By Kathy Jefcoats
RIVERDALE — For the first time, Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services has been recognized on the state level for outstanding services.
Chief Jeff Hood has been named the Georgia Emergency Medical Services Director of the Year.
The award is presented every year by the directors division of Georgia Emergency Medical Services.
The awarding committee looks at several criteria in determining the winner, including the degree of involvement in both EMS and non-EMS related activities, contributions to EMS at the local, regional, state and national levels, the individual’s EMS education and EMS affiliations, work history and awards received, said GAEMS officials.
Hood said the department is dedicated to providing the best services for Clayton County residents while overcoming obstacles.
“The future for EMS is promising but it also holds some uncertainty," he said. "Rising healthcare costs, increased call volumes and diminishing budgets pose a challenge for many EMS agencies. As EMS providers, we must deliver the highest quality of care possible to those who need us. As EMS directors, we must ensure that our people have all the resources available to them to meet those needs. It is important that EMS directors, policy makers and legislators throughout the state work together to solve these problems.”
Hood joined the Clayton County fire department in 1978 at 19 as a firefighter and became a paramedic in 1982. He is a level 3 paramedic instructor and Georgia certified emergency manager. He is enrolled in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Emergency Management Institute and was recently chosen to join top personnel from the public and private sector on the Governor’s Homeland Security Task Force.
Hood is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs, Georgia Association of Emergency Medical Services, Emergency Managers Association of Georgia, Metro Atlanta Fire Chiefs’ Association, Georgia Department of Public Health Region III EMS Council and Association and the County Commissioners of Georgia Public Safety and Courts Committee.
Capt. Walter Barber said Hood deserves the award because of his vision for the future of EMS.
"As part of his vision, Chief Hood plans to address laws that contribute to the 'over-saturation' of our nation’s emergency rooms which strain the entire patient care network," said Barber. "His vision gives him direction. That direction is so profound that it could lead to the betterment of EMS regionally and statewide.”
Hood’s receipt of this award is the first in the department’s history on the state level although the department has received numerous metro Atlanta Region III EMS awards in recent years.
Hood has also announced his retirement from the department effective July 19. He was appointed chief two years ago after serving more than three months as interim chief.