Spring 2021 Rescue Squad Assistance Fund Grant Cycle Now Open

The Spring 2021 Rescue Squad Assistance Fund (RSAF) Grant Cycle began Monday, February 1, 2021 and applications will be due to the Virginia Office of EMS by March 15, 2021. 

The financial assistance for Emergency Medical Services Grants Program, known as the Rescue Squad Assistance Fund (RSAF) Grant Program is a multi-million dollar grant program for Virginia non-profit EMS agencies and organizations. Items eligible for funding include EMS equipment and vehicles, computers, EMS management programs, courses/classes and projects benefiting the recruitment and retention of EMS members.

The Virginia Office of EMS will be doing a Pre-Award Technical Assistance Webinar on February 17 at 1 p.m. to go over the eligibility, use of funds, grantee requirements, special priorities, and evaluation criteria. The webinar information is posted on the RSAF webpage: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/emergency-medical-services/administration-finance/rsaf-grants-program/">https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/emergency-medical-services/administration-finance/rsaf-grants-program/

PENINSULAS EMS COUNCIL Announces the 2020 Regional EMS Awards

The Peninsulas Emergency Medical Services (PEMS) Council, Inc., is proud to announce its 2020 Regional EMS award winners today, recognizing the outstanding achievements and notable work of individuals, agencies, organizations and facilities who provide emergency medical services in the PEMS region (Peninsula, Middle Peninsula, and Northern Neck).

“Most of us tend to take for granted that when we need it, we will have ready-access to a comprehensive, coordinated and efficient Emergency Medical Care System (EMS) system provided by caring, knowledgeable and skilled clinicians. That kind of a system does not just happen. It is the result of tens-of-thousands of hours of hard work, undertaken by thousands of dedicated individuals,” said Michael Player, Executive Director of the Peninsulas EMS Council, Inc. “Recognizing the excellence in our EMS system through the Regional EMS Awards program is critical to ensuring that their hard work does not go unnoticed, unappreciated, and most importantly, unsupported. The Peninsulas EMS Council is proud to showcase its high- performance system, and the individuals and agencies selected by their peers, who make our communities a better and safer place to live and work.”

Recipients of this year’s regional awards will have the chance to compete for the prestigious 2020 Governor’s EMS Awards, which will be announced later this year. Winners will be presented with a trophy and a certificate signed by the Governor.

To find a description of the awards criteria, please visit PEMS website at:   http://www.peninsulas.vaems.org/regional-services/regional-ems-awards-program

The 2020 Peninsulas EMS Council Regional Award Recipients

  • Excellence in EMS (Michael B. Player Award) – David L. Justis, M.D., Operational Medical Director, West Point Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad
  • Outstanding EMS Leadership (Russell Lowry, Jr. Award) – Mitchell L. Paulette, EMT-I. Richmond County Department of Emergency Services
  • Outstanding EMS Agency – Hampton Division of Fire and Rescue
  • Outstanding Prehospital Provider (Joseph B. Howard Award) – Christopher A. Judkins, N.R.P., James City County Fire Department
  • Innovation Excellence in EMS – Peninsulas COVID-19 Operations Center (City of Hampton, City of Newport News, City of Poquoson, City of Williamsburg, James City County, York County, Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital, Hampton VA Medical Center, Riverside Doctors Hospital of Williamsburg, Riverside Regional Medical Center, Sentara CarePlex Hospital, Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Navy Regional Mid-Atlantic, Hampton/Peninsula Health Districts, Peninsulas EMS Council )
  • Outstanding Contribution to EMS by a Physician (Gaylord W. Ray, M.D. Award) – Amir K. Louka, M.D., Operational Medical Director for James City County Fire Department, Virginia Commonwealth University Emergency Medicine
  • Outstanding Contribution to EMS by a Nurse (Melissa Holloway, R.N. Award) – Sara A. Watkins, R.N., Riverside Regional Medical Center
  • Outstanding Prehospital Educator – Tamara L. McDaniel, N.R.P., Richmond County Department of Emergency Services
  • Outstanding Contribution to EMS for Children – Northumberland County Emergency Services
  • Outstanding Contribution to EMS Health and Safety – Edward B. Cantwell, III, City of Hampton, Division of Fire and Rescue
  • Outstanding EMS Telecommunications Dispatcher – Tabbel B. Abrams, EMT, Newport News Police Department Communications Division
  • Outstanding Contribution to EMS Preparedness and Response – Sherl Emerson, York County Department of Fire and Life Safety
  • Outstanding Contribution to EMS by a High School Senior ($1,000 Scholarship) – Seth C. Craig, V, EMT, Gloucester Volunteer Fire and Rescue

President’s Awards:

  • Exceptional Services for the PEMS Council as Regional Medical Director 2007-2020 – Cheryl L. Lawson, M.D., Riverside Regional Medical Center, Operational Medical Director, Newport News Fire Department

Special Recognition Awards:

  • Outstanding EMS Call – York County Department of Fire and Life Safety – December 22, 2019 75 vehicle Crash on Interstate 64.
  • Daily COVID-19 Updates for the Local Health Districts – Kevin G. Pearce, Hampton/Peninsula Health Districts
  • Daily VDEM Region 5 COVID-19 Sit-Reps/Weekly COVID Calls – Bruce Sterling, Virginia Department of Emergency Services
  • COVID Digests – Amy L. Green, Eastern Virginia Healthcare Coalition
  • VDH Partners COVID-19 Conference Calls – VDH Office of Emergency Preparedness
  • Regional Council Weekly COVID-19 Conference Calls – VDH Office of EMS
  • Outstanding Service Leadership - Jeffrey A. Bendit, N.R.P. – Peninsulas EMS Council
  • Outstanding Service Leadership – Paul D. Hoyle, N.R.P – Peninsulas EMS Council

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Peninsulas EMS Council Adds Two New Board Members

The Peninsulas EMS Council, Inc. (PEMS) met last evening by Conference Call in compliance with the Governor’s social distancing guidance and voted to accept two new Board members, Captain Bradley Beam, NRP, of the Williamsburg Fire Department and President Shannon Kennedy, Ed.D., of Rappahannock Community College.

Captain Beam is a 26-year Fire/EMS veteran.  He began his career in Southwest Virginia where he worked for Martinsville Fire and EMS for nearly 13 years. While at the Martinsville Fire and EMS, he served as Firefighter/Paramedic and Deputy Fire Marshal.  Since 2012, he has been serving the Williamsburg Fire Department where he is currently a Captain overseeing the EMS Division.  From 2013 to 2015, Captain Beam also worked for the Peninsulas EMS Council as an EMS Field Coordinator – Clinical Care.

Captain Beam earned his Associates degree in EMS From Patrick Henry Community College, and is preparing to enter his last semester at Radford University where he is pursuing his Bachelor’s Degree in Emergency Services.  He is a National Registered Paramedic and a Virginia Certified EMS Education Coordinator.  Captain Beam is a member of the PEMS Policies, Procedures and Protocol Committee and also serves as the Chair of the PEMS Emergency Operations Committee.  Captain Beam will represent Peninsula Licensed EMS Agencies on the Board of Directors.

Dr. Shannon Kennedy serves as President of the Rappahannock Community College (RCC).  She has been with the College since last July. Prior to coming to work at RCC, Dr. Kennedy worked at Cleveland Community College, Gardner-Webb University, the Uptown Shelby Association, and Shelby Headline News, all located in North Carolina.

A native of Baltimore, MD, Dr. Kennedy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Millersville University, a Masters of Fine Arts in English Education from Gardner-Webb University, and a Doctor of Education degree in Adult and Community College Education from NC State University. Dr. Kennedy serves on the American Association of Community Colleges Commission on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity.  In North Carolina, she was involved in the Children’s Homes of Cleveland County, Destination Cleveland County, Inc., the United Way, the Cleveland County Chamber of Commerce, and the Shelby Rotary Club.

In 2011, Dr. Kennedy was honored with the Athena Award, which recognizes women for leadership and community service.  She also received both the H. Eugene LeGrand Lifetime Achievement Award and the JT Scruggs Volunteer of the Year Award from the United Way.  She received the Distinguished Woman Award from the Cleveland County Commission for Women and, the Distinguished Rotarian Award.  Dr. Kennedy will represent Northern Neck Businesses on the Board of Directors.

The Peninsulas EMS Council is a 501(c) (3) non-profit, tax exempt organization, designated by state statute to be an integral part of Virginia’s comprehensive EMS System.  The Council integrates and coordinates resources to ensure a system of rapid response and expert patient care from the sixteen jurisdictions, 10 hospitals and more than 57 Emergency Medical Services agencies on the Peninsula, Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck, in partnership with the Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services and the State EMS Advisory Board.

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PEMS Announces New Regional Medical Director


The Peninsulas Emergency Medical Services Council, Inc. (PEMS) is pleased to announce that it has a new Regional Medical Director, Dr. Amir Louka, a Dual Board Certified Emergency and EMS Physician from Virginia Commonwealth University.  Dr. Louka, becomes the latest in a long line of distinguished physicians who have provided focused medical leadership to the PEMS Council’s Board of Directors and staff in the continued development of the comprehensive, coordinated regional emergency medical services delivery system.  Dr. Louka follows Dr. Cheryl Lawson, of Riverside Regional Medical Center who recently retired after serving as the PEMS Regional Medical Director for 13 years. 

The PEMS Regional Medical Director acts as a consultant and advocate for high quality patient care in the regional EMS system (the 16 cities and counties of the Peninsula, Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck).  In that capacity, Dr. Louka is well qualified to serve the region.  He graduated from the College of William and Mary and Eastern Virginia Medical School before completing a residency and a fellowship in Emergency Medicine at the Virginia Commonwealth University, where he joined the staff in 2018.  

Dr. Louka became involved with the PEMS Council in 2019 when he became the Operational Medical Director for the James City County Fire Department and a member of the PEMS Medical Advisory Committee. In March of 2020, when the region began to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Louka joined several of his fellow Operational Medical Directors and created a COVID-19 Protocol Task Force to evaluate the rapidly changing clinical environment and to ensure providers had the best information as well as the most up-to-date medical guidance.   

An active member of the National Association of EMS Physicians, Dr. Louka is acutely aware of current issues facing EMS systems throughout the country. Additionally, he is an active EMS provider himself, regularly standing duty as a volunteer field physician in Virginia Beach. Through varied field experience at all levels he has gained a deep understanding of the day-to-day challenges of prehospital care and the unique burden borne by providers and their agencies.

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