Longtime Putnam County Emergency Services veteran Quin Romay moved into his new role Sunday as fire/emergency medical services chief, Putnam County Administrator Rick Leary said.
In addition to filling the position left vacant by the retirement of Mike Patterson in October, Romay will also transfer some of his current duties to his new role.
“In the (fire/EMS chief) position, we wrapped more of the fire responsibilities,” Leary said. “(Romay) now has full oversight of all EMS and fire responsibilities, which is better for the organization.”
Romay, who has more than 30 years in emergency and fire services, said his passion for the field began at an early age.
“I was a cadet before there were fire explorers,” Romay said. “I’ve always had a kinship to fire and EMS.”
For the first five years of his career, Romay worked for the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and then spent several years with the city of Palatka in Fire/EMS. In 1992, the city gave up emergency medical services and Romay moved with Steve Dennis to the county.
“I’ve been here ever since,” Romay said.
Dennis has served as interim Fire/EMS chief since Hurricane Matthew in October. Dennis will return to his former position as battalion chief with Romay’s appointment.
“We are very appreciative of Dennis’ service in the interim,” Leary said.
Romay said he is excited to get to work in his new role.
“With everyone working together it will only get better,” Romay said. “Volunteers are a key component.”
In his previous position as chief of Emergency Operations and Preparedness, Romay oversaw multiple aspects of the fire service, including assisting volunteer departments with training and equipment, fire prevention and securing equipment for paid personnel.
As a former volunteer in the county, Romay said, he understands the importance of volunteer firefighters.
“We have great people and great support,” Romay said. “We are a rural community of over 800 square miles.”
Romay said he believes the county’s paramedics and emergency medical technicians are some of the best in the state.
“Our EMS folks deserve credit,” Romay said. “They are on the front lines, giving state-of-the-art service. They have to be on their A game all of the time because of the time it takes to get to the hospital.”
Leary said he has had opportunities to observe Romay throughout his career and feels confident in the chief’s ability to implement enhanced 24-hour, 7-day-a-week fire service coverage in the county to augment fire protective services.
Leary said construction began on sleeping quarters for firefighters and rescue personnel in Satsuma. There are also plans for paid firefighters in the western portion of the county and a central location.
“After we finish in Satsuma, we will concentrate on one of the other two areas,” Leary said.
Leary said the emergency management portion of Romay’s former position would now fall to the Emergency Management chief. Currently, Ryan Simpson, the emergency management coordinator for the county, is filling the position in the interim.
“We will move forward in filling that position at some point once we get past the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew and (Federal Emergency Management Administration) reimbursement,” Leary said.