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Home > Topics > Infectious Diseases

Fla. medic dies from H1N1 complications

He was sick for about two weeks and died after calling 911 because he couldn't breathe; his wife also has the virus and is in an induced coma

SANTA ROSA, Fla. — A Florida paramedic died Sunday night after being sick for about two weeks with the H1N1 flu virus.

Rodney Gajewski, a medic with Lifeguard Ambulance, had just finished a breathing treatment, his sister told the Santa Rosa Press Gazette. The next day, he called 911 because he couldn’t breathe and died soon after. Doctors told his family he died from pneumonia resulting from flu complications.

His wife, Kelly Gajewski, has been hospitalized for about three weeks with the same virus, and is in an induced coma for treatment. She doesn’t know her husband is dead.

The EMS community is mourning the death of Gajewski, known as “Big Daddy” to his friends and coworkers at Lifeguard Ambulance. During his career he also worked as a firefighter for the Midway Fire District; the South Walton Fire District; Sacred Heart Health Systems/Air Heart; Atlantic Life Flight; Escambia County EMS and Broward County Fire.

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Suzanne C Walcheck Suzanne C Walcheck Wednesday, January 08, 2014 7:42:51 PM My brother was a dedicated paramedic, firefighter and flight medic. He was a great man, gone at 47. Please get your flu shots.
Monica Felipe Conrado Monica Felipe Conrado Wednesday, January 08, 2014 7:53:53 PM i´m so sorry, we mourn all the people who work in the same profession. we are exposed to all, and payment is not nothing in these cases.
Windle Jayroe Windle Jayroe Thursday, January 09, 2014 1:29:50 AM Sad. These paramedics put there life on the line everyday. They never know what they will come across as far as germs and what illness they will encounter. God Bless "Big Daddy" and his wife. All you Parmediscs out there... bless you and keep you. You are the best!
Brett Barfield Brett Barfield Thursday, January 09, 2014 2:02:47 AM he was one of the best men I've ever met, and the best medic I've know. He helped me through some hard times. I am a better person for having known him, and he will forever live in the hearts of everyone he met
Melanie-Ann Harmon Summers Melanie-Ann Harmon Summers Thursday, January 09, 2014 9:14:32 AM Nice tribute to our friend and brother. I only wish everyone could know someone like Rod in their lifetime.
Katie Vitale Katie Vitale Thursday, January 09, 2014 9:51:03 AM I am terribly sorry for your loss, this is so sad and tragic... Please get your flu shots if you are able. Last year we opted out and my son had never been so sick in his life - the alternative is not worth it. These are healthy, young people - it can happen to anyone.
Sherry Sanford Sherry Sanford Thursday, January 09, 2014 1:20:19 PM please buy a TShirt all proceeds go to his family.. Thank You.
Cindi Beavers Cindi Beavers Thursday, January 09, 2014 2:35:11 PM Thoughts and Prayers go out to this family.
Brendan Betancourt Brendan Betancourt Thursday, January 09, 2014 4:05:17 PM I am so sorry for the family, and friends affected... this is horrible I wish you all the best. From a brother PM/FF IAEP 747
Barbara McPherson Stockton Barbara McPherson Stockton Thursday, January 09, 2014 4:11:00 PM An amazing man and mentor who will be forever missed. I miss you Big Daddy!
Shelley Brown Shelley Brown Thursday, January 09, 2014 4:56:23 PM I send condolences to you all on behalf of paramedics in Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada.
Tim Yaralli Tim Yaralli Thursday, January 09, 2014 5:45:28 PM A good man with a big heart and an even bigger soul. A true friend who never for one moment hesitated to say yes, when I asked him to be my daughter's godfather. You are missed and will always be remembered fondly. Rest In Peace, Big Daddy. We will meet again someday. I love you, brother.
Bert Carpenter Bert Carpenter Thursday, January 09, 2014 6:39:31 PM Our condolences to you and your family from Southern Manatee Fire Rescue. Prayers for the wife to heal from this virus and the loss of her husband.
Shawn Tobin Shawn Tobin Thursday, January 09, 2014 9:26:13 PM My uncle was a great man, a loving father, and loved and respected by so many friends. He had a big heart, always helping those in need both at work and personably. He loved his job, his family, and all his friends and put others before himself. His untimely death is a shock to all. He will truly be missed, but will always be with us in our hearts. We love you and miss you, but know that you are with the Lord, watching over all of us, always on duty. XOXOXO
Beebe Cannon Beebe Cannon Friday, January 10, 2014 5:23:15 AM Rodney was a great friend and great paramedic. He had a passion for Christ like I've never seen. I know he is resting in piece. He was a great influence to me and others as a paramedic and brother Christ. He will be missed by all who knew him. We will continue to pray for his wife.
Michael Smith Michael Smith Friday, January 10, 2014 4:45:28 PM RIP may the Lord Jesus bless you for your life on earth.
Merrie Williams Scites Merrie Williams Scites Saturday, January 11, 2014 1:51:22 AM Our sincere condolences on behalf of the family of Scott Scites (Lincoln EMS) Chapmanville, West Virginia
Sarah Beargie Sarah Beargie Monday, January 13, 2014 4:51:16 PM Miss my Big Daddy. Thank you for always protecting our family and our community..and I know you will continue to protect us from Heaven. We love you more than words can express. I love you.
Tracy Johnson Tracy Johnson Monday, January 13, 2014 4:54:42 PM I'm so sorry, Sarah...
Jennifer Milstead Colvin Jennifer Milstead Colvin Monday, January 13, 2014 5:06:02 PM So very sorry for your loss Sarah. It's been a year since I lost daddy, my thoughts ad prayers are with you.
Sarah Beargie Sarah Beargie Monday, January 13, 2014 5:06:37 PM Thank you Tracy. It was a beautiful service today. Many tears, but we truly celebrated his life with honor and love. I love you.
Linda Carlson Linda Carlson Monday, January 20, 2014 4:31:52 PM Rod and Kelly where always there when needed. Saw Rod on Dec 27th at Walgreens. All was fine. So hard to believe. Rod was a really good and giving Person. We will all meet again, dig is only a matter of time. One of your many Clients, Will pray for Kelly, Linda
Robert Gift Robert Gift Tuesday, February 18, 2014 4:26:38 PM So sorry. Many hospital personnel say DO NOT get the flu shot.

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