Lee Co. continues to blend Fire/EMS - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lee Co. continues to blend Fire/EMS

Lee County Manager Ron Rabun Lee County Manager Ron Rabun

The merger of Lee County EMS and fire departments is moving along as planned. The county has named a new interim public safety director to oversee the transition. It could ultimately save residents on their insurance premiums while also having better trained first responders.

It's been more than five months since the Lee county commission approved merging its EMS and fire services. It's a work in progress but a move that made sense.

 "It the wave of the future. It's what's been going on nationally. We need to have firefighters and EMS that are dual trained and can respond to either a medical emergency of a fire," said Lee County Manager Ron Rabun.

Paramedics are currently in the training phase of becoming certified firefighters which could come as soon as February. It's a move Rabun says will benefit home owners by lowering their ISO rating.

"The actual insurance savings could range from 5% to 20%. It's unknown what they might do but they can be significant savings," said Rabun.

This week the county named current EMS Director Bobby Watkins as the interim Director of Public Safety. "He's here on an interim basis but he'll begin to guide the combined department and give it a little more push," said Rabun.

Watkins will oversee plans to eventually cross train firefighters to become paramedics and build a volunteer fire department as well as other long term goals. And it's something 24 departments around the state are already doing.

"That's the idea is to have a person that dual trained that can save a life and fight a fire. It's more efficient and better for the customers."

Bobby Watkins will remain EMS Director while serving as the Public Safety director.

James Howell will also remain county fire chief. No word on when a full time director will be named.


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