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Trump Rally To Blame For Emergency Response Revamp

Megan Harris
90.5 WESA


Pittsburgh public safety and emergency response departments are working together to create a new strategy for dealing with large events and natural disasters.

The changes were proposed after presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s April rally at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, during which three people were arrested and four police officers treated for minor injuries.

An internal committee spent six weeks reviewing emails between agencies, radio communications, and witness accounts after the event. The after-action report found that some lines were blurred during internal and cross-agency communication.

Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said a divided system was partly to blame.  

“What I’ve observed was basically that police would create their own plan, fire create their own plan, EMS create their own plan, then approximately several days before, if we had that time advantage, we would all come together and try to diffuse any contradictions in the planning,” said Hissrich.

Hissrich said the new system will take a unified and streamlined approach to planning, and give a clearer chain of command.

In response to emergencies, a single plan will begin at the Emergency Management Office, overseen daily by an assistant chief of fire, police commander and command staff from EMS.

After-action reviews will also regularly take place.

Police Chief Cameron McLay said his bureau has also reinstated a designated crowd management team, which had been eliminated due to budget cuts.

Hissrich said the planning process still needs refinement and officials in the emergency management office are still trying to fill open personnel spots.

The new planning system should be fully implemented ahead of any Fourth of July events, he said.