Oct. 2nd: 1430 hours
With its horn blaring, the Army truck stopped in front of the hospital building. Doctors, nurses and other medical personnel came running from all directions. They were well acquainted with unexpected arrivals of vehicles carrying bleeding soldiers.
Noticing the woman in the back of the truck, a tall, dark-haired doctor called to her, "What do you have?"
"One stat. Two urgent. Two superficial." Lieutenant MacAllister answered. She was frowning in concern. "This one has to go first! He's in shock."
"Get some litters up there! Get those men down!" The doctor ordered.
The wounded were carefully placed on stretchers. Helping hands reached for the man in her care. "We'll take it from here." Someone told her. "Climb down."
"I can't." MacAllister explained. "I have a bleeder here. I have to come down with this one." She looked into the grey eyes of a tall man wearing a lab coat. "Will you help me, sir? My ankle isn't going to support me."
"Certainly, Lieutenant." Came the reply in a distinctively cultured tone. The man had a dignified manner that seemed out of place in this hectic triage. He reached for her waist. Holding tightly onto the leaking artery, she slid into his grasp as the stretcher was lifted from the truck.
The woman yelped as she banged her ankle. Blinking back her tears, MacAllister recited the medical conditions of her patients. "This one has a severed femoral artery. He's lost a lot of blood."
"A bullet is lodged in that one's upper pectoral." She continued as the other men were brought down. "The glass shard near this man's eye is snagged on the supraorbital notch. Smaller fragments in the cervical and thoracic areas; and a bullet wound to the crural."
"The other two have glass slivers and cuts---upper body regions, And," she added with a touch of wry humor, "one bad ankle." She glanced at the doctor who was holding her. She caught his flicker of a smile.
Her surveyed the bandages on her arm, the cuts on her face and the blood on her military clothing. "How much of this blood is yours, Lieutenant?"
"Not that much, sir. Most of this is from him."
The other surgeon completed his assessment. "You're right about this one. He's first. Let's get him to pre-op, right away!"
"What's an American nurse doing with an Australian outfit?" She was asked as they hurried to the surgery preparation area.
"Just hitchhiking, sir. I was headed here."
"You mean, you belong to us?" The dark-haired surgeon asked in delight.
MacAllister grinned. "If this is the 4077th M*A*S*H hospital unit, I do."
"Even if it isn't---we aren't letting you get away." He informed her. "I'm Hawkeye Pierce. That's B J Hunnicutt." A sandy-haired officer with a mustache looked around at the sound of his name. He nodded and accompanied a litter into the treatment room. "The one you're having a foot race with is Charles Winchester."
"Major Winchester." The older officer corrected him.
"Sorry, Major Charles." Pierce gave his words an exaggerated nasal accent.
The nurse raised an eyebrow in mild surprise at the resentment in his voice. Then, with a warm smile for both of the men, she introduced herself. "I'm Lieutenant Sarabeth MacAllister, Surgical RN."
"Sarabeth MacAllister." Pierce savored the sound of her name. "Red hair and a Southern accent. I love it!"
Inside pre-op, the stretcher was placed on a waiting table. Displaying the same reserved dignity, the surgeon who had helped MacAllister into the hospital, released her. "There you go, my dear."
He turned his attention to the wounded man as Captain Pierce joined them. "I need an arterial clamp. And some O- blood." Major Winchester issued his orders to a nurse waiting nearby.
Lieutenant MacAllister balanced on one leg and lifted her swollen foot off the floor. After the clamp was in place, she withdrew her hands and wiggled her fingers in relief. "Much better."
With a stumbling hop, the young woman eased out of the doctors' way. She resumed her explanation of field treatment. "The femoral artery was perforated by bullet shrapnel. It was severed completely during transport. I removed the damaged tissue and sutured. The proximal end didn't hold. But the leg is ready for a straight graft or a Butler's shunt---depending on the donor artery."
"Sounds like you know what you are talking about." Doctor Pierce told her.
"Yes, sir." She acknowledged.
"Unfortunately, we do not have a donor graft waiting." An older man remarked. He walked over to the table. "I'm Colonel Potter, commanding officer of this outfit. Lieutenant, that section of artery should not have been removed without one being available." He criticized her mildly.
"I have one, sir." MacAllister answered softly. "There's a man outside who didn't make it."
For a moment, all three men looked older. Then the senior officer nodded and said, "Right. Where's his CO?"
She looked over her shoulder. "He just came in. Lieutenant Cochlan."
"I'll talk to him." Colonel Potter moved towards the Australian officer.
"Charles, you get started. I'll bring the graft and assist you." Captain Pierce directed. "Margaret," he called, "I need a surgical tray."
"Coming, doctor." A nurse with blonde hair, and the cluster insignia of major on her collar, answered him.
"Finish here and move him into the OR." Major Winchester instructed a pre-op nurse. "Corpsman, help the lieutenant to a table. And," he added, "remove her sidearm." With a polite nod in her direction, the major turned and headed for the surgical scrub room. He paused inside the doorway to listen.
Hawkeye Pierce spun around. "You're carrying a pistol?!" He accused her angrily.
"Sorry, sir. I forgot I was wearing it." MacAllister unbuckled the gun belt and handed it to the medic. "It was a better alternative than having to chunk rocks at them." She was puzzled by Pierce's sudden outburst.
"Lieutenant, you are supposed to help heal their injuries---not cause them!" He snapped at her.
"The original bullets are still in it, sir." Her voice was neutral but she couldn't completely hide the anger in her eyes.
Doctor Pierce stalked away.
Doctor Winchester had a satisfied smirk on his face as he scrubbed for surgery.