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Antioch Rescue Squad reorganization going forward

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: December 15, 2012 6:07AM

The Antioch Rescue Squad is seeking candidates with no ties to the ARS to serve on the newly restructured board of directors.

The reorganization of the board is just one of many proposed changes in a 73-page plan of correction submitted to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The Village Board will discuss extending a 90-day contract with ARS that expires Nov. 24 at a committee-of-the-whole meeting at 7 p.m. today, Nov. 14, at Village Hall.

The ARS has been beset with problems discovered by an IDPH investigation in May, mostly blamed on board and squad leadership. Since the IDPH findings were made public, long-time board members Steve Smouse and Patrick Chostner stepped down, treasurer John Edgell was charged with stealing funds from the ARS and veteran ARS Chief Wayne Sobczak announced his retirement with Deputy Chief Brian DeKind appointed as interim chief.

Restructuring the board will require the election of three new outside board members with no ties to ARS in addition to four active squad members, with plans to add a fourth independent board member after the membership approves revised bylaws. Election of new board members, slated for mid-November, has been pushed to mid-December to allow Antioch village officials to screen the nominees.

“There has to be some kind of screening process that involves the village, and that is not an easy task,” said Mayor Lawrence Hanson. “We are all working toward protecting the safety of our residents and this is just one of many changes being made to achieve that going forward.”

DeKind is asking for anyone interested in serving as an independent board member to contact him at the ARS office, (847) 395-0143 by Dec. 1.

ARS leadership gave Jack Fleeharty, division chief for EMS and highway safety for IDPH the date of Dec. 31 to have the restructured eight-member board of directors in place, promising the village will approve the independent director candidates before the election. Three of the independent board members will be elected president, secretary and treasurer. A fourth independent director will create equal leadership between members and non-members, said DeKind, with the president given the authority to cast the deciding vote in the case of a tie.

“These will be well-respected members of the community with extensive leadership, business and/or medical experience,” said DeKind. The new board members do not have to be Antioch residents.

Most of the other changes outlined in the plan of correction involve operational policies and procedures. The report leads off with new policies to prevent unauthorized use of medications and supplies and improper conduct and outlining standards of professionalism and ethical treatment of patients.

The investigation by IDPH found evidence of unauthorized and improper use of medications and IV fluids by squad members, patient mistreatment and working after drinking alcohol.

Other proposed changes outlined in the report include:

Issuing identification cards to all squad members and requiring an extensive personnel file be maintained for each member.

Adding three, non-member field supervisors to provide 24/7 supervision at the station through Kurtz Paramedic Services, now providing paramedics during weekday shifts.

Contracting with McGrath Consulting, a third-party consulting firm, to review current policies and provide recommendations for a new members handbook, which will include revised policies addressing discipline, drug/alcohol use and screenings. The consulting firm will also work with ARS to provide ethics and harassment training to members, training on the new member handbook and human resource training for management personnel.

Updating its public Web site to provide community members with more frequent updates and timely information on the Squad. “Our goal is to provide greater transparency,” stated DeKind. “We understand that we still have hurdles to jump on our path to restoring the reputation of our squad.”

“It has always been the mission of the Antioch Rescue Squad to provide our community members with the highest-quality emergency medical care,” said DeKind. “We recognize that changes needed to be made and we have taken a proactive approach to correcting those issues.

“We are continuing our efforts to revamp outdated policies, implement new and effective procedures, foster open communication and establish a system of accountability,” he added. “As a squad, we are moving forward and we remain fully committed to serving the community of Antioch with the utmost care and professionalism.”

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