Historical Highlights


1928 – The first independent volunteer rescue squad in the country, Roanoke Lifesaving and First Aid Crew, was established in Roanoke, Va.


1968 – State involvement in emergency medical services (EMS) began with the passage of the Virginia Ambulance Law, which called for the development and enforcement of standards for all ambulance services, whether volunteer, commercial or municipal. The Bureau of Emergency Medical Services was established within the Department of Health.
1969 – The first Rules and Regulations Governing Ambulance Services were promulgated.


1971 – The National Standard Curriculum for Emergency Medical Technicians was implemented in Virginia.
1973 – The first advanced life support personnel graduated as Cardiac Technicians in Virginia Beach, Va.
1974 – The Virginia General Assembly passed more comprehensive EMS systems legislation. The State EMS Advisory Committee was expanded.
1976 – The first EMT-Paramedics were certified. The EMT Instructor Trainer Program was initiated.
1978 – Virginia Rescue Squad Assistance Fund created by legislation. First grants awarded in June 1979. Virginia’s Regional EMS Councils were formally recognized in the Code of Virginia.



1980 – First annual EMS Symposium held in Williamsburg, Va. Regional EMS Councils designated by the State Board of Health.
1981 – Virginia’s first air medical evacuation service was dedicated in Salem, Va. Medical College of Virginia was first Level One Trauma Center designated by the state. A federal block grant permits statewide funding for all EMS Regional Councils.
1982 – First Responder program initiated. The first State EMS Plan is adopted.
1983 – This was a significant year for EMS with the passage of the “One For Life” legislation, adding a $1.00 fee on motor vehicle registration to support EMS. Funding for Regional EMS Councils shifted from federal block grant to state funding. Reimbursement initiated for instructors teaching approved EMT and First Responder classes.
1985 – Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Program for emergency services personnel initiated.
1986 – Governor’s EMS Awards initiated to recognize outstanding individuals and EMS a agencies.
1987 – Statewide Trauma Registry legislated for collecting data. The Office of EMS received approximately 50,000 records per year from hospitals and emergency departments. Developed and adopted first State MEDEVAC plan for the Commonwealth.
1988 – Major efforts initiated to address wide-spread problem of recruitment and retention of qualified EMS personnel. EMS Disaster Response Planning Report Completed.
1989 – EMS Advisory Board established the Medical Control Committee and the Office of EMS contracted part-time with a physician to serve as the State EMS Medical Director.



1990 – Two For Life legislation passed, which doubled to $2.00 the annual motor vehicle registration fee for EMS and made new programs possible. Rules and Regulations Governing EMS revised to incorporate Guidelines and Procedures for BLS and ALS Training Programs. First and only state sponsored satellite EMS training program initiated by the Office of EMS. Monthly broadcasts are available for viewing nationwide. Computerized Continuing Education program initiated that allows providers innovative ways to earn recertification credits for attending a variety of training programs which include hospital rotations, magazine articles and videotapes.
1991 – Testing and continuing education records automated.
1995 – Virginia is one of the first states to adopt the new National Standard EMT-Basic Curriculum and instructor roll-out programs train over 500 EMT instructors in the use of this new program. Poison Control Services tasked to Office of EMS.
1996 – Statewide Pre-Hospital and Inter-Hospital Trauma Triage Plan developed. New National Standard Instructor Curriculum is implemented in Virginia to train new EMT instructors. It is based on policies and programs initially developed in Virginia. EMS Advisory Board membership reorganized with reduction of membership from 37 to 24, elimination of Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Emergency Services representation, and addition of membership by the State Fire Chiefs’ Association of Virginia, Virginia Firefighters Association and Virginia Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics.
1997 – Virginia adopted a modified version of the new National Standard First Responder Curriculum that added skills including automated external defibrillation (AED) as a mandatory requirement at this certification level. Recertification requirements for all certification levels were updated and Operational Medical Directors allowed to waive recertification testing for qualified EMS agency members under their supervision.
First Regional EMS Disaster Task Forces are operational.
1998 – New Continuing Education requirements for all EMS certification levels took effect on July 1, 1998.
1999 – A consolidated grants program was initiated that included all OEMS grants – Rescue Squad Assistance Fund, Recruitment and Retention Mini-Grants and ALS Training Grants. AED registration program developed for non-licensed EMS organizations. Regional Trauma Plans established statewide. EMS Funding Task Forced formed by EMS Advisory Board Chairman. The EMS Do Not Resuscitate Order was changed by the Virginia General Assembly and renamed the Durable DNR Order. New provisions eliminated the expiration date and the requirement to be terminally ill, and included minors. EMS agencies were required to start submitting Pre-Hospital Patient Care Reports, starting July 1, 1999.



2000 – For the first time, an official definition of an ambulance was passed by the Virginia General Assembly. It is defined as a vehicle, vessel or aircraft that holds a valid permit from the Office of EMS. Initiated extensive review of EMS Rules and Regulations for update in 2001, the first update since 1990. Statewide collection of Pre-Hospital Patient Care Report data initiated.
2002 – Four-for-life funding passed providing EMS $4 for vehicle registrations, thus increasing programs and initiatives in OEMS, increasing grant availability and return-to-locality funding. The funding was withheld for the Virginia’s Homeland Security general fund, but was provided to the EMS system in 2004.
2004 – Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission study reviewed the statewide availability of EMS, recruitment, retention and training of EMS providers. It also looked at EMS funding in Virginia and recommended organization and managemetn improvements that could strengthen the Commonwealth’s EMS System. General Assembly approved; ” Four for Life” less $3.450 million retained in general funds was provided to the EMS system.
2005 – General Assembly increased from 12 to 17 mandates for EMS § 32.1-111.3
2006 – “Four for Life” was fully enacted by budget bill and revised the % distribution.
2007 – EMS for Children comes to the Office of EMS. OEMS reorganized and now has six divisions and 48 positions. Training available on-line through TrainVA and contracted on-line EMS education companies.
2008 – Fund code 0213 – Accelerate annual payment to localities in March for funds collected year to date (July – February) to drawdown cash balances. Fund code 0910 – Limit the # of grant extensions awarded. Additionally, in 2007, OEMS changed procedures to include follow-up letters to grantees approximately 3 months prior to the end of grant period. Established external audit of Regional Councils, RSAF grantees and Return to Locality funds. General Assembly approved a $0.25 increase in Four for Life restricted to EMT Certification.
2010 – The Virginia Pre-Hospital Information Bridge (VPHIB), the web-based electronic patient care data collection system was implemented throughout Virginia. The VPHIB system provides a secure method of collecting pre-hospital data, extracting existing data, and exporting or sharing data for strategic planning and process improvement initiatives.  This gives EMS agencies in Virginia the flexibility to collect their own data. The entire Commonwealth was phased into moving from manual pre-hospital patient care reporting to the new web version of VPHIB. The Office of EMS received a Homeland Security Grant Program for funding of 762 ToughBook laptops to Virginia EMS governmental and volunteer agencies. The ToughBooks are now used in the field to electronically report patient care data to OEMS through VPHIB.
2011 –  The Virginia Office of EMS in consultation with the state EMS Advisory Board approved the Virginia Scope of Practice which includes the Intermediate level of certification.  A committee of EMS providers, Operational Medical Directors and EMS educators met and developed the following Virginia specific Scope of Practice documents. The new Virginia Scope of Practice Formulary and Procedures are guidance documents designed to provide “educational minimums and practice maximums.”  EMS educators are encouraged to begin using these documents in their training programs.  They replace the old Procedures and Medications Schedules. More >>