East Tennessee mourns the loss of first responder

East Tennessee mourns the loss of first responder Ronnie Patterson

Ronnie Patterson (source: family photo) Ronnie Patterson (source: family photo)

6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - For many of his loved ones, Ronnie Patterson was known as a big teddy bear and a gentle giant. Those close to him are now mourning his unexpected passing on Christmas night.

Patterson, 54, committed his life to serving others having worked as a first responder across east Tennessee.

Friends said they want Patterson to be remembered for his selflessness and his ability to inspire those around him to give back to the community.

"It made for a very bitter day on Christmas day," Capt. Mark Willbanks with the Knoxville Fire Department said. "Ronnie was a very good man."

Patterson worked in EMS for MedicOne Medical Response and with the Knoxville Volunteer Emergency Rescue Squad. He was also the training coordinator for the Monroe County EMS.

"Ronnie was one of those guys who knew what he was called to do," retired member of the Knoxville Volunteer Emergency Rescue Squad Ed Cate said. "This was in his blood, his passion."

Patterson leaves behind a wife, three children, three grandchildren and a brother.

His son Nathan is now a paramedic and a firefighter, following in his father's footsteps.

"Ronnie's influence was on his family but also people that he worked with," Chairman of the Board for Knoxville Volunteer Emergency Rescue Squad Ken Cassell said.

"He was a good mentor for me," Willbanks said. "Ronnie taught me the ropes and showed me the way to go with EMS."

Loved ones said Patterson died of cardiac arrest Christmas night.

"You just kind of stand there numb and my wife said, ‘What is it? What is it?' and I said, ‘You're going to have to give me a minute,'" Cate said about learning of Patterson's passing.

Long-time friend Cassell said he takes comfort in remembering his final moments with Patterson this past Saturday.

"We were at the rescue squad making breakfast for those that were going to go out and deliver Christmas baskets and Ronnie and I talked and visited together," Cassell said. "It was a good time just to spend a few minutes with Ronnie."

"He's going to be sorely missed," Willbanks said. "It was very hard to accept last night that Ronnie has moved on and left us."

Family members said they are still working on the funeral arrangements.

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