Allen Pulliam: Guiding force on Grand County EMS
October 4, 2009
Emergency medical technicians in Grand County look up to Allen Pulliam of Kremmling as a guiding force on the team.
Both a pastor and an EMT for 20 years this year, Pulliam serves as a father figure around the Grand County Emergency Services campus and is a trusted counselor to family members who experience loss, according to Grand County EMS Chief Ray Jennings.
Pulliam’s ranching background in Kremmling taught him hard work, resilience and grounded compassion – attributes admired in a medical services profession that calls for unyielding dedication.
The West Grand alumnus serves as one of three EMT captains, shares his life with wife Denise, a teacher who works part-time at EMS, and he and Denise are grandparents to seven grandchildren, with one on the way.
Grand County EMS has come a long way since the years when ambulances were Hearses, Pulliam said.
A pastor at Gore Range Baptist Church, his EMT career is his answer to “God’s call to service.”
“I’ve always had a sense of caring for people,” he said.
What was it like 20 years ago when you started full-time with Grand County EMS?
It was a lot different. It was volunteer, part-time oriented. You had a handful of people who were living in that community who carried pagers, and when the pager would go off, they would go to the ambulance station, grab an ambulance and go. At that time Grand County EMS was more regionalized, and we didn’t work together as much as we do now. The technology wasn’t there, and the equipment was behind the curve a little bit. I could remember when I started we had an old Dodge van-style ambulance, that started when it was 40 below, but the steering was so loose you had to kind of guide it down the highway.
Were there a lot of emergencies back then?
There maybe weren’t as many in number, but it seems like they were a little more dramatic because they were almost always people you knew.
So you found yourself attending to people who were friends, or people you grew up with?
Oh yes, very much. Even now, there’s a lot of times it’s people you know.
And how do you deal with that?
I personally believe it’s a gift that God has given me. In fact there’s a lot of times – being on the pastor side too – when I shift gears from taking care of them physically to supporting them spiritually, or their family spiritually and emotionally.
The other great thing is I have a really good spouse who has been involved in EMS for 19 years, so she’s been someone with whom I can talk things out a lot of times, to have someone that really understands.
My role now is more of a supervisory role, so I don’t find myself interacting with the patients as much as I used to, but it’s kind of shifted to taking care of staff, and making sure they are OK after a bad call – that they don’t need somebody to talk to, to vent, or are in need of additional counseling.
What are the most significant changes you’ve seen over the years?
We can do so much more today than we could do then. In fall of 2003, we managed to get a mil levy passed to support the ambulance district. The move to a professional career-based system was a huge change. The funding really was a difficult challenge, but it became necessary because the voluntary part-time pool was dwindling so much. Our call volume was increasing and our inter-facility transfer load was increasing. (Volunteers) had to have a job to make a living, but their employers couldn’t really afford to let them go for six hours to pick up a patient from Granby Medical and take them to Denver and back. And they weren’t making enough at EMS to compensate for that. We really had to push toward the idea of having people who were truly paid to be on duty. That was a huge change.
Can you describe an emergency that sticks out in your mind during the past 20 years?
Any suicide. They tend to be the most vivid in my memory. There was one where a gentleman used a pistol and the bullet traveled through him through a wall in the trailer, and it missed a sleeping baby in a crib by inches. Suicides are difficult to deal with because they are such a selfish death, and you are left to take care of the aftermath. Those are difficult ones.
How many babies have you delivered?
That’s one thing I’ve always wanted to do. Most EMS people are pretty scared of it.
How many lives do you think you’ve saved?
I wouldn’t have any guess. At the end of the day you just hope that you’ve touched somebody’s life. Really that’s it, that you’ve helped somebody in time of need, and that God has used you to do that.
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail email@example.com.