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Article updated: 2/14/2013 2:21 PM

Retired Antioch rescue chief agrees to have paramedic license reduced

Wayne A. Sobczak

Wayne A. Sobczak

 
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Retired Antioch Rescue Squad Chief Wayne Sobczak is not legally allowed to be a paramedic for one year as punishment for failing to address misconduct within the organization he oversaw, state officials confirmed Thursday.

Under the voluntary license reduction agreement Sobczak reached with the Illinois Department of Public Health in late 2012, Sobczak will retain his basic emergency medical technician license for one year and is allowed to reapply for a new paramedic license in December, officials said.

Melaney Arnold, an IDPH spokeswoman, said the license reduction agreement is in lieu of a potential license revocation or lengthy suspension of Sobczak's paramedic license. The agreement also states he would be on probation for three years should he choose to reapply for his paramedic license in the future.

Attempts to reach Sobczak were unsuccessful Friday.

Sobczak was notified in mid-November that his license could be suspended by the IDPH because he failed to address a slew of misconduct taking place at the rescue squad.

Among the allegations are that he failed to maintain proper oversight of prescription medication, did not investigate employee misconduct issues when they surfaced and that he prohibited squad members from making reports about any issues to state officials, a violation of the state's Emergency Medical Services Act.

Sobczak agreed to reducing his license to basic EMT status rather than face a revocation hearing, Arnold said.

The rescue squad uses volunteers and contract workers to provide emergency medical care 24 hours a day for Antioch and Antioch Township. However, some Antioch village board members have pushed to merge the troubled rescue squad with the Antioch Fire Protection District.

The squad is due to sign a new 90-day contract with the village of Antioch for emergency services.

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

An investigation by the IDPH found a host of misconduct, including employees arriving for shifts shortly after consuming alcohol, agitating patients to justify the use of restraining devices, and putting prescription medication into the food and drink of other members. It also found the rescue squad lacked formal codes of conduct.

The rescue squad was fined $15,000 in October for violations of the state's Emergency Medical Services Act.

In October, Antioch police arrested and charged squad Treasurer John Edgell for theft of more than $500, a felony. Edgell, who resigned the post that month, remains free after posting 10 percent of his $2,000 bail, but the theft remains under investigation by the Antioch Police Department.

Two weeks before the IDPH requested the hearing regarding Sobczak's paramedic license, Sobczak announced his retirement.

Since November, the squad has hired the Goodness Company Public Relations Firm of Wisconsin. Company spokesman Patrick Goodness was not available for comment Thursday, his office said.

In the past, Goodness has said the rescue squad is focusing on the future and Sobczak "will answer to allegations that he mismanaged the oversight of prescription medications during his tenure as chief of the squad."

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