FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Officials with the Three Rivers Ambulance Authority (TRAA) say the agency is “moving in the right direction.”
“We still have a long way to go,” said Michael Bureau, chief operating officer for TRAA. “We have tried to work to meet long term and short term solutions.”
Since TRAA officials last spoke to the Fort Wayne City Council in July, the agency has seen an increase in new recruits. In total there are seven EMTs and three paramedics currently in orientation and training.
Some have come from other ambulance agencies while others are new to the field. Bureau says partnering with advisors is part of the reason for the increase.
However, TRAA is still down 17 paramedics and 9 EMTs. With the rise in the delta variant, the ambulance authority is also seeing an increase in the number of calls.
“The calls have not stopped,” Bureau said. “Looking at August the volume was even higher than we anticipated for both us and the authority. Obviously, we are going through a surge, that’s a small piece of it and I think it’s that people are out and about again.”
TRAA has been out of compliance regarding run times since August 2020. During a Zoom interview with WANE 15, Bureau says that the agency is still out of compliance. An average of nearly a minute has been added to the ambulance’s run times.
“The thing to remember is that we can be one second late and still be late,” Bureau said. “That’s why the authority looks at each run individually.”
Because of this, PatientCare, which owns TRAA, has been fined nearly $700,000 this year. Bureau hopes that this money will be given to help hire and retain employees.
Bureau explains the fine process and what it would take to give that money back to employees.
“My whole career regardless of where I have worked I have never not been in compliance,” Bureau said. “This was unheard or relatively unheard of until a year ago. Now ambulances across the state and country are facing a similar issue.”
TRAA officials went in front of Fort Wayne City Council Tuesday night and gave the board an update on their progress. All nine council members were visibly upset with TRAA officials.
Several council members are concerned with the lack of paramedics and EMTs. They were also grateful no one has died due to the TRAA situation and that other ambulances in the county are willing to help when TRAA is overwhelmed.