Christy Graves Retires; Gonzalez appointed new EMS Chief
Graves steps down from EMS post after 27 years of service
By David Taylor
CROSBY – After nearly three decades of service to the community, a Crosby icon has taken retirement, citing exhaustion and a need for change.
Crosby EMS Chief Christy Graves announced her retirement on Thursday, September 21, after an extended vacation that provided some much-needed clarity for one of the most recognized paramedics in east Harris County.
“For many years I have dedicated my life to every soul in Crosby and Barrett Station,” Graves said in a Facebook post. “I never once said no or even regretted the countless hours.”
It was during her vacation at the end of August and early September, that Graves spent time with her children and recognized the hectic pace and stress of her job.
“I began to realize that I wasn’t getting any younger, and that I should take some time to enjoy my family life,” she said in an interview on Sunday.
When Graves first became chief in 2004, the patient load for the EMS service was near 100 patients per month. Since then, it has tripled and instead of one ambulance, they now staff seven.
“I have a daughter that’s a senior graduating college this year, and I came back with a clear mind and decided this was best for me. I found a great deal of peace on our vacation,” she said.
In her years at the helm, Graves and her team accumulated numerous awards and accolades, but first as chief, she had to lead a successful campaign to keep the doors open with an initiative that guaranteed financial support.
She led an effort with then commissioners for a sales tax collection of one cent, which had failed two times prior, conducting town hall meetings, giving a comprehensive plan of action alongside.
“We’ve been able to keep the tax rate under a penny as promised by continuing to shop local with small business within the district,” she said.
The one-cent sales tax has supported the Emergency Services District all those years since.
“As Crosby and the surrounding area grows, so does demand for quality ambulance service,” Graves said in a September 15, 2005 interview following the passage of the measure.
Even now, Graves has guided the EMS through growth that includes the construction of Station 2, the dedication of Station 3 in late July, and the plans for yet another station in the next couple of years.
Many of those years were stress-filled as Graves witnessed many of her own friends and family members die.
“In those times, however, there were some victories. I was saved in Christ in the back of an ambulance with a dying man and now I live renewed [in Christ],” she said.
She also said she has seen the joy of many families grow and loved ones reunite.
Graves began her journey with Crosby EMS first as a paramedic and then clinical manager in 1996. She ascended to the role as Chief in 2004.
“Her dedication and leadership qualities quickly became evident as she took on the responsibilities of leading our EMS team,” read a press release from Harris County ESD No. 5. “Over the course of her 18-year tenure as Chief, Chief Graves demonstrated exemplary commitment to public health and safety.”
Among her many accomplishments, Chief Graves initiated and successfully developed the Vaccines for Children program in partnership with BCBS of Texas, ensuring that the children of our community had access to vital immunizations. She also played a crucial role in establishing a nationally recognized car seat inspection site in collaboration with Texas Children’s Child Passenger Safety Program, further emphasizing her dedication to child safety.
Graves commitment to life-saving initiatives extended to the implementation of a hands-only CPR initiative, empowering community members with the skills needed to respond effectively in emergencies.
The chief also guided the EMS and community through four major hurricanes, including Hurricane Harvey.
Graves was also voted the Citizen of the Year twice, in 2009 and 2013, by the Crosby-Huffman Chamber of Commerce and once by the Crosby Veterans Association in 2019. That same year, she also received a commendation from the White House Medical Unit from the Office of the President Donald Trump. She became a critical care paramedic in 2018 and graduated from the National Fire Academy in 2020. Graves also broke another ceiling in becoming the first female EMS chief for the ESD.
Graves leaves the ESD in better, stronger shape than she found it and has set them up with a five year business plan.
She is traveling to Atlanta to spend some time with her aging mother, and after she returns, will consider several new job offers with a lighter load and less stress.
After retirement, Graves noted, “I will be right down the road in Huffman as a Commissioner for ESD 4 in my 5th term, taking care of those citizens.”
“As Chief Graves embarks on this well-deserved retirement, I want to express our heartfelt gratitude for her unwavering dedication, leadership, and contributions over the years. Her legacy will continue to inspire us all as we strive to maintain the high standards she has set,” a statement from ESD No. 5 President Sharon Cotton said.