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"I can't wait, Jason," Willa Hayes yelled into the radio handset. "I've got a compound fractured femur here. I need a plane. Any plane."
Willa flashed an urgent palm at Tommy Inqulactiuk, who held two splints in place on either side of his uncle Joe's leg. Blood dripped steadily onto the floor and she prayed the splints would keep the broken bone stable enough to travel. The nearest hospital able to handle an emergency like this was a long ninety-minute flight away. She feared he'd bleed out before she got him there.
"The plane isn't the problem," Jason Reynolds replied, his voice distorted by the radio, as if he was yelling at her from the bottom of a deep well. "I've only got one pilot available. He's brand new and has never flown a MedEvac."
"I don't care if he's still got a price tag attached, I need a MedEvac now."
A long painful silence followed, broken only by the heavy breathing of her patient.
"Roger that, Med-One. ETA of your MedEvac is ten minutes."
Willa had to stop herself from sounding too relieved. "Thank you, Tundra Air. Med-One out." She dropped the handset, letting it dangle by its cord. "Tommy, can you shift this way a bit without moving Joe's leg?"
"Yes, ma'am," Tommy answered with a short nod, moving without letting go of the injured limb so she could squeeze around him. The gurney Joe lay on had been jammed between the room's bed and the counter, leaving her with less than a foot in which to maneuver.
She took several large pieces of gauze and layered them around, but not over, the tip of the bone protruding from her patient's thigh. Then, starting from his groin and working her way down, she wrapped a tensor bandage around his leg and the splints, carefully avoiding the jagged bone end.
"How are you doing, Joe?" Willa asked, giving him a sharp glance.
"Okay," the white-lipped Inuit hunter said, his eyes fixed on a spot on the ceiling above him.
She secured the end of the bandage then pressed down on the injured man's toenails, watching as the pale flesh beneath his nails returned to its normal warm pink. "His blood flow is okay and his leg's as stable as we're going to get it. Watch his breathing and keep an eye on his radial pulse for me, Tommy. I need to write everything down."
"Sure, Willa." He moved his fingers over Joe's ankle. "Pulse is good," he reported.
She stopped writing in her notebook for a second to smile reassuringly at both men. "Your uncle is going to be fine thanks to you. You did everything right. I'm looking forward to reporting this to Emergency Services."
His round face turning a dull red color, Tommy stared at the linoleum beneath his feet. "I just did what the first-aid instructor told me to do."
"Exactly. Good job."
Tommy shrugged then asked, "Do breaks like this usually bleed so much?"
"No, but a compound fracture, especially one involving the leg, can be dangerous. That's why I want Joe flown to a fully equipped hospital as soon as possible. They'll be able to set his leg, repair any damage to the muscle and transfuse him with blood if he needs it."
"The pain isn't that bad," Joe said, the pinched look on his face refuting his words. "Don't waste a plane ride on me."
Willa put her hand on his shoulder. "Your leg needs to be set properly, Joe. It'll require surgery."
Joe and Tommy snorted in unison.
She stared at them then rolled her eyes and muttered, "Men. Why do I bother stocking morphine? I haven't had to use it once in the last six months."
"Pain tells me I'm alive," Joe said. "If I didn't feel pain right now I'd be worried."