21investigates asks county commissioners about funding city’s ambulance provider

Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 6:07 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - The city council has signed off on contributing to Three Rivers Ambulance Authority’s financial shortfall, will the county step in too?

The ambulance service is one of the most crucial resources in the community. TRAA was posting slow response time so they hired more paramedics causing a $3.5 million shortfall. Leaders with the ambulance provider requested funding help from both the city and the county.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, members were pressing TRAA Executive Director Joel Benz wondering if the city is going to pitch in on his financial request. County Commissioner Richard Beck says the county is currently working on responding to that request.

“It’s a necessary thing for our community, we need EMS services,” Beck said.

21Investigates took a look at the number of 911 calls TRAA makes into areas outside of the county and took that number to commissioners, Friday. TRAA ambulances are responsible for 265,000 residents inside Fort Wayne city limits. They’re responsible for 30,000 people in the rest of the county. According to data from November 2021 and May 2022, a seven month period, 21Investigates found that 3% of 911 calls came from the county.

What is an appropriate amount of funding for the county to pitch in? The county is still in their consideration phase and haven’t committed yet.

“I think that going to the city is the correct place for them to go,” He said. “We are working on a response to them and we are working on our own plan.”

The city has pledged $3 million and they want the county to contribute. If county residents take up %3 of TRAA calls, 3% of $3 million would be $90,000.

Beck says there are four townships outside of Fort Wayne city limits that have been helping answer 911 calls for TRAA.

“Whats happening is the townships have been coming into the city,” Beck said. “It’s been a real challenge and a real drain on the fire departments.”

Beck says the county has already dedicated their resources to TRAA in other ways. Last year, county fire departments expressed burnout after responding to an overwhelming number of emergency calls for TRAA. Now officials are considering this financial boost too.

“Pay close attention because this is a critical issue, pay very close attention,” Beck said.

He says the commissioners will be presenting their plan to city and TRAA leaders sometime next week.