VIRGINIA BEACH — On what is now known as “the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach,” Police Chief James Cervera recognized the heroes.
Virginia Beach city employee DeWayne Craddock used two semi-automatic handguns, a silencer and extended ammunition magazines on Friday to kill 12 people, all but one them colleagues he had worked with for years. Craddock was mortally wounded in an intense gunbattle with police.
Among the dead from that carnage were four other engineers who worked to maintain streets and protect wetlands and three right-of-way agents who reviewed property lines. Others included an account clerk, a technician, an administrative assistant and a special projects coordinator. In all, they had served the city of Virginia Beach for more than 150 years.
Within two hours of Friday’s Municipal Center shooting, Cervera commended emergency services’ quick and effective response.
“Really understand that when this particular violent act occurred, police, fire, and rescue immediately responded to the scene and did that professional thing that they do — because that’s what they do,” he said.
Among the first responders on Friday was a Rescue Squad unique to the city–the Volunteer Rescue Squads of Virginia Beach.
As the largest volunteer-based emergency medical service agency in the country, Division Chief Bruce Nedelka said their service relies on everyday people.
“That ambulance is in-service because that person is there,” Nedelka said.
With mass shootings becoming an unfortunate reality, residents have the option to become a part of that first line of response.
The Virginia Beach EMS offers fully-funded courses to the public including CPR and “Stop the Bleed” which teaches how to respond to “the No. 1 cause of preventable death from trauma.”
Volunteers can also submit an application and undergo a background check to work on an ambulance as a Nationally Registered-EMT.
In exchange for more than $1,700 in online courses and training, residents volunteer at Virginia Beach EMS for 48 hours a month after a 1-year internship.
City department career paramedics oversee and augment the 10 volunteer squads who own and operate 38 donation-funded ambulances.
Nedelka added that for the 500 or so volunteer EMTs and paramedics work their hours on their own time saying, “this is an avocation, not a vocation.”
For more information about Virginia Beach’s volunteer EMS squad, free training, and how to volunteer with the agency, click here.
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