Chillicothe Fire Chief Darrell Wright has been named the 2017 Administrator of the Year by the Missouri Emergency Medical Services Association. The presentation was made during the association's annual convention last week in Branson.

Chillicothe Fire Chief Darrell Wright has been named the 2017 Administrator of the Year by the Missouri Emergency Medical Services Association. The presentation was made during the association’s annual convention last week in Branson. MEMSA is a nonprofit, statewide professional association comprised of ambulance service providers and is committed to high quality emergency medical services across Missouri. Wright was nominated for the honor from within the Chillicothe Fire Department and letters of support were submitted by community leaders and others. “It is pretty awesome and humbling,” said Wright, who joined the Chillicothe Fire Department nearly 35 years ago and became chief about 10 years ago. In selecting the administrator of the year, the association looks at the overall ambulance service as well as involvement in the community and legislative issues pertaining to ambulance service. While Wright was being introduced as this year’s honoree, it was noted that during his leadership, the Chillicothe Fire Department’s calls for service had grown from 800 calls per year to 3,000 calls per year. Also during his time as chief, the department increased staff, underwent a building program, built a training facility, assisted with the transition from the old Hedrick Medical Center building to the new hospital facility, and has a strong EMT/paramedic program. From a civic aspect, the presenter stated, the department has been involved in Boot Block fundraising and a CO2 alarm replacement program. “Darrell Wright has provided steady, progressive leadership for his community and beyond,” the presenter stated, adding that Wright is a strong advocate in working with legislators to advance EMS and fire-based issues. Wright stated that the award to him is more of a department award because it is a reflection of his department. “If I was not surrounded by good people doing a good job, I would not have been recognized,” Wright said. “The community should be proud of that. They are the ones who earned that award.” The department has 26 full-time employees and 10 paid-by-call firefighters. They firefighters are cross-trained to work on both the fire and ambulance sides of the department. Wright also credited the department’s success to the ambulance board which has kept the department up-to-date with equipment. The board oversees operations and contracts with the city. “A lot of credit for having good service goes to the board and to the City Council,” Wright said. “We have a good service.” He also noted the support that Hedrick Medical Center provides to the department, especially in the area of medical protocols. Wright was unaware of that he would be this year’s award recipient and was surprised when his family showed up to be present for the announcement. Also in attendance was City Auditor Theresa Kelly and her assistant, Shannon Jones, who were in Branson at the time for another commitment. Wright began with the Chillicothe Fire Department in 1983 and became interim chief in 2008. Chillicothe was the first fire-based EMS system organized in Missouri, having organized in 1968.