The Antioch Rescue Squad has been fined $15,000 by the state for allowing members unauthorized access to prescription medication and for staffing ambulances with unqualified personnel, state officials said Tuesday.
The fines were imposed by the Illinois Department of Public Health on Oct. 15 and are violations of the Emergency Medical Services Act, said Melaney Arnold, an IDPH spokeswoman.
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The rescue squad received three violations of $5,000 each, but can request a hearing to contest the findings and fines, Arnold said. The fines stem from an IDPH investigation into the squad conducted earlier this year.
ARS Chief Wayne Sobczak and attorney Martin Lapointe did not return multiple phone calls seeking comment about the penalties.
ARS President Steve Smouse said he had not heard about the fines and could not comment on the issue.
According to the formal letter issued by the state, the rescue squad was fined twice for allowing its members unauthorized access to prescription medication and not reporting the unprofessional and unethical conduct, and once for staffing ambulances with unqualified personnel during emergency transports.
According to the violation notice, squad members were able to access prescription doses of Lasix and Benadryl and put the drugs into the drinks of unsuspecting crew members, a clear violation of the EMS Act.
In addition, members were using prescription-only IV solutions on each other for training and other nonmedical or emergency purposes, the letter stated.
The rescue squad was also fined for staffing ambulances with basic life support personnel only, and not advanced life support technicians as required by law.
The fines follow a scathing letter issued to the Antioch Rescue Squad by the public health department in September.
In that letter, squad members were accused of various forms of misconduct, including arriving for their shifts shortly after consuming alcohol, not reporting the use of medications such as IVs and Lasix, and for agitating patients in order to justify the use of restraining devices.
In addition, the letter stated the rescue squad lacked management systems, personnel files and formal codes of conduct.
Since that letter was received, the Antioch Rescue Squad has sent a plan of correction to the state and is working toward addressing those issues.
Among the changes are restructuring the board of directors, instituting a medication inventory and adding codes of conduct for squad members.
Word of the fines comes just days after Antioch Police arrested ARS treasurer John Edgell on criminal charges of theft for allegedly stealing more than $12,000 from the rescue squad.
Edgell, who also served as an Antioch Township trustee before resigning in August, remains free after posting 10 percent of his $2,000 bond.
If found guilty of the charges filed against him, Edgell could spend up seven years in prison and be fined up to $25,000.
Smouse said he was "heartbroken" to hear about the charges filed against Edgell.
"He was a trusted friend of mine for years," Smouse said. "This was a betrayal. It was just terrible."