Chris Helle, a native of Farmington, currently serves as Fulton County’s Emergency Services and Disaster Agency (ESDA) Director and 911/Emergency Telephone Coordinator. After graduating from Farmington Community High School in 1997, Chris immediately became a full-time student at SRC. When he earned his Associate Degree at SRC in the summer of 1999, his intention was to pursue a career in criminal justice.
Instead, he went into the family sawmill business, Sawmill Hydraulics, and was key to helping the business grow into a national brand. He was named the 2010 Small Business Exporter of the Year for his efforts.
At the same time, Chris was beginning to develop a passion for public service. He first served as the Emergency Services Director in Farmington, his hometown. In that capacity, he helped build Farmington’s efforts into a top-notch program. Chris was recognized by the Governor of Florida and by FEMA for his role of providing support in the aftermath of the 2004 hurricane. He was also recognized for those efforts by the Fulton County Board and was appointed as director of the county’s ESDA. Chris serves on the Illinois Search and Rescue Advance Team. He was recognized as 2004 Volunteer of the Year in Emergency Management and as 2013 Neighborhood Hero.
Under his leadership, Fulton County ESDA has become the premier Emergency Services Agency in Illinois. This volunteer-dependent agency is highly trained and has evolved from a group of trained storm spotters into a group that can support and command full-fledged disaster recoveries. Chris has written and received multiple grants for the county, and local governments and agencies. His leadership has also organized and unified all the local first responder agencies, allowing them to utilize each other’s expertise. Through social media, Chris has built a large following through his accurate and comprehensive weather and disaster notifications; though, he humorously acknowledges the role that family/agency cat Trash Panda has played.
In his role as ETSB Coordinator, he has overseen a remap of the county, the process of renaming roads, adding addresses to parcels that never had them, and building a communication network that keeps Fulton County residents safe.
Chris and his wife, Stacey, have two teenaged children, Maddie and Ryan, and continue to live in Farmington.