A California nurse has described the heart-thumping moments she called for all the patients in her hospital to evacuate, many of whom had just given birth. Tamara Ferguson, a labor and delivery nurse at Adventist Health Feather River in Paradise, said that she spotted an “orange glow outside” when she arrived at work last week, but was reassured that the enormous “Camp Fire” wildfire was not “super close.”
But in a dramatic account posted to Facebook, Ferguson noted that within an “hour or less,” she was screaming at new moms and dads to grab their precious newborns and follow her to safety.
“Within an hour or less, I was going room to room telling moms and dads to get up, wrap their babies and we had to go,” Ferguson wrote. “Wrap their babies up and we had to go..no time to grab personal belongings …we raced towards the ER and lined up.”
Ferguson noted that the group of patients included one mother who had just given birth via C-section. Doctors, nurses and emergency crews hustled to get all the patients into ambulances and transported to the Enloe Medical Center in Chico. Bu then, another crisis broke out.
“We turned down a road into a driveway and stopped,” Ferguson continued. “We all got out of the ambulance, and moved patients to the garage of the only house not burning, layed (sic) them down and tried to reassure their scared faces, while hiding ours.”
The nurse admitted she was “scared, hopeless, and desperate,” as the flames encroached on the facility they had hoped would be out of the inferno’s reach. She and another staff member, Chrissy, desperately managed to beat back some of the smaller flames, while keeping the patients calm and reassured.
“We need to save our patients and ourselves,” Ferguson thought at the time. “If we were going to die today we would at least do it protecting others and do everything we can to live and we did!”
The situation became so severe that Ferguson called several of her loved ones to say her final goodbyes. She remembers telling her mother that she “didn’t want to die.”
Then, the brave nurse spoke to her boyfriend, a police officer. He managed to calm her down and insisted that he and his colleagues would be on the scene very shortly.
“He was calm and told me to breathe and that I wasn’t going to die,” Ferguson recalled, “I told him over and over as I was surrounded by fire, ‘Babe, there’s no way I’m going to survive this.’”
But they did. Every single one of them. After finding their way back to the Paradise Hospital, all the staff and patients were loaded into emergency vehicles and driven to safety.
“We were an Awesome team of mostly strangers doing whatever we could as HAD to and we did phenomenal! … I honestly couldn’t believe I was alive, that I would see my family, kids, and boyfriend again. I called them and told them I made it,” Ferguson said, before adding that that she will be “forever changed by that day.”