When Tamara Ferguson arrived at work last Thursday, she saw an “orange glow” outside.
Ferguson, a labour and delivery nurse at Adventist Health Feather River Hospital in Paradise, California was told at the time that Camp Fire, one of the state’s raging wildfires, was not “super close”.
But within an hour, she was going room to room telling parents to get up, wrap their babies up and get out.
Sharing her harrowing story in a Facebook post, Ferguson said there was no time to grab personal belongings – everyone lined up in the ER ready to go.
“Staff that had cars started filling them with patients,” she wrote. “Ambulances, sheriff and police lined up and helped Dr’s, nurses and all staff load patients from beds and wheelchairs into cars.”
The Camp Fire is one of two wildfires still raging in California – and the deadliest fire in the state’s history. The death toll stands at 76, with many people still missing. As of Sunday, AEST time it had burned through 149,000 acres with 55% containment.
Ferguson wrote that the crew planned to take patients from Adventist Health Feather River to the nearby Enloe Medical Center in Chico, about 30 kilometres away, but as they travelled they learned that one of the ambulances was on fire.
“We turned down a road into a driveway and stopped,” Ferguson continued in her post. “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.”
She said patients included mothers who had just given birth by cesarean, elderly and those in a “critical” condition.