Bobby Watkins has been appointed interim director of the Lee County Public Safety Department. (File photo)
LEESBURG — Bobby Watkins, current director of Lee County Emergency Medical Services, has been named interim director of public safety in Lee County.
Appointed by Ron Rabun, Lee County manager, Watkins has more than 36 years of public safety experience as a police officer, an EMT responder, a paramedic, an EMS certified instructor and an EMS supervisor.
In his new role, Watkins will oversee both Fire and EMS operations in the newly combined Public Safety Department. The combined Public Safety department has a full time equivalent staff of 74 and a $4,247,201 budget.
The purpose behind the creation of a public safety department is to cross train all employees to be both a firefighter and an EMS technician. When training and certifications are complete each dual trained employee will become a “first responder” who can fight a fire or treat a patient.
The concept of a combined public safety department (Fire and EMS) is new for Lee County, but there are at least 24 combined departments in Georgia, Rabun said.
Rabun said “an initial primary focus for Watkins will be to complete the necessary firefighter training to make all current EMT’s and paramedics certified firefighters. This training is ongoing and will hopefully be completed during the early part of 2014.”
James Howell, Lee County’s Fire Chief will serve under Watkins.