Virginia Beach EMS Chief Emeritus Bruce Edwards passed away recently after battling a sudden illness.
In 1967, Bruce Edwards stepped into the arena of volunteer fire-rescue joining the Ocean Park Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad. His management and leadership skills soon came to the attention of the local medical community and in 1973, he was tapped to lead the “Emergency Coronary Care Program.” This unique grant funded program, under the medical direction of two of Virginia Beach’s prominent physicians, Doctor’s Jim Charlton and Andy Dickinson, selected experienced-highly skilled rescue squad volunteers to be trained in pre-hospital cardiac life support care.
Known as “cardiac technicians, this small core group of volunteers went through months of training, specializing in the treatment of heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrest.
This was a first of its kind for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Many said it couldn’t be done and Bruce proved them all wrong.
In 1975, the highly successful “ECC program” as it became known as, was absorbed into the newly created Virginia Beach Office of EMS and Edwards was tapped as the cities first “Director of EMS.”
With growth of the cities population, 911 EMS calls increased along with need for more pre-hospital advanced care and in the early 1980’s, volunteer paramedics were on the street, helping the sick and injured. During this time frame, under the leadership of Edwards, the Virginia Beach Office of EMS gained departmental status laying the foundation for the effective organization that it is today, the “Virginia Beach Department of EMS.”
“Chief Edwards skills and knowledge expanded beyond city limits. He became actively involved in regional and state EMS activities, taking the lead in creating many of medical control and regulatory systems that we rely on every day. In addition to multiple tours on the EMS Governor’s Advisory Board, he ultimately served as the Chairman of the Virginia Board of Health.”
“After his retirement in 2016, Bruce was promoted to Chief Emeritus, in that capacity, he remained active as an advisor and mentor over the last four years, making him the longest serving member in the history of the VBEMS organization.”
“It is such a fitting recognition for Bruce who was a friend, visionary and mentor to thousands over his long and distinguished career,” EMS Chief Ed Brazle said. “His leadership and dedicated service built the largest volunteer-based emergency medical services system in the country.”
Even after obtaining the rank of Chief, Bruce would still respond to 911 EMS calls, provide medical care and even ride the box to the hospital emergency room.
He loved the volunteer system and the volunteers.
To honor the hard work and dedication of EMS Chief Emeritus, Bruce W. Edwards, the Virginia Beach City Council has authorized that the Virginia Beach Department of EMS Headquarters and Training Center, now be known as, “The Bruce W. Edwards Virginia Beach Emergency Medical Services Headquarters and Training Center.”
Information: VA Beach Department of EMS
You, too, can volunteer with the Rescue Squads of Virginia Beach and help the sick and injured.\
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