LaFayette Fire Chief recognized by mayor and city

Published 9:30 am Friday, April 28, 2023

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LaFayette Fire and EMS Chief Jim Doody was honored with the Hometown Hero award by Mayor Kenneth Vines on Saturday at the Chambers County Health and Wellness Center.

Doody was honored for his hard work on the wellness center project over the past years. 

“It was a perfect award for him,” said Auburn Professor of Nursing and Outreach Coordinator Linda Gibson-Young. “Chief Doody is active and engaged within the center.”

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The project has seen many obstacles, and the project’s team felt he worked to make the community’s voice heard. 

“It was nice to be recognized, but I don’t do this for that,” Doody said. “I do this for the men and women that work for me at the fire and EMS department. Those guys go above and beyond every day, and we’ve got to make things better.”

Doody has been in the fire service for 35 years. He spent 13 years as the fire chief of Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. He accepted the position at LaFayette Fire and EMS in 2020.

Two months after taking on the job as fire chief, the pandemic hit. That was when he saw firsthand the need in the community.

“It was really a lot of hardship on fire and EMS because of the fact that we don’t have an urgent care here, and the hospital is 30 miles away,” Doody said. “Our fire station lobby was just a revolving door of people coming 24 hours a day.”

Since there weren’t many options in the area, the fire and EMS station was inundated with citizens who needed medical attention. 

“He really identified the need because of what he sees in the fire station, which has become a kind of a makeshift clinic,” said Assistant Vice President for University Outreach and Public Service Hollie Cost. “He saw that there was this community need, so he’s a huge advocate.”

Doody joined the Auburn Rural Health Project with the city of LaFayette and the county commission in 2021. The project aims to bring accessible and affordable healthcare to rural areas. 

“It’s not just here,” Doody said. “This can be done in all rural areas that don’t have access. We’re number one in a lot of health categories we don’t need to be number one in, and cervical cancer is one of those.”

Since the project began, Doody has taken a leadership role every step of the way. He oversaw the construction projects to ensure the building was ADA-compliant and made sure the internet was hooked up securely for the telehealth station.

A few weeks ago the team went to Montgomery to the Alabama Health Summit. They spoke with mayors, Blue Cross Blue Shield representatives and other healthcare leaders about the project. 

“This is a prime example of what can be done in rural communities everywhere, but it takes a team and we have a great team,” Doody said. 

More recently, the project leaders traveled to Washington to present the project at the National Academies of Practice (NAP) conference. 

“We had nothing but positive feedback from everyone as one of the best presentations in the symposium,” Doody said. “What would really impressed a lot of people is the fact that we do have that partnership.”

Part of that strength comes from the leadership Doody showed. 

“One of the things that we wanted to make sure was that we had a really good solid team of leaders in the community,” Cost said. “We have a great network of leadership in this community, but Chief Doody really rose to the top.”

Doody also serves in the community on the Board of Directors for LaFayette Main Street. He is also an advisor for the Alabama Equitable Neighborhood Initiative. 

“Chief Doody connects well with everybody we bring in and just tries to make sure that what we’re doing meets the needs of the community,” Gibson-Young said. “He’s a leader.”