At touchdown, Kristine performed the three step sequence that opened the sealed door, three steps that could be performed quickly if needed but that would not occur by accident.
Below them a small group of construction workers clustered around an inflated emergency sack.
"All set, Kris," John said behind her.
Kristine turned and saw that he had freed one of the stretchers from its wall mount. "Right," she said and clasped hold of the hand bar at her end.
Together, she and John wrestled the stretcher down the ladder. Its oversized wheels bobbed easily over the lunar dust.
"Here he is, Doctor," one of the construction workers said.
Kristine grimaced at that. No matter how many times she had tried to explain to these people, they insisted on calling her "doctor." She was not a doctor; she was an EMT.
"Make room," she said to the assembled construction workers as she wheeled the stretcher alongside the injured man.
"OK, John," she said. "Into the stretcher."
He nodded. Working together, they popped open the latches for the stretcher lid.
The stretcher was specially designed for work in vacuum. It consisted of a tempered glass tube, hinged on one side and latched on the other. Rescue workers could place person into it and bring him under pressure far faster than they could move him into the ambulance. To allow workers to treat a patient, a number of gloves of jointed metal plates protruded inward from the wall. The interior of the stretcher was already equipped with the most commonly needed supplies. An airlock at the head could allow workers to pass others inside.
With the stretcher open, Kristine knelt at the head of the injured man so that he was between her and the stretcher. John knelt just below his hips. Kristine placed her right arm where the man's helmet showed through the transparent material of the emergency sack and, with her other, reached across under his waist until her hand extended beyond. John placed his left under the man's knees and with his right grasped Kristine's extended left hand.
"On three," Kristine said. "One...two...three."
At "three" they lifted together and gently set the injured man into the stretcher. Still working as one, they slapped the lid shut and fastened the latches.
"Check or move?" John asked.
"He going to be all right?" one of the others asked.
Kristine looked up. The others had gathered around again.
"Get back," she said, waving them away. To John, she said, "Check. I don't like the look of him. That's an awful lot of blood."
John nodded. "Gotcha." He stuck his hands into the glove set at the foot of the stretcher and took the ripper from its bracket. Using the specially designed power tool, John trading off with Kristine when he reached the limit of reach of a particular set of gloves, the two of them quickly sliced open the emergency sack. The suit went next, exposing the body of the injured man.
"He's still bleeding," John said as the injured leg came into view.
"Get pressure on the wound," Kristine said. "I'll check the vitals."
Fumbling in the gloves, John managed to grab a gauze pad from the storage bin and pressed it against the man's torn thigh. It took both hands to cover the wound.
Kristine wrapped the blood pressure cuff around the man's left arm. She hit the switch to start taking readings while she strapped the O2 mask over his face.
"Pulse 125," she read, "BP 80 over 30. Respiration fast and shallow."
"Shit," John said. "He's going into shock."
Available from Amazon or Smashwords.