Pafford discusses joining Starkville community

By: 
Faith Lifer
Staff Writer

After nearly a month in town and amid a county contract controversy, members of Pafford Emergency Medical Services recently reflected on its performance in the city of Starkville up to this point.

Through a partnership with the Starkville Fire Department, Pafford began answering EMS calls within the city limits on Aug. 1.

SFD Chief Charles Yarbrough said he still remembers the first night.

“The first night they were on ... we had a 39-year-old female with a brain bleed,” Yarbrough recalled.

The paramedic on duty made the decision on-scene to by-pass the hospital and flew the female out to Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle, in Columbus, then to a higher level hospital.

“They flew her out and actually saved her life because of the quick response and flying her out in a timely manner,” Yarbrough said. “The way it was handled and them getting on scene as quickly as they did, it made all the difference.”

Since that first night, Pafford EMS Oktibbeha County Manager Tony Fabela has been collecting data of Pafford's services in Starkville.

As of the 14-day study, Pafford was on-scene in less than 10 minutes 95 percent of the time.

“They have a 10-minute response time,” Yarbrough said. “They can be on scene, 95 percent of the time, in less than 10 minutes.”

Pafford’s contract with the city requires the response time for calls from within Starkville’s city limits be less than 10 minutes 90 percent of the time.

“Our goal obviously is to be at 100 percent,” Fabela said. “But we are at approximately 95 percent now.”

Yarbrough said radio issues, not response issues, have prevented 100 percent response-time success.

“The three or four times that (response time) was over (10 minutes) was because of radio issues, so not because of response but because of simple radio issues,” Yarbrough said.

Yarbrough said Pafford is still addressing radio issues through the Mississippi Wireless Information Network Radio system.

“But I think that’s honestly because of the geography of this particular county,” Yarbrough said.

“With the Mississippi Wireless Information Network system, it’s a state-wide system that was created that multiple EMS providers throughout the state use for communication,” Fabela explained. “I think they potentially need another tower here to boost the signal for this area.”

Fabela said the average response time, though, is closer to four to five minutes, with some responses quicker than that.

“I mean some of them are down to two to three minutes depending on where the call pops from,” Fabela said. “So the response times are very good.”

“They’re excellent,” Yarbrough added.

However, as of now, the data Fabela acquired is a rough estimate of response-time data. Official data will be coming next week.

Fabela and Yarbrough plan to give an official presentation of Pafford's 30-day performance to the board of Aldermen at Tuesday’s meeting.

“At the meeting on the 4th, there will be a lot more said,” Yarbrough said.

Yarbrough still believes, though, the biggest benefit of Pafford's service to Starkville is the overall low response times.

“Just with the ambulances spread out the way they are,” Yarbrough said. “They have been on-scene in plenty of time.”

COMMUNITY

“We are completely happy to be here,” Fabella said of Starkville. “Everything has been extremely smooth.”

“When you start a new implementation of a new service from the ground up, you always are going to have some hiccups here and there,” Fabela added. “But with the structure of the fire department already being here, it’s been really easy to build up from the foundation.”

SFD and Pafford are creating a larger family than they were before the two came together.

“They actually come in more like a family now,” Yarbrough said. “Eating together a good bit. Working together. Nothing but positive from our standpoint.”

Pafford hopes to become part of the larger Starkville family as well.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to entrench ourselves into the community, so that way people see us all the time and start feeling comfortable with the ambulance service,” Fabela added. “We feel grateful that we were invited.”

Fabela said Pafford has community projects scheduled to meet with Starkville’s citizens.

For example, Pafford plans to run blood pressure drives free of charge at different storefronts throughout the city. They will also be present at local sporting events.

“Just to get out there and let people know you don’t necessarily have to see the paramedics when you’re at your worst,” Fabela said. “Because we can come and see and visit with everybody and get to know the community when they’re not sick.”

“That way they can realize we’re real people, and we live here, and we’re part of the community as well,” Fabela added.

Yarbrough said, so far, he has gotten a positive response from the Starkville community.

“As far as the community,” Yarbrough said.“The response that I have gotten has been all positive. There are a few people who have questions, of course, because of the misinformation that’s out there, but every time we address the information.”

Yarbrough said he hopes to address concerns at the Board of Aldermen meeting this Tuesday.

“There are a lot of rumors and we want to answer to those once and for all and let everyone know exactly what’s going on,” Yarbrough said. “And hopefully everyone will tune in.”

Yarbrough said he is also supportive of the different parties affected by the EMS service getting together to talk through any issues or misunderstandings.

“We need to get together and work out any issues if there are any issues between OCH, Pafford, the city and the county,” Yarbrough said.

Fabela agreed with Yarbrough.

“That’s just the most appropriate and responsible thing to do,” Fabela said. “That way we can answer any questions or any concerns that there may be and get everything cleared up.”

“If there’s an issue that we need to know about, we would like to know about it so we can deal with it,” Yarbrough said.

“Exactly,” Fabela said. “Because we can’t fix it if we don’t know.”

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