After a highly competitive search, the County of Goochland and Chief Dillard Edward “Eddie” Ferguson Jr. announced the selection of John Michael “Mike” Watkins as the new Deputy Chief on Tuesday, December 31, 2019.
Chief Mike Watkins comes to Goochland County from Hanover County Fire-EMS, where he previously served as an Operations Battalion Chief. As Deputy Fire Chief, he will focus on Fire-EMS operations including overseeing the functions of administration, training, and emergency management.
“We are super excited to have Chief Watkins join our team here in Goochland County. Mike has a stellar reputation and brings the skills, talents, and leadership abilities we need to continue the Fire-Rescue Department’s advancement, serving our citizens and meeting the future demands in our jurisdiction,” stated Fire Chief Eddie Ferguson. “I have known Mike for many years and worked with him on several regional/state committees and boards and am fortunate to have his help here in Goochland County.”
Chief Watkins was challenged to service in high school by his father and has been part of fire and emergency services for over 28 years. During college, he volunteered with Forest View Rescue Squad and Blacksburg Rescue, worked for the Safety Department at Kings Dominion, and served in the Virginia Army National Guard. He started his career with Hanover County in December of 1996 as one of two full-time field paramedics, and he has been part of Hanover County Fire-EMS for the past 23 years. He has served as a firefighter medic, EMS supervisor, fire company officer, and Training Officer supervising EMS programs and the J. Sargeant Reynolds Paramedic Program. In 2014, he was promoted to Battalion Chief and led the Training Section which oversaw volunteer, career, and high school academies. From May 2018 to January 2020 he served as an Operations Battalion Chief.
Chief Watkins obtained his Paramedic from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in 1996 and completed his Bachelors of Nursing from VCU. He has also received his Masters of Public Administration from Virginia Tech. He is an EMS Education Coordinator, Fire Instructor II, Registered Nurse, and Critical Care Nurse. Chief Watkins was accepted into the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program and is on track to graduate in 2021.
Over his career, Chief Watkins has been part of starting or developing several programs, including serving as part of the initial flight crew for VCU LifeEvac, an early leader of the Hanover Technical Rescue Team, a writer of the Rapid-Sequence Intubation patient care guideline, and developer of the ALS Field Training Program. In addition, he serves on several state and regional committees.
“I am very pleased to welcome Chief Watkins to Goochland County and look forward to the contributions he brings to serve the citizens of Goochland and the career and volunteers of Goochland County Fire-Rescue & Emergency Services,” shared Goochland County Administrator John Budesky.
Chief Watkins is especially proud of his wife Ami, and his children, Wyatt and Tess. The whole family is excited about the future with Goochland County Fire-Rescue.
Chief Watkins was selected after an extensive and competitive hiring process. He officially started in his new role on February 3, 2020.