Pittsburgh police, paramedics buy wheelchair van

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PITTSBURGH (AP) (AP)strong>

Pittsburgh police and paramedics have used a grant to help pay $51,000 for a specially equipped van to carry people who use wheelchairs.

City police told Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE that they've recognized the need since the Group of 20 economic summit protests in September 2009, when they had difficulty transporting some people who used wheelchairs.

The van could be used for witnesses, victims or suspects.

Before buying the van, the police had to call for paramedics or rely on special transport vehicles from the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office or the county's mass transit agency.

The new van has a motorized ramp and special hooks that can be used to secure the chairs and their occupants.

Officers have been injured in the past trying to move motorized wheelchairs, some of which weigh 350 pounds.