Butte trooper receives MHP’s highest award for response to river otter attack

HELENA — On Wednesday, Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Barb Armstrong, of Butte, received the Medal of Valor, the agency’s highest award, for locating and providing emergency medical services to one of the three women who had been attacked the night of Aug. 2 by river otters and guiding a life-flight helicopter to their location.

MHP Colonel Steve Lavin presided over the ceremony, with Attorney General Austin Knudsen presenting 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.

Trooper Barb Armstrong 


To get to the victim, Armstrong swam across the river in full uniform and gear weighing approximately 20 pounds, carrying a medical equipment bag and knowing dangerous animals were in the vicinity. Otters can grow up to five feet and have a bite roughly equivalent to a German shepherd’s.

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