FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — At Tuesday’s Fort Wayne City Council meeting, Three Rivers Ambulance Authority (TRAA) got some much needed help.
A plan put forward by Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry to give the organization $3 million through monthly increments passed by an 9 to 0 vote.
The money isn’t in full however, and TRAA will provide monthly reports to the City of Fort Wayne and the city will provide funds to help TRAA avoid operating in a deficit.
On top of that, City Council introduced an amendment to the proposal that would have TRAA report back to City Council after receiving one-third of the $3 million funding.
Then, City Council would vote to approve another $1 million in funding before TRAA would have to report back again in order to receive the final $1 million of the funding.
However, the funding does not signal the end of TRAA’s troubles because staffing remains an issue.
TRAA currently has 14 paramedics, but they they need 40 to operate at their desired capacity. That fact shocked some councilmembers like Sharon Tucker.
“Fourteen but you need 40?” Tucker said.
“Yes,” Benz replied.
To which Tucker could only say “wow.”
With the shortage, some TRAA executives, including Benz, have had to jump into service. It’s something that wasn’t lost on City Council during discussion Tuesday night.
“The last time I saw Joel Benz, he wasn’t in business attire, he was in uniform. He had to roll up his sleeves, get on a truck, and help people in need,” said Councilman Russ Jehl.
TRAA is also still looking to receive additional funding from Allen County.
Rachel Guin, the president of TRAA’s board of directors, said that after months, they are finally making some headway with Allen County Commissioners.
“This has been for the first time we’ve seen openness to the process,” Guin said.
On Thursday afternoon, the Allen County Commissioners issued a statement regarading the funding request.
Access to life-saving emergency medical care is important to the Commissioners and was one of the top driving factors in the establishment of Fire Protection Districts in unincorporated Allen County in January 2023. There are many neighborhoods in Allen County that border Fort Wayne proper and are under contract with TRAA rather than the fire district. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the Commissioners to know that when these constituents call 911, help is on its way.
The Commissioners are in regular communication with TRAA leadership and are taking all information under advisement. They continue to monitor the ambulance service’s efforts toward financial stability and solvency and will help in ways that make sense for the health of the county, fiscally, but also the safety and security of all Allen County residents.Allen County Commissioners