FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Although the number of employees is not yet there, two critical emergency services in Allen County have reported an increase in the number of trainees, with the number of people in the field working steadily.
Joel Benz, executive director of the Three Rivers Ambulance Authority since September, said this week the agency had 55 full-time staff, down from 46 in July.
Part-time paramedics and paramedics number 23, down from 16 in July, and those part-timers are “pretty much all who have returned,” Benz said.
David Bubb, executive director of Consolidated Communications Partnership, the agency in charge of the city-county’s 9-11 dispatch center, apologized to his board on Tuesday for losing two dispatchers in January, but the council was not upset when he learned that the two were in the Fort Wayne Police Department’s recruit class.
The 9-11 department has 47 dispatchers and 13 supervisors with 12 vacancies, Bubb reported. Three people work part-time.
Salaries and a free-wheeling labor market affected ranks at both agencies, as well as internal dispatch issues that were resolved by creating a dialogue with management and disgruntled dispatchers.
“We are seeing a flattening of the curve,” Bubb said Thursday. “We are starting to bring the curve back to our normal state.”
Bubb said they’re looking for career-focused prospects for a job that starts at nearly $19 an hour, but due to the rigor involved, it’s not for everyone.
“It’s a job like no other. It’s exhilarating. You are part of the public safety team. When people are having their worst day, you are their lifeline and we take that seriously.
“It’s very, very gratifying. While you never know what the day is going to bring, it’s a rewarding career knowing you’re part of the continuum of public safety here in Fort Wayne and in Allen County,” Bubb added.
With 11 people in orientation, things are moving “in the right direction,” said Benz, a 20-year veteran of TRAA. The full complement would be 75 EMTs and paramedics.
Benz did not clear the situation. Response times have not improved and fines for such late responses continue to be imposed. The creation of an in-house training class seemed to boost the number of qualified trainees who have yet to pass state tests and undergo on-the-job training.
“It can’t go fast. You don’t want someone who is unqualified,” Benz said.
The board was able to institute a 7% raise in July, but the pay increase was not permanent. A paramedic starts at $19.50 per hour. Hires to learn start at $11, Benz said.
While Benz and its operations track local operations and impose fines, a company in Tyler, Texas oversees day-to-day operations and hires and fires,” Benz said.
PatientCare EMS Solutions, owned by a hedge fund, A&M Capital Partners, LP since 2018, also has EMS operations in Carthage, Mississippi; Pinellas County, Florida; Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas, and Polk counties in Florida; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and southeastern Collin County, Texas.
The Tyler, Texas office instructed WANE-TV to call an associated office in Tucker, Georgia to inquire about any salary increases planned for this year. The call was not returned.
“Nobody gets an ambulance,” Benz said. “At the end of the day, the county helped us quite significantly. We bring ambulances to the scene and we always give them priority. Priority 1 gets the next nearest ambulance. Non-urgent volume – between hospitals – has dropped significantly because we simply don’t have the capacity to handle them. »