FWFD Chief says department is too overworked to staff TRAA ambulances

TRAA is a quasi-independent agency with management appointed by both Allen County and City of...
TRAA is a quasi-independent agency with management appointed by both Allen County and City of Fort Wayne leaders.
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 3:34 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - The Fort Wayne Fire Department (FWFD) Chief Eric Lahey has responded to a request from Fort Wayne Councilman Russ Jehl that the department help with Three Rivers Ambulance Authority (TRAA) transports as it struggles with response times.

Lahey’s letter comes after members of the Allen County Fire Chiefs’ Association sent City leaders a letter expressing “concerns regarding the deficiencies” of TRAA. They say other departments who are aiding TRAA are being pulled away from the areas they are supposed to be serving and it is adding stress on crews. In response, Councilman Jehl said he reached out to FWFD, asking if the department would be able to take on TRAA calls if the other agencies are unable to.

Chief Lahey sent a response on Monday, saying FWFD cannot help fill in the gaps with firefighters as it would decrease the number of first responders on the street and “force overtime on an already overworked department”. Currently, he says the department has agreed to respond to priority 6 runs, which are non-life-threatening runs, when TRAA is not able to respond.

“Over 60% of the FWFD’s calls for service are non-EMS emergency runs. This is very different from the County fire department’s EMS to fire run ratio and probably why they don’t fully understand the consequences if we started removing firefighters from the fire response and placing them in an ambulance,” Lahey’s letter says.

Lahey then suggests that TRAA reach out to area hospitals, which he says have a financial interest in providing non-emergency patient transport, for support. He ends the letter by saying there is no reason to change FWFD’s response plan because TRAA has a staffing shortage, and that Mayor Henry and council members agree with his stance. He says leaders need to collaborate to find a system that works best for the community.

Read the letter in full below:

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