After Aiding Derailment Victims, Army Nurse Earns Top Civilian Valor Award

army nurse earns top valor award

After Aiding Derailment Victims, Army Nurse Earns Top Civilian Valor Award

By Debbie Gregory

On December 18th, 2017, Tanya Porter, a nurse at Madigan Army Medical Center, was heading home after her 12 hour night shift, when she came upon a hoffiric scene: the Amtrak Cascades Train 501 had derailed onto Interstate 5.

The accident occurred during the train’s first trip on a new high-speed route to Portland, with all 12 cars coming off the rails atop an overpassing bridge and spilling onto the southbound lanes of the interstate.

Ironically, members of Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Directorate of Emergency Services partnered with local civilian groups at Camp Murray for a simulated train derailment scenario.

Without thinking of her personal safety, Porter’s nursing training kicked in and she began to provide aid to the victims. Even after ambulances and paramedics arrived at the site, Porter continued to provide care.

For those actions, Porter has received the Army Award for Valor, which was presented to her by Secretary of the Army Mark Espe.  The Critical Care nurse set up a casualty collection site and conducted triage amidst the wreckage to save injured passengers from the fatal crash.

Nominated by Maj. Parker Hahn, the chief of the Madigan Critical Care Nursing Department, Porter’s actions were not surprising. “She’s an amazing nurse, she’s an amazing employee, but she’s an even better person,” said Hahn.

The award is the highest given by the Army to civilians for acts of heroism or sacrifice, according to the Army: “The heroic act must demonstrate voluntary action above and beyond the call of duty … Porter is one of only a handful of people who have received it.”

Porter was also publicly recognized by Madigan Commander Col. Michael Place and Maj. Gen. Barbara Holcomb, commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command and the Chief of the Army Nurse Corps.