Special Operations

Hazardous Materials

The City of Pittsburgh Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Response Team was established in 1986 as a joint effort between the Bureau of EMS and the Bureau of Fire. Presently the team is made up of 31 Paramedics, 45 Firefighters and ten Police Officers. Our team is also one of the five teams that make up the Allegheny County Hazardous Materials Response Team and is known to the county as the Gold Team.

The HazMat team is deployed after a hazardous material release is confirmed by the first arriving units to a suspected incident.

HazMat-1 is a custom HazMat truck equipped with an 18-foot walkthrough body. HazMat-1 carries a variety of equipment including chemical suits, gloves, boots, decontamination equipment, self-contained breathing apparatus, and much more. We are constantly in the process of adding any additional equipment necessary to mitigate any potential incident.

Additionally hazmat units operated by the Bureau of Fire include a foam engine, a spill cleanup truck and decontamination vehicles.


River Rescue

The River Rescue Unit was formed in March of 1986 by combining the efforts of the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services' SCUBA Search & Rescue Team with those of the Bureau of Police River Patrol.

The Paramedics who staff the River Rescue Units are certified as Public Safety Divers and are responsible for surface and subsurface water rescue, and for administering ALS emergency medical care to victims until they are transferred to the care of a land-based Medic Unit for additional treatment and transport.

The Police Officers assigned to River Rescue are responsible for piloting the various water rescue craft as well as for enforcing the regulations of the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Code.

The primary mission of the River Rescue Unit is to prevent and to respond to waterborne emergencies in the waterways in and around the City of Pittsburgh.

The Unit is also an integral part of the waterways community by providing assistance to the largest number of registered recreational boats in Pennsylvania and providing port security for the second largest inland port in the United States. Partnering with federal, state and other agencies, River Rescue remains dedicated to incident prevention as well as emergency response.


Tactical EMS Team

Established in 2011 the Pittsburgh EMS TEMS Team was originally formed with 14 Paramedics and 2 Paramedic Supervisors. TEMS trains regularly with Pittsburgh SWAT and is deployed simultaneously with the SWAT Team. The two teams work alongside each other to ensure the safety of the public and to provide prompt and expert rescue and medical care under nearly any circumstance. TEMS added a physician to the team as well in order to provide on scene medical direction when necessary. Pittsburgh TEMS is recognized as one of the highest trained and most capable Tactical EMS units in the region and strives to maintain that status.



The ECHO Team was created in 2014 in response to the Ebola outbreak that threatened the United States and originally was comprised of 12 Paramedics that received advanced training in the use of Personal Protective Equipment specialized for use during the care of a person with a suspected highly infectious disease (HID.) Pittsburgh EMS became one of less than 10 agencies in the state that was prepared to handle a patient with a confirmed HID diagnosis. Over the years the team participated in numerous exercises and training events and sent a portion of the team to the Center for Domestic Preparedness to complete their HID training program. The Team has more recently been utilized for the COVID-19 pandemic providing expertise in PPE donning and doffing as well as post-care decontamination of units. The ECHO Team also participates in COVID-19 testing missions and transport missions of known positive cases.