The 2009 Virginia General Assembly created a new position on the State Board of Health to represent the emergency medical services (EMS) community. In late July, following a public nomination process, Governor Timothy Kaine selected Virginia Beach Department of EMS Chief Bruce W. Edwards to fill the inaugural four-year term.
The legislation states: "The EMS Community Representative...will provide the State Board of Health with leadership and technical assistance regarding all matters related to EMS. The individual will work cooperatively as a member of the Board of Health to enhance EMS system coordination, planning and response to ensure the provision of the highest quality Emergency Medical Care to citizens and visitors of the Commonwealth."
In a notification to EMS leaders announcing Edwards' appointment, Gary Brown, Director of the State Office of EMS wrote: "Bruce has lifetime knowledge of EMS planning, operations, and training. I am confident that he will bring honor, knowledge, leadership, objectivity and a systems approach to his new position."
In his letter of reference supporting Chief Edwards' nomination, Virginia Beach Mayor William Sessoms said "Bruce's leadership over the years has resulted in the creation of an EMS delivery system that I believe is second to none."
Upon learning of the appointment, Edwards said "I am honored that my peers have supported me and so very proud to have been selected by the Governor for this distinguished position. The creation of this position on the State Board of Health recognizes the importance of EMS as a key participant in public health."
Edwards leads the largest volunteer-based EMS department in the country, and has been the leader and architect of many advances and innovations in EMS since the beginning of his career in 1967. He holds a Master's Degree of Public Administration, was in the first Cardiac Technician class in Virginia, remains an active Paramedic, and was just reappointed to the State EMS Advisory Board in 2009 representing the Tidewater EMS region. Edwards has been a Tidewater EMS Council board member since 1976, holding many leadership positions, and is a current member of the council's Executive Committee.