Virginia EMS Blog

Important 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.

June 2019 is Move Over Awareness Month

The Virginia General Assembly recognizes June 2019 as Move Over Awareness Month in honor of Lieutenant Bradford Turner Clark. Lt. Clark was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer while he was outside of his fire truck responding to a crash on I-295.

During #MoveOver Month, we’re urging you to move over when you see flashing blue, red or amber lights on Virginia’s highways. Please give first responders and law enforcement officers room to do their jobs; move over and slow down.

Remember, it’s the law. Virginia law states that when approaching a stationary vehicle that is displaying flashing blue, red or amber lights, drivers shall:

  • Proceed with caution and, if reasonable, yield the right of way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the stationary vehicle or:
  • If changing lanes would be unreasonable or unsafe, proceed with due caution and maintain a safe speed for highway conditions.

Read the Senate Joint Resolution No. 286, which recognizes June 2019 as Move Over Awareness Month in honor of Lieutenant Bradford Turner Clark:

Learn more about the Move Over law at: