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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 12. Health
Agency 5. Department of Health
Chapter 31. Virginia Emergency Medical Services Regulations
8/12/2022

12VAC5-31-760. EMS vehicle communications.

A. An EMS vehicle shall have fixed communications equipment that provides direct two-way voice communications capabilities between the EMS vehicle, other EMS vehicles of the same agency, and either the agency's base of operations (dispatch point) or a governmental public safety answering point (PSAP). This communication capability must be available within the agency's primary service area. Service may be provided by private mobile radio service (PMRS) or by commercial mobile radio service (CMRS), but shall have direct and immediate communications via push-to-talk technology.

B. An ambulance transporting outside its primary service area shall have fixed or portable communications equipment that provides two-way voice communications capabilities between the EMS vehicle and either the agency's base of operations (dispatch point) or PSAP during the period of transport. Service may be provided by private mobile radio service (PMRS) or by commercial mobile radio service (CMRS). When operating outside the agency's area of routine responsibility or in areas where CMRS is not available, the requirement for direct and immediate communications via push-to-talk technology does not apply. If an agency is licensed as a DERA, it is required to have direct and immediate communications via push-to-talk technology for either the agency's base of operations, dispatch point, or PSAP for which the EMS agency vehicle is used for emergency response to the public in the jurisdiction where a memorandum of understanding or memorandum of agreement is in place or is contractually obligated to provide emergency response.

C. An ambulance or an advanced life support-equipped, nontransport response vehicle shall have communications equipment that provides two-way voice communications capabilities between the EMS vehicle's attendant-in-charge and the receiving medical facilities to which it regularly transports or a designated central medical control on one or more of the following frequencies:

155.340 MHz (statewide HEAR);

155.400 MHz (Tidewater HEAR);

155.280 MHZ (Inter-Hospital HEAR);

462.950/467.950 (MED 9 or CALL 1);

462.975/467.975 (MED 10 or CALL 2);

462.950-463.19375/467.950-468.19375 (UHF MED CHANNELS 1-10); and

220 MHz, 700MHz, 800MHz, or 900MHz frequency and designated talkgroup or channel identified as part of an agency, jurisdictional, or regional communications plan for ambulance to hospital communications.

1. Patient care communications with medical facilities may not be conducted on the same frequencies or talkgroups as those used for dispatch and on-scene operations.

2. Before establishing direct push-to-talk communications with the receiving medical facility or central medical control, EMS vehicles may be required to dial an access code. Radios in ambulances or advanced life support-equipped, nontransport response vehicles must be programmed or equipped with encoding equipment necessary to activate tone-coded squelched radios at medical facilities to which they transport on a regular basis.

3. Nothing herein prohibits the use of CMRS for primary or secondary communications with medical facilities, provided that the requirements of this section are met.

D. Mutual aid interoperability. An EMS vehicle must have communications equipment that provides direct two-way voice communications capabilities between the EMS vehicle and EMS vehicles of other EMS agencies within the jurisdiction and those EMS agencies with which it has mutual aid agreements. Service may be provided by private mobile radio service (PMRS) or by commercial mobile radio service (CMRS), but requires direct and immediate communications via push-to-talk technology. This requirement may be met by interoperability on a common radio frequency or talkgroup, or by fixed or interactive cross-patching under supervision of an agency dispatch center or governmental PSAP. The means of communications interoperability must be identified in any mutual aid agreements required by these regulations and must comply with the Virginia Interoperability Plan as defined by the Governor's Office of Commonwealth Preparedness.

E. Air ambulance interoperability. A nontransport EMS vehicle or ground ambulance must have communications equipment that provides direct two-way voice communications capabilities between the EMS vehicle and air ambulances designated to serve its primary response area by the State Medevac Plan. An air ambulance must have fixed communications equipment that provides direct two-way voice communications capabilities between the air ambulance, other EMS vehicles in its primary response area, and public safety vehicles or personnel at landing zones on frequencies adopted in accordance with this section. Radio communications must be direct and immediate via push-to-talk technology. This requirement may be met by interoperability on a common radio frequency or talkgroup, or by fixed or interactive cross-patching under supervision of an agency dispatch center or governmental PSAP. The frequencies used for this purpose will be those set forth by an agreement among air ambulance providers and EMS agencies for a specific jurisdiction or region, and must be identified in agency, jurisdictional, or regional protocols for access and use of air ambulances. Any nontransport EMS vehicle or ground ambulance not participating in such an agreement must be capable of operating on VHF frequency 155.205 MHz (carrier squelch), which is designated as the Statewide EMS Mutual Aid Frequency. An air ambulance must be capable of operating on VHF frequency 155.205 MHz (carrier squelch) in addition to any other frequencies adopted for jurisdictional or regional interoperability.

F. FCC licensure. An EMS agency shall maintain appropriate FCC radio licensure for all radio equipment operated by the EMS agency. If the FCC radio license for any radio frequency utilized is held by another person, the EMS agency shall have written documentation on file of their assigned authority to operate on such frequencies.

G. In-vehicle communications. An ambulance shall have a means of voice communications (opening, intercom, or radio) between the patient compartment and operator's compartment.

Statutory Authority

§§ 32.1-12 and 32.1-111.4 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 3, eff. January 15, 2003; amended, Virginia Register Volume 29, Issue 1, eff. October 10, 2012.

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