After close to two-and-a-half years as Pafford Coahoma County Emergency Medical Services operations manager and chief paramedic, Randy Murry was nominated as the company's Mississippi Star of Life Award Recipient.
The American Ambulance Association’s Star of Life program celebrates the contributions of pre-hospital service professionals nationwide who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in service to their communities or the EMS profession. Stars and their guests, accompanied by executive hosts, will be celebrated in a series of events and presented with awards in Washington D.C. May 4-6.
There is one nominee for each state and the overall winner will be announced during the activities in Washington D.C.
“It’s actually one of the highest ranking awards that a pre-hospital professional can get. It’s really based off of your commitment to your community and your commitment to the EMS system – building a very strong EMS system and being able to acknowledge that,” Murry said. “Like I said, this is one of the highest awards that a paramedic can see because it is a national award and not just a local award.”
Murry is a 2010 Coahoma Agricultural High School graduate and a 2012 Coahoma Community College graduate where he went through the Emergency Medical Technician program. He is also the Lula fire chief and volunteers for the Coahoma County Fire Department.
“This is home,” Murry said. “You can go a lot of places and work, but you get a different feel when you’re able to provide a service at home. I’m a born and raised Delta boy, so to be able to run a department that is needed and provide a service that’s needed, not just in an area, but to my community, that’s the driving force of what I do.”
That local connection comes into play on the job daily.
“I get a chance to interact with a bunch of people that I know, especially from communities in the county – Jonestown, Friars Point, Lula – but when you operate in a role like I do, you have to remember that it’s nothing personal,” Murry said. “Everything is business. You get there. You provide the best possible care that you can provide these families and you continue to move forward.”
Murry said he has to take emotions out of the job every day. Because Coahoma County is a close-knit community, he said everyone knows everyone personally or through someone.
In his early days working for Pafford EMS as a ground paramedic, Murry learned a valuable lesson.
“I responded to a call when I first got started about nine years ago when an individual that I went to high school with was shot and killed,” he said.
“Having to take yourself out of that emotional role and go into a professional role was really, really hard. I’ve responded to a lot of calls where I’ve had classmates, grandparents and relatives are in wrecks and things of that nature.”
Since Murry became operations manager and chief paramedic, he said the staff increased its personnel to 24 employees and there are no vacancies. He also changed the work schedules. Employees now work 48 hours at a time and are off for the next 96 hours. In the past, one week they worked Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and the next week they worked Wednesday and Thursday for a total of 168 hours.
Employees work less hours now, but Murry said the increase in personnel made it possible. He also said the hourly pay for employees increased, so no one has to take a pay cut.
“The family orientation, the morale of my department has changed tremendously in two-and-a-half years,” Murry said.
“I’ve been able to see a difference in performance. I’ve been able to see a difference in morale. With my crews having more time off, being able to see their families, it makes everybody happier.”
Murry said he is also reaching out to high schools trying to recruit seniors interested in the EMS profession. Some graduating seniors are able to receive scholarships to learn the profession.