CORRECTING THE RECORD: Ambulance rides are expensive, and it’s no different in Virginia Beach

FICTION: The Emergency Medical Service in Virginia Beach does not charge patients for services.​

​​​​Every day, members of our Department of Emergency Medical Services respond to about 125 calls for aid. A force of more than 500 certified volunteers with 10 rescue squads work together with 56 career staff to provide emergency aid when called upon by the residents of Virginia Beach.  ​Ches Beach Rescue.jpg

The cost of those services to the patient: $0. Anyone who has a 911 medical emergency in our city can request an ambulance, which is staffed by trained volunteers to render any necessary aid, and be taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and will not receive a bill. This is unique among major cities in the country.

The volunteers in our EMS program are trained to the same exact standards as our career members. Anyone can join, provided they meet the physical requirements and can pass a background check. Once trained, volunteers serve 12-hour shifts for at least 48 hours per month.

The annual budget for the department is about $11 million. Each year, more than $8 million worth of volunteer hours are donated to the City by EMS volunteers and $2 million secured through donations and fundraising. The funding from tax dollars and grants covers fuel, insurance, training and some equipment. However, the rescue squads purchase their own ambulances, supplies and uniforms through a combination of fundraising, grants and donations.

This combination of donated manpower and funds allows the service to operate at a reduced cost to the city and offer their services at no cost to those who need it on what could very well be the worst day of their life.

For more information about joining the Virginia Beach Department of Emergency Medical Services, or to even schedule a ride-along, please visit

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