Posts Tagged Antioch FIre Department

Antioch to seek tax referendum again

The Daily Herald has this article:

Fallout from a failed referendum request for ambulance service in and around Antioch has begun, sparking plans to again ask voters to approve a new tax to pay for the calls. As of 6 a.m. Dec. 1, the on-duty staff at the Antioch Fire Department was reduced from 11 to eight, leaving one of the three district stations unstaffed.

That means fewer people are covering a 36-square-mile area in and around the village, with no crew on duty at Station 3, 24675 W. Grass Lake Road. Stations at 700 Deep Lake Road and 835 Holbek Drive each will be staffed with a crew of four.

Funding has been an issue since last May, when the fire district did not renew a contract with the Antioch Rescue Squad and consolidated operations under the Antioch Fire Department. That left the district and village to split the cost of ambulance service. But with no specific property tax line item as a source of funding, both began burning through reserves.

In November, voters in Antioch and the unincorporated areas of the fire district by an overall 4-3 ratio rejected a question that would have established a taxing category for ambulance service. The request would have cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $83 each year and provided a total of $1.5 million annually for ambulance service.

Within the past two weeks, fire and village officials in separate actions authorized placing the same question on the April 7 general election ballot. Village funding for the service comes from its general fund, which pays for all day-to-day services, a situation that didn’t exist previously. At the same time, the village board is considering reductions in other services to plug the gap.

The department has no plan to convert to full-time firefighters, as that would require pension payments and other expenses, for example. He also said there is no legal requirement that ambulance service be provided. If the referendum request fails again, ambulance service could be curtailed or eliminated, officials said.

thanks Dan

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Antioch to reduce staffing

From the Antioch FD website:

Beginning with work shifts on Monday December 1st, the Antioch Fire Department has reduced the number of personnel from 11 to 8 personnel on duty. This staffing reduction is in line with necessary budget adjustments in the wake of the failed ambulance service referendum in the Village of Antioch and the unincorporated area of the First Fire District. The immediate impact of this action is that Fire Station #3 will not have a duty crew on duty. Residents are instructed to call 911 in an emergency and avoid driving to a nearby fire station for assistance. The 8 person assignment consists of 4 duty crew members at Station #1 located at 835 Holbek Drive and 4 duty crew members located at Station #2 at 700 Deep Lake Road. Each station will respond with a fire engine or an ambulance to cover the 36 square mile service area as required by the nature of the emergency. Call back personnel will be requested to report back to duty for larger scale incidents or multiple call situations.

thanks Dan

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Antioch MVA with extrication, 11/26/14

This from Tim Olk:

Antioch Pin In Accident Rt 173 & Deep Lake Road

 

firemen cut victim from car after crash

Tim Olk photo

firemen cut victim from car after crash

Tim Olk photo

firemen cut victim from car after crash

Tim Olk photo

firemen cut victim from car after crash

Tim Olk photo

firemen cut victim from car after crash

Tim Olk photo

firemen cut victim from car after crash

Tim Olk photo

firemen cut victim from car after crash

Tim Olk photo

firemen cut victim from car after crash

Tim Olk photo

firemen cut victim from car after crash

Tim Olk photo

firemen cut victim from car after crash

Tim Olk photo

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Antioch loses bid for ambulance tax

The Daily Herald has an article about the ballot initiative for an ambulance tax in Antioch:

Voter denial Tuesday of ballot questions to establish a tax for ambulance service has officials in Antioch and Antioch Township scrambling to determine what’s next.

Immediate changes aren’t envisioned but service cuts translating to longer response times are possibilities in coming weeks or months as village and First Fire Protection District leaders explore options for continued operations. Whether voters should be asked again for support next spring is another tough question to be answered as the weight of a $2.7 million annual budget strains other areas.

“Antioch has been a cultural anomaly to have a core service that was not funded in any way by tax money. People are astounded by that fact,” Village Administrator James Keim said. “That is now a service the governments and entities that exist have to provide and there is a void in funding. It’s not easily understood.”

Voters in the village and in Antioch Township defeated questions to establish a property tax to provide ambulance service to about 27,000 residents. The measure would have raised an estimated $1.5 million the first year and cost the owner of a property valued at $100,000 an additional $835. Unofficial figures showed voters opposed the measure 2,139 to 1,925 in the village and 2,018 to 1,417 in the township.

Ambulance service for fire or rescue calls in the Antioch area since 1938 had been provided by the Antioch Rescue Squad, a nonprofit group funded by fees and donations. That changed in May when the fire protection district of Antioch did not renew the contract and decided to consolidate operations in the village and township under the Antioch Fire Department.

The Antioch Fire Department uses part-time paid-on-call firefighters and contracts for paramedic service. The department and fire district share three stations and equipment. Costs are split by the village through its general fund, which covers a variety of day-to-day operations, and the fire protection district through its cash reserves. While each entity can tax for fire operations, they need voter approval to do so for emergency medical services, which are the measures that failed, Antioch Fire Chief John Nixon said.

Operations had been expanded at the third fire station to improve response time, according to Nixon. The goal was to make that permanent and have three fully-staffed stations to cover a 36-square-mile area. But that may not be possible.

The village is in an unsustainable mode regarding revenues and overall services it provides, Keim said.

thanks Dan

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Antioch ballot initiative to fund EMS

The Daily Herald has an article about a referendum in Antioch:

Antioch fire officials have said publicly since May that a new funding method is needed for ambulance and rescue services in Antioch and Antioch Township.

The Antioch Fire Department and the First Fire Protection District of Antioch are losing money under the current system of spending cash reserves to pay for those services for the area’s 27,000 residents, said Antioch Fire Chief John Nixon. The solution, Nixon said, is to create a new property tax rate dedicated to ambulance and emergency medical services that mirrors the amount collected annually to pay for fire services.

“If we do not come up with a way to collect for EMS service, we would either have to find alternative ways to fund it or scale back response,” he said, adding the fire department fields about 2,000 rescue calls a year at its three fire stations.

Antioch-area voters will make that decision through targeted referendum questions on the Nov. 4 ballot — one for village residents and one for those outside of the village in Antioch Township. The referendums will ask voters to create a new property tax rate of 25 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation to pay for ambulance and rescue services. The tax would cost the owner of a property valued at $100,000 about $83 in the first year.

If approved, Nixon said, the new tax rate would generate about $1.5 million in the first year. The new revenue would mostly fund personnel and equipment maintenance, he said, but some money would be put aside for a capital replacement program.

The need for the referendum surfaced in May after the Antioch Rescue Squad was not offered a contract to continue serving township residents after 75 years of operations. The volunteer rescue squad operated without a tax rate and received most of its operating funds from donations.

Fire district officials decided to place all rescue and ambulance calls in the village and township under one, unified command of the Antioch Fire Department.

Two-thirds of the fire district’s cash reserves have been spent to cover the cost for ambulance and EMS since taking over district rescue calls, Nixon said. Reports show it costs about $35,000 a month to fund those operations.

Minor adjustments could be noticed in the current service if voters approve both ballot measures, Nixon said. More significant changes would be needed if voters in the village or the township reject the measure.

If village residents reject the question, Antioch Trustee Dennis Crosby said, leaders will have to cut back on other village services to pay for ambulance and EMS. The money would have to come from the village’s general fund, and trustees would have to weigh options against the cost of “keeping village residents safe,” Crosby said.

If the question fails at the township level, it would most likely result in cuts to the ambulance and rescue services, officials said. “You can’t run an ambulance (and rescue) service if there isn’t any money,” Antioch Township Supervisor Steve Smouse said. “So, if it doesn’t pass, they’ll just have to find away to run it for less money.”

Nixon said township residents would most likely see fewer paramedics at fire district stations, resulting in longer wait times for ambulances. It could also mean the fire district would have to hire a more costly outside private agency to handle ambulance calls, he said.

“We would still send paramedics to all calls, but it means that they may need to use a private ambulance service for transport to a hospital,” he said. “That cost would need to be picked up by the user.”

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web site updates

The long overdue job of updating department profiles on the site has finally begun:

MABAS Division 1:

MABAS Division 3:

MABAS Division 4:

  • Antioch: added Ambulance 211R and the rehab bus
  • Grayslake: added Station 3
  • Lake Villa: added Station 4 and hopefully unscrambled the ambulances
  • Waukegan: added Truck 1634 and the department patch

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Antioch Fire Department assumes full EMS for district

The Daily Herald has an article about the Antioch Fire Department initiating EMS for the town and unincorporated areas of Antioch:

For the first time since 1938, the Antioch Rescue Squad (ARS) is not contracted to provide ambulance service on fire or rescue calls in the Antioch area.

The contract between the controversial volunteer rescue squad and the First Fire Protection District of Antioch ended at 5 a.m. Friday, officials said. Ambulance calls for all 27,000 residents in Antioch and Antioch Township were switched to the Antioch Fire Department, officials said.

“We had an extremely peaceful transition at 5 a.m. and have now established ourselves throughout the district,” Fire Chief John Nixon said. “The crews are hard at work moving into fire station 3 (on Grass Lake Road), and 11 fire department employees are staffed at the three fire station buildings.”

Nixon said required fire service computer programs were uploaded to dispatch centers and ambulances to make for a smooth transition. He said people in need should not see any change in the calls.

The change in service came after the First Fire Protection District of Antioch decided this year not to renew its contract with the Antioch Rescue Squad in order to consolidate fire and rescue services in the village and township under one fire department. The village made a similar decision one year earlier.

ARS President Todd Thommes said the rescue squad is reviewing its options. “We do not have a future plan in place right now,” he said. “I wish I could say what the future is, but as of right now, we just don’t know. We still need to sit down and go over all of that.”

thanks Dan

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Antioch seeks tax levy

The Lake-County NewsSun has an article about the Antioch Fire Department seeking a tax levy for EMS.

Facing a budget shortfall of almost $800,000 for emergency medical services, Antioch village officials will ask voters to approve a 25-cent tax levy in November.

Last month, Antioch Township officials also agreed to put the same referendum question to unincorporated Antioch voters. If approved, the levy would increase taxes paid by the owner of a home with a fair market value $140,000 by $101.67 annually and of a home valued at $225,000 by $172.50, said Village Administrator James Keim. Keim said authorizing a tax levy to make up the reimbursement shortfall for ambulance service is a necessary step in improving emergency medical services for Antioch, which until last year were provided by the not-for-profit Antioch Rescue Squad.

While the Antioch Fire Department serves both village and township, ambulance services have been contracted separately for the village and the unincorporated area. The First Fire District, which severs its contract with ARS next month, oversees the unincorporated area of Antioch.

Beginning in May, the village and township will work together and coordinate both fire and ambulance services under the direction of Fire Chief John Nixon.

The levy, which Fire Chief John Nixon considers a key factor in the success of the joint venture, would provide an estimated $1.6 million for EMS services for the village and township. “The purpose of the referendum is to find a stable funding source for ambulance services for the village and First Fire District,” said Nixon.

Nixon pointed out ARS was not providing free service during its 72-year history with the village. “After insurance revenue was collected, ARS still had their own costs of equipment and personnel paid for by benefactors and donations, but that is a unsustainable model today,” said Nixon, explaining that Antioch was one of the last communities in Lake County to rely on a volunteer rescue squad. “Every other community levies taxes to pay for fire and rescue services. We are a little behind the eight-ball in that process. I know these are tough times, but we have to stabilize our revenue to provide services without going into debt.”

“The success of this referendum is highly significant for the well being of our life safety services,” said Keim, explaining that even when ambulance service was provided by Antioch Rescue Squad, the service was partially funded by tax dollars.

“There is a misconception that tax money hasn’t been involved or that the ARS provided a free service,” said Keim. “The reality is that if people want high quality EMS services, there has to be a sustainable way to pay for it. Most communities have already taken the route of a tax levy which provides a solid basis for funding and takes EMS services out of the competition for general tax dollars.”

 

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Antioch looking at tax referendum for EMS

The Daily Herald has an article about a new tax levy to fund EMS operations in Antioch.

Antioch-area officials say they will streamline the area’s emergency services by creating a new unified fire and rescue operation and ask residents to help fund it. The proposal, which could be launched within two months, would put the Antioch Fire Department in charge of all fire and rescue services covering the village of Antioch and Antioch Township. It would be overseen by a new five-member emergency services board.

A key component is creating the area’s first tax levy for emergency services. Antioch Fire Chief John Nixon said members of the area’s fire safety commission are beginning to meet with village and township leaders about placing a 25-cent property tax rate referendum on the November ballot. If the referendum lands on the ballot and is approved by voters, the owner of a $150,000 home would pay about $140 annually to fund the new operation, Nixon said.

The measure would include separate questions for village and township voters, and approval of both would generate about $1.6 million annually for the fire department, he said.

The proposal from the fire safety commission — made up of township and village officials — would overhaul the confusing system of fire and rescue services in the Antioch area. Currently, the First Fire Protection District of Antioch, the Antioch Rescue Squad and the Antioch Fire Department share responsibility for providing emergency medical service in the 37-square-mile area.

The fire district covers fire calls in the village and the unincorporated areas of the township. Rescue calls are split between the fire department in the village and Antioch Rescue Squad in the unincorporated areas.

Next steps call for village and township boards to sign an intergovernmental agreement naming the Antioch Fire Department as the sole provider of fire and rescue service in the area. The five-member emergency services board would replace the current three-member First Fire Protection District board, Nixon said. That new board — made up of appointed representatives from the village and township — would oversee the fire department operation.

The same intergovernmental agreement would require the village and township to provide any additional funding needed above and beyond the tax levy proceeds.

The fire department would staff three stations to create an overlap of coverage, officials said. Two stations are in the village, which generates 65 percent of the fire calls. The third station on Grass Lake Road would serve unincorporated areas in Antioch Township.

Currently, the village, township, insurance companies and private fundraising donations cover operating costs for the three emergency agencies serving the area. Nixon said it’s impossible to continue funding fire and rescue operations that way.

Antioch Village Administrator Jim Keim said the village pays about $66,000 a month to Metro Paramedic Service to staff village-owned ambulances at the Antioch Fire Department and to handle rescue calls. The village recoups about 50 percent of the total cost from the patients or insurance reimbursements, he said. The difference, he said, falls on the local government to fund.

“We need to find a way to fund this,” Keim said. “Until then, it will put stress on the village’s general fund and a shortfall will exist.” One casualty of the overhaul was the Antioch Rescue Squad (ARS). The First Fire District announced last week it would not renew a contract with Antioch Rescue Squad, ending their partnership. The contract expires in May.

It’s the latest loss for the 75-year-old volunteer-based group beset by problems that have undermined its influence and importance since May 2012. Nixon said the rescue squad operated as a subcontractor for the fire district, and the service wasn’t renewed. ARS Chief Brian DeKind said Friday the group will now shift its focus to community paramedicine, including wellness checks and home health care.

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Antioch First Fire District not renewing with Antioch Rescue Squad

The Daily Herald has an article about a decision by the First Fire District not to renew a contract for EMS with the Antioch Rescue Squad.

The Antioch Rescue Squad (ARS) faces an uncertain future after the First Fire Protection District of Antioch announced it will not renew its emergency management service contract with the volunteer organization in May, cutting ties with the squad after 75 years. The decision announced Tuesday night by the three-member fire district governing board means the troubled rescue squad will no longer provide assistance in Antioch Township on emergency rescue calls or in transporting patients to area hospitals.

In its letter to the ARS governing board, officials from the First Fire Protection District of Antioch said “the time has come for the district to look at options to provide EMS service other than our longtime partnership with ARS.” It said the district will utilize the Antioch Fire Department, the emergency service provider for the village of Antioch, when the current contract expires May 9.

“I’m personally disappointed,” ARS Chief Brian DeKind said Wednesday. “It means, after 75 years of service, the squad will not be providing emergency ambulance care in Antioch.”

The ARS now faces the prospect of having to shift its focus away from emergency medical services or go out of business.

Antioch Rescue Squad members are scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss ways it can continue to serve the community “through programs such as home health care and wellness checks,” DeKind said in a news release. DeKind added that, until last year, the volunteer-based ARS was the sole emergency service provider in Antioch and Antioch Township since 1940.

He stressed that ARS operated without placing a tax burden on the public, instead raising operating funds from donations and memorials. It purchased its own equipment, vehicles and supplies at no cost to taxpayers, he said.

However, trouble started for the ARS in 2012 when a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by three former members against several rescue squad colleagues and high-ranking rescue squad officials.

That lawsuit led to an Illinois Department of Public Health investigation that revealed some rescue squad members were mistreating patients, allowing employees to begin shifts within hours of excessively drinking alcohol, and slipping medications into the food and drinks of fellow squad members. The state later fined ARS and asked for operational changes.

Also, former Antioch Rescue Squad treasurer John Edgell was charged with theft of more than $10,000 after it was determined he had been taking cash from the squad. He pleaded guilty in November to a misdemeanor count of theft and was forced to pay back $25,000.

The mounting problems pushed former chief Wayne Sobczak to retire and led to former rescue squad President Steve Smouse to step down. DeKind replaced Sobczak and was tasked with rebuilding the squad’s tarnished image.

Village officials and the ARS cut ties in May 2013, resulting in the Antioch Fire Department handling emergency medical calls in the village, and the ARS handling emergency calls in the township.

In Tuesday’s letter announcing the split, the fire district board said its decision to change EMS service to the Antioch Fire Department will put financial, operational and personnel command for emergency services in Antioch and Antioch Township under one unified command. Antioch Fire Department Chief John Nixon said township residents will see no disruption in service when the change takes place May 9.

The letter from the First Fire District to the Antioch Rescue Squad;

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thanks FFPM71

And from the Lake County News Sun:

The First Fire Protection District, serving Antioch Township, is terminating its contract May 1 with Antioch Rescue Squad to provide emergency medical services in the township. This follows action taken a year ago by the village of Antioch to terminate its contract with ARS, a not-for-profit organization of volunteers that had provided 911 ambulance service for all Antioch-area residents since it was created in 1940.

In a letter from the First Fire Protection District’s board of directors, the squad was lauded for its service to the community but informed the squad that on May 1 it would be providing EMS services through the Antioch Fire Department.

Ambulance service for village residents is provided using contract personnel and part-time paramedics and EMTs on the fire department staff using village-owned ALS (advanced life support) ambulances.

Fire Chief John Nixon said ambulance service will be provided in both the village and unincorporated area with fire department staff and ambulances. “All of our ambulances will serve both the village and unincorporated areas out of three stations, including two in the village and one on Grass Lake Road in the unincorporated area that is being staffed now by ARS.” He said unincorporated Antioch will continue to see quality EMS care and there will be no lapse in services.

ARS Chief Brian DeKind said the membership will meet later this week to discuss their options. “We could serve other municipalities, but the more realistic approach is to either dissolve the squad or serve the community in a different way, such as privately contracting with residents for medical transportation service. We want to continue to serve the community.”

ARS had updated its policies and procedures, changed leadership and reorganized its board of directors since it was cited and fined in 2012 by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) for violations of EMS protocols, including patient mistreatment, unprofessional conduct, breaches of confidentiality, improper use of medications and IV fluids and ARS paramedics working while under the influence of alcohol. Other issues have plagued the organization, including the arrest and conviction of ARS Treasurer John Edgell for stealing ARS funds, suspension of the licenses of several paramedics and the settlement of a sexual harassment suit made by female paramedics.

DeKind said with the loss last year of the village contract the organization, funded by community support and fundraisers, was facing financial difficulties. “We lost 50 percent of our revenue when we lost the village contract and we were asking for financial support from the First Fire District to make up that shortfall between insurance reimbursement and our costs.”

Both the village and township are moving toward a consolidated services model under the direction of the fire department that would be funded through a separate EMS tax levy.

“It is apparent that the time has come for the district to look at options to provide EMS services other than our long-time partnering with ARS. The district, along with the village of Antioch, is working to establish an EMS tax levy to be decided by the voters in November 2014.”

 

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