Tuesday, 7 December 2021

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First Virginia Beach Cardiac TechniciansThe Virginia Cardiac Technician program began with the graduation of 24 Virginia Beach rescue squad volunteers in 1973. The program, known as the Emergency Coronary Care Program (ECCP), was created by two local physicians before there was a state-level ALS program for emergency medical services.

The pioneering physicians were James P. Charlton, MD and W. Andrew "Andy" Dickinson, MD. Soon after completing the Virginia Beach program they joined with UVA physician Richard Crampton, who had developed a similar program for the Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad, and served as an adhoc state EMS committee to develop the first Virginia EMT-Cardiac curriculum.

The EMT-Intermediate program eventually replaced EMT-Cardiac but for decades the Cardiac Tech or "CT" program flourished throughout the Commonwealth and served as the core of prehospital advanced life support along with the Virginia EMT-Shock Trauma program.

The Virginia Beach Department of EMS celebrated the 40th anniversary of the ECCP on August 11, 2013. Guest speakers included Mayor William Sessoms, who read a proclamation from Governor Bob McDonnell, Bruce Edwards, the city's EMS director and an original ECCP class member, and founding father Andy Dickinson. Dr. Dickinson recounted the circumstances and challenges of the early days.

"Those first volunteers were the trail blazers," said Dickinson. "People from other states said it couldn't be done by volunteers but we proved them wrong."
A number of issues needed to be resolved early on, explained Dickinson. The rescue squads and their leadership throughout the city needed convincing, the state Good Samaritan Law needed to be updated to allow for advanced skills, and support from the local medical society was essential. The relatively new skill of CPR was the "glue", according to Dickinson, and leadership efforts lead to the creation of the a rescue squad captain advisory board (and eventually forming the city's rescue council), revisions to the "Good Sam" law and the use of physicians throughout the community as instructors during the course.
An early federal grant helped the program hire its first coordinator. The success of the program lead to the city's creation of an EMS program in 1975 and hiring a small staff including Bruce Edwards as its director. This was the forerunner of today's Virginia Beach Department of EMS.
Within a few years Virginia Beach and Norfolk Paramedical Rescue Service had joined training forces and were offering an annual regional CT course and an annual paramedic course at the Eastern Virginia Medical School. By the early 1980's program coordination shifted to the Tidewater EMS Council and courses continued at EVMS. In an effort to grow and improve the regional ALS training, the EMS council and localities sought an educational partner and by the mid-to-late 1980s transitioned initial cardiac and paramedic education to the Tidewater Community College.

Ten of the original 24 Cardiac Technicians (or family representatives) attended the 40th anniversary celebration as shown in the photo. Happy anniversary and 'thank you' to our early trail blazers.
The 1973 cardiac technician graduates included:
Chuck Benson
Buster Brumley
Jane Brumley
Ron Copeland
John Dickens
Talbott Dickson
Ed Dorsch, Jr.
Bruce Edwards
Jack Fay
Leigh Forbes, Sr.
Keith Laney
George Lindsey
Ray Meekins
Joe Midgette
Don McAtee
E. J. Mills
John Perry
Bill Ray
John Scanlon
Robert Smith
Tom Stock
Floyd Waterfield
Lloyd Waugh
Joe Wilson

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