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Changes Coming To Public Safety In Wake Of KDKA Investigation Into River Turf Battle

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - In the wake of KDKA's investigation into the turf battle between the Pittsburgh Fire Bureau's fireboat and EMS River Rescue, Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich is instituting a series of reforms to ensure public accountability.

"There will be some changes on how we handle these types incidents," he said.

The most concerning incident happened in July when a woman jumped from the Homestead Grays Bridge. Even though the fireboat arrived first to the scene and wanted to begin live-saving measures, an EMS supervisor told the crew to stand down and wait for River Rescue.

"There should be no question as to whether or not care should be administered immediately," Hissrich said.

Hissrich has issued an order, saying the first on the scene should administer care. And even though the woman had been in the water 22 minutes and had likely expired, resuscitation should be attempted up until the person is unresponsive for at least an hour.

Sheehan: "There should be no hesitation."
Hissrich: "There should be no hesitation. Hopefully that question will not be asked."

Further, he is implementing a new unified command structure at major incidents where fire, EMS and police will all be present to ensure all bureaus are working together, and when there are disputes, those incidents will be reviewed by a conflict resolution board made up of the three bureaus.

Hissrich: "My goal is that everyone works well together and hopefully we're able to save lives."
Sheehan: "That's the priority."
Hissrich: "That is the priority."

Fire union Chief Ralph Sicuro had good words for the new structure and hopes it can resolve other thorny jurisdictional disputes.

"The citizens and the visitors of Pittsburgh deserve better and I believe through this, they're going to get better," Sicuro said.


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