EMS Director Spotlight: Gordy Kokx

Paramedicine educator receives NAEMSE 2021 Legends That Walk Among Us Award

Gordon “Gordy” Kokx, PhD, NRP, serves as Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Paramedic program director at Inver Hills Community College. Gordy recently received the NAEMSE 2021 Legends That Walk Among Us Award. Conferred by the National Association of EMS Educators (NAEMSE), the prestigious award recognizes individual contributions to EMS training and instruction at the national level.

Gordy attended the 26th Anniversary NAEMSE Educator Symposium in early August to accept the award. The event took place at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate in Orlando, Florida.

NAEMSE: “There is a strong belief that the EMS Community needs to honor those men and women who have helped shape EMS Education nationally. This award allows us to thank those individuals who have and continue to mentor, motivate and inspire us through their commitments to EMS Education.”

Also a faculty member in the college’s EMS Paramedic program, Gordy greatly appreciated the recognition of his peers.

“Given the vast array of talented, dedicated and worthy EMS educators across the country, I am truly humbled, honored and blessed to be bestowed with this award,” he said.

Christopher Metsgar, MBA, MS, NRP, dean of allied health and nursing at the college, was delighted to hear Gordy received the award.

“Inver Hills is extremely lucky to have Gordy as our EMS program director and faculty member,” Dean Metsgar said. “When we learned Gordy was available to join our EMS team in the middle of the pandemic, we jumped at the opportunity. Gordy has and will continue to do amazing things for our EMS program to ensure each student has the means to be successful.”

26th Anniversary NAEMSE Educator Symposium gallery

More about the NAEMSE 2021 Legends That Walk Among Us Award…¹

Award criteria focused on the following evidence provided by letters of support:

  • Candidate output quality is generally recognized to have superior merit consistently exceeding stakeholder expectations.
  • Candidate demonstrates a broad repertoire of skills that advances EMS education and/or those who provide EMS care.
  • Candidate consistently demonstrates ethical behavior and professionalism.
  • Candidate has been a driving force for change, innovation, practice, excellence and/or academic achievement.
  • Candidate sacrifices their time to advance EMS education with distinction.

Colleague perspectives

“Dr. Kokx is a well-known EMS educator and leader second to few that impacted EMS education on such a far reaching and national scale. Throughout his time at the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions, Dr. Kokx’s altruistic character with humility and openness allowed him to actively listen and engage with EMS educators in a way that empowered the educator to go forth and be successful. His affect and focus on empowering support in of itself inspired educational excellence, which is the mission of NAEMSE.”

Dr. William Leggio
Clinical Quality and Patient Safety Coordinator
Office of the Chief Medical Officer
City of Austin

“Gordy was not only the Program Director of a successful EMS education program, but he later served the entire EMS education community through his work with CoAEMSP. As educators and Program Directors attempted to navigate the significant and detailed requirements of accreditation, we knew we could always rely on the warm, kind and unwavering support of Gordy. Every call, email or in-person conversation with him was one that enriched, supported, and educated those he was talking to, and the students they educated.”

Sahaj S. Khalsa
EMSI Program Director
Santa Fe Community College
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Gordy Kokx, PhD, NRP: Career snapshot

Originally from Pentwater, Michigan, a village of roughly 850 residents on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, Gordy Kokx, 57, graduated from Pentwater Public High School, Class of 1981.

Gordy went on to earn an A.A.S. in Advanced Emergency Medical Technology from Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan in 1990. He continued his education at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, earning a B.S. in Allied Health Education in 1992, and Boise State University in Boise, Idaho, earning an M.S. in Education–Educational Technology in 2007.

In 2016, Gordy completed his Ph.D. in Education at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. His award-winning doctoral dissertation is titled “An Exploration of Program Director Leadership Practices in Nationally Accredited Paramedic Education Programs.”

Three words that describe you as an EMS educator:

Gordy began his EMS journey in 1984 as a volunteer with his hometown ambulance service. His career has taken him from Michigan to Florida to Idaho to Minnesota. During his 37 years in EMS, he has worked in a host of clinical and educational settings. At the College of Southern Idaho, he earned the rank of Professor of Merit after he designed, implemented, taught and managed the first public, college-based paramedic program in the state’s history.

A noted speaker, author and researcher in EMS education, Gordy has been a strong advocate for CAAHEP accreditation; he served seven years on the CoAEMSP Board of Directors and another seven years as the CoAEMSP associate director. For more than two decades, he has also been a dedicated member of NAEMSE, where he has been active on several committees.

Gordy started teaching at Inver Hills in 2020. Along with duties as EMS Paramedic program director/faculty, he serves as a consultant on various EMS projects.

Gordy Kokx, PhD, NRP: Teaching philosophy

Education should be easy to access and challenging to complete. My personal philosophy of teaching is largely consistent with Malcolm Knowle’s theory of Adult Learning, i.e., Androgogy, wherein adults are self-directed and take responsibility for their learning.

In turn, their learning should be relevant, problem-focused and experiential. A teacher impacts the mind, whereas an educator also impacts the heart. As an educator, I succeed when my adult students provide the best emergency care possible to the strangers who entrust them with their lives.

More about Gordy…

Cameron, Kimberly and Gordy

Gordy has been married for 21 years. His wife, Dr. Kimberly Kokx, is a performing arts teacher. Gordy and Kim have one son, Cameron Bullock, who is a law student. The Kokx family has one dog, a border collie mix named Macie, and one fish, a 21-year-old goldfish named Mr. Fish.

In his free time, Gordy enjoys walking, reading, going to church, gardening, photography, research and spending time with friends. He resides with his family in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Gordy Kokx life and career gallery

More about the EMS Paramedic program at Inver Hills…

The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Paramedic program at Inver Hills Community College offers comprehensive training and preparation for service in the field of advanced pre-hospital emergency care. First responders, EMTs and paramedics provide care in a variety of emergency medical and traumatic situations.

Two degree tracks are offered by the EMS Paramedic program at Inver Hills. Both tracks lead to an Associate of Science (A.S.) in Emergency Medical Services (EMS). A third diploma option is offered for individuals who may already have a degree, or are seeking a career as a paramedic without completing additional liberal arts coursework.

The EMS Paramedic program also offers emergency medical technician (EMT) training in basic emergency medical care as well as training toward the Community Paramedic certificate.

First responders, EMTs and paramedics are primarily employed in the following locations:

  • Public safety agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Private and public ambulance services
  • Fire departments

With enough education or experience, EMTs and paramedics can become emergency service supervisors, managers, directors or executive directors.

As an EMS Paramedic program graduate, you are eligible to take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technician (NREMT) written and practical exams to become certified nationally and in the state of Minnesota.


Now accepting EMS Paramedic program applications

Inver Hills is accepting applications for the EMS Paramedic program for fall semester 2021. This application is for individuals who have successfully completed EMT training and wish to train as a paramedic.


Apply to Inver Hills now!

Gordy Kokx Q & A

What are your core convictions regarding the practice of paramedicine?

EMTs and paramedics must commit their studies and energies to the service of others. They must live out the EMT Code of Ethics by treating all patients—no matter their situation in life—with dignity and respect based on evidence-based medicine. Every life has value and is worthy of the best care possible. Treating emergency patients with excellent care is one of the highest privileges in life.

What is your most memorable experience on the job as a paramedic?

There are many, many memories. Being a paramedic is a front-row seat to humanity across the spectrum of life in all its glory and tragedy. I have seen people at their very best and at their very worst. I have held the hands of the dying and witnessed an infant’s first breath. It’s all a sacred privilege. One unique aspect of the profession is the reality that learning never ends and thus we learn something from every single patient we encounter.

What advice would you give students thinking about pursuing careers in emergency medical services (EMS)?

Start with EMT and see if you like it! You will learn some great knowledge and skills to use in life and maybe fall in love with the profession enough to become a paramedic!

Three words that describe you as a paramedic:

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from your nearly four decades of experience working and teaching in the EMS field?

The distinct privilege of treating every patient regardless of their lot in life.

What are the most crucial individual qualities a paramedic can bring to the job?

The ability to assess, interview and manage patients is critical. The skills of communication and maintaining the big picture are also important. Finally, the most important qualities are empathy and professionalism.

What developments do you see on the horizon that could enhance or even revolutionize the field of paramedicine?

I believe the concept of community paramedicine has the potential to expand our field greatly. It will offer key constituents—and the public in general—a window into how much paramedics must know as healthcare providers.

What person has influenced your life the most and why?

My mom. She sacrificed a ton to raise my two older brothers and me on her own. She instilled in us a strong work ethic as well as a need for faith and education. All three of us have earned graduate degrees and had successful careers in the service of others.

One word that best describes your experience as an EMS educator:


Gordy Kokx 12 Answers

  1. Favorite physical activity: Walking
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Scotland
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Hmm. Serengeti safari and skydiving
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Start a foundation for EMS research and education 2) Donate to some select causes 3) Then probably go back to school for fun!
  5. Best book you’ve read lately: His Truth Is Marching On by John Lewis and John Meacham
  6. Time period you would go if you could time travel: I am good right here.
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Finish my book!
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Dove
  9. Dream occupation: Veterinarian
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Martin Luther King Jr.
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Flower gardening
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: The urgent need to love one another
Learn more about the EMS Paramedic program at Inver Hills by contacting:

Gordon Kokx, PhD, NRP
Emergency Medical Services Director/Faculty

Admissions Team
College Center


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