Urban search and rescue hearing held in Coraopolis

Legislators discussed efforts to enhance capabilities of western PA search and rescue

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 1 – On Tuesday, lawmakers gathered at the Allegheny County 911 Center in Coraopolis to attend a joint bipartisan public hearing of the Pennsylvania House and Senate Veterans and Emergency Preparedness committees regarding legislation that would improve urban search and rescue capabilities in western Pennsylvania.

“No one thinks about this level of response until an emergency actually happens. The reality is that it was only by the grace of God that no one was trapped or killed when the Fern Hollow Bridge collapsed last year,” said state Rep. Dan Miller, a co-author of the bill. “We have great firefighters here in western PA who are asking for greater state support in making sure they have the training and equipment right here at home should such a critical need arise. And waiting hours for resources to arrive from the east is just not acceptable any longer.”

A bipartisan group, led by Miller, D-Allegheny; state Sens. Jay Costa, D-Allegheny; Devlin Robinson, R-Allegheny; and state Rep. Natalie Mihalek, R-Allegheny/Washington, have been working to pass legislation to enhance the capabilities of urban search and rescue in western Pennsylvania following the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse.

Lawmakers have stressed that their proposal would not take resources away from existing search-and-rescue teams, nor was in response to a failure by any agency but would help provide the highest quality of rescue services to communities across the region and ensure that western Pennsylvania is ready if disaster strikes.

Watch the hearing here: