“People’s lives are on the line, public safety has to come first," said James Elliott, union president.
In a city of about 48,000 people, Mishawaka prides itself on first class treatment.
"We have what I feel to be the highest trained, best firefighter paramedics in the area," Elliott said.
But Elliott said it’s hard to be the best when you're not given enough to work with.
"Right now the biggest issue is our ambulances,” Elliott said. “They are broken down frequently due to mechanical issues."
Issues that he said directly impact public safety.
"The last time the ambulance broke down they were on their way to a serious call," Elliott said.
So why not buy another $240,000 ambulance? That's where the debate comes in. It became a fiery topic during a forum last week between Wood and his challenger, State Rep. Craig Fry.
“All summer long in this city, under this mayor, we have had ambulance trouble, mechanical breakdowns,” Fry said. “The last two weeks we've had two ambulances, and we should have had three.”
"What I stepped into, two ambulances served the city,” Wood said. “Now three do, most of the time, and we will be acquiring more ambulances. So that’s not an issue in the future.”
Fry said it's a simple solution: Prioritize the budget so there's enough money to buy a new ambulance immediately.
But Wood said it's not that easy.
"Budgets are about priorities, and we are building a budget that is lean, efficient and addressing all our city services," Wood said.
The union president said you can't put a price on public safety.
“Short-term, they can come up with the funds to replace the ambulances sooner than next year," Elliott said.
It's important to point out that Elliott is not blaming the current administration for the string of problems. But he said he doesn't want Mayor Wood to wait to replace these broken down ambulances.
Wood said he is taking care of it as soon as the city can afford it, which is next year. But Elliott said he's not sure they can wait that long.
The union will decide this week on which candidate they will endorse for the upcoming election.