SUBJECT: A COVID-19 Update for Virginia EMS Providers
First and foremost, the Office of EMS would like to thank you for all you are doing for your communities and the Commonwealth during the current COVID-19 pandemic. We sincerely appreciate your dedication, service and steadfastness during these unprecedented times.
Office of EMS management and staff have been working non-stop, often times around the clock, ensuring that Virginia’s EMS System is prepared and properly equipped to handle the demands that COVID-19 will inevitably place on our system. We are working hand-in-glove with our partners in other state agencies to ensure clear, concise messaging to the first responder community about COVID-19.
The Office has a dedicated page on our website where EMS providers can seek out the most up-to-date information we have about changes the Office is making to accommodate agencies, providers and EMS students. This page can be found at: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/emergency-medical-services/coronavirus-2019-covid-19/
During the course of any Governor declared State of Emergency the enforcement of regulations, is to not impede, in any way, the necessary delivery of services. However, this declaration does not indicate a complete abandonment of the ideal of regulatory compliance; but instead to simply relax the commonsense enforcement of regulations to allow for the needs of citizens to be met during the emergency.
Here are the commonsense steps the Office of EMS has taken to date to assist EMS providers across the state so they can focus on what is currently important—Virginia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Expiration of Virginia EMS Provider Certifications
Due to Executive Order 51, the Virginia Office of EMS extended the certification of all providers who were expiring on March 31, 2020 and April 30, 2020 until June 30, 2020. If you had completed your recertification requirements, there is nothing further you need to do. Your recertification card for the next three year (ALS) or four year (BLS) certification cycle will generate on June 2, 2020. If you have not completed your CE requirements, you still have time to do so.
OEMS staff will reevaluate if certification expiration dates need to be further extended in mid to late April.
There are a plethora of online CE opportunities—some free and some fee for service—available to EMS providers. Online continuing education courses can be found at: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/emergency-medical-services/education-certification/provider-resources/web-based-continuing-education/
Expiration of Operational Medical Director Endorsements
Due to Executive Order 51, the Virginia Office of EMS has extended the endorsements of all Medical Directors who are currently set to expire on March 31, April 30, May 31, and June 30, 2020 until December 31, 2020.
Virginia Consolidated Test Sites
Due to Executive Order 51, 53 and 55, all Consolidated Test Sites are being cancelled until June 10, 2020 at a minimum. The Office is working with programs that were underway and has developed a pathway to allow students to move forward with testing as quickly as possible. We will regroup in several weeks to determine if there is a need to eliminate further CTS sites or if CTS testing can resume as normal. We will keep you advised by e-mail of any updates on this.
National Registry Certification Extensions
The National Registry is currently in the process of programming updates for the extension of National Registry expirations (for those who have yet to recertify) from March 31, 2020 to June 30, 2020.
NREMT also decided to eliminate the distributive education requirements for this cycle as well, in order to allow EMS providers to complete needed hours through distributive education. The availability of completing online continuing education through distributive education was already available for Virginia providers.
National Registry has indicated that they will not reissue new digital certification cards with the June 30, 2020m expiration date and their online certification verification system will not reflect the new expiration either.
National Registry Provisional Certification
National Registry has been cancelling scheduled psychomotor exams since mi-March and will not be approving any new psychomotor exams for an undetermined period. Based on the fact that more than 60% of states have issued Stay-At-Home and social distancing orders, the Board of the National Registry has approved the issuance of a provisional certification. In Virginia, this will only impact the Advanced EMT and Paramedic certification levels.
A provisional National Registry certification is issued when a student:
- completes their certification program according to state or CoAEMSP requirements, and
- sits for and passes the National Registry cognitive exam.
- When these items are completed, a 2-year provisional National Registry certification will be issued. The issued certification will clearly indicate the awarding of provisional certification pending completion of the psychomotor exam when successfully completed.
Provisional certifications can be converted to full certification once the COVID-19 threat is mitigated and the student takes and passes their NREMT required psychomotor exam.
Virginia will begin accepting and likewise issuing provisional certifications cards when the National Registry begins transmitting these results to us. Please see the attached sample provisional Virginia certification card. We are providing this sample to you so that you are aware of what we will be issuing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The sample is highlighted to indicate the changes that will be made to certification cards issued under this provisional authority.
The issuance of a provisional certification by the Virginia Office of EMS is not reflective that the Office is restricting provider practice. The ability for a provider to practice is solely up to the EMS Agency and the agency’s Operational Medical Director. We are issuing provisional certifications as a means of ensuring that we have a mechanism to track these providers and ensure that they complete their certification process once the COVID-19 threat is mitigated.
When being scheduled for work, National Registry strongly urges that no two provisionally certified providers work on the same truck. There should always be a fully certified provider riding with a provisionally certified provider.
Pearson VUE Centers Opening for Essential EMS Testing
Preserving the pipeline of EMS personnel during the pandemic is essential, and vital to public health. Therefore, on Wednesday, March 25, some Pearson VUE Professional Centers (PPCs) across the nation reopened for the testing of essential healthcare personnel, including EMS providers. Appointments at these centers will be available on a first come, first served basis. More appointments and availability will be available as soon as possible. More information about Pearson VUE’s testing for EMS personnel during the pandemic is available on Pearson VUE’s website.
Information for Candidates with an Authorization to Test (ATT) and candidates that had an examination canceled are encouraged to log into the Pearson VUE site to reschedule your examination. (https://home.pearsonvue.com/nremt)
These centers are strictly for the testing of essential healthcare personnel, including EMS providers.
What if a student can’t find a test center near them?
If you are not able to locate a Pearson VUE testing center today, we encourage checking back in a few days. Conditions vary greatly across the United States and the testing network availability changes daily. We are working with state and local officials to re-open testing centers across the United States, while adhering to public health guidance on social distancing and Stay at Home Orders.
Paper Certification Cards
The printing and mailing of certification cards and the Commonwealth’s Mail Services may be affected. Provider certifications can be verified online at the following URL: https://vdhems.vdh.virginia.gov/emsapps/ProviderSearch.html.
It is not a requirement of the Office of EMS that a copy of your certification be on file with your agency. The Virginia EMS Provider Online Certification Verification reflects the current status of your certification and can be accessed by the agency leadership.
All certification data on this website is real-time, up-to-date and accurate.
EMS Agency Inspections
EMS Agency licenses and vehicle permits that expire March 31 through June 30, 2020 will be automatically extended to December 31, 2020.
Virginia Office of EMS Staffing
Due to Executive Order 55, the Office of EMS has implemented teleworking for the next 30-days (at a minimum). Staff will maintain normal office hours from their home and will have access to their phones and computer resources.
If you need to reach a staff member, please reach out to their direct extension which can be found here: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/emergency-medical-services/oems-information/contact-ems/office-of-ems-staff-listing/
The front office at Technology Park will be left unstaffed—yet monitored by one-way video. There will be instructions at the desk should you need to drop something off or speak with someone. Please do not show up at the office unannounced, the staff member you are looking to speak with will not be here.
The Office of EMS will not be staffed for the foreseeable future. If you have a pressing issue that cannot be handled via e-mail or a phone call, then you need to reach out to that particular staff member to discuss the potential of having a face-to-face meeting. It is possible your request for a face-to-face meeting will not be approved depending on the current situation on the ground.
The spring meeting of the Governor’s Advisory Board, Training & Certification Committee as well as the Medical Direction Committee have been cancelled effective immediately. Additionally, all face to face meetings of any committee or workgroup have been cancelled in accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order 55.
Again, thank you for all you do in support of Virginia’s EMS System. Your dedication and service to Virginia during these extraordinary times.
Stay safe, remember social distancing and please wash your hands!
Gary Brown, Director
Virginia Office of EMS
Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services
1041 Technology Park Drive
Glen Allen, VA 23059