ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Ashley Patterson is not your average teenage girl.
When she’s not in class, doing homework or hanging out with friends, you’ll find this 18-year-old at Hollins Volunteer Fire & Rescue where she’s a volunteer EMT.
“It’s always just kind of this burst of adrenaline as it goes out. I remember the first call I went on, I could feel my pulse like down in my fingertips,” said Patterson.
It’s a passion she picked up at 11 years old when she attended Roanoke County’s Character Academy, a summer camp designed to inspire kids to become volunteer firefighters and paramedics.
For Ashley, it just clicked.
“I think it’s all the people I get to meet, honestly,” explained Patterson. “Because you just get to interact with so many different kinds of people through this.”
In high school, she attended the Burton Center for Arts & Technology, a tough year-long course to get her state and national EMT certifications.
“That’s success. And so that’s exactly what we were looking for. And I think Ashley kind of embodies what we’ve been hoped for all along,” said Roanoke County Fire & Rescue’s Community Outreach Coordinator Brian Clingenpeel.
Hollins Volunteer Rescue Chief Jeff Edwards said that Ashley’s got heart.
“The biggest thing is empathy. You’ve got to care about what you’re doing,” said Edwards.
He also commended her for volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s not just sit there and watch, she wants to be part of it. And that’s what you want in a volunteer,” said Edwards. “I’m proud of her. So very proud of her.”
This fall, she’s planning to attend Radford University Carilion to get her Bachelor of Science in Emergency Services and become a paramedic.
Ashley is following in her dad’s footsteps. He was a volunteer paramedic at Hollins too.
“I told him I was switching to this, his eyes just lit up,” said Ashley. “He thought it was really cool that I’m doing what he did.”
A young girl’s dream, that’s now this young woman’s reality.
“I can help make a positive impact on people’s lives on what may be the worst day of their life, does end up making it better at the end of the day,” said Ashley.