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(By Jim Chandler, edited content from TEMS at Ten by Kent J. Weber, published in November 1984)

Experiences in managing casualties in Korea and Vietnam demonstrated that effective medical treatment in the field followed by prompt on-going care in a hospital emergency room and appropriate follow-on treatment (ICU, CCU, OR) could significantly reduce morbidity and mortality of critically ill or injured patients. In the early seventies federal and local interest focused on the development of a systematic delivery of emergency medical services for the civilian population. In 1970, Virginia Beach physicians and rescue squad personnel began planning a program to train prehospital EMS personnel to treat heart attack victims at the scene. With funding from the Virginia Regional Medical Program and local contributors, the Emergency Coronary Care Program was initiated in 1972.

In July, 1972, the Tidewater Regional Health Planning Council (TRHPC) hosted a meeting of
medical, civil defense, public safety and health officials interested in EMS planning and development.
This group of some twenty persons appointed a steering committee to formulate policies and
guidelines. (See article “Before we were TEMS”).

The Emergency Medical Services System (EMSS) Act of 1973 (PL 93 -154) offered a new
opportunity to obtain needed funding. To become an eligible applicant, the TEMS Council was chartered
as a separate corporate entity in November 1974 with an initial Board of Directors which included EMS
providers and consumers representing the 8 jurisdictions in state Planning District 20 and the two
counties on the Eastern Shore (Planning District 22).

In early 1975, the Council obtained $30,000 of federal supplemental funding through TRHPC.
This money was matched by individual hospitals and utilized to purchase VHF radio communication
equipment which linked 14 Tidewater hospitals on a frequency of 155.400 MHz. The Tidewater Hospital
Council assumed net control and the system became operational on April 1, 1975. This marked the initial
success of the TEMS Council in developing a regional EMS communication system.

In April 1975 an application was submitted to the federal Department of Health, Education and
Welfare for the initial establishment of a coordinated EMS system in eastern Virginia. In June of 1975,
the TEMS Council was notified of its first one-year award of federal funds in the amount of $323,782.
The bulk of the funds were programmed to complete the EMS regional communications system with
lesser amounts for emergency vehicles and training equipment.

From 1975 through 1980 the TEMS Council applied for and received annual federal EMS
awards for the establishment and improvement of a regional EMS delivery system. These funds were
utilized for the purchase and installation of four-channel VHF radios with EMS accessory groups for
some 78 ambulances, and biomedical telemetry mobile and base station radios for advanced life
support systems in the five-city area. Funds also purchased pager units for rescue squads and assisted in the purchase of ambulances. In conjunction with the counties of Accomack and Northampton a new

antenna tower was purchased and erected, and the first pagers were obtained, which greatly enhanced
EMS (as well as fire and law enforcement) communications on the Eastern Shore. Medical Anti-Shock
Trousers (MAST) garments were also procured for each ambulance in the region.

The main thrust of the organizational efforts of the TEMS Council was to coordinate and
integrate multiple and varied system elements to provide a continuum of emergent patient care and to
meet the needs and desires of the people who reside within the Tidewater region.
On the Eastern Shore, twelve rescue squads have developed a strong Sub-Council which greatly
enhanced prehospital care in this predominately rural area.

Nightingale—a hospital based helicopter ambulance—was initiated in 1982, the first such
service in the Commonwealth. This highly visible ALS transport unit complements the regional ground
and water medical transportation.

The simultaneous introduction of the universal emergency number 9-1-1 by the three largest
cities simplified access to the system for the majority of the region’s population.
However, resources in themselves (facilities, vehicles, equipment, personnel, material, etc.) did
not constitute an EMS system. The effective integration, coordination and utilization of these
components provided the desired continuum of patient care and thereby reduced morbidity and

Thus, some of the most significant first decade accomplishments of the Council were the
development, implementation and acceptance of regional standards and procedures such as regional
medical protocols, patient record forms, a drug box exchange system and a system of physician-directed
medical control. Regional training of cardiac technicians and paramedics reinforced these uniform
standards of EMS care.

Under the leadership of Dr. Robert D. Brickman, who served as Council president and medical
director for six years, the Council became nationally recognized as a model EMS program. The second
Council president, Joseph T. Mullen, MD, continued to build and expand on that foundation.
As the first decade of the Tidewater EMS Council came to a close much had been accomplished
but much more remained to be done in an ever-changing environment.

Published in the Tidewater EMS Council RESPONSE newsletter, Nov/Dec 2013

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