Emergency medical services deputy chief says goodbye to Grand County
After moving away for just over a year, Allen Pulliam came back to Grand County in the late 1980s. Pulliam grew up in the county — his family moved here when he was 5 years old. He said he always wanted to be a cowboy, so before moving to Arizona, he worked as a ranch hand.
Pulliam faced financial trouble as he cared for his family, though. He said he could not afford to raise his kids on a ranch hand’s salary.
“We went to Walmart, and I didn’t have enough room on a credit card to buy my oldest son a pair of tennis shoes,” Pulliam said. “I just realized that I had to do something else.”
An opportunity arose in Arizona, where Pulliam could work for his father-in-law’s backhoe business. A few months into that job, demand for backhoe services fell, and Pulliam found himself on unemployment.
“It was one of the hardest times in my entire life,” Pulliam said. “I’d never not worked. I mean, even growing up through school, we always had summer jobs.”
While in Arizona, Pulliam started volunteering with a local fire station, where he first became certified as an EMT. Pulliam, now a pastor at a church in Kremmling, said God called him back to Grand County. He started volunteering with the county emergency medical services and six months later had a full-time position.
Thirty-three years later, Pulliam will retire Sept. 8. He said he does not do as much field work as deputy chief as he did earlier in his career, but he still gets to experience his favorite part of the job: the people.
“As I’ve gotten off of the street a little bit more, the focus has probably shifted more towards my staff or the people that I work with, and caring for them,” Pulliam said. “Caring for people is probably going to be one of the biggest things that I’m missing.”
When discussing his reasoning for retiring, Pulliam said he feels like EMS has changed in ways that make it harder for him to work in the field at his age. He said Colorado and Grand County have changed since he was growing up as well.
“It’s just not the place that I want to finish my years in,” Pulliam said. “We’re also going to a place where the climate is a little milder, the elevation is definitely lower, and I’m looking forward to that part of it as well.”
Pulliam is referencing northern Montana, where he and his wife bought some property and built a house. He said they had looked at property in the area before because two of their children live in the state.
“(It is) just about an hour or so from our daughter, about six hours from our son,” Pulliam said. “Kind of a rural area, somewhat undiscovered yet, although they’re starting to see growth as well. Definitely more conservative and more laid back and just a better climate.”
Austin Wingate, a shift captain at Grand County EMS, will take Pulliam’s place once he retires. Pulliam said his time serving the residents and visitors of Grand County has been an honor and privilege.
“I have been greatly blessed by that opportunity, and just really appreciate this whole career,” Pulliam said. “It’s more about the people than it is about me.”
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