I pin an ID badge to my scrubs. Porters are racing into the outpatients’ area. Each pushes or pulls a trolley laden with equipment. Quickly the department turns into an extra accident and emergency unit.
I note where the IVs are being stored, the dressing packs, where the blood fridge is being plugged in.
Varij is throwing plastic sheeting over empty trolleys and covering pillows. She’s hardly had time to sort her long black hair; strands hang across her beautiful brown face and neck. The cap sits askew.
A nursing officer herds more staff nurses and students in.
Students! Shit, things must be desperate.
She points to me and Varij. “You two, main entrance: triage. Take headsets. We have two surgeons, Harris and Anders, scrubbed up and ready. Three more coming shortly. I’ll see if I can dig up a houseman to help you. I’ll send a couple of students to assist you with dressings. You’ll have these porters ready and waiting on your every word.”
I load a trolley with dressing packs, IVs and plasma expanders.
Varij throws me boxes of vinyl gloves, surgical masks, and grabs IV supports to fix to trolleys.
We get to the entrance. An armoured personnel carrier pulls up and soldiers burst out before the tracks have stopped screeching on Tarmac. The corporal calls to Varij as he runs towards us. “Nurse, where do you want my squad?”
“Here by the entrance. Disarm people as they arrive.”
Varij and I look at each other over a trolley. This is going to be a night of hell. She smiles: confident, strong.
Sirens in the distance, racing closer. I tuck a lock of her hair under the cap. I can’t help myself.
We’ve coped with so much shit together, though maybe not as bad as expected tonight.
To know someone upon whom you can rely completely, who can deal with anything life can throw at her… Assertive, caring, gentle… What a partner she would make … what a mother…
“Varij, if we get through this night I’m going to marry you – no arguments.”
I get a smile and a wink. Now we’re lit up by the splash of flashing red and blue lights. Two soldiers approach the first ambulance as its doors are thrown open.
©Gary Bonn 2016