Spotlight: Jamie Pafford-Gresham
Tell us a little about Pafford EMS.
Pafford is a family business started by my parents in Magnolia, Arkansas in 1967 with just a station wagon! Some in the industry would call this a “Mom and Pop” organization, but my brothers and I now operate in four states nearly 100 ambulances with 550 employees, three helicopters, two fixed wing medical aircraft and a large billing company. We respond to 90,000 calls a year in 28 counties and parishes. Our corporate office is located in Hope, Arkansas.
Can you share with us a little about Pafford’s culture?
Communicating to our employees our philosophy and beliefs while living by the same set of rules strengthens their understanding of how important it is to us to practice what we preach.
[quote_right]Our mission statement comes from the Bible, and is very simple: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.[/quote_right]Our mission statement comes from the Bible, and is very simple: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We teach our employees to think of each patient as a family member (one you like!) and treat them with the utmost care and respect. A verse I carry with me is Luke 10:33-34.
Because we have such a large service area, I see differences in stations and states; some it seems to be more driven by the local culture of an area. Overall, our Pafford family believe in our commitment to the communities we serve.
Do you have any tips for onboarding new employees?
Hiring quality candidates with the ability to excel in the company is very important. It is the beginning of a great relationship for both employee and employer.
[quote_left]New employees attend a series of training sessions with their field training officers that reinforce our company values.[/quote_left]New employees attend a series of training sessions with their FTOs (field training officers) that reinforce our company values. Unethical behavior is not acceptable. We are in the public eye and dealing with people’s lives, and our rules reflect our policy on such things with disciplinary action outlined in writing. Training and communication of the rules and regulations of our company is key for a successful outcome.
How do you retain employees?
We value each and every employee, and realize that they make sacrifices to be in this line of work. EMS is a very stressful job, with unusual and long hours away from family for shift work. It is also con unhealthy lifestyle with the eating on the go, not to mention the pay is not what most want but is dictated by federal programs that have limited revenues. I have the utmost respect for our crews, and that is one of the reasons that people stay—they realize that they are needed and appreciated.
The long and short of it is that you have to want to be in EMS, and you have to love what you do. The reward for most is the satisfaction of good patient care and positive outcomes, which bring them back to do more good work. We provide many benefits such as a caring environment with good benefits, good pay, and up-to-date equipment with a company that cares about their well-being.
What is your typical day like?
My job duties change from day to day—I wear many hats and the overall well-being of the company rests on my shoulders. (In case you haven’t noticed, I have really broad shoulders.) I am responsible to ensure we keep the communities we serve with the best EMS possible while maintaining proper finances company-wide.
Relationships are a huge part of any successful company, and are key to every executive. I can be found meeting with elected and public officials along with hospital administrators throughout our service area, communicating goals to our managers, and assisting with the billing company’s woes when needed. My husband, Ben, also works within the company, the ambulance discussions are never-ending!
I serve on many boards and commissions along with co-chairing the American Ambulance Association’s Government Affairs Committee.
How has participation in AAA membership and advocacy helped your organization?
I attended my first AAA meeting in 1984. I knew that day that there was something special about the group. The knowledge in the room, with so many diverse types helped me learn from some of the best minds in the country. I served on the board of directors for 15 years, and learned something new every meeting—still do today. To survive in this industry, you need to stay connected with change. The AAA is the way to go!