GREENVILLE — Chris Norris recently announced his retirement from emergency service after giving a total of 31 years to the cause in this area.
Norris had 19 years with Greenville Area Emergency Rescue Service (GAERS)/Greenville Township Rescue; four years with Tri-Village Rescue; 15 years as deputy director with Darke County Emergency Management Agency (EMA); 20 years as representative to Darke County EMS Board, seven of those years as secretary/treasurer; and 10 years as co-chair for the “Battle of the Badges” Community Blood Center blood drive.
“I started with GAERS from 1980-83 as an EMT, then went to Tri-Village Rescue from 1984-87, two years EMT and two years as administrator,” Norris said. “I then took a year off of everything…moved, got a new house, and a new job.”
In 1988, he was a firefighter for Greenville City Fire Department Auxiliary. He underwent haz-mat training from 1989-90 and in 1991 went on board Greenville Rescue as an EMT and because Darke County EMS’s deputy director.
“I assisted with the formation of Greenville Township Fire and was acting assistant chief and then deputy chief,” said Norris, who actually retired the first time on Jan. 1, 2009. “Then, on Sept. 1, 2012, I came back as assistant fiscal officer for the township, and on Nov. 1, 2012, I was appointed chief administrative officer for Greenville Township.”
Did he think he would have been doing this type of work?
“In 1980, I saw a high school friend that was a volunteer on the rescue squad and thought, ‘Hey, I can do that,’ but didn’t.”
Subsequently, he found himself on that path, and he loved it.
“There was always so much to learn and to experience…so many interesting facets of emergency services,” he said. “I have formed so many friendships over the years, with people all over the country. I also tried to be the best mentor to all those around me, to share what I had learned over all of my years in emergency services.”
As a firefighter, he said, the most memorable event was the explosion during the Great Darke County Fair in 1993.
“That call sticks in my mind the most,” said Norris, who took his fire training through the City of Greenville Auxiliary and was founding member of Greenville Township Fire.
Even though he is no doubt a mentor to many in the emergency services field, he has his own.
“My biggest mentors in EMS were Ken Livingston and Mickey Ferguson…they both were great instructors and went ‘over and above’ to make sure their students understood the material and how to apply it in ‘real life situations’ as that is ultimately what we were all dealing with in many situations — other peoples lives,” he said. “My mentors for monitoring and managing taxpayer dollars were Mick Maher, Bill Kelly and the late Larry Royer.”
In addition to his volunteer work, he has been employed at the Littman-Thomas Agency since 1991. He first worked for Darke County Mutual Insurance Co., which changed to Pioneer Mutual and is now Donegal Insurance Group; then, in 1987, went to work for Buckeye State Mutual Insurance Co. in Covington (now Buckeye Insurance. Group in Piqua)
What are his plans now in retirement from his volunteer work?
“I am just enjoying not being ‘tied’ to a pager or to the station phone…and not have to worry about getting up in the middle of the night or in the middle of a meal,” replied Norris, son of the late Robert and Maxine (Dynes) Norris.
He plans to spend more time with family, which includes his son, Cory, 31; five granddaughters, (all in Ohio); his ‘adopted’ daughter, Lisa and two adopted grandsons in Florida and another grandchild on the way. Son Matthew died in 2004 at the age of 17.
Norris, a 1979 graduate of Greenville High School, does want to stay involved in some of his volunteer work.
“I will still being doing station tours with pre-schoolers, scouting groups, etc., that want to visit the fire station, as well as helping with the fire prevention education at Woodland this fall (they are still in our jurisdiction until next year) and at Anthony Wayne Early Childhood Development. I will still assist the emergency services with funeral and memorial services, should the need arise.”
He also wants to remain active with the Darke County Farm Safety 4 Just Kids.
Norris is proud to have served his community and in emergency services.
“Since my re-hire back in November 2012, we have faced and overcame many obstacles and challenges — ultimately obtaining the board’s goal of an efficiently operating department — that everyone can be proud to be part of,” he said.