WVEMS Council Names New Executive Director

December 11, 2020 – After an exhaustive search and lengthy interview process, the Executive Committee of the Western Virginia EMS Council announces the hiring of Stephen G. Simon as its next executive director, effective in early March 2021.

Steve currently serves as Chief of the Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Department, a position he has held since 2015. He has worked for the department since 1994, and recently announced his retirement.

Steve will replace Robert Logan, who has held the executive director position since 1995. Logan will retire in March.

Simon’s first day in the Council’s executive director role is set for March 8. “We welcome Steve aboard, and look forward to his leadership and participation following Rob Logan’s long tenure with the Council,” said Council President Mike Jefferson.

For more information, please contact WVEMS Council Executive Director, Robert Logan at (540) 400‐1243 or email logan@vaems.org.

COVID-19 Vaccine Interest Survey

The Virginia Office of EMS is trying to determine Virginia EMS providers’ perspective on receiving an FDA approved COVID-19 vaccine and is investigating vaccine hesitancy. This survey will take approximately 1 to 5 minutes to complete and is completely anonymous.

To take the anonymous survey, please visit: https://redcap.vdh.virginia.gov/redcap/surveys/?s=97LTLHMT9R. Thank you in advance for your participation.

Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services’ Division Director Recognized by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health as Virginia’s 2020 “Community Star” Award Winner

Tim Perkins Headshot
Tim Perkins, Division Director, Community Health and Technical Resources

Tim Perkins, division director for Community Health and Technical Resources with the Virginia Department of Health, Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) was recently honored with the prestigious “Community Star” award from the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH).

Every year, the NOSORH leads National Rural Health Day, an annual celebration that recognizes those who serve the vital health needs of an estimated 57 million people living in rural America, and celebrates Community Star award winners across the nation.

The Community Star Recognition Program’s nominees are selected by their state’s coalition to recognize individuals and organizations that make a positive impact in rural communities. This year, nominations were received from 48 states, a record for this annual awards program.

In Virginia, Tim Perkins was selected as this year’s Community Star award winner. As the Division Director for the OEMS’ Community Health and Technical Resources Division, he is responsible for working with rural EMS agencies, rescue squads and Regional EMS Councils throughout the commonwealth to provide a range of education, resources and technical assistance. He advocates for various agencies at the state level and oversees multiple initiatives, including mobile integrated healthcare/community paramedicine, disease management and preventative health care services.

During Perkins’ 14 years at the OEMS, there have been many changes in the provision of emergency care, which have put a strain on rural areas, including agencies that heavily rely on volunteers, an aging workforce, and recruitment and retention challenges. However, Perkins continues to be a leader in this field and has met those challenges by focusing his efforts on response and increased telehealth services in rural Virginia.

Perkins is an asset to Virginia’s EMS System and his contributions to rural health and the provision of emergency care is commended. The OEMS is proud to congratulate and recognize Perkins for his outstanding achievements and commitment to protect the health of all people in the commonwealth.

For more information about the Community Star award, please visit: https://www.powerofrural.org/community-stars/. ​​On November 19, Tim Perkins will appear in the 2020 edition of the book of Community Stars, published on the official National Rural Health Day website, powerofrural.org.

Governor Northam Announces New Statewide Measures to Contain COVID-19

Includes limit of 25 individuals for in-person gatherings, expanded mask mandate, on-site alcohol curfew, and increased enforcement

RICHMOND—As COVID-19 surges in states across the country, Governor Ralph Northam today announced new actions to mitigate the spread of the virus in Virginia. While the Commonwealth’s case count per capita and positivity rate remain comparatively low, all five health regions are experiencing increases in new COVID-19 cases, positive tests, and hospitalizations.

“COVID-19 is surging across the country, and while cases are not rising in Virginia as rapidly as in some other states, I do not intend to wait until they are. We are acting now to prevent this health crisis from getting worse,” said Governor Northam. “Everyone is tired of this pandemic and restrictions on our lives. I’m tired, and I know you are tired too. But as we saw earlier this year, these mitigation measures work. I am confident that we can come together as one Commonwealth to get this virus under control and save lives.”

Governor Northam shared a new video to update Virginians on the additional steps the Commonwealth is taking to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which is available here.

The following measures will take effect at midnight on Sunday, November 15:

  • Reduction in public and private gatherings: All public and private in-person gatherings must be limited to 25 individuals, down from the current cap of 250 people. This includes outdoor and indoor settings.
  • Expansion of mask mandate: All Virginians aged five and over are required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces. This expands the current mask mandate, which has been in place in Virginia since May 29 and requires all individuals aged 10 and over to wear face coverings in indoor public settings.
  • Strengthened enforcement within essential retail businesses: All essential retail businesses, including grocery stores and pharmacies, must adhere to statewide guidelines for physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and enhanced cleaning. While certain essential retail businesses have been required to adhere to these regulations as a best practice, violations will now be enforceable through the Virginia Department of Health as a Class One misdemeanor.
  • On-site alcohol curfew: The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol is prohibited after 10:00 p.m. in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms must close by midnight. Virginia law does not distinguish between restaurants and bars, however, under current restrictions, individuals that choose to consume alcohol prior to 10:00 p.m. must be served as in a restaurant and remain seated at tables six feet apart.

Virginia is averaging 1,500 newly-reported COVID-19 cases per day, up from a statewide peak of approximately 1,200 in May. While Southwest Virginia has experienced a spike in the number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases, all five of the Commonwealth’s health regions are currently reporting a positivity rate over five percent. Although hospital capacity remains stable, hospitalizations have increased statewide by more than 35 percent in the last four weeks.

On Tuesday, Governor Northam announced new contracts with three laboratories as part of the Commonwealth’s OneLabNetwork, which will significantly increase Virginia’s public health testing capacity. Contracts with Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, and Sentara Healthcare in Norfolk will directly support high-priority outbreak investigations, community testing events, and testing in congregate settings, with a goal of being able to perform 7,000 per day by the end of the year.

The full text of amended Executive Order Sixty-Three and Order of Public Health Emergency Five and sixth amended Executive Order Sixty-Seven and Order of Public Health Emergency Seven will be made available here.

For information about COVID-19 in Virginia, visit vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus. Link to press release.

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Digital Certification Cards

The Office of EMS is pleased to introduce digital certification cards to EMS providers, EMS physicians and EMS agency leadership. Remember the days when you had to carry your printed certificate around and hope not to lose it? Those days are gone!

Digital certificates make keeping your certification with you easier than ever. The certificates are easy to pull up from a cell phone or computer. Providers can now download their certification card directly to their devices and keep it with them in digital format wherever they go! Digital certificates also make it a snap for an employer or organization to check and verify your certification levels.

Digital certification cards will be available beginning October 27, 2020. Accessing a digital version of your certification card is as easy as logging into the Virginia EMS Portal. If you printed or saved/stored your digital certification card on Tuesday, October 27, 2020, you will need to revisit the Virginia EMS Portal and download a new copy. There was an error in programming which malformed the data in your QR code used for recording continuing education credit.

A fact sheet on digital certification cards can be found by clicking this link.

Why transition to digital certification?

  1. EMS providers lose their certification cards, frequently! With digital certification cards providers never have to worry about replacement cards because providers will always have access to the digital certification for the duration of their certification period.
  2. Saving taxpayer money! Certification card stock, the cost of envelopes and postage, manpower to print, fold and stuff cards all cost money! Money which could be better spent on new technology resources, increased funding for the Rescue Squad Assistance Fund, and other benefits to the EMS system as a whole.
  3. Instead of faxing or mailing copies of your certification card to your employer or anyone requesting proof of your training, just e-mail them your Virginia EMS Certification card. It’s fast and easy!
  4. Be on the cutting edge and go green! Save our valuable natural resources whenever possible.

Concerned about Safety and Security?

Verify any Virginia EMS certification quickly on the Office of EMS website. This website allows for a search by a certificate number, first and last name and/or agency. If you are an employer and your employee has given you his or her Virginia EMS certification, or even just the certification number, you can use it to search for the certificate to validate that it’s valid as well as see when it expires.

This tool makes compliance and HR record keeping a breeze. Just go to the Virginia Office of EMS Digital Certification Verification web page and search for the certificate number you are trying to verify.

Once you’ve had a digital certification card, you’ll have a hard time going back to “the way we used to do it.”

Please see the online training for this new module for how to access digital certification cards.