Former fire chief to take over EMS

Tom Quillin plans to start work Monday

By Todd Wright

DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER


Two years ago, former Tallahassee Fire Chief Tom Quillin was primed to lead Leon County's new emergency medical services system.

Quillin realized his goal Tuesday when he was named the county's new EMS director, taking over a system still reeling from a sex scandal that cost his predecessor and another high-ranking EMS official their jobs.

"I like to think that I am a professional and I see this as a business. We (EMS employees) especially have to be professionals in the way we conduct ourselves because we are in the business of saving lives," said Quillin, who retired from the city earlier this month after 15 years as fire chief. "This is an opportunity I couldn't pass up."

Quillin starts Monday and will earn $84,800 annually.

Parwez Alam, the county administrator, said Quillin was "the list" of candidates for the position vacated by Dan Moynihan, who was fired Feb. 23 in the wake of sexual-harassment allegations by a female EMS employee. Maj. Michael DeSouza, a former public-information officer, was also fired because of the allegations.

Alam approached Quillin, who had taken a job dealing with EMS services at the state Department of Health, late last week about the director position and the two quickly began negotiations.

In 2003, Quillin pushed for the city's Fire Department to take over the EMS system after Tallahassee Memorial Hospital announced it would no longer be the county's provider. But bickering among city and county officials forced the idea off the table, prompting the county to start its own service. Moynihan was hired soon after and designed the current system, which uses five city fire engines to respond to calls inside the city limits and 10 county ambulances that respond to emergency calls in the county.

In a speech to more than 50 EMS employees, Quillin said he didn't expect to make any drastic changes to the system. But he did say he would put his stamp on the department, one marked by respect and professionalism.

Several county commissioners, who were in the audience were shocked and impressed by the hire.

"This was very spur of the moment, but I think he brings the knowledge of the unique dynamics of the EMS needs of our community. He won't need any on-the-job training," said County Commissioner Bill Proctor. "He obviously has high professional standards, and I expect him to establish that tone of professionalism in conduct from all his employees."

"This is like us getting Shaq without having to give the city anything back," he joked.