FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- Allen County Councilman Joel Benz plans to accept the executive director position at Three Rivers Ambulance Authority.
The TRAA board voted unanimously to extend the job offer to Benz at Thursday’s meeting.
He told FOX 55 once the paperwork is complete he’s looking forward to his new role.
This comes weeks after outgoing executive director Gary Booher announced he’s moving his retirement to Oct. 1, and EMS union president Ian Case announced his resignation.
The TRAA board wasn’t expecting to make a choice for its new executive director this soon.
“We were hoping to have someone in the position really in November to work with Mr. Booher until his retirement,” board member Rachel Guin, said. “Obviously that timeframe was moved up. But we were still very far along in the process.”
Board members said Benz was a frontrunner throughout the search process.
He’s been a paramedic himself for 20 years--19 of those have been with TRAA.
He said as executive director, he wants to be in that supporting role to ensure help shows up when people call.
“The driving force I think for everybody that gets into the field is really being there on somebody’s worst day,” Benz said.
“They are ... the backbone of the system,” Benz said of the paramedics and EMTs. “They have done a tremendous job of picking up the slack, and being there, working extra shifts.
“It’s not easy. I've experienced that, and a lot of them are still there doing it every day and they're doing it right now. I would just encourage the general public, if they see those folks, just say ‘hey, thank you for what you're doing’ and just encourage them because it's a stressful job.”
Guin hopes Benz will bring a morale boost to the organization.
“We hope to instill in our medics that have been with us that we value them, we appreciate them, the community appreciates them and needs them,” she said.
The board also discussed customer satisfaction at Thursday’s meeting, which Vice Chairman Brett Steffen said, based on third-party surveys, is still good.
“Clinical data has not wavered,” he said. “When you receive an ambulance in the city, you can rest assured that you’re receiving quality care every time.”
Steffen hopes for a shift in focus as the end of the year approaches.
“I think our focus from some folks have been on the negatives, but there’s really a lot of positive things going on at TRAA, and I think we need to start focusing on that as we move forward and wrap up the end of the year,” he said.
Benz is not sure how this new job will affect his county council seat.