After 42 years of serving Newton County in emergency services, Emergency Management Director Ray Chambers is getting set for retirement.
Chambers began his career with the county working with the ambulance service back in 1981. Back then, the sheriff’s department used to run the ambulance side of things before creating their own EMS system. When that happened, Chambers was hired to fill in those positions. “Working there, I was able to work a lot with different fire departments and police departments as well as neighboring counties and that kind of stuff,” Chambers said. “It always gave us a chance to interact with each other and help each other out.”
After the plane crash in 1994, Chambers was offered his current role as Emergency Management Director. “They offered me the part-time position of being EMA director as well as working on the ambulance until 1999 and then that’s when they made this a full-time position,” he said.
Chambers said one of the ways his job has changed over the years has been receiving government assistance when disaster strikes the county. “In the earlier days, it was a lot easier and the funding was more available,” Chambers said. “With the tighter fiscal restraints that the government has seen, when we go to declare a disaster it’s hard to hit those thresholds that they require us to have.”
One thing that’s kept Chambers around for so long has been the age-old motto “If you enjoy the job you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” “I’ve always enjoyed my job,” said Chambers. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with so many different individuals over the years. The nice part about working in emergency management is it’s never the same thing twice. You never get the same snowstorm twice, you never get the same flood twice and you never meet the same people twice.”
Chambers’ final day as Emergency Management Director will be April 14, although this is not the final chapter of his career. He recently accepted a position as the Emergency Management Coordinator at Parkview Health out of Fort Wayne.
Aside from the opportunity to assist the county’s individuals and agencies, Chambers said one of the most fulfilling parts of the job has been working with the children of those he’s previously worked with. “I think one of the biggest pleasures is seeing individuals that I’ve worked with in the past, now seeing their kids coming up into the positions that I’ve been working with for several years,” he said. “It’s just been great to have that opportunity to see them grow up and work with not only the parents but now into the kids as well.”
He then noted that he will miss the relationships he’s built over the years. “After so many years, you can imagine you create a lot of friends and working relationships, so that’s going to be the difficult part,” he said. “The county is so lucky to have the employees that they have had and I was able to get a lot of knowledge from those individuals.”