Address Issues – Invalid County, Independent City, and State documentation
Posted by Bryan Hodges, Last modified by Bryan Hodges on 27 July 2018 02:11 PM

As previously communicated, the “Set From Postal Code” option is being replaced with the “Location Lookup” option on the Virginia EMR form on 07.17.2018 .  When used, the Location Lookup option returns more valid choices than the Set from Postal Code option.  This change is being made because of the large volume of issues being discovered regarding how users are documenting the names of counties, independent cities, and states. 

To illustrate our challenge, during the first half of 2018, agencies reported 697,273 records where a “Unit Arrived on Scene” date and time was documented.  In other words, the unit documented that it actually arrived on scene where the incident occurred or was reported to have occurred.  When reviewing the incident address information documented on these records, the following issues were discovered:

  • The Incident state name was left out on 11,658 records
  • The Incident county/independent city name was left out on 15,416 records
  • An Invalid state name was documented on 12,225 records
  • An Invalid Virginia county/independent city name was documented on 49,512 records

An invalid name refers to when either the state or county or independent city name was misspelled, abbreviated in a way not consistent with how the location should be documented, or some type of odd punctuation, symbol, or number was documented.    

If OEMS were to base just the number of county and independent city locations in Virginia on the unique names reported by agencies so far in 2018, that number would be 890.  In Virginia, there are only 132 unique county and independent city locations. 

Please note that this office averages over 250 million individual pieces of data received/posted each year.  When items like this are received, it has an adverse effect on the research projects OEMS is expected to participate in.  Our statisticians have to attempt to "clean up" the data so that the information we provide is valid.  But, because of the number of these types of issues occurring, we inevitably miss things.  This results in this office providing incorrect or inconsistent research data.  In addition, issues like this are not a one-time fix.  From this point forward, each time this office is asked to produce data that contains incident address information, we will always have to go through this "clean up" process on the data for the first half of 2018.

Upon further review, the majority of these issues occurred with agencies using the Virginia Elite system exclusively.  Due to the nature of how the system works, validation rules cannot be created to catch the invalid name documentation issues as described above.  Since the Location Lookup option provides more valid choices to select from, the Set from Postal Code option is being replaced.  This should eliminate 99% of the need for users to manually document this type of address information.    

The attached PDF’s show how the counties and independent cities in Virginia as well as all 50 states and US territories should be documented.  Please notes these PDF’s will be added to the next release of the Virginia Data Dictionary. 

For questions, please contact support via email:

 Virginia County Names.pdf (752.96 KB)
 US State and Territory Names.pdf (678.46 KB)
 Virginia Independent City Names.pdf (100.81 KB)