Operational Coordination Division


The Operational Coordination Division is responsible for ensuring the readiness of the EOC, developing policies and procedures governing the VEST, and working with the Training and Exercise Office to prepare and train VEST members and partners. The Operational Coordination Division also works closely with the Commonwealth of Virginia Incident Management Assistance Team (COVIMAT) to build and strengthen relationships with other state agencies, federal partners, non-profit organizations, and the private sector.

Virginia Emergency Operations Center (VEOC)

The Virginia Emergency Operations Center (VEOC) hosts the Virginia Emergency Support Team (VEST) and the Commonwealth’s Emergency Support Functions (ESFs), which respond to calls for assistance from local governments throughout the Commonwealth. Representatives from state, federal, private, and nonprofit groups work together at the VEOC to form the VEST. Activation of the VEST generally occurs at the VEOC, a secure facility, located at the Virginia State Police Administrative Headquarters, at 7700 Midlothian Turnpike, Richmond, Va. Based on the level of VEST activation and the event requirements, some ESFs may be physically present at the VEOC while others may not be activated or may activate remotely. The VDEM Situational Awareness Unit (SAU) also operates out of the VEOC and is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week to coordinate day to day situational assessments, alerts and warnings, resource management, operational planning, reporting, and external emergency communications for Virginia’s state and local emergency response agencies.

Interested in Visiting?
If you would like to schedule a tour of the VEOC, please email vest.ops@vdem.virginia.gov

Virginia Emergency Support Team (VEST)

Comprised of more than 300 credentialed members, the VEST draws its staff from all Executive Branch state agencies, dozens of NGOs, and private sector companies such as Verizon and Dominion. In addition, all VDEM full-time headquarters staff are trained to be emergency managers and are assigned a VEST position following their onboarding. VDEM maintains a 3 team rotation roster and fills the majority of VEST Command and General Staff positions. During steady-state operations, VEST training is conducted on a bimonthly basis on a variety of emergency management topics. Introductory training is also conducted on a regular basis for new VEST Staff in a full day course – VEST 100.

During VEST Activations, some staff may be physically present at the VEOC while others may or may not be activated. The VEST has four levels of activation designated by colors.

Situational Awareness Unit

The Situational Awareness Unit (SAU), referred to as the State Warning Point, is the entry point for communications with the Virginia Emergency Operations Center, and is the focal point for operational activities including internal and external coordination during emergencies and disasters.

The SAU is staffed 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, coordinating day-to-day situational assessments, alerts and warnings, resource management, operational planning, reporting, and external emergency communications for Virginia’s state and local emergency response agencies.

To reach the SAU 24/7, please call 804-674-2400.


Voluntary Agency Coordination

Volunteers and Volunteer Organizations play an important role in all phases of emergency management throughout the Commonwealth. Volunteer Organizations are incorporated into the VEST through Virginia Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VA VOAD) and through Emergency Support Function ESF-17 (Volunteers and Donations Management). In any emergency do not self-deploy to a disaster, you should always connect with an established non-profit organization to ensure appropriate safety measures and training are provided.

Request Information
If you are a volunteer or a member of a voluntary organization and would like more information, please contact VEST Coordinator - Human Services Branch Liaison.

General Volunteer Inquiries

Kimberly Ligon
VEST Coordinator - Human Services Branch Liaison

Adjunct Emergency Workforce Coordination

The Critical Infrastructure Branch

The Critical Infrastructure and Private Sector Branch (CIPSB) works with both public and private sector partners to develop a comprehensive program through collaborative partnerships that address the security and resilience of critical infrastructure in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This branch works to ascertain risk by identifying threats, assessing vulnerabilities, and determining critical infrastructure consequences to enhance preparedness through protection, prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery efforts. As part of this effort, the branch manages the State Critical Infrastructure Working Group and serves as co-chair on the National Capital Region Critical Infrastructure Working group.

CIPSB is responsible for all Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Preparedness data calls to include the State and Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) Risk Profile review, Critical Infrastructure nominations, Special Events Data Call, and others. The branch chief serves as the IP Gateway Administrator and the Protected Critical Infrastructure Information (PCII) Officer for the Commonwealth.

The CIPSB also supports the Virginia Fusion Center (VFC), which is the state’s multi-disciplinary Intelligence Center. The VFC is a collaborative effort between the Virginia State Police and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to provide operational and strategic counter-terrorism/criminal information and intelligence to law enforcement, military, public safety, governmental, and private sector decision-makers, as well as to the public. VDEM provides personnel to the VFC who assist with intelligence gathering and product development on existing and emerging threats that may affect the prevention, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts before, during, and after events and emergencies.

VEST Activation Levels


During steady state, plans and procedures are developed and maintained. Training and exercises are conducted periodically.


During increased readiness, multiple resources are required to mitigate or prepare for an incident. The incident is generally limited to one operational period and response is handled by VDEM Regional Staff with support from VEST Command and General Staff.


During partial support operations, some or all of the VEST Command and General staff positions are activated, and the incident may extend into multiple operational periods.


During full response operations, all Command and General Staff positions are filled, branches are established, and most of the ESFs are present in the VEOC.



Archer Stark

VEST Coordinator - Planning


Jennifer Sharpe

Director, Operational Coordination Division


Kevin Schilling

SAU Manager


Ryan Burkholder

SAU Supervisor


Kimberly Ligon

VEST Coordinator - Human Services Branch Liaison



Administrative Coordinator

Rebecca Arrington

VEST Coordinator - Adjunct Emergency Workforce (AEW)


Samantha Tifft

VEST Coordinator - Operations


Franklin Mcmillian

VEST Specialist-Planning