ABOUT US

Mission Statement:

Our mission is to provide services for First Responders in their greatest time of need. Resources can be provided to individuals, families or organizations.

Our areas of focus include:

▪ Life Saving Equipment
▪ Behavioral Health Prevention Education
▪ Training
▪ Behavioral Health Referrals, including Trauma, and Addiction-Related issues
▪ Disaster Relief for First Responders

First Responders of Mississippi was created to make a positive difference in the lives of First Responder organizations, the heroes themselves, and their families, no matter the challenge.

About

Following a series of critical incidents experienced by LEOs, a group of concerned citizens met with members of affected LEOs and began a serious conversation about the needs of first responders and the lack of available resources and support following traumatic events.

Our first responders are commonly faced with traumatic events. Some of these events may lead to grave consequences for the individuals and their families. For example, officers can be faced with losing one of their own, as was the case in 2016 when Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Agent Lee Tartt was fatally injured during a hostage situation. In addition to the loss of Agent Tartt, three Highway Patrol SWAT officers were also injured. This was the culminating event in a series of incidents that LEOs had experienced in a short amount of time. For some officers, their families, and their respective organizations, circumstances changed in the blink of an eye.

We decided to take immediate action, raising enough funds in two hours to be able to send a group of LEOs out of state to begin the healing process. It was our way of offering the support and resources needed to offer our first responders the best opportunities to heal.

We realize that families and organizations have needs that are equal in size and scope. When a First Responder experiences a critical incident, their home-family and their work-family forever changes. For this reason, it is important that FROM include support and resources for all involved parties. It could be an officer or fire fighter that is struggling with family issues; a child experiencing behavioral or health-related challenges; or LEOs or their families faced with addiction issues. FROM is here to help you.

We are here to help you navigate your journey, no matter what season of life you are in.

Joseph L. Rigby, LTC, Retired

Joseph L. Rigby, LTC, Retired

President

joseph@firstrespondersofms.com

Joseph Rigby is a career veteran with 34 years of service as a First Responder.  For 29 of these years, LTC Rigby provided loyal and dedicated service to the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol, where he held many leadership positions including Director of Protective Services and Director of Driver Services. Some of his fondest memories come from the 12 years he worked the road in District 7 as a Trooper First Class.  When duty called him to work 18 months on the security detail for former Governor Ray Mabus, he was honored to accept this esteemed position.  He served another eight years under Governor Governor Kirk Fordice’s administration, where he rose up through the ranks to become the Director of Governor Fordice’s Security Detail. Following his service to the highest level of government in MS, LTC Rigby continued his career at the Mississippi Highway Patrol Headquarters, retiring in 2009 as a Lt. Colonel.

During Hurricane Katrina, MS’s most devastating natural disaster, LTC Rigby responded.  He was instrumental in development of the Mobile Cooking and Base Camp Team.  He was honored to help prepare meals and provide base camp support for Troopers and First Responders. The Mobile Cooking and Base Camp Team remains in service to this day, providing services during other disasters and community events. Some of these include Hurricane Gustav, the 20 presidential debate in Oxford

In 1992, while relocating to Jackson, LTC Rigby met Ruth Ann on her family’s farm.  She became his bride four years later and they have been married for 21 years.  They reside in Jackson and are active members of Broadmoor Baptist Church in Madison. The Rigbys spend countless volunteer hours in service to their community in pursuit of their passion of giving back. The Rigbys have three Cocker Spaniels: Graciee, Cailee, & Darbee.  

“As a First Responder myself with over 34 years of service, I have seen first-hand the needs that exist for first responder organizations, members, and their families. I am confident FROM can provide necessary resources to meet these needs.”  

Kim Mathis

Kim Mathis

Vice President

kim@firstrespondersofms.com

Kim Mathis is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and serves as the Director of Education for the Mississippi State Medical Association in Ridgeland, MS.  Prior to joining the Mississippi State Medical Association, she was with St. Dominic Behavioral Health Services as the Director of Outreach Services for 17 years.

Mathis is very active in her community serving on PTO boards for her children and has served on various community boards for over 20 year. She was also an active member of Junior Auxiliary of Madison County.   She is married to a 16 -year Career Ridgeland Police Officer, they have 3 children and are members of Broadmoor Baptist Church.

As a spouse of a Police Officer and a therapist, I have seen first hand the struggles that officers and their families go through on a daily bases and I want to be part of the solution to assist them.  First Responders was created to make a difference with individuals, their families and agencies.

Ruth Ann Rigby

Ruth Ann Rigby

Secretary

ruthann@firstrespondersofms.com

Ruth Ann Rigby is a lifelong resident of the great state of Mississippi, where she graduated from William Carey College. As a teenager, Ruth Ann entered her family business where she worked her way up performing a variety of support and leadership roles. After 17 years, Ruth Ann left to pursue her dream of service to others. Serving as a volunteer at St. Dominic Behavioral Health Center quickly turned in to full-time employment as her compassion for others was evident to all around her. Ruth Ann returned to school to become an Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor. This began her lifelong mission of working in the field of addiction and behavioral health. Her mission began at St. Dominic Behavior Health, followed by Pine Grove Behavioral Health. Four years ago, her path led her to Capstone Treatment Center located in Searcy, AR.

Ruth Ann is highly esteemed among all that know her for her tireless energy and passion to serve any family or person in need that crosses her path. Her willingness and dedication to professionalism, collaboration and mentorship is unmatched. During her twenty years in the addictions field, she works with individuals and families assisting them in getting into treatment all around the country. She is a valued friend to colleagues in the addiction and behavioral health field, people in recovery, families struggling to find help, and professional associates.

Rigby is very active in her community and has held many positions on charitable boards. In 2016, she was honored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency with their Bronze Award. She served on their board for over 20 years and held every office. including President of the Board of Directors. Ruth Ann also serves on a Task Force for Law Enforcement & First Responders and assists them and their families in time of need. She serves on the Advisory Board for the Center for Hope and Healing at Broadmoor Baptist church and has served on countless conference planning committees, task forces, and advisory boards.

“I have been married to my husband Joseph for over 21 years and together over 25. Through those 25 years my husband grew up in ranks of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety and retired as a Lt. Colonel. As the spouse of a first responder, I have firsthand experience. Family members of first responders share with their spouses the passion to serve others. Our law enforcement family has seen us through some very difficult times. I am a person in long-term recovery and understand the need for peer support. We truly want to help you in your greatest time of need so that you and your family do not suffer alone. I am so happy to be a part of First Responders of MS. We are committed to assisting members of law enforcement, their families, and their law enforcement agencies in their greatest time of need.”

Ruth Ann is married to her best friend, Lt. Colonel Joseph Rigby (RET). They have three Cocker Spaniels, Graciee, Darbee and Cailee.

Lt. Colonel Thomas Tuggle

Lt. Colonel Thomas Tuggle

Treasurer

ttuggle@firstrespondersofms.com

Thomas is a Lt. Colonel with the Mississippi Highway Patrol. He is the Director of Mississippi Law Enforcement Officer’s Training Academy (MLEOTA), the largest law enforcement training facility in the State. He has served in these positions prior to becoming the Director of the Training Academy. Enforcement Troop (E), MHP Honor Guard, MHP Recruiter & Senior Instructor for Basic Law Enforcement Training. He served as the Mississippi Department of Public Safety’s Executive Officer under two Commissioners. Lt. Colonel Tuggle is a former Marine and is married with one daughter.

Additionally, Lt. Colonel Tuggle is a graduate of the FBI Training Academy at Quantico and served as the First President from Mississippi in his class at the National Academy.

Outside his law enforcement duties Lt. Colonel Tuggle enjoys raising money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research in Memphis, TN, the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson, MS, and The Veteran’s Hospitals in Memphis, TN and Jackson, MS.

Lt. Colonel Tuggle has assisted many families across the country when they are seeking assistance for their loved ones struggling with Chemical Dependency and Behavioral Health Issues. He works with many Interventionists through out the country.

“I am fortunate to have worked for the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officer’s Training Academy. I have witnessed thousands of officers responding to emergencies the way they were trained. They are trained to solve other people’s problems.

I am a member of the board of directors of FROM to assist these officers with options to deal with issues when they come up either individually or with their Agency. If we don’t offer these First Responders opportunities that will help them manage the daily stressors associated with their responsibilities and assist them in their greatest time of need, then that is on us. We must get into ACTION”

Percy Thornton

Percy Thornton

Board Member

Percy was born and raised in Jackson, MS. He graduated from Jackson Central High School. He joined the United States Air Force after graduating and served four years spending his last twelve months of duty in Vietnam.

Percy has been married to Margie, his high school sweetheart, for almost fifty years.  He and Margie have two married children, Mike and Kim along with four amazing grandchildren, Haley, Spencer, Drew and Meredith.  Percy and Margie live in Clinton, MS.

Percy is co-founder and CEO of Southern States Utility Trailer Sales, Inc. and H & P Leasing, Inc. The two companies sell, service, and lease semi-trailers at locations in Richland, MS, Olive Branch, MS, and Monroe, LA. Southern States represents Utility Trailer Manufacturing, Carrier Transicold, Peerless Trailers and Reitnouer Trailers. Southern States was the Carrier Transicold 2015 Dealer of the Year for the United States and Canada.

Percy is presently transitioning toward retirement as his son Mike takes the primary leadership role in the two companies along with an experienced senior management group.

Percy presently serves on the Board of Trustees at Mississippi College and has previously served on the Hinds Community College Foundation Board and the Mississippi Food Network Board of Directors. He has also served on the national dealer councils for Utility Trailer Manufacturing and Carrier Transicold.

Percy is an active member at Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton, MS, where he serves as an Elder.

Percy’s favorite hobby is playing golf with his family and friends. He also enjoys water sports as a special time to spend with his family.

Treasurer Lynn Fitch

Treasurer Lynn Fitch

Board Member

Re-elected to a second term in 2015, Lynn Fitch is Mississippi’s 54th Treasurer.

Raised in Holly Springs, Mississippi, she earned both a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Juris Doctorate at the University of Mississippi. At 23, Lynn began practicing law as a Special Assistant Attorney General and was later in private practice as a bond lawyer.

In 2009, Lynn was selected by Governor Barbour to serve as Executive Director of the Mississippi State Personnel Board. Prior to MSPB, Lynn served as Deputy Executive Director at the Mississippi Department of Employment Security and as Counsel for the Mississippi House of Representatives Ways and Means and Local and Private Legislation Committees.

Lynn attended Harvard’s Business School of Management and Leadership Program. She has been active in the National Association of State Treasurers, where she served two terms as Vice President for the Southern Region, as well as in the State Financial Officers Foundation, where she served as 2016-17 Chair.

She was selected as Outstanding Woman Lawyer of 2012, recognized as a Woman Trailblazer by the Mississippi Bar Association, honored as a Mississippi Business Journal Leader in Finance 2016, and named a 2015 Honoree of the Women in Government Leadership Program by Governing Magazine. In 2017, Lynn was named one of Mississippi’s Top 50 Most Influential and was honored with the prestigious Susie Blue Buchanan award by the Mississippi Bar Association’s Women in the Profession Committee.

Lynn also serves on the boards of several charitable organizations, including Goodwill and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Sara Lynn McKay

Sara Lynn McKay

Board Member

Sara Lynn McKay grew up on a farm in Grenada, Mississippi, training and showing Quarter and gaited horses. She is a former Miss Dixie National and four-time State of Mississippi Horse Show Association High Point Award winner. She graduated from the University of Mississippi with a Degree in English and worked as a teacher before starting a family.

Today, she still spends as much time as possible with her horse and dogs, but she is especially dedicated to honoring the memory of her younger brother, Special Agent Lee Tartt. Lee was a police officer in the city of Grenada for seven years and served with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics for fifteen years before dying honorably in the line of duty February 20, 2016. Since then, Sara Lynn has developed a deeper appreciation for Lee’s brothers in all areas of law enforcement and is committed to making a difference in their lives whenever possible.

She and her husband Hank live in Birmingham, Alabama and have two sons. They are Legacy Team members of the Church of the Highlands, and they sponsor the MLEOTA Lee Tartt Award, which is presented each year during the April graduation ceremony.

Antoine Keller

Antoine Keller

Board Member

akeller@firstrespondersofms.com

Dr. Keller is a native of Louisiana. He spent a large part of his early childhood living and being educated in East Africa, as his father moved the family to Kenya to complete his Ph.D. in Political Science, and then to Ethiopia during the revolution so that he could research Ethiopian politics firsthand. He completed high school in Berkeley, California and then attended the University of California in Los Angeles for his undergraduate studies, and subsequently Duke University School of Medicine where he graduated with honors.

Dr. Keller completed his general surgery internship, residency and research fellowship at Tulane School of Medicine, where he participated actively in various experimental and clinical research projects. His thoracic and cardiovascular surgery residency was completed at the Carolinas Heart Institute (Sanger Clinic) in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Keller is board certified in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery.

Dr. Keller is author or co-author of more than 40 scholarly publications, presentations, book chapters and abstracts, and has participated in countless experimental and clinical studies. Thus, he is intimately aware of and involved in the application and development of cutting edge technology, and dedicated to providing access to the best that medicine has to offer for his patients. He has also received scores of prestigious awards including: the Tulane School of Medicine Owl Club Award of Excellence in Teaching, the Robicsek Traveling Fellowship (Lahr, Germany) and numerous others. He maintains membership in the American College of Surgeons, The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, The Southern Thoracic Surgeons Association, and numerous other professional organizations.

His professional interests include vascular heart disease, minimally invasive valve surgery and endovascular surgery for aortic aneurysms. As a devoted father and family man, Dr. Keller has long had interest in reaching out to children in his community in an effort to show them that the world is much bigger than the one they see every day. Over the years he has been involved in various activities and fund raising efforts including associations with The Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Climbing for Kids, both charities that inspire kids to test their limits. He resides in Jackson, Mississippi.

James M. Richards, Jr.

James M. Richards, Jr.

Board Member

Jim Richards is in his thirty-first year of employment with KLLM Transport Services and his eighth year as President and CEO. Mr. Richards also serves in the capacity of President and CEO of Frozen Food Express based in Dallas, Texas which was purchased by KLLM in 2013, and Forest Products Transport based out of Columbia, Mississippi. During his eight years at the helm, KLLM has grown to become the second largest refrigerated carrier in the Nation. KLLM, which is celebrating 55 years in business, has also realized record profitability and growth during his tenure as CEO, operating over 4,000 trucks in all 48 States and Mexico. Under his leadership, KLLM has become one of the most recognized Fleets in North America in the areas of technology and safety. KLLM has also achieved the reputation for premium service in the food and pharmaceutical industries and has received many awards of National recognition.

Mr. Richards is also very involved in the Trucking Industry as well the Community. He currently serves in the capacity of Chairman of the Hinds Community College Foundation. He also currently serves as a Board Member for The Trucking Alliance, Annandale Golf Club and First Responders of Mississippi. He has previously served in the capacity of Chairman of Truckload Profitability Strategies Group, the Mississippi Trucking Association and served on the Board of the Mississippi Food Network.

He earned a Bachelor of Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi. He and his wife Louise, live in Ridgeland and have two sons, Wesley and Peyton. They attend First Baptist Church of Jackson.