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Allen County Councilman Joel Benz plans to accept TRAA executive director position

At Thursday's TRAA board meeting, the board voted to extend the job offer to Allen County Councilman Joel Benz. He later told FOX 55 he plans to accept the position.

Posted: Sep 23, 2021 10:45 PM
Updated: Sep 24, 2021 7:44 AM

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.

A staffing shortage and slow response times have plagued TRAA for about a year and a half, and Benz understands the added pressure on the employees.

“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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1000163

Reported Deaths: 16309
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1347632106
Lake660041156
Allen57441793
Hamilton46100461
St. Joseph44109607
Elkhart35696507
Vanderburgh32087477
Tippecanoe27796257
Johnson24902443
Hendricks23738354
Porter22802362
Madison18614404
Clark18424250
Vigo17347301
Monroe15180197
LaPorte15046250
Delaware14984259
Howard14626287
Kosciusko12217147
Hancock11630175
Bartholomew11505179
Warrick11255189
Floyd11013214
Wayne10897250
Grant9964218
Morgan9404176
Boone8863116
Dubois8227130
Dearborn817093
Henry8139151
Noble7984106
Marshall7838134
Cass7499119
Lawrence7403170
Shelby7138114
Jackson694088
Gibson6533113
Harrison644491
Huntington633999
Knox6273106
DeKalb626397
Montgomery6208109
Miami589797
Putnam575377
Clinton570271
Whitley560455
Steuben554675
Wabash5279101
Jasper524475
Jefferson506996
Ripley495685
Adams476073
Daviess4616113
Scott435869
Greene422096
Wells420987
Clay420260
White415962
Decatur4133101
Fayette404286
Jennings385160
Posey375343
LaGrange353978
Washington353249
Randolph341999
Spencer337342
Fountain332558
Sullivan326752
Starke313369
Owen312070
Fulton306567
Orange291762
Jay280445
Perry264752
Franklin264042
Carroll259132
Rush258832
Vermillion255454
Parke230026
Pike227943
Tipton226659
Blackford190540
Pulaski181855
Crawford158623
Newton156048
Benton150217
Brown144547
Martin137419
Switzerland134211
Warren120516
Union106815
Ohio84112
Unassigned0538

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1499485

Reported Deaths: 23327
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1626291662
Cuyahoga1447662412
Hamilton1044761409
Montgomery731681240
Summit610421094
Lucas55643904
Butler51076707
Stark459431053
Lorain35141568
Warren32476369
Mahoning30315672
Clermont27930321
Lake26669434
Delaware23960162
Licking23547283
Trumbull22550552
Fairfield22179241
Greene22098311
Medina21763305
Clark19630349
Richland18342280
Portage17696247
Wood17244220
Allen15730269
Miami15355296
Muskingum14551174
Columbiana13756263
Wayne13585263
Tuscarawas12479298
Marion11797175
Scioto11388154
Pickaway11286141
Erie10676180
Ross10462196
Lawrence9663137
Hancock9546149
Ashtabula9479197
Belmont9133197
Geauga8829157
Jefferson8481191
Huron8229139
Union810756
Washington8031137
Sandusky7724145
Athens769572
Knox7606138
Darke7553151
Seneca7208144
Ashland6817125
Auglaize667896
Shelby6410111
Brown628582
Crawford6184130
Defiance6087102
Mercer608293
Fulton592996
Highland590099
Madison587576
Clinton576190
Logan574692
Guernsey572467
Preble5660121
Putnam5250108
Williams520184
Perry512561
Champaign505071
Jackson498770
Ottawa479086
Coshocton471582
Morrow451256
Pike430762
Fayette422160
Adams411587
Gallia411265
Hardin411076
Van Wert364078
Henry357871
Holmes3567122
Hocking352578
Wyandot317961
Carroll297059
Paulding275945
Meigs259249
Monroe212953
Noble196546
Morgan190832
Harrison178242
Vinton162624
Unassigned05
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Angola
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Decatur
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