Sussex County is turning to a longtime professional who officials said is known for having his finger on the pulse of the latest medical training and trends to helm the County’s award-winning paramedic service.
The Sussex County Council, at its Tuesday, July 14, meeting, appointed Robert W. Murray Jr. as the next director of Sussex County Emergency Medical Services, the County-run paramedic system that complements local fire/ambulance companies during acute emergency calls.
Murray, currently serving as deputy director of administration, will take over for retiring director Robert A. Stuart at the end of July.
As director, Murray will lead more than 100 paramedics and roughly a dozen support staff in one of the largest departments in County government. Sussex County EMS is a nationally accredited, non-transporting service, operating 11 full-time units with paramedics who provide advance life support (ALS) care around the clock, 365 days a year, throughout the county.
“I’m honored to be given this opportunity by the County Council to lead some of the most compassionate and gifted paramedics you will find anywhere,” Murray said. “Our paramedics are some of the best in the country.”
Murray, a native of Frankford, joined Sussex County EMS in its early years, in 1994, as a paramedic, eventually rising through the ranks as a field training officer, training coordinator, operations manager, deputy director of operations, deputy director of administration, and now the top post. He was named Paramedic of the Year in 1999, and earned other SCEMS distinctions in 2000, 2003 and 2018.
During his tenure, officials said, Murray has been a leading voice within the organization to develop continuing education curriculum that ensures paramedics are trained on the latest urgent care medical protocols and standards, and he has worked with local fire companies and police agencies to coordinate planning and training for mass casualty and active assailant incidents.
Outside of his County service, Murray is a member of the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company, where he has been a volunteer since 1988, serving as a chief line officer, fire chief and, most recently, president.
“Robbie brings more than 30 years of education, experience and expertise in paramedicine and the local volunteer fire service. He’s a public servant through and through,” County Council President Michael H. Vincent said. “Robbie will do a wonderful job as our next director and will ensure our paramedic service continues its proud tradition of ‘Caring People, Quality Service.’”
Murray praised his predecessor, and said he is looking forward to carrying through and expanding on several projects and programs that started in earnest under Stuart’s leadership, including the County’s transition from co-located units in local fire companies to freestanding paramedic stations — a new facility, the fifth, is under construction near Seaford. Other initiatives include planning for and relocating the department’s main offices and training center to new space at the County’s Emergency Operations Center, as well as ensuring the department maintains its first-ever accreditation.
“Bob has done tremendous work to see this department grow and evolve, and I look forward to continuing that work,” Murray said.
As Sussex County welcomes Mr. Murray to the SCEMS director position, it says goodbye to Stuart, who will retire July 31 after 29 years of County service. Stuart, who joined SCEMS in 1990 as a student in the department’s inaugural year, has served in several roles, including paramedic, quality and training manager, deputy director, and, since 2010, director.
Among his proudest achievements during his directorship, Stuart pointed to SCEMS being recognized in 2011 with the Dick Ferneau Paid EMS Service of the Year Award, earning the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS) certification in early 2020, but, most importantly, having a staff that exemplifies the organization’s motto each and every day.
“I’ve been fortunate to be part of an amazing system that has grown from 12 employees and one unit to a system of 11 units staffed by 118 medics,” Mr. Stuart said. “I know SCEMS will continue to excel and be a national leader in ALS under the leadership of Director Murray.