Anthony Darkowski, Pittsburgh EMS division chief, says Pittsburgh EMS runs two rescue trucks citywide, with Rescue 1 handling rescues inside the Three Rivers area that is formed by the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers and Rescue 2 taking the area of hilly terrain outside of the Three Rivers. “We do all rescue services for the city,” Darkowski says, “vehicle, rope, water, motor vehicle, hazmat, and EMS.” Two paramedics, who are rescue technicians, staff each truck per shift, and the rescues are state certified as advanced life support (ALS) squads,” he says, adding, “The rescues carry everything that an ambulance does, but do not do transport.”
Darkowski says that Pittsburgh has a lot of very narrow streets and much hilly terrain, “which means a lot of torquing on the trucks when they are on the roads.” So, Pittsburgh had Pierce build the new rescues similar to the 2007 Pierce Arrow XT rescue trucks it had purchased from Pierce, but made a number of changes to the design to accommodate additional equipment, yet still stay on a single rear axle.
The resulting 2017 rescues are on Pierce’s Arrow XT chassis with four-person raised-roof cabs and 96-inch wide bodies, powered by Detroit DD13 diesel engines and Allison 4000 EVS-PR automatic transmissions with a transmission retarders. Overall length on the rescues is 31 feet 1 inch, overall height is 9 feet 3 inches, and wheelbase is 205 inches.
Jim Sims, sales representative for Glick Fire Equipment Company Inc., who sold the heavy rescues to Pittsburgh EMS, says Pittsburgh’s 2007 Rescue 2 has an odometer reading of 198,000 miles and is still going strong. “Some of the changes from the earlier rescue trucks were a three-door Arrow XT model where the passenger side has a compartment accessible from the outside instead of a door,” Sims points out. “They keep EMS equipment like a heart bag, drug box, hear monitor, first-in bag, portable suction unit, and oxygen bag in the compartment where it is readily accessible.”
Sims notes that Pittsburgh EMS typically runs with two paramedic/rescue techs, but that the agency wanted two seats in the crew area so that it could carry four paramedics if necessary. “On the interior of the cab, there’s a large cabinet on the passenger side wall, and a full overhead cabinet on the forward wall,” he says. “Also on the forward wall is a cabinet on the driver’s side that’s accessible from the outside.”
Darkowski says that Pittsburgh EMS “lacked the ability to do initial stabilization in trench rescues with our previous rescues, but the new heavy rescues now hold two shore form panels in a transverse compartment behind the cab. The 2- by 10-inch spines for the shore panels are in a compartment that runs the length of the walkway on top, alongside the coffin compartments.”
The heavy rescues each have an Onan PTO-driven (power takeoff) 30-kW generator; a Will-Burt LED light tower; Whelen LED warning and M9 scene lighting; a HiViz LED brow light below the light bar, a 9,000-pound Warn portable winch in the front bumper; winch receivers on the back and on each side; and three receivers, both front and back, to set up a rescue tripod.
Pittsburgh EMS carries a hosed hydraulic HURST spreader, cutter, and two rams powered by a HURST electric pump in a driver-side compartment and a Hurst eDRAULIC® cutter, spreader, and ram on the officer’s side of the rig. Other compartments hold a small Honda generator for use away from the truck, chain saw, gold and gray Paratech struts, Rescue 42 struts, two Stokes baskets, two long boards, long cribbing, Sked rescue gear and systems, swift water rescue suits, and an inflatable boat for floor response and swift water rescues.
Darkowski says he and his paramedic/rescue techs are pleased with the new heavy rescues. “Everything turned out very nicely,” he says. “All of our equipment fits very well on the vehicles.”
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist, the author of three novels and five nonfiction books, and a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.