2Q: August 2016
Edition 9

Dear friends and colleagues,

Welcome to the Summer Edition of the Up Close & Personnel Newsletter! In this edition we would like to take a moment to acknowledge the tireless efforts of all the employees of the Department of Public Safety. The rigorous training and education required of these individuals is impressive enough, but it doesn't end there. In fact, that's just the beginning of their service to our community. Each bureau of Public Safety provides a unique and essential resource to our city that too often goes overlooked. So with that in mind we shall cast the spotlight upon just one of the essential bureaus of our Department of Public Safety to get a glimpse of the hard working individuals helping to keep our city safe.

Our spotlight for this issue falls upon the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services. This bureau is comprised of individuals determined to aid the residents of the City of Pittsburgh in times of illness and injury. They are dedicated to transporting the afflicted to the care of doctors while performing emergency medical treatments to help ensure the best possible outcome for their patients. Its people like this who help make our city great and they all deserve our thanks for their hard work and dedication.


Mayor William Peduto


From a young age James Dlutowski envisioned himself as a Physician. By the age of 16, he was already an EMT with both Northwest and Ingram EMS. James studied biochemistry and public health at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and was then accepted to medical school in Tampa, Florida upon his graduation. He was on track to be a physician with only a few more years of schooling.

A few months before leaving for med school in May of 2009 James' father was diagnosed with lung cancer. He made the instant decision to postpone med school to spend what time was left with his father and to stay in the Pittsburgh area to continue his EMT career. Unfortunately in August of that same year, his father lost his battle with cancer. Following this, James knew he wanted to continue his career as a paramedic, particularly, a Paramedic with Pittsburgh EMS.

Being a medic in suburban Pittsburgh, and even the most populated of Alaskan cities, is very different from Pittsburgh EMS. Still those years were instrumental in shaping his career. Considering Pittsburgh EMS receives around 70,000 calls in a year, James knew that he needed to prepare himself before becoming a Pittsburgh Paramedic. He wanted to gain on the job experience increasing his skills and knowledge. For instance, knowing the radio and driving the ambulance, navigating the city, and more importantly he needed to be mentally prepared. So he continued his career working at Northwest EMS under his friend and mentor Dan Gulasy, as well as volunteering at Ingram EMS, where he is now Assistant Chief.

Since joining Pittsburgh EMS five years ago, James has already been promoted to Crew Chief and also serves on the Infectious Disease Response Team (Echo Team). EMS is about so much more than rescue, and James enjoys playing a large part in community engagement through the COPE program (Community Outreach Program & Education), which educates the community through numerous initiatives such as CPR training, car seat checks, and blood pressure and glucose screenings. James feels it is important to spend time with residents of the communities that he serves, whether it's doing community CPR training, taking the ambulances and equipment to schools, or just connecting with people in the community. "The impact is not limited to just taking people to the hospital and making sure that people feel better...but trying to get the kids interested or involved in something other than the pre-established path that a lot of people fall victim to."

James has an incredibly positive outlook. Not only does he recognize the impact that he can have on the lives of his fellow Pittsburghers through a career in EMS, but he recognizes the impact this career has had on him. It has changed his perspective on life, the way that he sees the world, finding the best in people. "You can meet really good people in the worst of circumstances and it doesn't change the fact that they're a really good person, trying hard." James currently works out of Medic 3 in the West End. He loves being a Pittsburgh paramedic whether he's delivering babies unexpectedly, saving someone from the side of Mount Washington, or teaching community CPR on a Saturday afternoon. Of course, there are many difficult calls, but James knows he can count on his fellow paramedics. They are a family who count on each other to make it through the tough days. With such a positive attitude, he looks at each day as a new adventure. Thank you, James, for your five years of dedicated service!

Written by Mark Penny


EMS District Chief Amera Gilchrist began her career with the City in August of 1999 when she came to the Bureau of EMS as an Emergency Medical Technician. Within her time, Amera's hard work and dedication have provided her with opportunities to move up the ranks to Paramedic, Crew Chief, and now, District Chief.

Amera's story on entering the field of EMS is an inspiring one. Before her EMS career, Amera had always envisioned herself as someone whose professional attire would include a briefcase and related business wear. After graduating from Oliver High School at the age of 17, Amera started working for PNC. Additionally, she attended Robert Morris University for Business Administration and worked in accounting with PNC for 10 years.

Due to an incident involving her son, her career path diverged. At the time of the incident, Amera was a single mother. One evening, Amera and her son were on a bus ride home after work when her son began to choke on a piece of candy. This traumatic incident caused Amera to experience a feeling of helplessness, but thankfully the candy dislodged and her son was fine. It was at that moment when Amera decided that she did not want to feel helpless again.

While at PNC, Amera had a co-worker who was studying to become a Paramedic and she discovered an interest in the course materials and the EMS field in general. Her friend had since moved on to become a Pittsburgh Police Officer, but she decided to pursue the EMT and Paramedic certifications, which she successfully earned from CCAC.

Amera, a lifelong Pittsburgh resident, grew up in the Mexican War Streets where her parents still reside. Today, she lives nearby in the Observatory Hill section of the City with her husband (a recently retired City Firefighter), two daughters (ages 5 & 8) and her son (age 21).

While meeting with Amera, her energetic and upbeat character was immediately noticeable as was her exceptional work ethic. The role of a District Chief, DC, can be demanding, but rewarding. As a DC, her duties tend to be on the administrative side of the operations, but she does enjoy the excitement of being out in the field. When possible Amera tries to make it out into the field everyday when possible so that she can check-in with her six assigned units.

An additional responsibility that Amera holds is the coordination of the EMS Community Outreach Program and Education (COPE). Amera continues to be an active participant in the program. She has been involved with COPE since the start of the program and gives credit to her fellow EMS colleagues who also participate in COPE. Amera attributes their combined dedication in making the program a success.

The COPE initiative, which is approximately 10 years old, has proven to be a valuable community resource. Demonstrating the program success would be the growing number of COPE requests that continue to come in. Recognizing the importance of the program, Amera makes every effort to ensure that the requests are addressed. The program takes a proactive, hands-on approach at educating City residents (of all ages) and businesses on a variety of related topics. One of Amera's most memorable outreach efforts is when she took part in a PBS Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood segment. The educational segment introduced children to the work of a paramedic does and a tour of the inside of an ambulance.

Written by: Janelle Smith 

  • All EMS and 911 Teams
  • Joe Hollinger - City Planning, Division of Zoning and Development Review
  • Staff at Phillips Recreation Center - Parks and Recreation
  • Valarie Jacko - Printing Office
  • Sgt. Eric Kroll - Pgh Police Academy
  • Kim Clark-Baskin, Kate Weiland, Denise Wilson, Christopher Dotson, Ashley Robinson, Louise Criss, Michael Wentz - CITY CLERK's OFFICE
  • Omar Pack and 6th Div Crew - 6th Division Public Works
  • Amanda Neatrour - Personnel & CSC
  • Mark Penney - Personnel & CSC
  • Rhonda Nesbit - Personnel & CSC
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On May 18-20, 2016, The PA Workforce Development Association held its 32nd Annual Employment, Training & Education Conference at Hershey Lodge. In attendance was the Workforce Investment Board staff and members, PA CareerLink, PA Department of Human Services and County Assistance Offices. Other attendees included adult basic education providers, career and technical educators, PA Department of Labor & Industry staff, economic development professionals, and other community based organizations. There were nearly 1,000 professionals from all facets of workforce development.

National trainers, presenters and keynote speakers offered their expertise throughout the three-day event. There were multiple workshops and keynote sessions offered during the conference. Statewide and local experts contributed knowledge and shared resources with colleagues on topics such as, youth and business services, fiscal management, reporting, partnership models, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), adult education and credentialing.

Governor's Achievement Awards were presented to outstanding individuals participating in workforce development, human services, and aging employment and training programs who overcame barriers. State agencies also presented awards to outstanding Pennsylvania employers for their contributions and support of the Commonwealth's Workforce Development System. The conference also featured a large exhibition hall with the most up-to-date, relevant products, services, and partnerships.

Written by: Leroy Mabins

CityFit Wellness - You stay healthy AND Save $480 on your medical contribution each year. If you're not in the wellness mix, come in, get and stay healthy and save money.

2016 Wellness Rewards:

  • You now have a $240 reduction in medical premium running through the end of the year, if you have completed the Rewards #1 (bio-screening and profile last fall).
  • If you have also completed the Rewards #2 program you will see an additional medical premium reduction beginning with the August 19th pay and running through the end of the year (an additional $240).
2017 Wellness Rewards:

  • If you complete Bio screening and a wellness profile prior to the deadline you will see a reduction in your medical premium beginning with the January 1st pay and running through the end of the year (totaling $240). See our article here and other communications on the upcoming Wellness Fairs.
  • New for 2017, the Rewards#2 program will involve a monthly check in with a Virtual Health Coach. Should you complete the rewards #2 program, you will see an additional reduction of $240.
  • Some of the same rewards #2 programs will be offered, including smoking cessation opportunities.
  • You'll see Smoking Cessation opportunities (at your work site, away from work and virtual), as we work to eliminate smoking. You will be able to receive smoking cessation medications and products free of charge under your medical plan.
2018 Wellness Rewards:

  • If your outcomes from the screening and profile are within the healthy range, you will receive a total of $480 off your medical contribution beginning January first.
  • Additional incentive if you're smoke free in 2018.

Look for our newly designed webpages with CityFit wellness and rewards information, including our new Smoking Cessation Programs.


Weight Watchers 2016 Summer Session is a new & exciting 17-week summer slim down program. It began on Thursday, June 30 in room 646 of the City County Building. Weigh-in is at 12:15pm and the meeting starts at 12:30pm. The total cost of the program is only $93

Did you know?

  • You can join at any time for a pro-rated rate?
  • CityFit subsidizes half of the cost of the program on your behalf?
  • You can attend community meetings in your area that are convenient for you?

Contact Charisse Smith for more information at city.fit@pittsburghpa.gov or 412-255-2950.


Are you contemplating participation in this year's 39th annual Great Race? It's never too early to start training for this much anticipated event! This year's race will take place on Sunday, September 26, 2016. As in previous years CityFit and Department of Transportation will sponsor city employee teams for the 10k. All teams must be comprised of three to five members, and can consist of a mix of all runner(s) and/or walker(s). Please remember that all walkers must maintain a 14-minute mile pace over the 6.2 mile course.

Visit the website for details about the course, events, and race information. Registration information for this Great Race City Team Challenge will be forthcoming. Contact Charisse Smith in Personnel at extension 2950 for more info.

Written by Charisse Smith


The Benefits Team extends a personal invitation to all City employees to participate in our upcoming Citywide Wellness Fairs to be held at various locations throughout the City. Come meet your healthcare providers who can assist you with leading a healthier lifestyle and can educate you on their networks and providers. In addition, you will have the opportunity to mingle with other providers who can answer any questions you may have regarding your plan elections. You will also be given the opportunity to get a jump start on how to reduce your 2017 pre-tax contributions.

Save these dates:
  • Wednesday, 9/7/16 - City-County Building from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, 9/13/16 - Brookline Recreation Center from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, 9/14/16 - Riverview Park Activities Building from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, 9/15/16 - Schenley Park Ice Rink from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.


Each year there are dozens of lifting injuries to Emergency Medical Service employees despite them having stretchers and other specialty equipment to assist in patient handling. Shoulders and backs are the most common body parts injured. Since everyone lifts things as part of their job duties as well as home it is important to take a few steps to prevent lifting injuries, and to take a moment to think ahead and plan for the lift. Determine the best way to proceed to put the least amount of stress on your back & shoulders; checking the weight of the object(s); if you will need assistance; is additional equipment available to help with the task; would stretching leg & back muscles help to reduce injury. When manually lifting, always bend your legs, grasp the object securely and lift with your legs, not your back.

Written by David Reed


Just over 1,100 City youth between the ages of 14 and 21 have been assigned to jobs during July and August by participating in the 2016 Learn and Earn Summer Employment initiative. Youth workers were selected from just over 1,300 eligible applications. In addition to six weeks of work at $7.25 per hour, youth received Work Readiness Training that prepared them for entry into the workforce and to understand employer expectations, appropriate workplace behaviors as well as the rigors, demands and rewards of employment. Activity is conducted through contractual arrangements with a network of non-profit, for-profit, community based and economic development organizations. These organizations recruited and obtained commitments from about 400 work sites and employers. Approximately 300 worksites throughout the City and neighboring communities are expected to be utilized during the summer. Job assignments included work in technical, government and public administration, conservation and land management, hospitals and health care, science and technology, food service, hospitality, education, daycare summer camps and several others occupational areas.

Written by Jim Brenner


As you are aware, the City offers paid parental leave to non-union employees per the parameters in the existing Paid Parental Leave of Absence Policy. Effective immediately, non-union employees' Paid Parental Leave of Absence may be taken in either one (1) - six (6) week increment, or in three (3) - two (2) week increments upon approval by the Department Director. The Department Director is also responsible for tracking employees' Paid Parental Leave via the department's regular time sheet and payroll processing functions in conjunction with the City's Employee Leaves Coordinator, Molly Byrnes. Should you have any questions, please contact Molly at 412-255-2713.