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Article posted: 2/13/2013 10:20 PM

Antioch passes one day contract for embattled rescue squad

By Lee Filas

The Antioch Rescue Squad should not expect another rubber stamped 90-contract when they go before the village board Monday, officials warned Wednesday.

Antioch board members held a special board meeting at the Antioch Village Hall Wednesday to approve a one-day contract extension needed for the Antioch Rescue Squad. However, Antioch trustees Scott Pierce and Dennis Crosby both said that they would not just pass another 90-day contract unless some major changes are made at the embattled rescue squad.

"I am one person that will not put a rubber stamp on this vote Monday," Crosby said. "I will vote yes on a one-day extension today, but I want us to take a hard look at what is in the best interest of the residents of Antioch."

The one-day extension was required, officials said, because the embattled rescue squad's previous 90-day contract runs out Sunday night, one day before a village board meeting where Antioch officials will discuss the future of the agency.

Monday will be the third 90-day contract the board will review.

The Antioch Rescue Squad -- which uses volunteers and contract workers to provide emergency medical care 24 hours a day for Antioch and Antioch Township -- has been under a microscope since May when a sexual harassment lawsuit came to light against several rescue squad members and high-ranking rescue officials.

Since then, two of the three women involved in the suit have accepted settlement offers totaling $155,000. The third still remains unsettled.

But, shortly after, an informal letter from the Illinois Department of Public Health was released accusing members of various misconduct, including arriving for shifts shortly after consuming alcohol and agitating patients to justify restraining device use.

The letter 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.

But, then, Antioch police arrested and charged former 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.

The investigation into Edgell continues.

Then, in October, former ARS Rescue Squad Chief Wayne Sobczak announced he was stepping down and retiring, about two weeks before the Illinois Department of Public Health announced a hearing was being held to suspend his paramedic and emergency medical technician license.

Pierce also asked Wednesday whether the Antioch Rescue Squad and the Antioch Fire Protection District were sending too many emergency vehicles to the scene.

"Are we over flooding them on calls?" Pierce wondered allowed before asking fire district chief John Nixon for a breakdown of how many emergency vehicles were sent to calls.

However, Crosby pointed out that, "If I was on the ground, I would want everyone they can get there to help me."

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