POINT PLEASANT – Mitch Remig remembers it was getting dark out as he was training volunteer firefighters at the Brick Fire Academy, so he grabbed onto a pole on the side of a firetruck to turn on a telescoping light bulb that was attached to the truck.
“I felt like electricity going through me, I couldn’t let go, I was stuck there for a few seconds,” Remig, 30, recalled of the accident that has sidelined him since the night it happened in September 2018.
“It was like I had an adrenaline rush – I sat down on the front bumper and I tried to shake it off and figure out what happened,” he said.
Remig, who has served as a volunteer firefighter in his hometown of Point Pleasant since he was 15, and works as a full-time professional firefighter in Plumsted, said it felt like his heart was pounding out of his chest, and like his head was going to explode.
One of the fire chiefs insisted on taking him to the hospital where Remig told emergency personnel he thought he was electrocuted.
“I stayed in the hospital for two weeks. They didn’t have any answers. And after my release I was in bed for a couple of weeks,” he said. “I was weak, in pain, my muscles were achy, I had a severe migraine. I felt like I’d run a marathon, I needed a lot of assistance.”
His brother Jared, 28, took some time off from work to care for his brother, and fellow firefighters came to Remig’s home to offer a hand around the clock. There was a steady stream of other family members and neighbors who brought in meals and snacks, Jared said.
“It was all hands on deck to help Mitch,” Jared said. “Mitch is my biggest hero, and seeing him go through this is heartbreaking.”
“The amount of support I’ve gotten from firefighters and the community – people I don’t even know- has been remarkable. I don’t know how to say how appreciative I am,” Remig said.
Remig was out of work for three months and then he finally started to feel a little better.
“I was eager to get back to both fire departments,” he said. “I am a lieutenant in Point Pleasant and I wanted to uphold my obligation.”
In December 2018, Remig said he felt pretty good, so he returned to both jobs, even though he said the accident had taken a toll on him physically and mentally.
He was doing okay until the end of March 2019 when he started to rapidly decline and his original symptoms returned.
“It was wild. I took a turn for the worse. I started having seizures and had four of them in two weeks,” Remig said. “Doctors still don’t have any answers.”
As someone who never even wanted to take an Advil, Rettig said he’s on over six medications a day and he has been in and out of the hospital about eight times.
“Electrocution injuries are rare, so doctors don’t know much, but two doctors said I should be dead,” Rettig said. “I try to put on a good front, but it’s difficult not having answers, why I still feel like hell.”
Remig took a big financial hit when he became unable to perform his side job as a consultant for a forensic fire and explosion investigation company.
“It was pretty lucrative – about half my income came from that side job,” he said. “Now I only have workers’ comp.”
Due to his substantial loss of income, Rettig has fallen behind on his rent and other bills.
“He tries his best to keep up, but truthfully he is in over his head,” wrote Jared on a GoFundMe page he and their sister Cady set up for their brother to help with his expenses he recovers.
For more information, or to donate, visit gofundme.com/mitchrem