Emergency Medical Services

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Beginning next year, paramedics and emergency medical technicians for the City of Pittsburgh will work 12-hour shifts, instead of the current eight-hour shifts.

eddie~S / Flickr

The City of Pittsburgh will hire EMTs for the first time since 2004 and raise the starting pay for paramedics.  

The city and paramedics union announced sidebar agreements to the existing union contract Monday. Pittsburgh hasn’t had dedicated EMTs since 2004, when they were laid off due to budget constraints, said Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich. Instead, they city has relied on paramedics, who undergo more training, but cost the city more per hour.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Paramedics and emergency medical technicians want Pittsburghers to know they do a lot more than ride around in an ambulance.

To show off what they do, local emergency responders displayed some of their equipment and services in Market Square Monday as a part of National EMS Week.

“A lot of times on major incidents ambulances come and go before there’s any attention,” said paramedic Crew Chief Jim Dlotowski. “A lot of paramedics live in the background, and even sometimes shy away from attention, but EMS week, that celebrates that career choice.”

Research by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has shown Emergency Medical Service personnel who work 12- to 24-hour shifts are more than twice as likely to be injured on the job than those who work 8-hour shifts.

Ben Spiegel courtesy of the University of Pittburgh

George McCrary knows the Hill District well. As he drives the windy streets, he points out the places he remembers from his days working as one of the nation's first emergency medical technicians in the late '60s and early '70s.

It was on these streets where a young McCrary was a member of the Freedom House Enterprise Ambulance Service, which served as the model for emergency ambulance medicine.  

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Mark Bocian has been Pittsburgh’s Acting Chief of  the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services for more than two years now, but City Council indicated in their Wednesday committee meeting that the wait for final confirmation is nearly over.

Bocian was met with resounding approval, as lawmaker after lawmaker extolled his virtues and thanked him for his service.

That service stretches back to 1975, when Bocian was hired as an Emergency Medical Technician, or EMT.