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Ambulance service switched hands over the weekend


PRESTONSBURG – At midnight Friday night Trans-Star Ambulance Services ended quietly and Lifeguard Ambulance Services jumped into gear.

In January Trans-Star, the ground ambulance service based in Prestonsburg, filed a notice of acquisition with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The Cabinet reported that the company was being bought by American Medical Response in Colorado. 

Bert Absher, the director of operations for Lifeguard Ambulance Service, explained that Trans-star was the third-largest ambulance service in Kentucky, behind second-place Yellow Ambulance, based out of Louisville, and first-place American Medical Response (AMR) of Lexington. He noted that with this buyout, Trans-Star is joining the AMR team, which is a division of Global Medical Response (GMR), which is made up of 40 different group and air emergency medical services. 

In their first day of operation as Lifeguard they answered 114 calls.

“In the U.S. every seven minutes a GMR employee is providing a critical procedure to a patient,” Absher said. “That’s the network we’re joining.”

Absher noted that they transitioned quietly Friday night, after preparing for the switch-over for weeks, in order to not alarm the public, but assured they will only be building on Trans-Star’s services.

“In the immediate future, people are going to see the same trucks, the same uniforms and many of the same people,” Absher said. 

Over the next 60 to 90 days, he explained the ambulances will have a new look and the employees’ uniforms will be updated to Lifeguard. In addition to a new look, he said with the national resources they now have, they will be enhancing the training capabilities for EMTs, replacing a lot of equipment and expanding the business.

He also noted that Lifeguard retained every Trans-Star employee that wanted to stay, with some transitioning by choice to other things. He said they have hired 15 new external employees and they are still taking applications for licensed paramedics and EMTs  at (go to Career Center and when searching for jobs, select Prestonsburg location). 

Absher also said with their national resources, they will also be able to offer retirement and better benefits to the employees. He said they are going to maintain all of Trans-Star’s existing locations, with plans to expand in the future.

He also noted that they will have community events during EMS week, going out into the communities and teaching people (for free) how to do hands-only CPR.

While the Trans-Star phone number will stay in operation during the transitional period, Lifeguard’s new permanent phone number (for scheduling non-emergency services, etc.) is 1-866-385-4367. He also reminded the public to always call 911 in an emergency.

“The public has nothing to be concerned about,” Absher said. “The citizens of Eastern Kentucky now have access to the largest and most capable EMS network in the world.”

On Friday, April 5, Trans-Star Founder and President Paul Allen Lafferty posted the following to Facebook: 

A lifetime of memories and thanks. 

To my Trans-Star Family,

In 1998, I had a vision to create the preeminent ambulance service in not only eastern Kentucky, but also the entire state of Kentucky. 

For over 20 years, I have dedicated my life to achieving that vision and have had the wonderful opportunity to watch Trans-Star grow into exactly what I had hoped. That growth would not have been possible without the help of dedicated, hardworking, and passionate employees. 

I thank each and every one of you for your years of service and commitment not only to Trans- Star, but also to the communities we serve on a daily basis. We have demonstrated the greatness that can be achieved when a family works towards a common goal.

I am excited to watch all of you continue to strive for greatness with Lifeguard Emergency Medical Services. Becoming part of the largest provider of ground and air emergency medical services will allow you to tap into additional resources to better serve our patients and communities. It will also provide opportunities for personal growth within their organization and continued, stable employment. 

This process has not been an easy one for any of us, but I appreciate your cooperation throughout and ask that you continue to represent the Trans-Star name as you begin this new chapter with Lifeguard.

The journey to where we are today is nothing short of remarkable. It all started with a vision in 1998, and that vision was achieved by the hard work and commitment you all have shown over the years. I will always cherish the memories we have made and the lives that we have touched. Although this journey together may be ending, I want each of you to know that I have a tremendous appreciation and level of respect for what you do in your undying commitment to our communities. 

You are undoubtedly my true heroes and I am proud of all of you for what we have accomplished!

May God Bless And Keep You Always,
Paul Allen Lafferty, Founder & President



Heather Oney

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