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Paramedic Uses Own Car To Rescue Victims From Fern Hollow Bridge Collapse

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Among the many first responders that rushed to the bridge Friday morning was a paramedic who came directly from home. He proved pivotal in the rescue.

Pittsburgh paramedic Jon Atkinson was alerted to the collapse by friends and headed for the bridge in his own pickup truck. He arrived on the Squirrel Hill end of the bridge.

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"You hear that a bridge has collapsed. and you know that you're going to a bridge collapse," Atkinson said. "But I don't think anything really prepares you to see that, you know, just that, you know something of that magnitude."

On his paramedic radio, he heard they were concerned about getting city medic units down into the ravine. He radioed his assistant chief.

"And I said 'hey, I'm here at the scene. I have a four by four pickup truck, you know, do you want me to come down?' And he said yeah."

Atkinson took his Ram pickup to the trail leading into the valley.

What he saw at the bottom was stunning.

"I mean, it's just, you're kind of in awe at the sight of it," Atkinson said.

One of the victims was already in a stokes basket.

"Myself and two other paramedics, we lifted up this basket, carried or carried over to my truck, got her into the truck and got her securely into the bed of the truck." And back out of hollow they went.

Jon says what he did was unusual, what the other paramedics and firefighter did was extraordinary:

"Lugging all that stuff 150 feet over a hillside with a collapsed bridge and all those vehicles, that's certainly, in my opinion, a lot more noteworthy than what I did."

Also in that ride out of the ravine was a man who had been in another vehicle. He sat up front with Jon and told him he just wanted to get to work.

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