Good news for those with medical emergencies in Gluckstadt.

A new contract with Pafford Medical Services will improve ambulance response times.

Countywide, there are benefits. Under the new contract, Pafford will provide stand-by services for all public school events, including athletic events.

In addition, response times for unincorporated areas of Madison County have improved.

Pafford is expected to maintain response times of 10 minutes in Madison, Ridgeland, Canton and Flora, 14 minutes for Gluckstadt and 20 minutes for all other portions of the county.

Fire chiefs had also asked the county to secure a guarantee from Pafford that it would have a paramedic in every ambulance for every visit, but he said Pafford could not agree to that, citing a shortage of paramedics. 

Officials said the company is currently recruiting new paramedics, and under the new agreement would create a program to provide three annual EMT scholarships to any emergency responder from Madison County to attend Holmes Community College for paramedic training if they are willing to work for the company in Madison for at least two years.

“They will still have a paramedic on calls that require life-saving or life-sustaining care,” County Attorney Mike Espy said. “But they cannot guarantee that they can provide one for every call. Our fire chiefs understand that that was a very difficult request. So unfortunately, we had to leave that off (the contract).”

District 1 Supervisor Sheila Jones suggested the company use nurses, who have the training and ability to tube patients, as a workaround.

District 5 Supervisor Paul Griffin said he would support the agreement, but was concerned that Pafford’s planned construction of a new dispatch center near the Canton Fire Department on Highway 16 in Canton would potentially alter the response times for other parts of the county.

“I hope Pafford is paying attention," he said. “I'm seriously concerned about the location that they are choosing. I hear somewhere around Autozone and the (Canton) Fire Station. I'm going to keep a close eye. My fire chiefs in north Madison County are going to chart times and keep a good record.”

The good thing about Pafford is they’re professionals and, in addition, their trucks have “In God We Trust” emblazoned on the side, which should be comforting if you have to take a ride.