PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The City of Pittsburgh is now ready to go with rescue equipment along Washington Boulevard, which was the scene of deadly flooding just weeks ago.
For the first time, police officers will have immediate access to water rescue equipment.
It’s not much to look at – a single inflatable boat, some life jackets and other rescue equipment. However, city leaders say in a flash flood situation, it could make all of the difference.
“We have an immediate problem area that we know floods,” said Pittsburgh’s Public Safety Director Mike Huss. “Last time having to commandeer boats was just not the answer.”
The Aug. 24 flash flooding claimed four lives.
Emergency crews had to grab boats from local marinas. Zone Five police officers, who didn’t have any sort of rescue equipment, wandered into the flood waters in full uniform. But now they won’t have to.
“We have history in our department. They run into burning buildings, but we’re not fireman. We go into water, but once again, we’re not paramedic rescue,” said Dan O’Hara, the police union president. “We do what we have to do to save the public, to make sure people are safe.”
The plan is elaborate. There will be trained swift boat rescue teams all over the city; in case there’s another incident they’ll be ready to go immediately.
“We would love to prevent flooded cars and flooding in that area from occurring so that we don’t have to make rescues. That’s the heart and soul of the plan,” said Huss. “We also need to improve our rescue capabilities, not only there but throughout the city when it comes to swift water.”
The rescue boat and the equipment did not cost the city anything. It was training equipment used by what is called Region 13. Also, a number of police officers will receive training in the use of the equipment.