Family, friends and colleagues are reeling after the sudden loss of Jon Fleming, a respected paramedic with Valley Emergency Medical Services (VEMS) in Oxford.
Fleming died Oct. 3. He was just 36 years old.
He leaves behind a wife, Joanne, a daughter, Charlotte, and two young sons, Jacob and Carter.
He apparently died in his sleep, colleagues said. An autopsy had not been performed as of Friday morning, the state medical examiner’s office said.
A wake is scheduled for Sunday (Oct. 7) from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at O’Brien Funeral Home at 24 Lincoln Avenue in Bristol.
Fleming had been a paramedic with VEMS since 2008.
Jason Perillo, a state lawmaker who used to be the executive director at VEMS, hired Fleming in 2008.
“It’s very, very sad and it’s a huge shock,” Perillo said Friday.
Fleming, a Terryville resident, previously worked at Campion Ambulance in Waterbury.
He was a caring person who worked hard, Perillo said.
“A true professional, a gentleman, just a pleasure to work with,” Perillo added. “He was just a class act through and through.”
Tributes in Fleming’s honor from area emergency personnel — police officers, firefighters, EMS workers — began appearing on Facebook shortly after he passed.
A photo illustration showing the VEMS patch with a black band honoring Fleming was shared countless times on the social media site.
The photos depict a happy young man clearly in love with his growing family.
“He was a character. A fun-loving, life-of-the-party type of guy. One that literally put the needs of everyone else before his own. That’s probably why he worked so well as a paramedic,” said VEMS Executive Director Robert Pettinella.
VEMS is a small, tight-knit group of medics. The employees are struggling with Fleming’s death.
“Truthfully, the members are distraught. The night we found out about it, those who were working we sent home and replaced them with some of our part-time staffers,” Pettinella said.
“Since then we’ve reached out to Jon’s family because they are financially strapped. They’re wondering how they are going to pay for the (funeral) services.”
VEMS offered to pay 50 percent of the costs for the services, Pettinella said.
“In addition to that we’re accepting donations in Jon’s name. Those donations will be given to the family to help cover the costs,” he said.
Checks can be made out to “Valley EMS.”
The mailing address is P.O. Box 837, Derby, CT, 06418.
The VEMS building is at 300 Oxford Road, Oxford, CT, 06478.
The VEMS phone number is 203 881 9069.
David Lenart, chief of the Derby Storm Ambulance and Rescue Corps, said Fleming was a well-respected medic throughout the Valley.
“Every time we need a medic in Derby someone from VEMS responds to the call,” Lenart said. “He rode in the back of my ambulance more times than some of my own members. The VEMS medics are known to be the best in the area — and he was no exception.”
Pettinella said Fleming enjoyed being a paramedic. Medics don’t get into the profession for money — the paychecks are meager.
It’s an under-appreciated job.
“He just found it rewarding,” Pettinella said. “He was one of our top clinicians. In order to be a good paramedic, you not only have to know the medicine, you have to have personality and composure. You have to be able to show up at a scene, take control and lead multiple agencies. He had that ability, without ticking anyone off,” Pettinella said.
“He really personified what a medic should be,” he said.
Ethan Fry contributed to this report.