First responders throughout North Florida are mourning the loss of Dr. Peter Gianas, who died unexpectedly Wednesday.
Dr. Gianas served for years as medical director for public safety agencies throughout the area, including fire departments in Alachua, Bradford, Clay, Gilchrist and Union counties.
It wasn’t immediately clear how Gianas died. No cause of death has been released.
Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith said Gianas had been hospitalized because he wasn’t feeling well. Smith said Gianas tested positive for COVID-19 during his stay.
Allen Parrish, director of Bradford County Fire Rescue, told News4Jax that Gianas had been vaccinated but also was dealing with other unspecified health issues.
News of Gianas’ death sent a shockwave through public safety agencies throughout the area on Wednesday, many of them expressing sadness over his sudden departure.
Clay County Fire Rescue described Gianas, who was known affectionately as “Dr. G,” as an “integral part of health operations at multiple community organizations and for many local medical programs.”
Sheriff Smith called Gianas a legend and a pillar of the community, whose work touched lives and organizations throughout North Florida.
“I’m not really sure how we’re going to fill those shoes because he was much more than a man,” Smith told News4Jax. “He was larger than life. He took everything personally and he loved our community and the people within our community.”
The Bradford County Fire Rescue Department asked the community for prayers for its employees during their time of grief.
“The county lost the good man and a mentor to literally thousands of emergency medical service providers, firefighters, emergency room physicians, mid-level physicians,” Parrish said. “We lost a good man, a good mentor, a teacher like no other. We lost a part of our soul.”
Friends of Gianas said that he was an incredibly caring and generous person.
“He would give you the shirt off his back, he would do anything for anybody,” said Robert Autry, a close friend. “Pete didn’t have any family here. He didn’t have brothers, sisters, nothing — but he had the biggest family in Bradford County because he made you feel like you were part of his family.”