Pafford to begin EMS operations this week


Faith Lifer
Staff Writer

Beginning on Wednesday, Pafford Emergency Medical Services will serve as Starkville’s EMS provider by partnering with the Starkville Fire Department.

The partnership is expected to provide quicker response times and better services, yet the deal has sparked some controversy.

SFD Chief Charles Yarbrough addressed what he believed was misinformation being relayed through the community concerning the quality of care that Pafford EMS will provide.

“We just want to stop the misinformation and let everyone know that we are going to be providing the highest quality of care service that can be offered,” Yarbrough said. “We are very excited about this new partnership.”


The Starkville Board of Aldermen chose Pafford as the Starkville’s EMS provider in May, establishing the city’s first EMS district zone.

Previously, Starkville used OCH Regional Medical Center as its city and county provider, which generated initial concern from citizens.

During a meeting with the Board of Aldermen in April, Ward 3 resident Andrew Stevens voiced his concerns over the partnership.

“I fear the city-wide EMS service could begin to cannibalize the revenue stream for OCH ambulances,” Stevens said. “This would harm our publicly-owned hospital, while generating profits for a private firm.”

However, in the same meeting, Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk said the services would be a financial strain on OCH. After speaking with OCH representatives, Spruill added OCH was not inclined or in a position to provide a similar service to Starkville that Pafford would provide.

James and Carol Pafford started Pafford Ambulance in 1967 in a small rural town in southern Arkansas. Pafford went from a small, one county ambulance service to now providing coverage in four states, including Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma. Pafford responds to approximately 130,000 calls a year with 135 paramedic units on the road, 24-hours a day.


Pafford will provide three new 24-hour units responding to city’s new EMS district, with backup units and a supervising sprint vehicle.

“When necessary, we have the resources to be able to pull multiple additional units to the area for special events and community services,” Pafford EMS Oktibbeha County Manager Tony Fabela said.

Pafford also provides aeromedical and fixed wing services. Its aeromedical services are located in Ruston, Louisiana; Clarksdale, Mississippi; and Pine Bluff, Arkansas, while its fixed-wing services are located out of Ruston, Louisiana and Fort Smith, Arkansas.


Yarbrough expects quicker response times with three new ambulances positioned at fire stations One, Four and Five.

“They were placed in strategic locations in order to provide faster services,” Yarbrough said. Fabela explained how the deployment of several ambulances in different locations will provide quicker response times.

“Everybody has the same response times in any direction, which is very different from a traditional, one single location for every ambulance,” Fabela said. “It provides for a better response time.”

Starkville will be the second city in which Pafford partners with a local fire department to provide EMS to a community. Pafford first used this partnership model in Brandon, Mississippi, where Fabela believes the model was successful.

He is excited to implement the same model in Starkville.

“We saw the opportunity to continue the new model with SFD, and we know and think that it’s going to be a success for all involved, including the community,” Fabela said. “It’s been successful in Brandon, and we expect the same success in the city of Starkville.”

According to Fabela, ambulance services and fire departments were traditionally a partnership, then, eventually, the two services were separated.

“We’re trying to bring that back, because it always worked so well in the past,” Fabela said. Better Services

In addition, Pafford will upgrade the medical control of SFD from a basic level to an advanced, paramedic level, providing the equipment and necessary supplies to make the transition possible.

“Previously we were running what would be called basic life support,” Yarbrough said. “We had paramedics on some of our trucks, but when they got to the scene, they were limited with what they could do.”

When providing basic life support, SFD was limited in its ability to help citizens. As paramedics, SFD will be able to provide advanced life support to its citizens with different medications, cardiac monitoring and airway control.

“But now, with Pafford coming in, our paramedics will be able to offer better care to the patient because they can do more,” Yarbrough said.

Pafford EMS has also offered to pay for a number of SFD personnel to go to paramedic school.

“In turn, this will make the fire department better and will make the citizens safer,” Yarbrough said. “The more paramedics we have, the better health care we have.”

Pafford will offer training in several areas, including CPR classes, pediatric advanced life support training, advanced cardiac life support training, emergency first responder training and first aid classes. Advanced classes will be offered to Starkville’s fire department, police department and nursing facilities in the area, while first aid classes will be offered to the public.

Pafford is also in the process of securing an emergency medical technician basic program in Starkville with East Mississippi Community College. The program would be in-house for the city’s firefighters, which would save SFD funds and time. The classes will take place across SFD.

“From my standpoint, since getting the contract in May, Pafford has gone above and beyond to make the partnership work,” Yarbrough said. “They have provided training, equipment and personnel to make this partnership a success.”

In addition, Pafford has hired 32 personnel in surrounding areas, much of whom are Starkville’s firefighters. Although, some personnel hiring is bringing Starkville natives back to their home.

“There are actually a couple of people who have been hired who presently live in different areas, but are original from Starkville, so they are moving back home,” Fabela said. “It’s bringing medical personnel from outlying areas back home to serve their original community.”

Yarbrough concluded his thoughts on the partnership.

“Like the SFD, Pafford is a community service organization, so the public will see them out just as they see the SFD out, giving back to the community as much as possible,” Yarbrough said.

“Even though there’s been misinformation, I hope that the public would give Pafford a chance to prove how dedicated and successful they can be in the city of Starkville,” Yarbrough said. “If any members of the public have any questions or concerns, feel free to give me a call at the station, and we will get them answered as quickly as possible.”