2-1-1 and Tree of Life Response
The “darkest day”—how some describe October 27, 2018, in Pittsburgh, Pa.—is one that will never be forgotten. It was a day that saw a lone gunman enter the Tree of Life Synagogue and shoot Jewish congregants who had gathered to worship. The mass shooting left 11 dead, six injured and an entire city and nation reeling to make sense of the tragic and senseless loss of lives.
2-1-1: Ready to Respond
Not long after the first reports of an active shooter came in, the Emergency Operations Center contacted members of the local and regional Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), which began to mobilize. PA 2-1-1 Southwest along with the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Allegheny County Emergency Management Agency, and Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) all responded to the situation. The VOAD meets on a quarterly basis to discuss disaster preparedness, response, relief and recovery. While the VOAD is prepared and equipped to respond to disasters, this was the first time the group had responded to a mass shooting.
PA 2-1-1 Southwest received a call from the Allegheny County DHS that 2-1-1 was being activated as the public inquiry line. PA 2-1-1 Southwest has historically acted as the coordinating intake line for disaster calls and has helped direct relief efforts. Per the call, 2-1-1 joined the Emergency Operations Center team to assist with disaster efforts. However, given the magnitude of the situation, the FBI assumed responsibility for the public inquiry line, which, in turn, served as a tip line.
PA 2-1-1 Southwest was able to respond to contacts during this difficult time. Through the strong county network that has been developed, 2-1-1 was able to provide our neighbors who were affected by this tragedy with information on the welfare of their loved ones, as well as housing services and counseling resources.