Jamie Pafford-Gresham

CEO Pafford Medical Services

On Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Jamie Pafford-Gresham is known as “The Ambulance Lady from Arkansas.” She earned the moniker for influencing federal and state elected officials on behalf of emergency medical services. Her company, Pafford Medical Services, based in Hope, Ark., provides emergency medical transportation services. The company has more than 1,000 employees, 100 ambulances, three medical helicopters and two fixed wing aircraft that make more than 125,000 annual transports in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

Hometown: We moved more than 40 times during my childhood, so I have called much of south Arkansas home. However, Hope is where our heart is.

First job: My parents founded Pafford Medical Services, and I began working in the billing department when I was 13 years old.

Favorite food: Any meal my family prepares together.

What was your first big break? When my father turned over the checkbook to me saying, “You get paid when you can make payroll for the others.” I haven’t looked back since that day nearly 30 years ago.

What attracted you to your career? I have heard the word ambulance every day of my life, so giving lifesaving service was instilled early on. It was just a natural fit for me to go forward with the family business.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? Being named the chairperson for the American Ambulance Association’s Government Affairs Committee. Serving in this capacity means that I have a unique opportunity to influence our federal policy makers to support the great work being done by EMS clinicians across our country.

What’s something others would be surprised to know? I got a parking ticket on my first day of college and never went back! Nevertheless, I have built a multi-state emergency medical service through hard work and sweat equity. The many challenges and successes have provided valuable life lessons.

What do you love most about what you do? I am proud to say, “I manage emergencies.” I take great pride in quickly making lifesaving decisions. This business keeps me on my toes! I am ALL-Ambulance, 24/7/365.

What quality do you most admire in other women? Attitude – a positive “can do” attitude is golden.

Person, past or present, you admire most? My mother. She was right there by my father’s side 51 years ago when he started the business that my brothers and I lead today. She treats our employees like family members and has made an indelible mark on our company’s culture. She continues to be an inspiration and still works for our company.

Personal motto: The parable of the Good Samaritan, from the Book of Luke, “And when He saw him, he took pity on him, bandaged his wounds...and took care of him.” I tell all our employees to treat their patients as a family member you like!

What talent do you wish you had? I wish I would have continued to learn to play the piano. I love to listen to someone play.

Hobbies: Spending time at Lake DeGray with my family and friends on our houseboat, “Emergency Retreat,” and snow skiing.

Childhood nickname: “Sister;” I was everyone’s big sister growing up and still am today.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Right where my family is! I love being able to interact with them daily.

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