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Antioch officials planning ambulance service future

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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Updated: April 9, 2013 11:42AM

Antioch village and township officials for the third time extended a 90-day contract to the Antioch Rescue Squad, while they work with the squad and the Antioch Fire Department to plan the future of ambulance service for residents.

“We have narrowed down our future operations to two models, either we hire ARS as a vendor providing ambulance service for which we collect the money and pay them for services, or we merge the rescue squad with the fire department,” said Village Trustee Dennis Crosby, a member of a joint public safety committee that includes representatives from the village, fire district, fire department and ARS. The committee is meeting weekly to discuss how the two departments can work together to provide emergency services for the village and township.

“We feel good about the progress. We know we have got to get it done and everyone is approaching it with a good attitude,” said Crosby.

“We finally laid all the issues on the table at our last meeting,” said Matt Tabar, a First Fire Protection District trustee and facilitator of the new committee. “We received a report from the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association analyzing how both departments work using 2012 data. We are using this as a tool as we look at how we can improve services, especially in the township.”

Tabar said the real issue is determining the best and most-efficient way to deliver services and at the same time make sure that inefficiencies and unprofessional conduct by ARS personnel that occurred in the past never happens again.

Cross-utilization of fire and rescue personnel is important no matter how future emergency services are provided, said Crosby.

Crosby said the two departments effectively used cross-utilization of personnel in two recent incidents, one in which an ATV when through the ice on Lake Marie, sending its operator into the water and the other was when ARS and the fire department’s advanced life support team responded to an incident of carbon monoxide poisoning. Both had positive outcomes, said Crosby. “It makes a big difference to have both departments responding to the same call. It is a good thing to pile on the response because sometimes it is more than one ambulance can handle.”

“We’re finding the mission of department interoperability is beneficial to both,” said Fire Chief John Nixon. “This is helping both of our departments.”

ARS Chief Brian DeKind said it has been past practice for both departments to respond to major events and accidents, but the practice has been expanded to include serious medical emergencies. ARS and the fire department responded jointly to 14 medical calls in December. In January there were 11 joint calls and the February total was 24 calls. “These are serious calls like a heart attack. We more than welcome the fire department’s help and are glad of the resources they provide,” said DeKind.

DeKind confirmed the group is focusing on the two models. “At the next meeting we are looking at manpower and staffing for both options. That will be followed by a presentation of operating costs and revenue projections.”

The next meeting of the committee is set for Friday at 7:30 a.m. at the Maplethorpe Room at Antioch Village Hall. “We want to get this wrapped up within the time frame of our current 90-day contract,” said Crosby.

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