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Article updated: 2/19/2013 5:29 AM

Antioch Rescue Squad contract extension comes with a warning

By Lee Filas

Antioch Rescue Squad officials were told bluntly Monday that they either shape up or ship out.

Antioch village officials voted Monday to approve a contract with the Antioch Rescue Squad for another 91 days. However, trustees made it well known that the squad has this one, final chance to start answering questions or this would be the last contract.

"I'm tired of dealing with it," said Trustee Jay Jozwiak. "I'm sure the residents are tired of dealing with it."

But new Antioch Rescue Squad officials -- elected in January -- agreed, adding they would work with the village board to do what is best for Antioch residents.

"We need to put aside the negativity and open up lines of communication," said Antioch Rescue Squad President Tom Thomas. "We want a detailed list from the village of what you would like to see from the ARS and we will provide it to you."

Trustee Dennis Crosby told the rescue squad that it needs to work on communication with the village, turn over detailed financials in a timely manner, give the village billing information to determine who and how the rescue squad charges patients, and start answering whether it will be best to consolidate with the Antioch Fire Protection District.

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

Then, an investigation by the Illinois Department of Public Health found a host of misconduct issues inside the squad, 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.

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

Also that month, Antioch police arrested squad Treasurer John Edgell on a felony charge of theft of more than $500. Edgell, who resigned the post that month, remains free after posting bail, but the theft remains under investigation by the Antioch Police Department.

In addition, the former rescue squad chief retired months before his paramedic license was suspended by the Illinois Department of Public Health for failing to rein in the misconduct in the department.

Since all the issues came to light, the Antioch village board has been granting an emergency medical service contract to the rescue squad in 90-day increments, but the village has the right to end the contract and shift emergency medical services to the Antioch Fire Protection District.

However, a committee -- made up of village, fire district and rescue squad officials -- was formed in October to try to fix the problems within the organization.

Warning: Theft treasurer accused of still under investigation

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