HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia EMS Symposium is one of the largest EMS training events in the country. It’s held right here in Norfolk.

It provides more than 400 classes for EMS providers and offers continuing education or CE hours.

“The symposium is a great opportunity because it not only gives a significant amount of course offerings, but traditionally they have famous speakers and subject matter experts guest lecturers that come into the area and provide a really elevated experience,” said Brigade Chief Matthew Owens from Virginia Beach EMS.

Well, this year it’s canceled.

In an online announcement, the Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services said there was a budget shortfall, causing the event to be canceled.

“Disappointed for sure,” Owens said. “We have a lot of providers already registered for it looking forward to it,” Owens said.

A spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Health said:

“The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is conducting an internal investigation on this matter and does not have further details to share.  Additionally, the Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) is actively reviewing all aspects of operations to determine where they can improve their efficiency.  OEMS made the difficult decision to cancel the annual statewide training symposium and is working to ensure that training opportunities are available to EMS providers in Virginia.  Partnerships are being identified with other organizations so that training and education programs are shared with EMS providers across the Commonwealth.”

The symposium offered those vital CEs so first responders can renew their certifications.

Ownes said it’s certain to cause an impact across Virginia.

“It impacts the rest of the state, particularly in more rural areas, significantly,” he said. “Some of the smaller departments don’t have the necessarily same type of capability to put on their own continuing education. So, they very often rely on opportunities like this.”

Luckily, Beach EMS has a large training staff that can offer CEs.

“What we can do (is) to offer providers an opportunity to get CE in different ways,” Owens said.

It includes some online training, but Owens said it’s just not the same experience.

“It’s just not the same experience as the providers would get otherwise from the Symposium, where they can do not just the continuing education,” he said, ” but the networking and other opportunities to get lectures.”

OEMS said you can apply for an exception request for people who were banking on Symposum’s CE hours to re-certify.

Beach EMS is looking at possibly helping out other EMS departments across the state by offering some training.