Virginia EMS Blog

Important Reminders for the 40th Annual Virginia EMS Symposium

Dear 2019 Symposium Participant,

We’re only a few days away from the 40th Annual Virginia EMS Symposium, one of the largest five-day EMS training events available in the nation! As you’re packing, please remember to bring clothes that you can layer because the temperature in the classrooms can vary. Here are some important updates and reminders, please read through them carefully. Safe travels and see you in Norfolk next week!

As an update to previously advertised information, our Keynote Speaker for the Saturday, Nov. 9 Governor’s EMS Awards Ceremony and Banquet will now feature Randolph “Randy” Mantooth. If you are unable to purchase tickets to the awards banquet, Randy Mantooth will also be available at two autograph sessions during the Virginia EMS Symposium. Mr. Mantooth will be on the 3rd floor of the Hilton hotel on Friday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and at the Marriott Exhibit Hall on Saturday from 9 a.m. – noon.

Our previously scheduled awards banquet Keynote Speaker J.R. Martinez will now be speaking at the General Session on Friday, Nov. 8 from 8-9 a.m. For those unable to attend this session with J.R. Martinez, he will also be available for a “meet and greet” on Thursday, Nov. 7 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the Hilton on the 3rd floor.

  1. On-site Registration Check-in Times:
    • Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, 3 p.m. – 9 p.m.
    • Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.
    • Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.After you check in at the registration area on the 3rd floor of the Marriott, please review your class confirmation letter and locate each of your classes in the On-Site Guide or via the “VA EMS Symposium” mobile app available through the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.*You should identify where your classes are located each day, in advance, because you may have classes that are held in the Marriott, the Sheraton and the Hilton. All facilities will host various classes throughout this five-day event, so you will need to preplan and locate your classes to assure that you take advantage of the breaks and can get to your next class on time. Be sure to check the registration area on the 3rd floor of the Marriott or the “VA EMS Symposium” mobile app for course cancellations, room changes and other important announcements. As a reminder, it is your responsibility to make sure you are scanned as you leave each class and that your certification number, at a minimum, appears on the scanner screen.*To download the mobile app, visit the Google Play Store or Apple App Store and search for “VA EMS Symposium.” Click links for download instructions for the “VA EMS Symposium”app on your Apple iPhone or Android smartphone. Please note: If you are having trouble downloading the app, you can access the mobile web app via the following URL:
  1. Free parking is available for Symposium registrants at Harbor Park baseball stadium. If you park at Harbor Park you must get a permit from the parking permit table on the 3rd floor in the Marriott. Parking at Harbor Park during Symposium will only be available in Lot D from Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 3:00 p.m. – Sunday, Nov. 10 at noon. A Symposium marked shuttle bus will make stops at Harbor Park, the corner of Martins Lane and E. Main Street (for Marriott and Hilton hotels) and the Sheraton hotel.Symposium Shuttle Schedule:
    • Wednesday, Nov. 6, 6:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
    • Thursday, Nov. 7, 6:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
    • Friday, Nov. 8, 6:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.
    • Saturday, Nov. 9, 6:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.
    • Sunday, Nov. 10, 6:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  1. New this Year! General Sessions: Plan to attend General Sessions, which are open to all attendees on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 8-9 a.m. in Marriott IV, 4th floor. Recently, some scheduling changes were announced, which affected the Keynote Speaker for the awards banquet and the dates of speakers at the General Sessions. The updated schedule is below:
    • Thursday – OPE-908 Active Shooter or Active Deadly Threat: An Approach for EMS Agencies, Instructor: Kevin Ramdayal, FDNY Captain.
    • Friday – This session will feature J.R. Martinez, who was previously scheduled to speak at the Saturday night awards banquet. This scheduling change has Mr. Martinez speaking on Friday, Nov. 8 at 8 a.m. in the Marriott. Registration is not required for this session, however, once the room has met capacity it will be closed to additional guests. One hour of continuing education will be awarded in Area 15 – BLS and Area 20 – ALS.
    • Saturday – HEA-610 EMS from Death’s Perspective 1999-2019, Instructor: Robert Page. Those who were previously registered for this general session on Friday, Nov. 8 will be transferred to this session. For those who would like to attend but did not register for this session, limited seats may be available. Please do not take a seat in the room until 7:55 a.m. when all registered attendees should be present. Once the room has met capacity, it will be closed.

4. Special Events: For participants who paid for the Thursday Night Dinner Theater and Saturday Night Awards Banquet, you will receive a voucher in your registration packet. Please bring that voucher to the 3rd floor registration table in the Marriott in order to redeem it for your wristband, which will grant you access to these events. Please take care not to lose your wristband, as you will be required to show it at the door for each event.

    • Spirit Night Dinner Cruise – The Spirit of Norfolk will offer on-site ticket purchases at the special $40/person symposium dinner cruise rate, but it is subject to availability. Tickets may be purchased at the 3rd floor registration area until Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 6 p.m. The dinner cruise is Wednesday, Nov. 6, 7 – 9 p.m. Boarding begins at 6:30 p.m. Click here to see event flyer.
    • New this Year – TWO Exhibit Vendor Halls! Exhibit Hours at the Marriott and the Hilton hotels:
      • Thursday, Nov. 7, 2 – 7 p.m.
      • Friday, Nov. 8, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. & 5:30 – 7 p.m.
      • Saturday, Nov. 9, 9 a.m. – Noon.
        *There will be a special vendor reception, which is open to everyone, on Thursday at the Hilton and on Friday at the Marriott from 5:30 – 7 p.m. in the Vendor Exhibit Halls. Heavy hors d’œuvres will be served.
    • Thursday Night DJ Dance – Dance the night away to all of the latest hits in the Hampton Ballroom, 3rd floor, Marriott.
    • New this Year! Thursday Night Dinner Theater with Magician – This family-friendly event will welcome an inspirational magician who brings his show from Las Vegas. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m. (this is an update from previously advertised info.) and the show will be from 8-9 p.m. at the Sheraton hotel. This event is $10/person and tickets will be available for purchase on-site, subject to availability.
    • Casino Monte Carlo – Friday, Nov. 8, 9 p.m. – 12 a.m. in the Hampton Ballroom, 3rd floor, Marriott. There will be lots more exciting entertainment options, featuring more tables and games than ever before! There’s plenty of fun for everyone! Be sure to check out this family-friendly event.
    • Governor’s EMS Awards Ceremony – Join us as we honor the 2019 Governor’s EMS Award nominees on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 6:45 p.m., Norfolk Ballroom, 1st floor, Marriott. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. A plated dinner will be served at banquet-style seating. New this year – We’ll welcome Randolph “Randy” Mantooth as the Keynote Speaker for this event (this is an update from previously advertised info.) There is a $10/person fee for this event and tickets may be offered for on-site purchase, subject to availability. After the awards ceremony, join us for the annual DJ Dance in the Hampton Ballroom, 3rd floor, Marriott.

5. Save time and money with quick lunch options from the Marriott and the Sheraton. Quick lunches at the Marriott will be available Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. in the lounge, 2nd floor, Norfolk Waterside Marriott. Cash only. Exact change is appreciated.

Norfolk Waterside Marriott


  • Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich with Sweet and Tangy coleslaw @ $6.75 Each
  • Grilled Chicken Wrap with Lettuce, Tomato, Jack and Cheddar Cheese @ $6.25 Each
  • Garden Salad @ $6.75 Each
  • Bag of Chips, Soft Drink and Cookie @ $5.75 Each


  • Chicken Parmesan Sandwich @ $6.75 Each
  • Meatball Marinara Sub @ $6.75 Each
  • Caesar Salad @ $6.75 Each
  • Bag of Chips, Soft Drink and Cookie @ $5.75 Each


  • Hot Ham and Swiss on a Croissant bun @ $6.75 Each
  • Roast Beef Grilled Onion and Cheddar on Sub Roll @ $6.25 Each
  • Chicken Caesar Salad @ $6.75 Each
  • Bag of Chips, Soft Drink and Cookie @ $5.75 Each

Sheraton Norfolk Waterside – Daily lunch specials will be served Monday – Friday, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

The Waterside District will also be serving lunch and dinner options, as well as offering special pricing when you “show your symposium badge.” There are many other lunch and dinner options in the surrounding area, including D’egg Diner, which is open across the street from the Marriott. For additional dining options, please see the Norfolk dining guide, which will be enclosed in your registration packet, on the Symposium mobile app or click here for Norfolk restaurant options.

Don’t forget to download the “VA EMS Symposium” app to stay updated while at the Virginia EMS Symposium. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates and use the hashtag #VaEMS2019 to share your “Education for Life.”


EMS Symposium Staff

Lodging and Event Updates for the Virginia EMS Symposium

The 40th Annual Virginia EMS Symposium
November 6 – 10, 2019

Learn more and register online at:
Registration closes October 4, 2019

This Just In – Lodging for the Virginia EMS Symposium:

Additional lodging options have become available for the 2019 Virginia EMS Symposium at the Residence Inn by Marriott Norfolk Downtown at 227 W. Brambleton Ave., Norfolk, VA.

Click on link below to make your reservation:
Book your group rate – Residence Inn by Marriott Norfolk Downtown: $96 USD per night
Reservation start date: Friday, November 1, 2019 | Reservation end date: November 13, 2019
Last day to book your reservation: October 7, 2019.The group rate for rooms is subject to availability.

You don’t want to miss out on exceptional courses like these offered at this year’s Virginia EMS Symposium!

CAR-402: Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) for Experienced Providers
Course Fee: $100
The goal of the ACLS EP Course is to improve outcomes in complex cardiovascular, respiratory and other (e.g, metabolic, toxicologic) emergencies by expanding on core ACLS guidelines and encouraging critical thinking and decision-making strategies. Through instruction and active participation in case-based scenarios, learners enhance their skills in the differential diagnosis and treatment of pre-arrest, arrest, and post arrest patients. The successful participant will receive an ACLS-EP certification card, which is valid for two (2) years and supersedes a standard ACLS Provider certification.
This course is limited so register early.

HEA-601: GRIN – Group Crisis Intervention and Assisting Individuals in Crisis (ICISF)
Course Fee: $48
This three-day course combines ALL of the content of ICISF’s Assisting Individuals in Crisis & Group Crisis Intervention courses. Crisis Intervention is NOT psychotherapy; rather, it is a specialized acute emergency mental health intervention which requires specialized training. This course will prepare participants to understand a wide range of crisis intervention services for both the individual and for groups.
Please note that the $48 course fee is a change.

Symposium General Sessions:

Sessions are open to all attendees: Please add if not already to your schedule.
Full breakfast menu items will be provided to general session attendees.
All general sessions begin at 8 a.m – 9 a.m.

  • OPE-908: Active Shooter or Active Deadly Threat – An Approach for EMS Agencies
    Instructor: Kevin Ramdayal, FDNY Captain
    Thursday, Nov. 7
  • HEA-610 EMS From Death’s Perspective 1999-2019
    Instructor: Robert Page, Edutainment Consulting and Seminars, LLC

    Friday, Nov. 8
  • HEA-632: “Reconnect with the Why” – Facing Provider Burnout
    Instructor: Randolph Mantooth, Actor
    Saturday, Nov. 9

There are so many exciting events planned for the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Virginia EMS Symposium:

For more information visit: Symposium Events

  • Spirit Night Dinner Cruise
    Wednesday, Nov. 6
    Reservations are required.
  • Thursday Night Dinner Theater with Magician
    Thursday, Nov. 7
    $10/person – Must pay in advance
  • Game Night – Monte Carlo
    Friday, Nov. 8
  • Annual Governor’s EMS Awards Ceremony and Reception
    Featuring Keynote Speaker J.R. Martinez
    Saturday, Nov. 9
    $10/person – Must pay in advance

We want to highlight your agency for the 40th Anniversary Celebration:

The Office of EMS is currently collecting photos taken of your agency over the last 40 years to be displayed at the 40th Annual Virginia EMS Symposium. The photos can be of training events, agency staff, agency facilities/vehicles, etc. If possible, please include the agency name and date of photo.

The deadline for submission is Friday, October 11, 2019. Please submit photos to

Reminders About Response to Emergency Events

With the current Atlantic hurricane outlook and the potential that areas of the United States may be significantly impacted, the Virginia Office of EMS would like to post some reminders about disaster assistance.

As EMS providers, we understand that you want to help and that you may feel compelled to travel to areas impacted by a major disaster.  We request that you please do not respond to any impacted area that needs assistance, unless you have received a formal request.  Requests for assistance from impacted areas will be routed through the Virginia Emergency Operations Center.  Those requests pertaining to EMS will be assigned to the Virginia Office of EMS, Division of Emergency Operations where they will be filled as applicable and appropriate.

Liability, safety, and accountability become major issues when self-dispatch to affected areas occurs, whether it is done by an agency or a single provider.  Self-dispatching also places a strain on the response structure of the affected locality.  Again, the best assistance you can provide is making yourself available to your local agency, not self-dispatching to the impacted areas.

If you have any questions please contact Karen Owens, emergency operations manager, at

Phase Two of Construction Nears Completion

The Office of EMS is nearing completion on Phase 2 of construction on the new offices. The Division of Accreditation, Certification and Education, the Division of Regulation and Compliance, the Division of Trauma and Critical Care and the RSAF Grants Program have officially moved into their new offices.

The remodel on the 1041 office is currently underway and furniture is set up. These new and improved offices will offer one central location for all of our divisions and programs, which also allows for a more customer-friendly atmosphere. Additionally, our office will be equipped with new technology and conference areas to better meet the needs of staff and guests.

The office will remain open during this construction. The final phases of construction are set for completion this summer. We look forward to offering a new and improved office and meeting space for all of our visitors.

New Manager of Accreditation, Certification and Education Division Announced

It is with great excitement that the Virginia Office of EMS (OEMS) announces Debbie Akers as the new Manager for the Division of Accreditation, Certification and Education (ACE). Debbie is a passionate EMS educator and administrator with over 20 years of experience providing EMS educators with knowledge in educational methodology, course development and initial and continuing education programs. Debbie has established cohesive relationships with state and national EMS organizations to promote Virginia to a recognized leader in prehospital EMS education. Debbie is a Nationally Registered EMT-paramedic, Virginia EMT-Paramedic and a Virginia EMS Education Coordinator.

Debbie also worked as an ER Technician and Paramedic at Montgomery Regional Hospital in Blacksburg, served as Training Coordinator and Paramedic at Regional Emergency Medical Services in Pulaski, served as Program Director at New River Valley Training Center in Radford, and as Regional Education Coordinator at the Western Virginia EMS Council in Roanoke for seven years prior to becoming the Advanced Life Support Training Specialist at OEMS in 2011.

Debbie has been recognized by the Governor as the Outstanding Prehospital EMS Educator in Virginia in 2010. Her contributions to EMS on a national level were recognized when she was awarded the National Association of EMS Educators, HERO award in 2008.

Debbie is recognized for her solid background in business administration, and as a hands-on manager with developed skills and experience in human resource management. Anyone who has ever met Debbie or interacted with her knows that she is an effective communicator and able to foster productive relationships with colleagues, customers and staff at all levels.

Debbie is the ultimate team leader and team player and we are proud to announce her new role at OEMS. Please join us in congratulating Debbie as the new Division Manager for ACE.