By Aila Boyd
Terry Allen, a Buchanan resident, became the oldest woman at age 58 to graduate from the Roanoke County Criminal Justice Academy last Thursday.
She previously went through the EMT/paramedic program and found that the only thing that was available to her at the time was to also be a firefighter, something that she didn’t feel she was equipped to do, given her small stature. “There’s a lot of heavy equipment and I’m small, so it wasn’t something that I felt I could do,” she explained.
Her friend Sgt. Mike Pierce from the Vero Beach, Fla. talked her into going through a citizen’s academy, which caused her to get the law enforcement “bug.” After seeing the job posting for a medical deputy, she decided to apply to the academy and go from there.
“I just never thought I’d be able to put two and two together and be able to be a medic and a deputy at the same time,” she said.
Allen described the academy, which lasted for 10 weeks, as being “rigorous” and “regimented.” “I had no idea what I had gotten myself into on the first day. I was exhausted. It got easier each week, but it was very tough,” she said. “A lot of people drop out because they can’t make it, so it’s an accomplishment.” She explained that when she first started it, she didn’t understand why she was required to do things a certain way, but eventually came to appreciate the methods the academy used as time went on.
“Not only am I able to protect the public, but I’m also able to help them medically as well,” Allen said. “Most times the police are the first
. They have basic first aid and CPR, but I’m able to give people advanced medical treatments. It’s an extra asset that I have.”
Originally from Charleston, W.Va., Allen lived in Vero Beach, Fla. for 24 years before moving to Buchanan in 2015.
Allen said that she is “blessed” to be able to work for the Roanoke County Sheriff’s Office and described Sheriff Joseph Orange as being a “stand-up guy.”