Trooper receives Highway Patrol’s highest award for rescue following otter attack
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: November 2, 2023

Trooper receives Highway Patrol’s highest award for rescue following otter attack

HELENA – Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) Trooper Barb Armstrong today received the Medal of Valor, the agency’s highest award for locating a woman who had been viciously attacked by river otters, providing aid, and guiding a life flight helicopter to their location. MHP Colonel Steve Lavin presided over the ceremony, Attorney General Austin Knudsen presented the award.

To qualify for the award, troopers must show an act of heroism and bravery, knowingly expose themselves to obvious life-threatening peril, or react to a situation without regard for personal safety to effect aid or rescue. In August, Armstrong swam across the river in full uniform and gear, which weighs approximately twenty pounds, carrying an emergency medical services equipment bag and knowing dangerous animals were in the vicinity. Otters can grow up to five feet-long and have a bite roughly equivalent to a German shepherd’s.

“Without regard for her own safety, Trooper Armstrong rushed to assist the injured women, swimming fully loaded with gear across a river with dangerous animals. She used her quick thinking, knowledge of the area, and life-saving skills to get the women to safety,” Attorney General Knudsen said. “Without her efforts, the outcome that day may have been tragic. I’m grateful to Trooper Armstrong and all Highway Patrol troopers who are out on the roads every day and ready to help.”

Trooper Armstrong has distinguished herself as a valuable member of the Highway Patrol and I couldn’t be prouder to present her with the Medal of Valor,” Colonel Lavin said. “Her actions that day exemplify what it means to be a Montana Highway Patrol trooper and exemplify our core values of service, integrity, and respect.”

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