The magazine for Western Washington University
Stories

Help is on the way

Andrew Cull’s company delivers medical training, supplies and services to the world’s impossible places

By Ron Judd | ('85, Journalism)

Print this story
Andrew Cull (‘01), right, is CEO of Remote Medical International. He and Christine Avakian (‘01), left, are among several Western alumni at the Seattle company specializing in the logistics of international health and safety. | Photo by Rachel Bayne
Phong Duong (‘00), RMI’s general counsel and a wilderness instructor, teaches members of the 501st Infantry Regiment the principles of high-angle rescue. | Photo by
RMI's Field Operations Manager, Tyler Nieslen, who attended Western, conducts a class with the U.S. Army | Photo by Jarod Trow/RMI
A Remote Medical International paramedic evacuates a critical patient from a project in Gambia. | Photo by

Sidebar: RMI's global reach

RMI's global reach

For Andrew Cull (’01, Political Science), post-graduate classes at Western proved the perfect breeding ground for his dream business – a rapidly growing company that dispatches medical services to remote corners of the globe.

But not in the way you might expect.

Cull, faithful to his alma mater, doesn’t like to admit he was bored during Organic Chemistry courses, part of a pre-med program he embarked upon after earning a WWU Political Science degree in 2001.

But he was beginning to realize he wasn’t cut out for medical school. And, having ample time – and an empty notebook – Cull began sketching out a dream company that would mix his two loves: recreation in wild places and emergency medicine.

A decade later, the company Cull launched as a Western

student is called Remote Medical International, and it’s booming. Growth at the company is running 300 to 400 percent per year.

And Cull, its 32-year-old CEO, continues to be amazed at just how much his current company, now with 75 employees, looks like the one he sketched out in O-Chem class.

RMI offers one-stop shopping for remote medical training, equipment and logistics for clients ranging from individuals to governments and global corporations.

A smaller client might be a family setting off to circle the globe on a small sailboat. RMI would train family members before the trip, stock the boat’s medical supplies, and then provide full emergency medical services at sea via a 24-hour communications link – and help with evacuations if it comes to that.

The company provides larger, more complex packages for government and corporate clients such as cruise lines, military special forces, oil and gas exploration companies, adventure guides, and scientists and researchers in far-flung places such as Antarctica.

It’s the kind of service that’s always been in Cull’s blood. An outdoor lover since his childhood in University Place near Tacoma, he volunteered for Pierce County Search and Rescue at age 15, and received Emergency Medical Technician certification while in high school at Bellarmine Prep.

“I was always interested in preparing for emergencies,” he says.

Cull built what would become his company’s e-commerce website in Western’s computer labs while he was still a grad student. Clients began finding him, and have kept coming ever since.

Today, “We’re working on huge projects, all over the world,” he says.

Cull says he’s received multiple purchase offers for RMI, recently named the third-fastest-growing company in the Puget Sound region by the Puget Sound Business Journal.

“Luckily, my passion for what I do has overpowered my drive or desire for acquisitions – acquiring wealth,” he says. “That’s really liberating. I know I could sell and never have to work again. Having that comfort … is a license to really push and do the things you want.”

For now, he’s enjoying the balance of running his company

and raising a family. Cull met his wife, Melisa (Heider) (’01, Sociology/Political Science), at an “Open Door Night” social in Nash Hall (he lived in room 312; she right below in 212). The Culls, who now have two young daughters and a 16-year-old daughter, whom they adopted, live in Burien.

Cull spends a lot of his time traveling to meet with clients, but to keep active in the “hands-on” part of his business, rotates in as a company paramedic from time to time.

The business he built tends to hire people who share his passion for the outdoors – and an ongoing thirst for learning. Employees love what Cull calls RMI’s “culture of adventure,” which includes an annual company mountain-climbing jaunt.

Some key RMI staffers are fellow Western grads: Christine Avakian (’01, Recreation) is director of Integrated Operations; Phong Duong (’00, Communication) is legal counsel and an

instructor; Brent Molsberry (’01, Biology) is an EMT instructor. Field Operations Manager Tyler Nielsen also attended Western.

Other friends from Cull’s dorm days also turned out to be entrepreneurs, with businesses ranging from solar energy to resort development.

“That third floor in Nash Hall did very well,” he says.


Ron C. Judd is a Seattle Times columnist and yet another former third-floor Nash Hall resident.