Pittsburgh Office of Emergency Management & Homeland Security (OEMHS)
2945 Railroad St
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
The City of Pittsburgh Office of Emergency Management & Homeland Security (OEMHS) plans and prepares for emergencies, educates the public about preparedness, develops volunteers, manages grant funding to improve homeland security and public safety capabilities, fosters infrastructure protection and resilience, coordinates emergency response and recovery, supports planned events, and works with public and partner organizations to protect the citizens of the City of Pittsburgh.
The origins of the Pittsburgh Office of Emergency Management & Homeland Security (OEMHS) began in 1986 within its predecessor office, the Office of Safety and Inspections. The first emergency planner within this office was Raymond Demichiei. Tasked by former Pittsburgh Public Safety Director, Glenn Cannon to write an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) for the EMS service, Demichiei created the first official emergency planning document for the City of Pittsburgh. In the late 1980’s following an initiative from the Commonwealth to address disaster emergencies, funding became available through the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Assistance Project for the official formation of emergency management agencies within Pennsylvania. These emergency management agencies would be responsible for activities involving protection, mitigation, response, and recovery operations for major metropolitan cities. With this new influx of funding, the Pittsburgh Emergency Management Agency (EMA) was officially formed in 1988 with Director Cannon as Emergency Management Coordinator and Demichiei as Deputy Director.
The first major investment utilizing the new emergency management funding came in 1996 with the creation of the first City of Pittsburgh Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The EOC would serve as the central hub for information sharing and decision making for all significant incidents within the City. That same year came the first EOC activation, occurring in response to the Flood of 1996.
In 1998 came the formation of the Southwestern Emergency Response Task Force comprised of the emergency management agencies of the 13 counties of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the City of Pittsburgh. This new task force, renamed the Region 13 Task Force, united all response and training assets within the region for the purpose of mutual aid, enhanced training capabilities, sharing critical infrastructure protection activities, and as a formal organization for the sharing of emergency management funding provided by federal and state resources. The task force funding also allowed for the hiring of two emergency planning staff members which were allocated to Pittsburgh EMA, becoming the first emergency management planners for the City.
Following the 9/11 attacks came the establishment of the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS). With the release of the DHS National Preparedness Goal initiative, it was recognized that Homeland Security begins with Hometown Security. As such, the Pittsburgh Emergency Management Agency expanded its mission area to include Homeland Security and altered the name of the organization to the Pittsburgh Office of Emergency Management & Homeland Security (OEMHS).
The post 9/11 era also brought new federal preparedness and response funding for state and local agencies through the Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP). Through this program, Pittsburgh OEMHS was able to purchase various vehicles and equipment to fill response gaps created from the newly evolving threat landscape. These pieces of equipment and vehicles helped enhance operational abilities and address capability gaps within the City and Region. Pittsburgh was a pioneer in many pieces of equipment including the creation of the state of the art Pierce/LDV Mobile Command Post equipped with the latest technology to function as a free standing 911 center. The Bomb Squad received a new response vehicle and a remote controlled robot with capabilities not previously integrated into such equipment. A Lenco fully armored response vehicle was put into service in order to better protect SWAT officers responding to hostile events. The K-9 team received a first-of-its-kind vehicle capable of responding with up to eight teams and functioning as a base of operations. River Rescue took delivery of a second SeaArk rescue craft to enhance water borne capabilities. A new Hazmat response vehicle and a Mass Casualty unit were also placed in service. All of these vehicles and equipment are designated for regional response to any county in need throughout the Region 13 Task Force area.
Today, Pittsburgh OEMHS continues to be the conduit for planning, coordination, and information sharing between the public and private sector in the mission areas of protection, prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery.