The purpose of the National EMS Memorial Service is to remember and honor those emergency medical services personnel who have died in the line of duty and to recognize the ultimate sacrifice they have made for their fellow man.


The National EMS Memorial Service had its beginnings in Virginia in 1991 when a group of members of the Virginia Association of Volunteer Rescue Squads (VAVRS) realized that although there were law enforcement and firefighter memorials, there was no mechanism in place to recognize the sacrifices being made by the national emergency medical service providers.

They set out to correct this and in 1992 held a ceremony to recognize the line of duty deaths. The first service had people from Florida and Alaska as well as Virginia, six people total. Later that year, the VAVRS established the National EMS Memorial Service Committee.

This committee then set about establishing and organizing the National EMS Memorial.The first item of business was to choose a location for the Memorial. After researching various locations, the City of Roanoke, Virginia was chosen. Roanoke has its place in EMS history as the home of Julian Stanley Wise and the Roanoke Life Saving and First Aid Crew. Wise was the founder of that organization which was the first volunteer rescue squad in the United States.

The next task was the design of the Memorial. The oak tree was selected as a symbol of strength and the “Tree of Life” born.
In 1993 the National EMS Memorial Service Committee incorporated as an independent organization and filled out its Board of Directors.

Over the ensuing years, the composition of the Board has changed to become more reflective of America’s EMS system as a whole, going from mostly volunteer Virginians to a mix of career and volunteer members from around the country.

In May of 1998, the U.S. Congress unanimously passed concurrent resolutions of the Senate and House of Representatives (S.Con.Res and H.Con.Res 171) recognizing the National EMS Memorial Service, held in Roanoke, Va., as the official National EMS Memorial of the United States.

In April of 2008, Colorado Springs was chosen as the new host city of the National EMS Memorial Service and the site of a new, permanent, outdoor National EMS Memorial. Colorado Springs hosted its first Memorial Service in June of 2010.

The service was held in Colorado Springs until the decision came in August 2015 that the National EMS Memorial Service, National EMS Memorial Foundation and the National EMS Memorial Bike Ride will collaborate on a shared vision and strategic plan to honor EMS heroes who have died in the line of duty on the national stage of the greater Washington, D.C. area.

In May 2016, the National EMS Memorial Service was held in Arlington, Va., and remains in the greater Washington D.C. area to strengthen the effort being led by the National EMS Memorial Foundation to establish a permanent National EMS Memorial.


The National EMS Memorial Service is an all volunteer effort.

The executive body of the Memorial Service is its Board or Directors who direct the day to day operations. The Board is supported by a national network of regional coordinators and other dedicated volunteers who serve on various committees and journey each year to assist in the production of the Service.


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