"...Lieutenant, I don't understand why you're so opposed to this schedule. It is an excellent one." Colonel Blankenship stated.
"You're right, Colonel. It is a good schedule. If I were in a large hospital with a full complement of nurses. But it will not work in a M*A*S*H unit." Lieutenant MacAllister explained while she carried a stack of surgical gowns into the changing area. The Medical Supervisory nurse followed her.
"You are stepping very close to insubordination, Lieutenant."
"I apologize, ma'am. I'm really not trying to be insubordinate." Sarabeth set the gowns on the shelf. She faced the older woman. "Here at the 4077th, we just don't have enough personnel for everyone to have only one assignment. When the ambulances and choppers arrive, everyone has to pitch in and perform different functions."
"I'm positive it will work at this M*A*S*H. And I want it implemented, today."
"Ma'am, even if I were convinced that your system would work here, I would not implement it---not right now. Not when I have an overwhelming number of injured men coming in an hour or so. As my grandfather says: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And this M*A*S*H ain't broke."
"I can have you court-martialed for this." The colonel warned.
"Yes, ma'am, you can." MacAllister agreed. "But I have to put the care of the wounded above any other consideration. Watch us in action, Colonel. If, after this OR session is over, you still feel that your system is the best choice for this unit, I will initiate your schedule, immediately. And, I will personally bring the court-martial papers for you to sign."
"You can bet I'll be watching you, Lieutenant."
When the vehicles carrying the injured soldiers arrived at the medical unit, Colonel Blankenship watched as the camp personnel turned out for triage. She watched as some of them headed for the helicopter landing pads and some of them worked with the men being unloaded in the compound.
She watched as surgeons, deciding certain patients couldn't wait for the assessment of the others, headed for the scrub room. She saw their surgical teams follow them into the hospital. And she saw how others took over the triage duties.
The colonel watched as nurses and corpsmen prepared the patients for surgery.
Inside the operating room, she watched as the anesthetists became ward nurses when additional post-ops were opened. Medics quickly took their places. Surgical nurses stood in for surgeons when too many cases were critical. Assistant cooks became instrument handlers. The camp priest, the company clerk and the rest of the enlisted men became litter carriers. Even the colonel from the Army Medical Supervisory Board was asked to take the job of rover.
She watched as the OR session lasted for nearly 37 hours without stopping. And, through it all, Blankenship observed how the people worked together to do what had to be done.