Dr. Nicole Stevenson felt a rush of adrenaline surge through her blood as it did each time accident victims were rushed into the emergency room of St. James Hospital.
She met the intensity in Dr. Maureen Oliverio's eyes as the other woman hung up the phone. "The copter's here! Let's go, people!" The hastily grouped team of doctors and nurses responded. "The paramedics are bringing in the patient. You're on, Dr. Stevenson."
"What have we got?" Nicole asked.
Dr. Oliverio, a no-nonsense doctor, led the way through double doors. "Single-car accident up in Glacier Park, the patient's a woman in her late twenties, pregnant, at term. Fractures, internal damage, concussed, a real mess. Membranes have ruptured. We'll probably need to do a C-section because of her other injuries. While we're inside, we'll repair any other damage. Everybody with me? Dr. Stevenson's in charge until we send the patient to O.R."
Nicole caught the glances of the other doctors as they adjusted masks and gloves. It was her job to stabilize the patient before shipping her off to surgery.
The doors of the room flew open and a gurney, propelled by two paramedics, flew through the doors of the emergency room of St. James Hospital.
"What have we got here?" Nicole asked the nearest paramedic, a short red-faced man with clipped graying hair and a moustache. "What are her vital signs? What about the baby?"
"BP normal, one-ten over seventy-five, heart rate sixty-two but dropping slightly…" The paramedic rattled off the information he'd gathered and Nicole, listening, looked down at the patient, an unconscious woman whose face once probably beautiful was now bloody and already beginning to bruise. Her abdomen was distended, fluid from an IV flowed into her arm and her neck and head were braced. "…lacerations, abrasions, fractured skull, mandible and femur, possible internal bleeding."
"Let's get a fetal monitor here!" Nicole ordered as a nurse peeled off.
"On its way."
"Good." Nicole nodded. "Okay, okay, now, let's stabilize the mother."
"Has the husband been notified? Do we have a consent?" Dr. Oliverio asked.
"Don't know," a grim-faced paramedic replied. "The police are trying to locate her relatives. According to her ID, her name is Randi McCafferty and there's no indication of any allergies to meds on her driver's licence, no prescription drugs in her purse."
Oh, God! Nicole's heart nearly stopped. She froze. For a split second her concentration lapsed and she gave herself a quick mental shake. "Are you sure?" she asked the shorter of the two paramedics.
"Randi McCafferty," Dr. Oliverio repeated, sucking in her breath. "My daughter went to school with her. Her father's dead—J. Randall, important man around these parts at one time. Owned the Flying M Ranch about twenty miles out of town. Randi, here, has three half brothers."
And Thome's one of them, Nicole thought, her jaw tensing.
"What about the husband or boyfriend? The kid's got a father somewhere," Dr. Oliverio insisted.
"Don't know. Never heard of one."
"We'll figure out all that later," Nicole said, taking charge once more. "Right now, let's just concentrate on stabilizing her and the baby."
Dr. Oliverio nodded. "Let's get that fetal monitor on here!
"Got it," a nurse replied.
"BP's falling, Doctor—one hundred over sixty," a nurse said.
"Damn." Nicole's own heart began to pound. She wasn't going to lose this patient. Come on, Randi, she silently urged. Where's that good ol' McCafferty fight? Come on, come on! "Where's the anesthesiologist?" Nicole demanded.
"On his way."
"Who is he?"
"Brummel." Dr. Oliverio met Nicole's gaze. "A good man. He'll be here."
"The monitor's in place," a nurse said just as Dr. Brummel, a thin man in rimless glasses, pushed his way through the doors. "What have we got here?" he asked as he quickly scanned the patient.
"Woman. Unconscious. About to deliver. Single-car accident. No known allergies, no medical records, but we're checking," Nicole said. "She's got a skull fracture, multiple other fractures, pneumothorax—so she's already entubated. Her membranes have ruptured, the kid's on his way, and there might be more abdominal injuries."
"The mother's BP is stabilizing—one hundred and five over sixty," a nurse called, but Nicole didn't relax. Couldn't. In her estimation Randi McCafferty's life wasn't yet certain.
"Keep your eye on it. Now, what about the baby?" Nicole asked.
"We've got trouble here. The baby's in distress," Dr. Oliverio said, eyeing the readout of the fetal monitor. "Then let's get it out of there."
"I'll be ready in a minute," Dr. Brummel said from behind his mask as he adjusted the breathing tube. Satisfied, he glanced up at Nicole. "Let's go."
"We've got a neonatalogist standing by."
"Good." Nicole checked Randi's vital signs one last time. "Patient's stable." She glanced at the team, then met Dr. Oli-verio's eyes with her own. Randi McCafferty was in an uphill battle for her life. As was the baby. "All right, Doctors, the patients are all yours."
Thorne drove like a madman. He'd gotten the call from Slade less than three hours earlier that Randi was in a car accident in Glacier Park, here in Montana.