A former Springfield EMT known for his selfless work has died unexpectedly while on a business trip working as a respiratory therapist in North Dakota.
Now the paramedic community is rallying around their own.
Joe Komendecki spent the better part of 30 years working in Springfield, leaving a lasting legacy that still exists today.
"He taught at the local college, EMS, and he was just always available and very knowledgeable to everyone he worked with and was around," said Rock Thibeault, a paramedic and steward for OPEIU Local 6.
Thibeault is also a close colleague of Joe Komendecki's wife, Deb Black-Komendecki. She traveled to North Dakota this week only to receive crushing news.
"She found out after she had arrived that he had passed earlier that evening," Thibeault said.
Joe Komendecki's wife also works as an EMT in East Longmeadow, known for helping others, she now needs support of her own.
"Definitely one of the nicest, pleasant, kindhearted people you'd ever meet," Thibeault said.
Thibeault and the OPEIU Local 6 union set up a GoFundMe page, and almost overnight it sparked an overwhelming response.
"We're almost at $5,000 on the GoFundMe page and all the money is going to defray the costs that Deb and her family will face," Thibeault said.
Joe Komendecki's closest friends and the EMT community he worked with are now overwhelmed by the support they've received.
They'll send an AMR rig to meet Joe Komendecki and bring him back home.
"The huge part he played in molding the people who still work the streets today, it's definitely going to impact them and all of us involved," Thibeault said.
Nearly 70 people have donated so far, some giving as much as $500 to support a fellow first responder.
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