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Pa. emergency personnel to be issued ID cards

| Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2007

A statewide initiative to issue photo identification cards to emergency personnel is moving forward in Western Pennsylvania.

The goal locally is to provide standardized IDs for emergency responders in the 13 counties in the Pittsburgh area.

Armstrong County Emergency Management Coordinator Randall J. Brozenick said the cards will be issued through a directive from the Department of Homeland Security's Counter Terrorism Task Force. He said the ID cards for police, fire, emergency responders and amateur radio operators will be valid in what is known as Southwestern Pennsylvania Region 13, a 13-county region that includes Pittsburgh.

Brozenick said that while the focus of Region 13 is terrorism, responders could be needed for weather-related emergencies and hazardous materials spills.

"We have to be ready for any type of civil emergency," he said.

Emergency Medical Services Manager Knox Walk said Allegheny County officials are identifying specialty teams and personnel as the first phase of the project.

He said the new identification system is a solid step for the state.

"Are we done• No, I don't think we will ever be done, but it's a constantly changing process," Walk said. "If something happens, we all need to work together. Now, through the establishment of Region 13, we are working closely together."

Brozenick said the ID cards will identify people authorized to respond to emergencies.

"The thing about these cards is that they will identify the bearer as part of what is officially known as the Southwest Pennsylvania Region Counter Terrorism Task Force, or simply Region 13," he said.

Brozenick said a color-coded bar -- for example, orange for firefighters -- will identify the emergency responder.

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