Mikaela Bixler is the new Emergency and Emergency Services (CARES) Coordinator of the Warsaw-Wayne Fire Department.  Photo by David Slone, Times-Union

Mikaela Bixler is the new Emergency and Emergency Services (CARES) Coordinator of the Warsaw-Wayne Fire Department. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union

The Warsaw-Wayne Township Fire Protection Territory City Council met the new CARES coordinator on Tuesday and approved a K21 grant for the CARES program.

CARES – Community Assistance Resources & Emergency Services – is a program that focuses on those suffering from a mental health crisis, assists those who have difficulties obtaining or reconciling medications, and assists in obtaining appropriate medical care, according to the website of CARES. the city of Warsaw. Continuous services are also provided for home safety assessments, emergency housing assistance, uninjured assistance, general health assessments and resource allocation to residents.

Introducing Mikaela Bixler, the new CARES Coordinator, Fire Chief Garrett Holderman said she is “amazing” and has been “very good”.

EMS chief Chris Fancil said that from January to May: “We made about 128 CARES calls – what we would consider classifying as Civil Assistant or CARES calls in our system. In June, Mikaela started on the 17th. She has 56 calls committed in the month of June and has been busy, she was already doing a lot of things today.”

He said he believes Bixler will be a “remarkable” addition to the CARES program and “really jump start this thing. She makes me tired because she’s got all this energy and she’s doing things.”

Mayor Joe Thallemer asked Bixler to introduce herself and give some of her background.

Bixler said she got out of the Bowen Center after working there for 3-1/2 years in their temporary housing facilities.

She has a bachelor’s degree in human services from Purdue Fort Wayne.

“I’ve always really enjoyed working with people,” she told the fire service.

Thallemer said: “We are very happy with Mikaela. We had quite a few people signed up and I was very happy to sit down with Mikaela and talk to her about her background and take charge of this new program. I know we have community support. I think there is a demand for that. We just needed someone who is very smart and energetic and she is very energetic. Mikaela, thank you for your efforts and we are very excited to see this program really take off.”

City Councilor Mike Klondaris said he’s known her since she was knee high.

“Love it so far, so thank you,” Bixler said.

Klondaris said Bixler couldn’t have asked for a better mentor than Fancil.

After the meeting, Bixler said she is originally from Silver Lake and graduated from Warsaw Community High School in 2014. After earning her bachelor’s degree in human services from Purdue Fort Wayne – then IPFW – she joined Bowen Center.

When asked why she decided to apply for the position of CARES Coordinator, Bixler said: “I have always been very interested in working with different types of people and I saw how important the program is. When I worked at Bowen, I saw some of the needs in the community and the CARES program provides some answers to some of those needs. So that was very exciting for me.”

She said some of the calls she’d had were calls she’d responded to, while others were calls she’d followed up on. “The guys will go out to respond and then I’ll contact the family or the patient after that.”

The issues were very diverse, she said, from mental health issues to situations of domestic violence and connecting people to organizations like The Beaman Home. She has worked with elderly people who need help finding resources or accessing food and medicine.

Bixler said she wasn’t surprised at the number of phone calls she’s responded to in the community.

“I worked where I was (at the Bowen Center), and I see there are a lot of people in need in the community. And there are also many resources in our community. Sometimes people just need to bond with them,” she says.

Since CARES is a fairly new program, Bixler said she just wanted people to know they’re here to help and to help connect them with other services they might need. “So if they need help and don’t know who to call, they can call us.”

The number to call Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm is 574-453-7901. If a person calls outside those hours, Bixler said they will call back the next business day. If it is an emergency, call 911.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Fancil also asked the board to accept a $20,000 grant from the K21 Health Foundation. He said the grant was for ballistic vests for the CARES people when they go out in the community, for vehicle cameras and other safety equipment.

“K21 was kind enough to approve that grant application for the full amount. It’s a zero match from us. It’s $20,000 in grant money,” Fancil said.

Thallemer told Fancil that he appreciated his taking the time to apply for the scholarship and K21’s generosity.

Holderman also yelled at K21 for being awesome. Fancil also expressed his gratitude to K21.

The fire service unanimously approved the grant. The grant award must also be approved by the Council of Public Works and Security.