Coral Gables, Florida Lauds Rescue Work

The Coral Gables City Commission on Tuesday honored the city's police and fire departments for their combined efforts that helped save three lives after a fatal boating accident earlier this year.

On Jan. 7, Anthony Profit, Carlos Armas, Michael Falstreau and his 15-year-old son Joshua collided with another boat in Biscayne Bay, near the Coral Gables Waterway.

Coral Gables Cpt. Vincent Petersen had just ended his shift and was getting ready to go home when he decided to respond to a call from a city of Miami dispatcher describing a partially submerged 21-foot Contender with three people aboard.

Within minutes, Petersen and two bystanders helped get Profit and Falstreau to the Coco Plum Marina where Coral Gables Fire Rescue personnel and police officers were waiting. The Coast Guard rescued two others from the other boat involved in the accident.

Petersen said Profit then told him Armas was still missing.

The Coast Guard and the Coral Gables Fire Department, using handheld imaging devices, found Armas' body about an hour and a half later. The boating accident killed the 32-year-old Palmetto High School environmental science teacher and charter boat captain and left Falstreau in a coma, Petersen said.

Firefighters performed a surgical cricothyrotomy -- a procedure for establishing an emergency airway when other methods are impossible -- on Falstreau, Battalion Cpt. Carla Rossby said. After the accident, both departments began going on marine patrols and taking first-aid training together, she said.

''We've always worked very well with the police department, but we've never done training together,'' Rossby said.

A total of seven firefighters and 11 police officers were part of the rescue operation, as well as other support personnel from both departments.

''It's a tragedy every time something like this happens, but it helps us in making sure we have the appropriate equipment and training,'' Petersen said.