Marin's Fallen Firefighters

Robert Paoli


Marinwood Fire Department

Cardiac Arrest

Marin firefighters and paramedics are mourning the sudden death last week of Robert Paoli who died on duty while transporting a patient.

"We're all in a state of disbelief and shock," said Marinwood fire Chief Tom Roach. "He was one of the kindest, most considerate individuals you'd ever meet. He really cared about others."

Mr. Paoli, who worked for American Medical Response, died of an apparent heart attack last Tuesday while he and partner Mark Ford were transporting a patient to a residence in the Canal district after the patient had been discharged from Marin General Hospital. Mr. Paoli was 31.

San Rafael firefighters and paramedics attempted to revive him; he was transported back to Marin General - where he had been working only a few hours earlier - but died in the emergency room.

Mr. Paoli graduated from Terra Linda High School in 1993, where he played sports, excelling in football.

Kym McNicholas, a classmate, remembered Mr. Paoli for always having a smile.

"Everyone liked him. No one had a bad thing to say about him," McNicholas said. "He was so giving."

Mr. Paoli got his start in the fire service as a fire explorer with San Rafael. In 1995, he joined the Marinwood Fire Department and served as a part-time paid cadet firefighter, filling vacant shifts. Recently, he was promoted to captain of the volunteer program.

In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck in the Southeast, Mr. Paoli volunteered with American Medical Response and provided care in Louisiana. Later that year, he was named AMR Employee of the Year.

"I remember running incidents with him, working on the engine with him. I always felt comfortable," Roach said. "He was good at what he did and really cared about it."

His American Medical Response supervisor, Stephanie Bradley, considered Mr. Paoli a big brother even though she was older than him.

"It's a little unsettling now. We're all wanting answers," said Bradley, who was called to the scene Tuesday. "He really was family to us. Nobody realizes how many lives he touched. He touched everybody."

Survivors include his wife, Sarah; 5-year-old daughter, Kellie; his mother, Florence, who lived with the family in Marinwood; a sister; and a niece.

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Vincent's Church at 1 St. Vincent's Drive in San Rafael.

A trust fund has been established for the family at Washington Mutual Bank at 1595 Grant Ave. in Novato. Contributions should be directed to Robin Gold.

Marin Professional Firefighters, IAFF Local 1775

P.O. BOX 15, FAIRFAX, CA 94978
(415) 459-4058 ·  FAX (415) 459-8009