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Indiana County Pushes for Ambulance Dispatch Merger

The Allen County commissioners are asking whether a local ambulance service should investigate merging with city-county dispatch for efficiency and a possible cost-savings.

The service's executive director says no merger is necessary.

Gary Booher, executive director of the Three Rivers Ambulance Authority, said Friday his dispatching service should stay separate from the city-county operation.

TRAA dispatch is at 525 Hayden St. on the city's south side while the newly merged Fort Wayne-Allen County 911 dispatch center is downtown in the Rousseau Center, formerly the City-County Building.

County Commissioner Nelson Peters said the county has worked hard on the city-county dispatch merger.

"Given the efficiencies we've found, I'm wondering if there is an opportunity to work with TRAA," Peters said, asking whether the alternative could be considered or investigated.

"I don't see it speeding up response times or lowering our costs," Booher said. "I see a model that is working well, and sometimes we should leave things alone."

Three Rivers Ambulance Authority is an appointed government agency that chooses which company provides emergency medical services, oversees the company's performance and bills patients.

Commissioner Therese Brown said that while she would not want to compromise public safety, she agreed with Peters that Booher might investigate the possibility of a merger.

"We are stewards of tax dollars and while I realize that TRAA is not a recipient of tax dollars, that could change down the road," Brown said.

According to the TRAA website, three primary service answering points for police and fire - Fort Wayne, Allen County and New Haven - receive 911 calls initially and forward all medical calls to TRAA dispatch, which handles about 34,000 calls a year.

Booher said that after operating in the red for several years during the recession, things have taken a turn in the past two years, with TRAA operating in the black.

Ambulance runs are up, and so are the number of people carrying insurance, Booher said.

"In 2012 we averaged 64 runs a day and that is up this year to 66 runs a day," Booher said.

Even though TRAA does not receive any city, county or state funding, Peters thinks a possible merger with the city-county dispatch merits consideration.

"Even though our dispatch centers are different, that does not mean we cannot come together and make it work," Peters said.



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