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No break for Virginia Tech Rescue Squad members, who work even when classes are out

January 3, 2017

VTRS members on standby with the HokieBird
Virginia Tech Rescue Squad Chief Chris Eyestone and attendant Jazmin Johnson pose with the HokieBird in February 2016.

While most students are hunkering down to spend their winter break at home visiting family and friends, members of the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad are gearing up to spend their holidays on-duty, serving the community.

The student-run all volunteer Virginia Tech Rescue Squad operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

When classes are in session, it is staffed to full capacity with all 45 members. Once classes end and most students leave campus, a rotating staff of between five and 10 squad members stays in Blacksburg to make sure there is always someone ready to take a call.

Every member of the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad is committed to serving some “break duty,” but there are often people who volunteer for those shifts above and beyond the requirement.

“We have a couple of members who don’t celebrate Christmas, for example,” said Chief Chris Eyestone, a senior from Blacksburg, Virginia, majoring in agribusiness and political science. “They tend to sign up for winter break duty so that people who do celebrate can be with their families.”

The number of 911 calls received varies from year to year, but there has been an uptick in call volume with the increased popularity of Winter Session classes. Generally, the squad responds to between 25 to 30 calls throughout the four-week break.

In addition to taking calls, the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad is on standby at Cassell Coliseum during Virginia Tech basketball games, which are held throughout winter break.

When they get a bit of downtime, on-duty staff members get ahead on projects around the station, such as routine maintenance and upkeep.

“Even when the university is closed or classes aren’t in session, anyone can be on campus at any time,” said Eyestone. “We’re here to help them.”

Written by Abbey O’Farrell

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