Above the Call

Off‑duty nurse helps family on remote highway

Woman wearing nurse scrubs.
HDSP RN Tammy Barton stopped to assist a family whose car was overturned on a remote stretch of road.

A CDCR nurse driving to work on a remote highway came across a wrecked car and family needing help.

Northeast California is a land of majestic views and wilderness. Although, remote roadways are not the place to have car trouble, let alone be in a single-vehicle accident.

The early March 2018 incident followed a snow storm.

Tammy Barton, a registered nurse at High Desert State Prison, happened along the crash on Highway 139. Stranded in a remote part of Lassen County, a family of four was wandering the road outside their upside-down car.

Weather conditions were severe with snow falling and temperatures in the single digits. The mother was pregnant with a due date in two weeks.

Barton immediately assessed each of the occupants looking for life-threatening injuries, providing basic first aid if necessary. Once all victims were triaged, she returned to the pregnant mother who was having anxiety and cramps. Barton calmed her while continuing to assess for any change in her health or the health of the baby.

Recognizing the potential for hypothermia, Barton provided all four victims shelter in her car until emergency personnel arrived.

Barton stayed with the family, continuing to provide nursing care until they were transported by ambulance to the nearest hospital.

By Lt. Gregory Crowe

Read more stories of staff going above the call.

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