Formalize regional mutual aid and intergovernmental agreements to respond to Weapons of Mass Destruction events, chemical emergencies and other man-made and natural disasters.
Establish an interoperable communications system within the region and Western PA for all emergency response agencies.
Develop a specialized equipment resource pool specific to WMD responses to be utilized throughout the region.
Ensure that specialized WMD training is available to all Emergency Services personnel and support agencies as necessary.
Apply, as a group, for grant funding for special acquisitions and project.
Foster positive networking for information, technical applications, law enforcement intelligence and incident prevention; and form solid relationships among all group members and participants.
Develop Regional Response and Intelligence Protocol and procedures.
Develop the ability to deliver highly trained and equipped teams of responders capable of minimizing the effects of a terrorist incident within the region.
Build on the group's WMD preparedness and response to system that provides the region an enhanced ability to more effectively and efficiently respond and mitigate other man-made and natural disasters.
The Inaugural meeting was held on November 9, 1998, at the Allegheny County Emergency Management Office Coordinators from 12 counties and one from the City of Pittsburgh convened to prepare and plan for a potential domestic terrorism event from a regional perspective. Mercer County was admitted into the working group on May 20, 1999, resulting in a total of thirteen counties.
The PA Region 13 Task Force is recognized under State Law Act 227 as one of 9 in the Commonwealth. PA Region 13 covers a population of 3 million over a 9,550 square mile area. There are 706 local Municipalities, 713 Fire Departments, 392 Police Departments, 203 EMS Agencies, 65 Hospitals, 15 State Certified HazMat Teams, and 2 Explosive Teams. The Region 13 Task Force prides itself in have a strong relationship between Local, County, Sate, and Federal Organizations.
Meetings are held every third Thursday of the month at the Allegheny County Emergency Operations Center. Individual Committees conduct their business and give reports on various projects and progress. Time is allotted for special interest presentations.
To the credit of all PA Region 13 Task Force members, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Association of Counties, and the National Domestic Preparedness Office have recognized the organization as a model organization for intergovernmental cooperation in fighting the threat and consequences of terrorism.
PA Region 13 has been working hard to secure funding, training, and equipment for the group's initiatives. Current activities include: implementing and supporting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security WMD programs and equipment distribution. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Emergency Preparedness, Metropolitan Medical Response System development, training and equipment acquisition and working with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency in developing a region- wide plan and comprehensive training exercises.
Major full-scale exercises have involved the Port Authority subway, bus way and PNC Park within the City of Pittsburgh, " Mall Strike 2001" through "Steel Rose" in Westmoreland County, “Steel Hammer” in Beaver County, “Scarlet Harvest” in Lawrence County and numerous table tops, drills, and functional exercises throughout the region.
PA Region 13 to date has been operationally tested in Somerset County with the Flight 93 air crash, and Quecreek Mine, and in Beaver County with the Hepatitis A outbreak. The Task Force has responded to many other events throughout the region.
PA Region 13 deployable assets have had a great impact on the regions ability to respond to major emergencies Statewide. PA Region 13 has added a fully trained and equipped Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Team referred to PA USAR Strike Team #1 to its compliment of special resources available to respond to building collapses and special rescue situations.
The idea for the PA Region 13 Task Force came from the exploration of the ideas and philosophies developed during 3 years of discussion in the Pittsburgh Allegheny County-WMD working group. The group realized that during any significant "All Hazards" or terrorism event the entire Region or multiple Counties could be called upon to assist the local responders.
The foundation of PA Region 13 is set in place by an unprecedented intergovernmental agreement between the 13 Counties and City of Pittsburgh in Southwestern PA.
The strength of PA Region 13 comes from the strong support and leadership from our 36 County Commissioners, Allegheny County Chief Executive, and Pittsburgh Mayor. Our County/City Elected Officials have empowered the 14 Emergency Management Coordinators to represent the interests of the individual County/City governments on a daily basis.