Such a gentle-looking animal was at the center of a chaotic scene this summer in Montana.

Back in August, we shared this story about three women who were floating the Jefferson River, when they were the victims of an unprovoked attack by otters that were along the shore. The otters managed to inflict significant harm to all three women. One of the floaters' injuries were serious enough that she was taken to the hospital via helicopter.

There's no telling how much worse the situation could have gotten, were it not for the heroic efforts of Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Barb Armstrong. MHP tells us that yesterday (Thursday), Trooper Armstrong received the Medal of Valor, the patrol's highest award, for locating the woman who had been viciously attacked, providing aid, and guiding a life flight helicopter to their location. The agency's Colonel Steve Lavin and 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, Trooper Armstrong, responding to the swimmers' emergency call, swam across the river in full uniform and gear, which weighs approximately twenty pounds. She was also carrying an emergency medical services equipment bag and was well-aware that potentially dangerous animals were in the area.

Attorney General Knudsen was quoted as saying, "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.

“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.”

Congratulations and thank you, Trooper Armstrong. Amazing poise for what certainly wasn't just another day at the office.

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