and come back for it.

Chebra added that the use of social media on the job is frowned upon. "I can speak from JFK EMS perspective. Social media, streaming video on the job, things like that are outside the bounds of our protocols," he said.

Chebra says when it comes to his staff he takes any concerns that may arise on a case-by-case basis, and circumstances must be considered.

University Hospital says Hovan has been suspended while hospital officials investigate.

Hovan's social media accounts have since been taken offline.

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