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Montville, CT, police officers save child from fire

Photo credit: Getty Images
By Larry Dorman, AFSCME Council 4 ·
Tags: Our Stories
Montville, CT, police officers save child from fire
Local 2504 members, from left: Ofc. Karen Aleshire (president), Ofc. Lindsey Michaels, Lt. David Radford and Ofc. Kenneth Stuart. (Photo credit: Council 4)

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – Front-line workers in law enforcement and public safety will tell you that one sign of a good day is making it home in one piece, or not seeing someone else get hurt or killed.

They will also tell you that an even better sign of a good day is saving a life while carrying out your duty to protect and to serve.

By that standard, you can mark the early evening of Nov. 19 as a good day for the dedicated police officers of Montville, Connecticut. That’s when Lt. David Radford, Ofc. Lindsey Michaels and Ofc. Kenneth Stuart – members of AFSCME Local 2504 (Council 4) – rescued a 10-year-old boy who was trapped inside an apartment fire.

It was a day that went from harrowing to heroic.

“We got a call about a structure fire at the apartment building, and that a child was trapped inside,” said Michaels, who received the dispatch while on duty at the department. “We sprinted out.”

When Radford, Stuart and Michaels arrived at the blaze, there was little to see from the front of the building but around the back, there was heavy black smoke – and a frantic young child sticking his head out of a second floor window.

“It was something out of a movie,” Radford remembered. “There’s a kid hanging out of the window and black smoke pouring out. It was overwhelming.”

The three officers charged into the building, kicking down the door and getting knocked to the ground by the smoke. Stuart and Radford then went to the back of the building, while Michaels stayed inside. She tried to enter the room, but was unable to for a little while because of the heat and smoke.

Michaels stayed as far in as she could, shining her flashlight and calling out for the boy. “The smoke was so thick and low to the ground, you couldn’t see a thing,” she said.

Stuart drove his squad car over the curb and directly underneath the second-story window where the boy was located. Standing on the roof of the car, Stuart and Radford were able to grab the victim’s hands and start to pull him out of the window.

“He was terrified,” Stuart said of the child. “He was seeing nothing but bad.”

By that time, the smoke had cleared enough to allow Michaels and the building property manager into the residence. They helped the boy out of the window and into the arms of Stuart and Radford.

Stuart said these high-adrenaline moments require quick calibration to maintain safety and follow protocol.

“It was a big relief,” he explained, “but we had to move on and refocus.”

After giving the petrified boy oxygen and water, the three officers made sure he was safely loaded into an ambulance. He was taken to Backus Hospital in Norwich and released after being treated for smoke inhalation.                                                                                               

“[The fire] could have been terrible,” Radford said. “I’m just glad we responded as fast as we did. We’re going to do whatever we can to save someone’s life.”                                

Ofc. Karen Aleshire, president of Local 2504, said she’s not surprised by the swift and courageous response of her fellow officers.

“I think they’re awesome. I was so proud of them,” she said. “This incident shows the caliber of our police officers. They give every fiber of their being to the town of Montville.”

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