Not too many graduates can say they drove an ambulance in college. For graduating senior and dedicated Virginia Tech Rescue Squad member Alyssa Case, it’s all in a day’s work.

Case will soon complete her dual degree in cognitive and behavioral neuroscience and psychology, both in the Virginia Tech College of Science, with a minor in French, and graduate this December.

The all-student, volunteer-run Virginia Tech Rescue Squad performs the same functions of a municipal rescue squad, handling nearly 1,200 emergency calls every year. In addition, the squad provides emergency medical services at all major university and athletic events on the Blacksburg campus.

Case has been involved with the rescue squad since the spring semester of her first year at Virginia Tech, dedicating nearly 20-30 hours each week to the organization amidst a heavy coursework load.

At first, Case was just looking for something to do in her spare time, so she tagged along with a friend to an interest meeting for the squad. After attending, she loved that everyone was like one big family, and she wanted to be a part of it herself.

Case has served in a number of roles within the squad, including as an attendant, assisting with patient care on emergency calls; as the former director of special projects; and currently as an ambulance driver.

As the former director of special projects, she was in charge of organizing events and seasonal activities for the squad, has helped to design and order the squad’s recreational apparel, and was on the committee for planning a large banquet for active members, alumni, and families for the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad.

A lot of people ask her if she gets nervous while driving the ambulance, but Case is well trained and she finds the job thrilling.

“Driving an ambulance is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. It’s a lot of responsibility — I’m driving a giant billboard representing the agency; I have a crew and a patient in the back whose safety is my priority; and I have to consider the safety of everyone around us on campus. It has been such a unique experience,” said Case.

Along with the enriching personal and professional development experiences that come with being a squad member and ambulance driver. Case also shared how the squad has offered her an advantage in her classes.

The rescue squad’s real-life rescue experiences and weekly training sessions in emergency response, anatomy, and more provided a strong foundation for her science classes. For example, one week Case was struggling to learn the anatomy and functions of the heart in a biology class. That same week, the rescue squad gave a lesson about the heart, which helped Case with her academic understanding.

After graduation, Case is taking time off to relax before starting a physician assistant program. In the future, she hopes to be able to serve on another rescue squad.

“It has been a privilege to serve alongside Alyssa on the rescue squad for the past three years. Driven by her commitment to serve, she is always willing to jump in and help in a variety of roles to make the squad successful,” said Virginia Tech Rescue Squad Chief Jake Martin.

Of her greatest experiences and memories in the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad, Case couldn’t name just one. 

“It’s hard to choose a single defining moment. The life-long friendships have been invaluable. It really all has been so beneficial. I couldn’t have done this anywhere else,” said Case.

Written by Christy Myers