Dempsey Hometown Hero

Richmond Ambulance Authority Director Receives Home Town Hero Award

Richmond Ambulance Authority Director of Operations Dempsey Whitt was recognized this week as one of the 50 honorees in the 2014 Allen and Allen Hometown Heroes awards.

Now in its fifth year, the Allen & Allen Hometown Heroes award recognizes Virginians who are responsible for generating positive change in the community or in the lives of others. Dempsey’s award was made for service to the Commonwealth of Virginia in two uniforms – that of an EMS provider as both a flight and ground medic, and in his other role as a Sergeant Major in the Virginia National Guard, where he served on active duty in Afghanistan. His citation reads:

“Dempsey has served his country for over two decades, including 400 days in Afghanistan where he earned the Bronze Star Medal for acts of merit. Prior to Afghanistan, Dempsey served as Chief Flight Paramedic at PHI Air Medical. He has also served as a Sergeant Major in the U.S. Army. In addition to his service to his country, Dempsey impacts his community locally as the Director of Operations for Richmond Ambulance Authority. He continues to give back to those in need and is an advocate for his employees. He is an active member in his church and a dedicated runner with the VA National Guard Marathon team. “Dempsey is selfless, always caring, will give all he can give to anyone in need and seeks out ways to continuously give back.”

RAA CEO Chip Decker said, “We are delighted that Dempsey has been recognized as an outstanding Virginian both at home, with us at RAA, and away with his National Guard duties. He is an outstanding leader and sets a fine example for all to follow and this award is well deserved.”

Dempsey will receive his award later this month at a formal ceremony.

rider alert

Number of Female Motorcyclists in Virginia Nearly Doubles while Fatalities Drop

The number of female motorcycle riders in the nation and in Virginia has soured in the past decade while crash fatalities, at least in Virginia, are thankfully going the other way. Could it be that lady riders are safer? AAA and RAA say the numbers prove it and that it is no surprise.

According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, the number of female operators shot up from 4.3 million in 2003 to 7.1 million in 2009 (latest numbers available).

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, from 2011 to 2013, female motorcycle endorsements increased by nearly twice (10.37%) that of male endorsements (5.74%) while fatalities in that same time period were down by 33%, according to preliminary crash data provided by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Furthermore, female riders in 2012 died at the rate of about one in every seven thousand (6,902), while male rider death rates were much higher, at one in about every five thousand (4,732).

“Females are naturally protective, nurturing, often take less risks than males and many are mothers who want to be around to raise their children. While not all women fit this description, those who do are not only more cautious riders but would likely take safety classes and wear protective gear when riding,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs and a licensed motorcycle rider.

It’s not, however, just the women who are strapping on their helmets and paying attention to safety; there is more good news report. Overall, motorcycle endorsements (male and female) in Virginia have increased 6.3% in Virginia since 2011, while the overall percentage of motorcycle-related fatal crashes to total fatal crashes stand at just nine percent (a 30% decrease). Injury numbers related motorcycle crashes are also at their lowest in four years, at three percent of all injury crashes in Virginia. Those numbers are the lowest in at least four years and have safety advocates cheering.

“I am encouraged that serious injuries and fatalities among motorcycle riders in the commonwealth are down and hope to continue to work long and hard to ensure that this encouraging downturn continues,” said Rob Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer, of the Richmond Ambulance Authority. And their message is simple, “AAA and the Richmond Ambulance Authority are shouting their safety messages once more as we enter the busy summer driving season when more motorcycles are on the road. Motorists and motorcycle enthusiasts must Share The Road to help further the effort of reducing fatalities and injuries on Virginia’s highways.”

Each year, AAA Mid-Atlantic partners with the Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) to promote motorcycle rider safety. In April 2011, RAA launched Rider Alert to help reduce motorcycle fatalities by providing first-responders with medical information needed to help injured motorcyclists. Through identification data cards placed inside helmets, first-responders have access to vital, life-saving information on injured riders involved in accidents, so they can provide faster and more accurate medical assistance, thus saving more lives.

“We are very pleased to learn motorcycle fatalities have reduced dramatically since the start of the Rider Alert program and continue this year on their downward trend,” said Lawrence. “Motorcycle safety is the responsibility of everyone, from motorists and motorcyclists to first responders. Motorcyclists must be properly trained, follow traffic laws and wear visible clothing. Motorists need to remain alert at all times and give motorcyclists plenty of room. First-responders need access to vital, life-saving information. That’s why the Richmond Ambulance Authority spearheaded the Rider Alert program,” added Lawrence.

With the motorcycle riding season well underway, safety advocates across the Commonwealth ask all drivers to remain alert and share the road equally with the motorcycling community.

Tips for Motorists

  • Share the road. A motorcycle has the same privileges as any other vehicle on the road. Be courteous and give the motorcyclist a full lane of travel.
  • Position your mirrors to minimize blind spots. Adjust the rearview mirror so it shows as much of the rear window as possible. While in the driver’s seat, place your head near the left window and adjust the left side-view mirror so you can just see the side of your vehicle. Then, position your head near the middle of the vehicle, above the center console, and adjust the right side-view mirror so you can just see the side of your vehicle.
  • Look out. Look for motorcyclists on the highway, especially at intersections when a motorcyclist may be making a turn or changing lanes. Clearly signal your intentions.
  • Anticipate a motorcyclist’s maneuvers. Obstructions (debris, potholes, etc.) that you may ignore or not notice can be deadly for a motorcyclist. Anticipate their possible evasive actions.
  • Allow plenty of space. Do not follow a motorcycle too closely. Allow enough room for the motorcyclist to take evasive actions.
  • Keep your cool. Even if you get agitated seeing a motorcyclist making unsafe moves, do not attempt to play games on the road.

Safety Tips for Motorcyclists

Make yourself visible. Choose protective gear that provides visibility and protection. This includes wearing bright colors. If riding at night, wear clothing with reflective materials.

  • Allow space. Position your bike in the lane so that you can be seen. Allow additional space for emergency braking and room to maneuver. Avoid riding in a motorist’s blind spot. Make lane changes gradually and use appropriate signaling.
  • Never share a lane beside a car. A driver may be unaware of your presence. Most drivers are looking for larger vehicles, not motorcycles.
  • Clearly signal your intentions. Use turn signals before changing lanes and never weave between lanes.
  • Don’t speed. Obey the posted limits and adjust your speed to the changing road conditions.
  • Wear protective gear.
    • Helmet – Always wear a U.S. DOT-approved helmet. It can save your life and it is the law in Virginia.
    • Eye protection – Visibility is key to riding safely. Many motorcycles do not have windshields. Riders should protect their eyes with goggles that can shield the face from wind and debris, both of which can cause tearing and blurred vision.
    • Body Protection – Jackets with long sleeves and trousers protect limbs from injury.
    • Gloves – Durable gloves should be a non-slip type to permit a firm grip on controls.
    • Footwear – Proper over-the-ankles footwear should be worn to help prevent injuries.
  • Complete a motorcycle rider education and training course. The overwhelming majority of motorcyclists have had no formal training – they were self-taught or learned from family and friends. Before operating a motorcycle in Virginia, a rider must pass the motorcycle knowledge exam, hold a motorcycle learner’s permit for 30 days and pass the motorcycle road skills test. Completing a Virginia Rider Training Course exempts the rider from taking the exams.

The Rider Alert motorcycle safety program distributes free identification data cards that help first responders to provide rapid and accurate medical assistance to motorcyclists involved in serious accidents. Launched by the Richmond Ambulance Authority, Bon Secours Virginia Health System and Motorcycle Virginia! In April 2011, Rider Alert is the first program of its kind in the United States. The Rider Alert card is placed inside a rider’s helmet and contains vital life-saving information, emergency contacts and important medical history. When first responders arrive on the scene of a motorcycle accident, a sticker on the outside of the helmet will indicate that the biker has a Rider Alert card. The sticker also warns bystanders not to remove the helmet, which could cause further injury. For more information, please visit

AAA Mid-Atlantic serves nearly 808,000 members in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is the nation’s fifth largest auto club with nearly 4 million members in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. It provides a wide range of personal insurance, travel, financial and automotive services through its 50-plus retail branches, regional operations centers, and the Internet. For more information on AAA Mid-Atlantic, please visit our web site at Persons wanting to comment on this issue can go to AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Community pages at and post comments. The organization is anxious to hear from travelers with their thoughts on this subject and others.

RAA's Little Free Library

RAA Unveils Little Free Library Ambulance

April 13–19 is National Library Week and the Richmond Ambulance Authority has opened its own branch of the “Little Free Library.”

Little Free Libraries are hand-crafted structures that contain constantly changing collections of books donated and shared by people of all ages and backgrounds. Most Little Free Libraries are placed in front yards, parks, gardens and easily accessible locations. The libraries are built to withstand all weather and hold 20–100 books.

Originally designed to look like a one-room school or a “house of books,” the libraries rapidly took on a variety of sizes, shapes, themes and other attributes. The RAA Little Free Library has been constructed and painted in the shape and style of an RAA ambulance, complete with flashing lights as the door to the library is opened.

The Little Free Library program has been in place since 2010 and the creation of the RAA library was the brainchild of paramedic Jennifer Norment. “As a member of the RAA Wellness Committee, I proposed the idea and partnered with RAA System Status Controller, Rebecca Szeles, who suggested that we construct an ambulance box. She volunteered her husband, Richmond police officer and wood worker Steve, to bring the project to life,” says  Norment. Once constructed by Steve Szeles, its electronics were installed by RAA Fleet Manager Dan Fellows. Fellows is also a published fiction writer and one of his books will be the first in the library.

The ambulance box is located at the south entrance of the RAA complex on Hermitage Road. Books are available to all on a “drop-off/pick-up” basis.

Crew Chain of Safety

How to Build the Crew Chain of Safety

The Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) is an organization embracing the EMS Culture of Safety in every department, from field staff to administrative offices.

New employees are told by everyone from the CEO to their field training officer (FTO) how our desire for them to be able to go home at the end of the shift is our inspiration. When it comes to vehicle operations, RAA takes its task to provide safe crews in safe vehicles very seriously.

Hard to believe, but statistically an ambulance in the wrong or poorly trained hands can become a weapon of mass destruction. Statistics have proven EMS workers in the United States are a “high-risk” population and have a fatality rate of 6.3 per 100,000 workers, 1.4% greater than the national average. Among the 65 fatalities for EMTs between 2003 and 2007, emergency medical technicians and paramedics accounted for 60 deaths, while “ambulance drivers” and attendants accounted for the remaining five deaths.

In addition to fatal injuries, around 19,900 nonfatal injuries requiring treatment occur to EMS workers each year.Against this backdrop, the RAA leadership team is committed to a “crew chain of safety,” establishing a level of safe and skilled vehicle operations. They are developed and sustained while also being measured and managed.

The “crew chain of safety” (CCS) is very similar to the American Heart Association’s Chain of Survival. Each link, although distinct and specific in nature, is only as effective as the next one. Their collaborative and overlapping efforts are what create the ultimate success. RAA’s CCS has a minimum of nine links. Each one contributes specific content; however, none is mutually exclusive of another.

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Richmond Ambulance Authority Awarded Re-Accreditation as an Emergency Medical Dispatch Center of Excellence

aceThe International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) is pleased to formally award Re-Accreditation as an Emergency Medical Dispatch Center of Excellence to Richmond Ambulance Authority – Richmond Ambulance Authority was the 66th center in the world to be awarded this highest distinction for their comprehensive implementation and compliance with the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS) and associated “20 Points of Excellence”.

The MPDS is the world’s most widely-used 911-type pre-arrival instruction and dispatch-life-support protocol system. With scripted telephone instructions fro CPR, airway obstruction relief, hemorrhage control, and childbirth assistance, the MPDS has been credited with helping save thousands of lives. In addition to requiring proper system oversight, medical control and quality improvement programs, Re-Accreditation demands careful MPDS compliance and certification for all emergency call-takers and medical dispatchers.

Earning this Re-Accreditation award is voluntary and involves completing a detailed self-study and analysis. This accomplishment demonstrates that not only each individual within the communications center, but also to the administration, the community, and the world, that Richmond Ambulance Authority is compliant with all international practices standards for Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD).

With headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization comprised of three allied Academies with related programs and standards for emergency Medial, Fire, and Police dispatching. The IAED regularly reviews and updated the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS) protocols for EMD and also maintains protocols and certification standards for Fire and Police Dispatch based on the time-proven MPDS logic structure. The IAED is the public-safety dispatch industry’s leading certifying and standard-setting body, with over 30,000 members in 20 countries.

Read the official release.