BEACON FALLS — Matthew Mihalcik was applying to become a volunteer member of Beacon Hose Company No. 1 in Beacon Falls when his life was cut short by injuries suffered from a three-car accident in October of 2010. Mihalcik, a graduate of Woodland Regional High School, was 23 years old at the time.
Although he never got the opportunity to be a member of the fire company, Mihalcik’s legacy will live on at Beacon Hose thanks to a donation made in his honor.
A few months ago, Matthew’s mother, Michelle Mihalcik, called the fire company and said she wanted to do something to help the department, explained Beacon Hose spokesman Jeremy Rodorigo. Help she did. Michelle Mihalcik made a $5,000 donation to the department in memory of her late son.
Rodorigo said when the company received the donation, officials wanted to spend the money on equipment that would be useful for the department. The company responds to a lot of car accidents, Rodorigo said, many times the accidents involve cars that have rolled over.
A vehicle that’s off its tires is unstable and presents a unique danger to victims and emergency personnel responding to the scene. At any time, the vehicle could shift or fall as emergency personnel work to treat the victim or victims and pull them from the wreck.
So, with Michelle Mihalcik’s donation Beacon Hose purchased Res-Q-Jacks, equipment that is used to stabilize and lift vehicles at accident scenes. “So, we can get to the person and get them out safely and quickly,” Rodorigo said.
The fire company purchased two jacks, which can each lift 4,000 pounds Rodorigo said, four stabilizers along with ratchet straps and chains to compliment the equipment. Each jack has Matthew Mihalcik’s name on it.
“We wanted to spend the money wisely, and we wanted to get something practical for us and this fit the bill,” Rodorigo said.
Late Monday afternoon, the rain that fell on and off subsided long enough for members of Beacon Hose to showcase their new equipment for Matthew Mihalcik’s family and friends.
Beacon Hose Capt. Jim Trzaski, who is also a captain with the Naugatuck Fire Department, led a demonstration on how the company will use its latest equipment. Firefighters demonstrated how the Res-Q-Jacks could be used to stabilize and lift a car that had flipped over its side, one that flipped over onto its roof, and one that was on its tires, in order to pull a victim from a wreck or someone who was trapped underneath a vehicle.
Trzaski said the company has some equipment they’ve used in the past and have even used 4-by-4s to stabilize vehicles. But, he said, the department didn’t have anything that could do it all like the Res-Q-Jacks. He described the new equipment as “one-stop shopping.”
“This is not only going to protect the patient, it’s going to protect the personnel as well,” Trzaski said.