By Steve Plunkett

Police Chief Richard Jones has another letter of commendation for his scrapbook — this time for his lifesaving actions at the horrific Jan. 4 bicycle crash in Gulf Stream.

12390451686?profile=RESIZE_180x180“It is with deepest gratitude that I write to you to recognize the efforts of Gulf Stream Police Department’s dedicated law enforcement officers who assisted our agency during the response to a mass casualty incident …” Delray Beach Fire Chief Keith Tomey wrote, calling it “a job well done.”

Tomey’s department provides fire-rescue services to Gulf Stream.

A subcompact SUV heading south on State Road A1A crossed the center line just south of the Gulf Stream Golf Club and struck a group of northbound cyclists. One was airlifted and two others taken to the Delray Medical Center’s trauma center; three others and the driver also were transported to the hospital. None died, though the most seriously injured cyclist was still hospitalized in late February.

“As you know, this portion of A1A is (a) favored place for cyclists to enjoy riding and one which is remote in its access to the mainland. Because of these challenges, the efforts of you and your officers to render aid, secure the scene, manage traffic including additional cyclists, and begin the investigation (was) immensely helpful to our personnel in treating and transporting the injured,” Tomey wrote.

Mayor Scott Morgan echoed Tomey’s praise at the Town Commission’s Feb. 9 meeting.

“It was an outstanding effort on your part to assist in probably saving the life of one of the bicyclists who was injured,” Morgan said before pivoting to the fact that Gulf Stream wants more of its police officers trained to be emergency medical technicians.

“We have a lot of elderly people in our town and it certainly behooves us to encourage our police officers who are first on the scene to have that medical skill, and Chief’s leading the charge on that,” Morgan said.

Gulf Stream last October instituted pay incentives for officers to obtain EMT training. Jones, a trained EMT, said he and Capt. John Haseley have worked diligently for about 10 months to have each squad car equipped with emergency equipment.

“We’ve already seen the benefit in several of those calls for service, whether it be a stroke or an unresponsive resident, that we’ve been able to help by having those pieces of equipment and that skill set. So we look forward to being able to offer that service and be able to be truly a public safety organization that can help from start to finish,” Jones said.

Tomey also wrote a letter to Jo Wagenhals, whom Jones helped in giving CPR at the crash scene. Wagenhals, an off-duty lifeguard captain in Pompano Beach, was named

Lifeguard of the Year by the Florida Beach Patrol Chiefs Association in 2004 when she worked in Delray Beach.

“While traveling along the road, you stopped to render aid and assist in treating multiple victims of this tragic accident.

“You acted selflessly and demonstrated a high degree of compassion and professionalism,” Tomey wrote. “Pompano Beach Ocean Rescue is lucky to have you on their team.”

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