Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sussex County emergency divisions merging into new Public Safety Department, county names new director

Sussex County EMS

Sussex County appoints its first-ever Director of Public Safety.

Sussex County’s public safety agencies are undergoing a major reorganization into a new Department of Public Safety, which will be led by current director of Sussex County Emergency Medical Services Robert Murray.

The county’s three public safety branches, 9-1-1 dispatch, emergency management, and EMS, are now housed together at the recently expanded and rebranded Sussex County Emergency Operations Complex in Georgetown.

“We started to see immediately, improvement in the sharing of resources, collaboration, working together on committees," Murray says. "Each agency has their own strengths, and we really are looking at this as an opportunity to leverage the strengths and improve efficiency and improve working together.”

Murray says that, coupled with the retirement of the longtime emergency management director Joe Thomas in March, made for perfect timing to revamp the system.

“And you don’t have to look very far to see the models that other counties use," Murray says. "Kent County and New Castle County, many counties in the state of Maryland, and municipalities all use a public safety model.”

Murray also notes that Thomas held two positions – Sussex County Emergency Manager and Director of the 9-1-1 center.

“That’s just not fair, that’s a lot to have on one person’s shoulders,” Murray says.

Moving forward, the county needed more hands on deck to handle each. Murray says a growing population demands an efficient public safety system, which includes a seamless flow between public safety divisions.

Murray adds he looks forward to working closer with dispatchers, who he calls “behind-the-scenes heroes,” and having a dedicated emergency manager, which he says is needed amidst a growing coastal population.

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.