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 member 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 the nation emergency medical service providers. They set out to correct this and in 1992 held a ceremony to recognize the line of duty deaths of a number of Virginia EMS providers. 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 it's own 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 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, through unanimously passed concurrent resolutions of the Senate and House of Representatives (S.Con.Res and H.Con.Res 171) recognized the National EMS Memorial Service, held in Roanoke, VA, as the official EMS Memorial of the United States.
In April of 2008, after a two year nationwide search and selection process, Colorado Springs, Colorado 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 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/or journey to Colorado Springs each year to assist in the production of the Service.