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For EMT And Firefighter, Rescue Is His Business

WASHINGTON, MO (November 7-8, 2020) - There are many qualities needed to be a hero. Rick Hodges checks more than one of those boxes.

For 15 years, he’s worked as either an EMT or volunteer firefighter in addition to his day job, running Hodges Badge Co.

Hodges, who previously served as an EMT in Jamestown and Bristol, R.I., began volunteering at the Washington Fire Department two years ago.

“As an EMT, you’re focused on an individual patient in a medical situation, and now I’m assigned to rescue, so it’s a lot more things,” Hodges said. “I started doing it to help people. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which I’m doing because I’m still helping.”

Hodges was nominated by Mary Mays, whose husband worked with Hodges at the Augusta Fire Department. “He is admired and loved by all who happen to cross his path,” she wrote.

Hodges is also president and CEO, and the fourth generation of his family to run Hodges Badge Co., which celebrated its 100th anniversary in September. The company manufactures medals, ribbons, plaques and other awards, doing most of its business in the horse show industry.

“We just received hundreds of photos for a contest to be in our calendar,” Hodges said when asked about how rewarding that job can be. “It’s great. You go through and it’s smiling kid after smiling kid, and it’s awesome.”

However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many of the events the company would manufacture awards for were shut down.

So, the company began manufacturing protective masks instead.

“It seems somewhat obvious in retrospect,” Hodges said. “We had people that could sew, and it was good for the community.”

Once the temporary switch was made, it didn’t take long for the company’s masks to take off. Hodges estimates the company has made and sold nearly 40,000 masks.

“We started with a lot in Rhode Island and Missouri, and then we started selling them to our horse show customers, and then it was all over the place,” Hodges said. “It was a little crazy, and then it tailed off.”

Being called to two jobs so diverse in scope is something Hodges has learned to balance.

“It’s two totally different things,” he said. “Luckily, the firefighting isn’t all the time, so you can do your everyday job. You know the calls are going to come. You hope it doesn’t happen when you’re about to go into your big meeting, but sometimes it does. When that happens, the firefighting wins and I leave some disappointed people in the conference room.”


Reproduced with permission from The Missourian
By Arron Hustead
The Missourian

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