By Jennifer Rose Bryant
At 14 years old, Roberta “Bobbie” Blair already knew she was meant to be of service to others. After “retiring” from her long and rewarding career as an Interventional Radiology Technician spanning more than five decades, she decided she wasn’t ready to stop helping the community.
Relocating from Houston, Texas to Burgess, Virginia, to retire and be near family, Blair found retirement to be a little too quiet. She figured that volunteering as a driver for the local rescue squad would provide some action, plus re-connect her with the medical field she had enjoyed for so long. After driving for only a short time, Blair knew she needed more of a hands-on role in helping the local community as a first responder.
Never Too Old to Succeed
Blair enrolled at Rappahannock Community College to become certified as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Thanks to the “Senior Citizen Higher Education Act” Blair says that the tuition waiver “made it possible for her to get into RCC for EMT school. On Social Security it would’ve been very difficult — if not impossible — to pay for classes.” She finished her EMT Basic in 2013 and EMT Intermediate level training in 2015.
Going back to school in her late sixties, she says, “I was a little worried about my old brain, and if I’d be able to retain the new knowledge.” At times she says it was a struggle, adding that basic training was a breeze, but the intermediate level final took her six times to pass. Perseverance and the support of RCC faculty, like former adjunct professor Jerry Andrews, and current EMS Program Head Ellen Vest, were crucial to her success.
In spring 2015, at 71 years old, Bobbie Blair walked with the Rappahannock Community College graduating class on the Warsaw campus.
Possessing a lifetime of technical knowledge and life experience, she is grateful to still fulfill her life’s mission. Comforting people in some of the worst moments of their lives, she says brings her “a joy and a peace” knowing she is able to help.
You can find Bobbie Blair running rescue and helping to save lives in Northumberland County.