Tony Smelley worked as an EMT-Paramedic for Suburban Ambulance Service. As a resident in the community he served, Tony had a passion to deliver a higher level of EMS service to those in need. Working with his father, Jimmie “Pops” Smelley, they put together a plan to start a new ambulance service.
With a handful of dedicated employees, NorthStar EMS (NEMS) began operations on April 1, 1992. The company started with two ambulances servicing Northport, Alabama. Focused on delivering a higher level of medical care and transportation, they founded the company on a desire to “Provide Excellence in Emergency Medicine.” This company motto is ever present, still today on each ambulance we operate.
Today, NEMS is recognized as Alabama’s largest EMS provider. Since 1992, NEMS has grown to become a dynamic EMS service provider focused not only on patient care initiatives, but excellence in EMS dispatch, EMS Safety, Continuous Quality Improvement, EMS Billing Practices and Customer Service. We understand that we are called to provide medical care and transportation services when people need us most and it is our goal to meet the needs of our patients, family members, healthcare facilities and EMS partners.
NEMS Quick Facts:
Employees over 350 EMTs, Paramedics, Emergency Medical Dispatchers and Support Staff.
Maintains over 80 ambulances and support vehicles in our fleet.
1st EMS agency in Alabama to receive ACE accreditation.
2nd EMS agency in Alabama to receive CAAS accreditation.
Responds to over 75,000 requests annually.
Multiple awards for Community Service initiatives.
Where did the name NorthStar EMS originate?
According to Tony Smelley, our CEO , back in 1992 when he and a few colleagues were discussing starting an ambulance service, the question regarding a name came up. After several suggestions had been tossed about, someone started talking about the importance of what this group was about to do in starting a new EMS service. This was something new, and the Team would need guidance to make this journey a success. Where best to turn when you need guidance, but to the North Star? Embarking on this journey truly needed a NorthStar. The real kicker was that the new ambulance service was about to realize it's start-up in Northport, Alabama. The word "North" just had to be used. Therefore the name was adopted and the new company began operations as NorthStar Paramedic Services.
The framed NorthStar EMS Quilt hangs in the Tuscaloosa main office ambulance bay. The quilt was handmade in 1992 as a Christmas gift for Tony Smelley. It is a replica of the first NorthStar EMS patch. The quilt was made by Debbie Blake, Billy Currington, Velma Currington and Linda Stacks.