ANTIOCH - A flyer from Antioch Rescue Squad urging residents to call them instead of 911 for emergency ambulance service has backfired on the organization.
Only a few flyers were distributed to some senior citizens Friday, June 28, at a meeting at Antioch Township Center, but word got back quickly to village officials, who immediately contacted state officials to file legal action against ARS.
"ARS is not licensed to provide emergency medical services inside the village," stated a press release issued Tuesday by the village. "State law and common sense require all emergency calls to be placed through a governmental dispatch system - the 911 emergency phone number."
The village attorney has since threatened the ARS with a lawsuit to stop the "illegal activity" and it was reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health and Emergency Telephone System Board for further prosecution, said the statement from village officials.
"When faced with the crisis caused by this illegal act we were forced to take immediate action to protect the public," said Village Administrator James Keim. "every citizen needs to know to call 911 when they need help and they need to know that help will arrive. Getting assistance to them is our job and we cannot and will not allow any person or group to undermine that job."
In a four-page letter sent to IDPH officials Tuesday, ARS officials admitted the ARS made two misstatements in the flyer. "First, the squad wrote ARS is still available to provide emergency service to any Antioch resident, including those in the village."
ARS officials admit this is not the case, since the village terminated its contract for emergency ambulance service last month. "Instead, ARS is available to provide non-emergency services to village residents.
"Second, ARS instructed residents to call 847-838-FREE and a 911 dispatcher will send an ambulance to you." The letter states that at the time ARS produced the flyer, the contract with the 911 dispatch center was not finalized,and as a result a test call placed by the village to the number was routed directly to the ARS station and went unanswered.
ARS officials maintain they have the right to operate non-emergency ambulance service in the village and are finalizing an agreement with a 911 dispatch center to field non-emergency calls. "ARS never should have printed the flyers advertising the telephone number to be a 911 dispatch for emergency care. We are confident that only a few flyers remain unaccounted for in the community. ARS is prepared to provide the Township with a corrected flyer for dissemination."
"If a citizen needs help in an emergency, he or she needs to call 911 and no matter whatever anyone else says, that's the way all local governments work together to make sure that all necessary resources and personnel are available," said Antioch Mayor Lawrence Hanson. "directing people to use any other number is illegal and it could have cost someone his or her life.
"ARS owes an apology to the citizens of Antioch for selfishly trying to subvert the 911 system," said Hanson.