72-year-old Air Force Veteran graduates from RCBC to teach paramedics
Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Stephen Hodsdon, an Air Force Veteran, spent nearly 40 years as a paramedic before finding a retirement job as a lab skills instructor with Rowan College at Burlington County, where he shares his passion and experience with future EMTs. 

His skill for teaching was so evident that his co-workers encouraged him to earn his associate degree at RCBC so that he could qualify to be an adjunct instructor in the college’s Paramedic Science program. So, in his 70s, he went back to school, graduating last May. 

Hodsdon, 72, recently reflected on his journey.

At 19, Hodsdon enlisted in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. He was relocated from New Jersey to Tacoma, Washington and worked as an automotive mechanic. After two years of serving his country, a service-wide reduction in the forces allowed him to be honorably discharged and continue a career in motor vehicle mechanics. However, with layoffs running rampant across the country, he decided to move back home to New Jersey and further his career and family in his hometown.

Hodsdon has been interested in becoming a paramedic since the 1970s television rescue program highlighting the bravery of local paramedics. In 1983, his dreams sprouted into reality when he moved into the house of a rescue squad captain who encouraged him to apply and attend a paramedic informational meeting. This propelled his career as a paramedic working with Virtua Health, the NJ State Medevac and Midatlantic Medevac.

“Throughout my career, I have been so blessed and fortunate to be at the right place at the right time,” Hodsdon said.

His most significant advice for anyone interested in becoming a paramedic is to have a passion and a love for helping people. Everyone has to become a basic EMT before becoming a paramedic. Hodsdon encourages students to work hands-on in the field as EMTs to gain a better foundation before beginning the more advanced paramedic courses. 

After dedicating 39 years to providing patient care as an EMT and paramedic, Hodsdon aspires to utilize his extensive experience to educate and inspire the next generation. He began tearing up as he recalled his most treasured moments teaching at RCBC. 

“What I love about teaching is when I have a student with little to no experience or knowledge about equipment or medical math, and you see them struggling, but after showing them a different way to approach the situation or equation -- all the sudden you see their face light up as the information clicks,” he said. “That’s what makes me go, YES! That’s what makes my job rewarding.”