TUNKHANNOCK — It was an emotional night for some first responders in Wyoming County.
EMT worker Tom Gruen died while on duty for the Tunkhannock Ambulance Association earlier this year.
Monday night folks remembered his dedication to helping others.
“Their newest life-saving apparatus: Jet One!”
And with that a brand new jet ski was presented to the Tunkhannock Ambulance Association, paid for by the community.
The jet ski will provide a more rapid response for water rescues and was donated in the name of Tom Gruen, a Tunkhannock EMT who died on duty in May.
“When we had a water rescue calls he was always right there with us. Tom was the type of guy that I could trust with my back, he would be right there for you,” said Michael Henn, the president of the ambulance association.
On the day that would have been Gruen`s 49th birthday, his former employers brought the jet ski out to the ambulance house where friends, family and colleagues gathered.
“We felt that this was a real tribute to a great man, something that can give back to the community like he did so we are incorporating something that was good for his mission,” said Nancy Verbryck, Gruen’s former employer.
“He loved people, he was just great to be around, he watched our home, he`d come to our house every Christmas,” said friend Bob Cook.
Gruen was killed on May 23rd when his ambulance crashed here on Route 92 during a rain storm.
He had been responding to another accident at the time.
His family says they would worry for him on every call he took.
“He always knew I said a prayer for him, when he went down, when he went back,” said step-mother Doris Gruen. “I’d say ‘thank you lord for bringing him back safely’, little things like that you miss.”
A happy birthday cheer was offered up as dozens of balloons were released into the air and the jet ski was blessed in memory of a fallen friend.
“I think if he has any regrets right now it`s the fact that he`s not going to take the first run on this thing!”
The ambulance association is also getting another piece of equipment, known as a life sled, that will attach to the back of the jet ski, to help transport people out of the water.