GREENSBURG (KDKA) – While Hurricane Irene is not expected to affect the Pittsburgh area, local emergency responders have been mobilized to help other areas on the east coast.

About 15 to 20 Swiftwater rescue teams are going towards Harrisburg, Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore.

“Anything that’s high water, flooding or anything like that, flash floods where these guys are trained to be able to get into those type of situations and do rescues,” Wes Hill, of Beaver County Emergency Services, said.

Greensburg Fire Chief Ed Hutchinson spent Friday preparing his department.

A team of 20 will be taking six rescue rafts, two jet skis and the department’s dive truck to Harrisburg where they’ll then be deployed to help in the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Irene.

Hutchinson said they could be doing anything from rescuing people from roofs to supplying victims with food and water.

The Greensburg Swift Water Rescue Team is part of the Region 13 response. They’ll be joined by other departments from across southwestern Pennsylvania, including the Collinsburg Swift Water Rescue Team out of West Newton.

Collinsburg Fire Chief Joel Koricich says they’ll be prepared for flood management. Six people from his department will be making the trip.

They’ll be taking two rescue boats, a 6×6 all-terrain vehicle and many other tools needed for complicated water rescues.

The groups hitting the road this weekend are made up of the most highly-trained water rescue teams in the state and they’re prepared to deal with whatever Hurricane Irene sends their way.

This is a 48-hour deployment, so the firefighters should be back home sometime on Monday.


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