John E. BeachBy Jeff Douglas
Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 27 - April 6, 1995
Whether helping maintain the quality of Virginia Tech's 2,000-acre campus or serving as a paramedic with the Salem Rescue Squad, John Beach is the kind of person people depend upon.
Beach, director of building services in Tech's Department of Physical Plant, is regarded as a man who gets the job done in a way that is characterized by efficiency, integrity, and concern for others.
"I try really earnestly to treat other people as I would like to be treated," he said. "That's one of the guiding principles of my life. And I don't bat a thousand with it by any means."
For his service at Virginia Tech and in his community, he has been awarded a 1995 President's Award for Excellence. "I'm very surprised and extremely flattered," said Beach, who sees the honor as a reflection of the "very professional group of employees" he works with in physical plant.
He and his colleagues take a great deal of pride in maintaining the beauty and soundness of Virginia's largest university, he says. That pride reaches its pinnacle during the university's annual Commencement ceremony.
"It's a really important time for our graduating students and their families," says Beach. "I know what it meant for my parents."
Though Beach assumed his post with Tech in 1988, his relationship with the university dates back to the 1970s. The Fairfax native earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in biological systems engineering in 1979 and 1981, respectively. He completed work on an M.B.A. in 1992.
Service on the Salem Rescue Squad means perhaps spending a night a week sleeping in the station, anywhere from 15-25 emergency calls per month, training other emergency services personnel, and administrative work. The squad's 65 members made 3,100 calls last year.
"We give a lot of hours to the community but it is something we really feel deeply about," said Beach, who once considered medical school and found rescue work a comfortable compromise when he began his career in engineering.
Over the past 15 years, he has continued to increase his skill level, and in 1992 he achieved paramedic status, the highest level of emergency-medical-services certification. "It was something I aspired to when I got into the work," Beach said. "One of the things I really enjoy now is that I teach at all levels on a regional basis."
In early 1995, Beach became the squad's chief executive officer. "Being chief is an armload," Beach said, as he helps the volunteer agency contend with a period of challenging growth.