For Pafford Medical Services, providing transportation and medical assistance to rural communities is a passion.
When we think of EMS, we often view their work from an urban perspective: crowded cities with ready access to hospital emergency departments. Yet, every day across swaths of rural America, in small towns, across farm and ranch lands, highly sophisticated emergency medical service providers are stepping in where they are needed, often providing primary care in communities where hospitals have shuttered and medical professionals have fled to pursue more lucrative opportunities.
“Think about living in an urban community like Tulsa, Oklahoma City, or New York City. You have access to multiple hospitals across the community and a variety of healthcare providers and tertiary care services like trauma surgeons, cardiac surgeons, cancer treatment, all right there within just a few miles if not blocks. When you go to rural Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, we don't have that,” said Clay Hobbs, COO of Hope, Ark.-based Pafford Medical Services, Inc.
“We believe that just because you live in a rural community doesn't mean you should have substandard or a lack of access to medical care,” he stressed. “It should include ambulance services and emergency medical services. Since 1967 we've had a pretty profound emphasis on providing ambulance services in those areas.”
Across Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma, Pafford’s divisions care for and transport more than 125,000 patients every year. Founded by the Pafford family, the privately owned firm provides emergency 9-1-1 ground and air medical advanced life support services, interfacility transportation, long distance medical transportation, Air Med fixed-wing air ambulance services, Air One helicopter medical services, medical billing and on-call services, onsite medical clinics, and special event standby service.
“We have very focused tertiary care facilities in larger cities like Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Jackson, and Memphis, where we often transport patients,” he continued. “When people in rural communities need cancer treatment they're most likely traveling 100 to 150 miles to get it. In many cases we become the primary care provider while we're transporting those patients by ambulance for 150 miles.”
Trauma treatment is a significant issue for Pafford. “If you have a traumatic incident within our coverage area such as a blunt trauma injury, accident, stabbing, shooting, or head injury, we have very limited trauma center access. Our patients depend on our core ability to transport them.”
Pafford’s reputation for high quality rural operations has made it a national standard-bearer for the provision of superior emergency care and transportation services. By establishing rural and regional EMS systems across partnering counties, Pafford provides the rock-solid support needed to care for the communities it serves.
From Humble Beginnings
The business started with two ambulances in Magnolia, Ark. Today, Pafford has 180 ground ambulances, four helicopters, and three fixed wing aircraft to cover their main four state areas. A thousand employees provide patient care. “We’ve grown substantially in the past six years, primarily because we’re able to come into a community, usually using a regional response method, and we’re able to stabilize the rural EMS systems by having economy of scale,” he said. “We don’t have 9-1-1 centers in every community, but we are able to provide the very best 9-1-1 dispatch by consolidating our emergency communication sources.”
Pafford’s fixed wing aircraft and a specialized ground ambulance designed for cardiac patients are equipped with Marquette CardioSave transportable compact balloon pumps. “It’s an important service. We transport patients over long distances to receive intensive critical cardiac care, and we’re proud to have that equipment in the communities where we live and provide service. We know that we are different from other ambulance providers. We strive to provide a higher level of care and we are proud to do that.
“In our 52 years of providing ambulance service across the Mid-South, we have become known regionally, nationally and internationally for our disaster response capabilities,” he added. “Our special response team is frequently called upon to respond to disasters across the country.”
Expert teams provide rescue operations, patient evacuations, and help to stabilize community healthcare infrastructure following a disaster. “Typically, we can deploy up to 25 ambulances and mobile medical units to respond to disasters. Generally, we have those assets on the road in just a few hours after a call is received for assistance.”
Pafford’s groundbreaking response to the US Virgin Islands following hurricanes Maria and Irma resulted in the creation of the territory’s first mobile integrated healthcare system following a catastrophic disaster. “Our team assisted with search and ambulance services and stabilized the EMS and transport system in St. Croix. We responded with about 20 care providers, and shipped ambulances, trucks, and equipment to the Virgin Islands to stabilize their program for about 10 1/2 months.”
Working with the US Virgin Islands Health Department, HHS, and FEMA to develop and implement the ambitious program. “We had four teams providing medical equipment, supplies, and medications to care for patients in their homes and to stabilize the healthcare system. Since that time we've had about 1,800 patients enrolled in the program. It's been fabulous.”
Pafford Medical Services, Inc. has provided mobile healthcare services to communities throughout Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Louisiana since 1967. Today, we have 80 ambulance stations, 180 ground ambulances, three medically configured fixed wing airplanes, three medevac helicopters, a state-of-the-art communications center and a billing and consulting service totaling nearly 1000 employees strong.
Pafford Medical Services renowned and nationally recognized Special Operations Team has deployed on some of the most devastating natural disasters in the United States and abroad.
Our team of associates are our most important asset. We continuously strive to make sure our staff has the proper training, equipment, and 'heart' for EMS.