KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Friends and neighbors of Patrick Gettino are remembering a man they said was loved by his community almost as much as he loved it, on a day when several of those neighbors were honored by the state for their efforts to save his life.
During February's second blizzard, Gettino, 57, suffered a heart attack after shoveling his driveway. His girlfriend called 911. An ambulance was dispatched, but became stuck in the deep snow down the street from Gettino's residence. That's when his neighbors in the city's Waldo neighborhood sprung into action.
"We knew time was kind of of the essence so we ran out to the ambulance and started shoveling it, trying to get it unstuck," said John Hiatt, who was there on the 26th. "Before we knew it all of a sudden a bunch of other neighbors started coming out and helping us shovel."
"We were all just putting our nose to the grindstone so to speak. Everybody was just shoveling away, and the amount of snow... I mean we did the entire block," said John Molloy, another neighbor. "All we were really concerned about was making sure the ambulance could get to the house and then making sure they could get out when it was time."
Paramedics eventually revived Gettino, and his ambulance made it to Research Hospital, where he underwent surgery for multiple blocked arteries, according to his brother Michael. The neighbors were hailed as heroes.
But their work would not be enough to save Patrick Gettino's life.
His pulse weak, Gettino's doctors kept him in a medically induced coma. Family members found his living will, and, following his wishes, Gettino was disconnected from life support last Sunday.
A series of memorials this week marked Gettino's life, in which he was a fixture in the Kansas City nightlife scene. He owned the restaurant GiGi's downtown for 13 years. For 17 years he worked at Kelly's on Westport, and recently became a bar manager at Stroud's in Fairway, according to his obituary. A Friday memorial at Kelly's drew hundreds of people, according to Gettino's brother.
Today, Gettino's neighbors in Waldo were honored with a commendation from the Missouri House of Representatives for trying to save their friend. Rep. Jeremy LeFaver, who represents the Waldo area, presented plaques to a small group of neighbors this morning.
"We hear a lot of bad things on the news, somewhat frequently, and I thought it was important to be able to thank people who did the right thing in a time of need," Rep. LeFaver said.
Hiatt said the commendations should be a tribute to Gettino, who he said was a "great" neighbor and friend.
"He wasn't just a neighbor to everyone on 74th Street, he was really a neighbor to everyone in Kansas City and he will be missed," Hiatt said.