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posted: 12/8/2012 8:00 AM

Retired Antioch Rescue Chief faces license suspension by state

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  • Wayne Sobczak

      Wayne Sobczak

 
 

The Illinois Department of Public Health will consider suspending the paramedic license of the Antioch Rescue Squad's retired chief for failing to address a litany of misconduct problems, state officials confirmed Friday.

The notice sent Nov. 14 said Wayne Sobczak is under review for not monitoring prescription medication later used by squad members. Sobczak is also under review for not investigating misconduct issues when they surfaced, and for prohibiting squad members from making reports about those issues to state officials.

The notice states the IDPH will conduct a hearing, which could result in Sobczak losing his Illinois paramedic license for a year.

It's unclear when the hearing would take place, state officials said. However, Sobczak had 20 days from the date of the notice to respond to the allegations.

Attempts to reach Sobczak were unsuccessful Friday.

Patrick Goodness, a public relations representative for the Antioch Rescue Squad, said in an email the squad is aware of the notice but stressed "it is important to understand that this complaint is against Mr. Sobczak and not the Antioch Rescue Squad."

"Specifically, Mr. Sobczak will answer to allegations that he mismanaged the oversight of prescription medications during his tenure as chief of the squad," Good added in the email.

IDPH officials did not have any additional comment Friday.

Most of the issues cited in the state's latest notice stem from a 2009 letter sent by Sobczak that is considered a "confidential memo" to ARS members.

It states Sobczak and other ARS leaders were investigating claims that squad members placed prescription medication in the food and drink of other members. But it also warns that discussing allegations with anyone other than ARS management "can perpetuate the same consequences as anyone involved in the inappropriate actions that may have occurred."

The state decided that failing to report potential misconduct and forbidding others from making a report was a violation of the state's Emergency Medical Services Act.

It is the latest controversy involving the Antioch Rescue Squad, which uses volunteers and contract workers to provide emergency medical care 24 hours a day for Antioch and Antioch Township.

In May, a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by three former members against several rescue squad members and high-ranking officials came to light. Since then, two of the three women have accepted settlement offers totaling $155,000.

An informal letter from the IDPH was released in August accusing members of various misconduct, including arriving for shifts shortly after consuming alcohol and agitating patients to justify restraining device use.

The letter, which also stated the rescue squad lacked management and formal codes of conduct, accused emergency medical technicians of putting prescription medication into the food and drink of other members, and using intravenous fluids on themselves to cure hangovers or high intoxication levels.

Those informal findings led the IDPH to issue $15,000 in fines against the rescue squad on Oct. 15 for violations of the Emergency Medical Services Act.

In October, Antioch police arrested and charged rescue squad Treasurer John Edgell for theft of more than $500, a felony. Edgell, who resigned the post in October, remains free after posting 10 percent of his $2,000 bail.

Sobczak announced his retirement in late October, about two weeks before the violation notice was issued against him by the state.

"Over the past months, current squad leadership has taken dramatic steps to implement new measures to ensure that these past concerns and others will not be a part of Antioch Rescue Squad's future," Goodness said. "The Antioch Rescue Squad is an integral part of the fabric of the Antioch community, and is committed to providing competent, professional high quality emergency medical care for the citizens of Antioch and the surrounding area."

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