Responders create makeshift hospital for evacuated patients in Calif. wildfire
Paramedics, nurses and others broke into the garage of a home that was unaffected by the fire to keep patients safe after an ambulance caught fire
This story has been updated to clarify the circumstances surrounding the evacuation of patients being transported in ambulances.
PARADISE, Calif. — A group including paramedics, nurses, doctors and firefighters kept evacuated patients safe from the Camp Fire by breaking into the garage of an unaffected home after an ambulance erupted in flames.
A crew was evacuating three patients, including one who had just had a C-section, from the Feather River Hospital to another hospital in two ambulances when one of the rigs caught fire, according to the Washington Post.
“We were behind them. There was nowhere we could go,” Nurse Tamara Ferguson, who was in the other ambulance, said. “We turned at the closest cul-de-sac and we found the one house that was not on fire. We had to break into it.”
Ferguson said one of the paramedics got into the garage by crawling through the doggie door and opened it before unloading the patients inside.
A Paradise Fire Department crew arrived, and Chief David Hawks gave orders to everyone in an effort to keep the flames away from the house.
“There was fire all around us, the house next door to us was on fire,” Ferguson said. “He told us what to do. He was like, ‘You, go get brush. You, spray down the roof.’ We all worked together.”
The group waited in the garage for two hours until a sheriff’s van arrived to bring everyone back to the hospital.
“We got there, and staff was setting up chairs, gurneys, IVs, water, snacks, warm blankets,” Ferguson said, according to LoveWhatMatters.com. Hospital administration, anesthesiologists, doctors, police officers, paramedics, sheriffs, fire personnel nurses, managers, and anyone present was running, triaging, making sure everyone had what they needed.”
Ferguson said everyone at the hospital was later transported to safer hospitals nearby.
“I will forever be changed by yesterday, as so many thousands of others are, but not by what was physically lost, but the reminder that life changes quickly,” she said.