Rio Grande County hires Burrell as new emergency manager

Brian Burrell

RIO GRANDE COUNTY — Rio Grande County officials recently announced that Brian Burrell, a relatively newresident of Rio Grande County, was hired as the new Rio Grande County Emergency Manager. Burrell comes to the San Luis Valley and his new position with years of medical and emergency management experience which he gained while serving with private medical helicopter companies in Florida and Colorado.

Burrell was born and raised in Oklahoma where he spent the next 38 years learning medical trades and attended nursing and paramedic school which led him to become a certified Critical Transport Nurse. Burrell has several experiences having been deployed through private companies through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), aiding in tornado and hurricane response and leadership management training.

In 2020, the company he was working for out of Florida, offered him a new opportunity and he was more than happy to pack up his wife, their dogs, and head out of the southern US headed straight to Colorado.

“We always wanted to live in Florida and Colorado, but we never knew if we would get the chance to do both. We wanted a slower life outside of the big cities and when the chance came along to transfer to Colorado Springs, we jumped at the opportunity,” said Burrell. “Our lifelong dream came true; we were going to be able to do both.”

When asked what brought him to the San Luis Valley Burrell explained that his two sons had opened a business in the Moffat area and he and his wife decided to come down and help get the business rolling.

“As with a lot of things, 2020 hit and it took a major toll on their business,” he said. “We eventually had to close, and it is currently up for sale. It was right about that time that the position for emergency manager opened in Rio Grande County, and I wanted to give it a shot.”

Burrell and his wife once again packed up and headed west of Moffat to South Fork, where they found a home and the slower way of life that they were looking for.

“My wife Karyn was able to get on at the Rio Grande Hospital as an Ultrasound Technician and I was brought on for the emergency management position. We are both very happy and excited to learn about this area,” said Burrell.

Looking to the future, Burrell is planning to spend most of his time learning about the area and becoming familiar with the backcountry.

“Most of my experience is in tornado and hurricane response. I know that I can work well under pressure,” laughed Burrell. “Now it is a matter of learning about the dangers of snow, avalanches, forest fires and floods which I am looking forward to.”

Burrell has a wide range of stories he is more than willing to share of his time serving as a critical transport nurse, paramedic, and life flight missions, which creates a friendly and welcoming personality for the Rio Grande County community.

In his spare time and when the weather is warm, Burrell and his wife hit the open road and travel across the country on motorcycles.

“We are really looking forward to becoming part of this community and learning all we can about living and working here in rural Colorado,” he said.