Oct. 01--WOODBINE -- Camden County Fire Rescue Chief Dennis Gailey is going out on his own terms.
Gailey, who has been chief since 2005, surprised firefighters and county administrators when he announced in a staff meeting Friday that he was resigning, because he thought the time was right.
"It's been a long journey," he said of his career in public safety. "I think it's time for a change."
Gailey said he wasn't burned out or forced to resign. Instead, he said he believes it's best for the department to have new leadership with new ideas, saying he accomplished everything he set out to do when he was promoted to chief.
"It may prove to be beneficial," Gailey said. "I feel this change will present positive opportunities for both the department and myself that would otherwise not be possible if I were to remain the fire chief."
He said the job is challenging and rewarding at the same time.
"It's a job where you always want to go to work," he said. "You'll be sitting at your desk and five minutes later you're surrounded by fire or saving someone's life."
Fortunately, tragedies in which someone dies are "far and few between," he said. And when they do occur, Gailey said there is time to put things in perspective. "You're always going to make a difference on the next call," he said.
As chief, Gailey established a recruit academy at which new firefighters are trained and certified by staff, instead of sending them to the state fire academy.
"By far, that's been the biggest change," he said of his tenure.
A new station on Dover Bluff Road was built in 2009 to provide better protection in north Camden County. County firefighters also share a building with the Kingsland Fire Department, saving taxpayers money.
Firefighters are now trained in an advanced life-support program in which medical data, such as a heart EKG, is sent electronically to physicians so hospital staff is better prepared when someone arrives.
This past year, Gailey gave 25 life-saving awards to paramedics who revived patients who didn't have a pulse when they arrived. Many of those patients are still alive, he said.
The department now lends defibrillators to the public for events as small as family reunions or Boy Scout groups.
Gailey, who joined the department in 2001, says he has no plans to move from Camden County and is considering options to continue working in public safety. Prior to joining the county department, he worked in Kingsland for two years and Glynn County for six years.
County Administrator Steven Howard said Gailey has consistently provided exemplary service.
"He brings an unparalleled skill set to the job. Under his guidance the department has adapted to, and successfully overcome, a number of tactical and administrative obstacles. I understand and respect his desire to move on to another challenge," Howard said.
-- Reporter Gordon Jackson writes about Camden County and other local topics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook or at 464-7655.SFlb
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