In the summer of 1977, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Emergency Medical Services created the Rescue Division to enhance the delivery of medically directed technical, tactical and heavy rescue. Since 1977, the Rescue Division has grown a great deal and currently has the following units:
- Rescue 1 and 2
The Rescue Division has two 2007 Pierce Arrow XT Heavy-duty Rescue trucks in service that are available 24 hours a day. These units are staffed with a minimum of two paramedics at all times for any type of rescue that should arise in the City of Pittsburgh. Every paramedic in Pittsburgh is trained in Basic Vehicle Rescue (BVR) and Basic Rescue Practices (BRP).
- Rescue 5
Structural Collapse/Confined Space Rescue Truck
- HazMat 1
Hazardous Materials Response Truck
- River Rescue
- Rescue 4, a SCUBA/River Rescue Truck
- Craft 5221, 5222, 5223, 5224 and 5225
All Rescue Division Paramedics are certified with the same ALS training and skills as those assigned to the Ambulance Division. All of our Rescue vehicles are fully equipped with a full compliment of ALS equipment similar to the ambulances and are Pennsylvania State Certified as ALS response vehicles.
Currently the Rescue Division is regularly staffed by six Paramedic Crew Chiefs and 18 Paramedics assigned to Rescue-1 and Rescue-2. Every Pittsburgh Paramedic Crew Chief and Paramedic is Pennsylvania State certified in a variety of rescue practices and is able to work in the Rescue Division if the need arises.
The Rescue Division also includes the Hazardous Materials Response Team and the River Rescue Units. The City of Pittsburgh HazMat Team (The Gold Team) is also part of the Allegheny County HazMat response team.
The River Rescue Station is located at PNC Park and during the peak boating season the unit is regularly staffed by two Paramedics who are certified Public Safety/Master SCUBA Divers. Throughout the remainder of the year and on the night shift, River Rescue is staffed by one Paramedic Public Safety/Master SCUBA Diver and an additional Paramedic Public Safety/Master SCUBA Diver will respond from their assigned Medic or Rescue Unit as needed to handle emergency responses.
Personnel in the division are trained to handle a very wide range of medical and rescue situations. Listed below are just some of the training certifications that the regularly assigned crew members may have:
- PA D.O.H. Basic Vehicle Rescue
- PA D.O.H. Special Vehicle Rescue
- High and Low-Angle Rope Rescue
- Hazardous Materials Training
- Confined Space Rescue
- Surface Water Rescue
- Swift Water Rescue
- Subsurface Water Rescue
- PA D.O.H. Basic Rescue Practices
- Urban Search and Rescue
- Elevator Rescue
- Trench and Excavation Collapse Rescue
- Structural Collapse Rescue
- Electrical Hazard Response
- Railroad Hazard Response
- Weapons of Mass Destruction Response
- Mass Casualty Incident Response
- Fire Fighter I and II
- Advance Line Systems
The City of Pittsburgh Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Response Team was established in 1986 as a joint effort between the Bureau of EMS and the Bureau of Fire. Presently the team is made up of 31 Paramedics, 45 Firefighters and ten Police Officers. Our team is also one of the five teams that make up the Allegheny County Hazardous Materials Response Team and is known to the county as the Gold Team.
The HazMat team is deployed after a hazardous material release is confirmed by the first arriving units to a suspected incident.
HazMat-1 is a custom HazMat truck equipped with an 18-foot walkthrough body. HazMat-1 carries a variety of equipment including chemical suits, gloves, boots, decontamination equipment, self-contained breathing apparatus, and much more. We are constantly in the process of adding any additional equipment necessary to mitigate any potential incident.
Additionally hazmat units operated by the Bureau of Fire include a foam engine, a spill cleanup truck and decontamination vehicles.
The River Rescue Unit was formed in March of 1986 by combining the efforts of the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services' SCUBA Search & Rescue Team with those of the Bureau of Police River Patrol.
The Paramedics who staff the River Rescue Units are certified as Public Safety Divers and are responsible for surface and subsurface water rescue, and for administering ALS emergency medical care to victims until they are transferred to the care of a land-based Medic Unit for additional treatment and transport.
The Police Officers assigned to River Rescue are responsible for piloting the various water rescue craft as well as for enforcing the regulations of the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Code.
The primary mission of the River Rescue Unit is to prevent and to respond to waterborne emergencies in the waterways in and around the City of Pittsburgh.
The Unit is also an integral part of the waterways community by providing assistance to the largest number of registered recreational boats in Pennsylvania and providing port security for the second largest inland port in the United States. Partnering with federal, state and other agencies, River Rescue remains dedicated to incident prevention as well as emergency response.