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NV Twp. Workers Thanked for Water Rescue

Injured police officer returns to job

By T.J. Martin
The Tube City Almanac
February 28, 2024
Posted in: North Versailles Twp. News

Three North Versailles Twp. employees participated in the rescue of an elderly woman who fell into Turtle Creek earlier this month and one was on hand at the township commissioners monthly meeting to receive their thanks. Afterwards, he thanked them for allowing him and his colleagues the opportunity to do so.

Merle “Bud” Pusey serves as a Code Enforcement Officer for North Versailles and is also the Assistant Fire Chief of the West Wilmerding Volunteer Fire Department.

On Feb. 15, Pusey said, he was in the code enforcement office in the township municipal building when a call went out shortly after 9 a.m. for first responders to assist a 75-year-old woman who had fallen into Turtle Creek near the 400 block of Airbrake Avenue in Wilmerding while she was taking a walk.

He went to the fire department to get his swiftwater rescue gear, consisting of a helmet, a life vest and a “throw bag.”

When he arrived at the accident scene, he was joined by Tyler Schwer, a laborer with the North Versailles Parks and Recreation Department and J.R. Pusey, a mechanic with the township’s road department.

Like Merle Pusey, they were also at work that morning in the municipal building, are members of the West Wilmerding Volunteer Fire Department and trained in swiftwater rescues.

Pusey said after being tied with ropes used to secure him while operating in the creek, he entered the water and found the accident victim unable to move. He performed a “quick rescue” designed to remove a victim from danger as rapidly as possible by placing a backboard beneath her, then moving her about 200 feet to a dry raised sewer grate on a island in the creek before treating her further.

The victim was then moved to the shore, placed in an ambulance and transported to a local hospital. Pusey said the 20-foot fall left the woman with some broken bones and other injuries and, while he was unsure of her condition, he said when she was placed in the ambulance, she was conscious and alert.

Pusey said he appreciates the commissioners for allowing he and his colleagues to suspend their duties with the township when they’re called to such an emergency.

The commissioners also had news about two other first responders: they said police Officer Steve Shawley and his K-9 partner Chase have returned to duty.

The pair were both injured by gunfire while responding to a call in November. A suspect in the shooting was later apprehended.

T.J. Martin is a freelance writer from Trafford whose work has also appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Irwin Standard Observer.

Originally published February 28, 2024.

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