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State gets list of corrective Antioch Rescue Squad policies

Antioch Rescue  Squad vehicles parked outside their statiHolbek Drive Antioch. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

Antioch Rescue Squad vehicles parked outside their station on Holbek Drive in Antioch. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

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ARS contracts extended

The village of Antioch and First Fire Protection District extended contracts with ARS until mid-February while the organization works to correct problems found by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

A joint public safety committee has also been formed and is meeting monthly or as needed to discuss cross-utilization of rescue and fire services. Representatives of the village, fire district, fire department and ARS are on the committee.

“I am very optimistic that we are moving ahead with making some much-needed changes in the structure of our emergency services,” said Matt Tabar, a First Fire Protection District trustee and facilitator of the new committee.

“We have been working with the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association to help us gather rescue squad and fire department data that we will review and analyze to help us decide where improvements need to be made. There are a lot of players involved, but my sense is that we will continue to work with the ARS as we move forward on this plan. We’ve seen interest, willingness and support from all parties involved.”

Updated: March 1, 2013 7:37PM

The Antioch Rescue Squad has submitted its first report to the Illinois Department of Public Health detailing steps the squad is taking to implement new policies and procedures outlined in its plan of correction.

“It is vitally important to demonstrate to the IDPH that we are going above and beyond their mandates to address their concerns and implement changes that are in the best interest of residents,” said Chief Brian DeKind. “We want the members of our community to know we are taking the needed steps to correct past concerns and we are intent on earning and restoring the community’s trust and confidence in our organization.”

The IDPH investigation conducted in May 2012 found ARS does not follow protocols and lacks security and quality control. ARS management was accused of having no formal rules of conduct, disciplinary procedures or professional standards. The letter outlining the investigation pointed the finger at ARS management, saying it had become an insulated and self-regulated agency with little oversight.

After veteran Chief Wayne Sobczak retired, the eight-member board of directors was reorganized and four independent directors were elected by ARS membership.

ARS, a 73-year-old private not-for-profit organization, has also implemented new policies that address deficiencies outlined by the IDPH.

Permanent secure medication lockers have been installed in each ambulance to address concerns about unauthorized use of medications and supplies. A log of narcotic usage for patients is required for each ambulance and is tracked daily. The ARS purchased an inventory bar coding system to track all medication and IV supplies. The system is being installed, along with a video monitoring system that includes cameras mounted and wired throughout the station.

Policies have been adopted to address safe storage and inventory of medication and IV supplies, proper conduct, professional and ethical patient care. As part of its new polices and procedures, the ARS is now conducting unannounced random drug screenings of members.

ARS has been working with McGrath Consulting Group, a third-party consulting firm contracted to review current policies and recommend changes. McGrath has completed a draft of the squad’s new volunteer policy manual which will be finalized in February.

Other changes enacted by ARS aim to enhance credibility and effectiveness, said DeKind. The squad now maintains personnel files for every member and provides all volunteers with uniforms to wear while on duty. When responding to a call, if a volunteer is not in uniform, he or she is required to wear a photo-identification card that has been issued by the squad.

The ARS recently filled three field supervisor positions with paramedics recruited, hired and supervised by Kurtz Paramedic Services. Since they joined the squad, a field supervisor has been present at every call for EMS service, said DeKind.

Kurtz is the contract provider that staffs daytime hours when volunteers are not available.

“We created a level of middle management to give us continuity throughout the shifts to handle any issues that arise. They are the boots on the ground for management. They supervise both volunteer staff and our paid Kurtz staff,” said DeKind. The supervisor is also an additional set of hands that reduced the use of mutual aid by more than 85 percent in the first month since the supervisors were hired.

The new field supervisors include Mark Jones, Rich Maatta and Joseph Sparks.

Mark Jones is a fire battalion chief at Stone Park Fire Department with 24 years of experience in fire/EMS service. Rich Maatta has hospital/ER experience and has been a paramedic/firefighter for 18 years, currently serving with the Lake Villa Fire Department.

Joseph Sparks has been involved in EMS for the past 10 years as an EMT/paramedic/CC-EMT-P and served as a station manager for a private ambulance company. Supervisors drive a dedicated vehicle that is kept at Station One in downtown Antioch.

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