BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — People in western Benton County will have access to new emergency medical services in the new year.

Starting in January 2023, Pafford Medical will serve Cave Springs, Decatur, Gentry and Highfill after Northwest Health terminated its contract with part of the county early in August. Those cities and the county will pay about $1.5 million per year for four years.

Pafford Medical will have at least three ambulances on duty at all times with no out-of-pocket cost to the person experiencing a medical emergency.

“When somebody is picked up by a Pafford ambulance out on the west side and taken to a hospital, certainly their insurance or their Medicaid or Medicare will be billed, but there won’t be any out-of-pocket cost beyond that,” Benton County Judge Barry Moehring said.

When Northwest Health announced it would terminate its contract with western Benton County early, it said “Northwest Health made this decision in order to refocus resources on its hospital services and other points of care across the community.”

Pafford Medical Services says it will soon open up a hiring portal to encourage local paramedics and emergency medical technicians to apply.