Even though Pawel Mieczykowski’s son is a 24-year-old firefighter/paramedic, he still worries for his safety.
So when his son’s working for the Middletown Division of Fire, Mieczykowski listens to the fire scanner traffic on his phone. When there’s a potentially dangerous fire call near Station No. 81, and Mieczykowski knows his son’s on the fire engine, he’ll send a quick text, though he knows it will go unread: “Be Safe.”
Two simple words that are reassuring to a father.
But one day last week, there was no need to send text messages. For the first — and possibly only — time in their public safety careers, Mieczykowski and his son, Michael, worked at the same fire house, on the same medic unit, on the same shift.
What are the odds of two Mieczykowskis working together?
While fathers and sons commonly work together in other professions, it’s a rarity in public safety. No one wants a partner’s relationship clouding their judgment.
“It’s fair not to put family members together,” said Poland native Pawel Mieczykowski, 51, who has 22 years of firefighter/paramedic experience, the last 13 in Middletown.
This unique scenario occurred because Michael picked up an additional 24-hour shift from a paramedic whose wife was sick and needed to be hospitalized. Michael typically works First Platoon, his father Third Platoon.
Usually, they pass in the morning as Michael is leaving the fire station and his father is starting his shift. Their only interaction will be a short conversation over a cup of coffee.
That certainly wasn’t the case last week when they spent 24 hours together. And what made the situation more unique, they worked on a two-man medic unit. One drove, the other provided patient care, then filed out paperwork.
Then they flip-flopped responsibilities.
“We just work like we’d work with anybody else,” the elder Mieczykowski said. “The same rules apply. The same protocol applies. We talk about family stuff, but it’s strictly business on the scene of an emergency.
“Just like any other day to be honest. It’s been good. We still love each other.”
That’s when Michael, sitting a few feet away, chimed: “We still have 14 hours left.”
There were classic father-son scenes, of course. They ate together, but Michael quickly pointed out: “He didn’t give me any lunch money.”
Being the son of a firefighter, Michael, a 2012 Lakota West High School graduate, entered the nursing program at the University of Cincinnati. He didn’t have a desire to be a firefighter. Then he took some emergency medical technician training, and he was hooked with a ladder.
He was hired in Symmes Twp., then joined Middletown on March 28, 2016. It felt like home. He “always loved the guys” in the house fire and wanted to work in a “busy place” like Middletown.
“We’re adrenaline junkies,” he said. “You want to help people.”
After difficult medic runs, Michael sometimes calls his dad to lean on his experience, get some fatherly advice.
“He’s my role model,” Michael said.
On Monday and Tuesday, the two Mieczykowskis completed about 15 medic runs during their 24-hour shift.
At 7 a.m. Tuesday, Pawel Mieczykowski left work while his son worked another 24-hour shift.
Then his father turned on his fire scanner.
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