CHILLICOTHE - A leaked, confidential document detailing Rescue 33's troubled history could be a snag in its fight for reinstatement.
The suspended Chillicothe ambulance service is dealing with another hurdle.
Friday, a six-page document was leaked to the press with a detailed timeline of Rescue 33's alleged problems dating from 2007 to August 2012, when Peoria Area EMS sent a letter permanently suspending the volunteer ambulance service.
The document cites reports of numerous calls with no or significantly delayed responses. In a two week span in June 2012, it alleges six missed calls, with three in one day on June 18, and one call with a response time of 54 minutes.
In 2010, it cites a case review requested by Methodist Medical Center and then a complaint by OSF Saint Francis Medical Center of Rescue 33 staff's failure to recognize a patient in cardiac arrest and perform CPR on two separate occasions.
In April 2010, it alleges significant damage to a patient's airways after improper use of equipment,
In 2012, it claims a person with chest pains waited 45 minutes for help, and an inspection found expired equipment.
PAEMS declines to comment on the allegations in the document, which included much more than listed above in this article.
"The Peoria Area EMS is concerned that a confidential document has been released, but has no comment beyond that at this time," wrote Shelli Dankoff, spokesperson for OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.
President Ron Hedden also had no comment. But Chris Cassidy, attorney for Rescue 33, said that the document was presented in a confidential hearing with EMS four months ago. According to Cassidy, the document should not have been released and not all of the allegations mentioned in the leaked document were included in the August 2012 suspension letter.
This leak comes only days before the city of Chillicothe planned to discuss the city's future with EMS. Mayor Troy Childers says an item is on the council agenda on Monday to decide if it will ask EMS to review Rescue 33's reinstatement plan.
However, Childers says he was not aware of the allegations listed in the confidential document.
"I didn't realize the extent, if in fact this is all true. I didn't realize that since 2007 they've had these problems and haven't really corrected most of them," said Childers.
Rescue 33 has been widely supported by the Chillicothe community, including hundreds of people signing petitions to reinstate the service. Childers thinks the latest allegations could give people second thoughts.
"There's been a lot of infractions that a lot of people are going to question that more so than they did before," he said.
Dr. Cheyrl Colbenson, the medical director of PAEMS, met with Rescue 33 earlier this week and will be sending a letter to the Chillicothe city council members with additional information, according to Dankoff. Colbenson has stated that she would like to hear the city's recommendation before she considers Rescue 33 for re-instatement.
"As Dr. Colbenson has stated repeatedly, it is not her decision to make; but she will give Council members more information on which to base their decision," wrote Dankoff.
Hedden and Rescue 33 staff hoped that council members would give a vote of support, or at least recommended EMS begin the process with Rescue 33 for a possible reinstatement, as early as Monday's council meeting. . He says EMS has looked at the unit's reinstatement plan, but nothing has happened beyond that. Hedden says he understands EMS must ultimately reinstate his staff, but the process will not move forward until the city makes a move.
"If that's what it takes to get us back in, we want Chillicothe to make a decision to give us a right to go back and deal with the EMS office," said Hedden. "We just want to have the ability to deal directly with the EMS office and correct everything that need corrected."
But Childers says that decision for Rescue 33's future should not be left to the city, nor is the city ready to give a vote of support to an unlicensed ambulance service.
"We didn't take their license. They had them taken away by the people that should take them away. How could we appoint any ambulance service that doesn't have a license?" said Childers.
"The minute that they approve the license, then yea, maybe we have a view on what it's going to be. But with no license how do we say 'yea, we want to do that.'"
The leaked allegations only make the decision more complicated, if true, said Childers.
When asked if he thought the documents would hurt Rescue 33's reinstatement efforts, Hedden said he hoped it would not.
He hopes the city will vote on the future, not the past, and give Rescue 33 a chance to work this out with EMS.
"I feel we're strong enough supported in the community. Everyone should look at who we are and what we can be. And then make that decision."