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Excerpt from the Book
No screaming siren announced the arrival of the ambulance turning into the emergency bay. Flashing lights and squalling sirens were both discouraged
in this quiet, residential neighborhood, bordering the Palmer Hospital.
It was one of those high- summer days, where when the sky was a
periwinkle blue, airbrushed to perfection. Towering, snow-topped mountains
were the dramatic backdrop for the foregrounds’ flat farm fields.
With daily dignity, the kingly throne of mountains surrounded, protected,
and dwarfed the little speck of a town. Palmer sat safe, calm and historic
in the heart of Alaska’s South-central agricultural valley.
Frequently, various medical personnel and hospital patients gazed out
the hospital windows to inspect the clear June afternoon and the mountains.
The projecting peaks were close enough to study, yet distant enough not to
intrude. Solid mountains were always a hypnotic backdrop to any human
During one of these habitual “weather checks,” Gaynor Higgins, a
medical lab technician, noted the speedy but silent arrival of the ambulance.
She consulted her watch. It was a quarter to five; her shift was
The sun’s heat shimmied through the glass window. Inside the cool
lab, Gaynor felt the tiny hairs on her forearms stand tall. She briskly
rubbed her arms while she watched the EMT rescue driver skillfully
maneuver the boxy, white-and-blue truck beside the emergency-room
With precise and practiced timing, another EMT swung open the
ambulance’s rear doors and leapt out. Despite the quiet and routine arrival,
it appeared this transport was in trouble.