TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) – While the search is on for a new fire chief of the Tybee Island Fire Department, some public concern has emerged about response times and access to the island if Chatham Emergency Services were to temporarily take over leadership of the station.

In a letter sent to Tybee City Council, Chatham Emergency Services ensured the City of Tybee Island that their fire department would remain on the island, saying in part, that the public would notice no operational changes during this temporary 90-day agreement.

“Tybee fire station will remain on Tybee, period,” said Mayor Shirley Sessions.

Chatham EMS has had a 24/7/365 Paramedic ambulance crew continuously stationed on Tybee Island for approximately 25 years now.

The letter goes on to describe that when Tybee paramedics leave the island with a patient transport, they immediately dispatch another ambulance to cover the island.

“Tybee is, in fact, our highest priority ambulance coverage zone in the entire county! In the last two years, Chatham EMS’ Tybee-based, paramedic ambulance has responded to 1,228 emergency 9-1-1 calls with an average response time of 6.6 minutes,” the letter continues.

Sessions shared that the Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) has plans to widen both the Bull River and Lazaretto bridges — a move that could help aid the inherent traffic problem heading on and off the island.

The plan is to begin the operation in early 2022. Both bridges are usually the cause of traffic on the island during the summer season, especially when there’s a car accident.

“They may be doing some preliminary work in late 2021, but it’s definitely supposed to start full steam in 2022,” said Sessions. “Fortunately, DOT is starting projects, I think the first one is going to start in 2022. Widening the Bull River Bridge, that’s going to be the first project, and then the second will be the Lazaretto Bridge.”

City officials hope that the projects won’t affect traffic on and off the island during the 2022 summer season and will plan accordingly.