A lecture by Dr Caitlin "Dark Angel" Tremaine to new operatives
You've completed training. Congratulations. You reckon you know all about fighting, flying and fixing the wounded. You're wrong. There are things about working on a Trauma Team that only experience can teach you - but chances are, experience won't leave you alive to work out where you went wrong. Which is where I come in.
I've been with the Team for twenty years, ever since I got my doctor's ticket back in California. I've been on active duty all that time, except for leave. My unit, Team Nighthawk, has a career-average recovery rate of 98%. So I reckon I know a few things you might find useful.
Patrolling is like the old line about submarine warfare - the hours of boredom and seconds of sheer terror. You have to be ready to key in that high alert state on a few seconds' notice. Find your own way of handling this - Borg, my regular solo, spends most of his working day asleep, but he can ramp up to full boost in less than a second. Useful.
And a note for the pilot: just because you're not on an active job, that doesn't mean you can get away with relaxing. An AV is a conspicuous target, and there are enough war-surplus SAMs out there that you don't want to get lazy.
Let's deal with the standard call-out first. When you get the call, remember the clock is running. With the number of cards we've got out there, they don't transmit unless the heart or brain is flatlined. You have maybe six minutes, if you're lucky, to get the stiff stabilised. So you start work before you reach the site. We usually hit max ECM around a mile out, then do an initial pass maybe fifteen feet off the deck to evaluate the LZ. Chances are, there's a fight going on. Remember, your job is to get the patient, not to finish the fight - it just makes life easier.
Anyone pointing a weapon at your AV is fair game. We used to rack some AP flechette grenades, great for cooling off a hot LZ, but with the amount of armour people are carrying now it's worth starting with 7.62 and working up. Nighthawk has a six-pac minigun in the right door, but it all depends on your own style.
So there's nobody shooting at you. That doesn't mean it's safe. One solo and the paramed should drop to the patient, then the AV should keep moving around ten feet up, ready with suppressive fire. Once the stiff's in the cocoon, fix him on the winch and head up. Clear the LZ quickly and head for base.
Now it's the doctor's turn. Remember your first priority is stabilisation. You'll have your gear laid out in advance, so get straight to it. If you can't stabilise in a minute or so, go with the nitrogen flush and keep the stiff on ice until you hit base.
Maybe 10% of the calls you get won't be like this. Celebrity ODs are fairly common, and easily fixed - but if you go for the GI flush, try to get 'em off camera first. Then you get the conscious callers, usually in a fight. Make sure they can pay - most of them have enough cyberware that you can take it in lieu. I give 40% standard value, but some people reckon I'm too generous.
Sometimes you'll get a really dubious call. Nighthawk had one from the roof helipad of the Arasaka Tower. Now, the Arasaka med facility is one of the five best in the city, so we figured there was something fairly iffy going down. Our pilot, Shadow, has boosted up our ECM, so we went in unpowered from five thousand feet. Pulled out at two and a half thou and skimmed the pad at maybe point sixty-four Mach. Serious firefight going on down there - twenty, maybe thirty Boys in Black with assault rifles against ten guys in sneaksuits with SMGs, and the sneaksuiters were getting the worst of it.
Well, it was obviously time to get serious. I dismounted the six-pac and racked a cold-gas HEAT launcher, war-surplus from Europe. Hosed down that pad real good, I can tell you. Shadow was weaving like there was no tomorrow, and we were still taking a few rounds from the air defences, but the missiles couldn't lock us up.
Didn't seem worth trying to land, so Maksim tagged the body with a sticky grapnel. The rest of the guys in sneaksuits wanted up too, but hey - they weren't insured, right?
Guy took two weeks to recover. Sole survivor of the mission. Didn't even thank us.
We all know it happens, but nobody likes to talk about it. Chances are, you'll be going up against another AV and team as well-equipped as you. So you'll have to rely on speed and tactics.
Standard procedure allows a rival unit to remove a patient "if continued recovery attempts would put the patient's life further at risk". That doesn't mean you'll be popular when you come back to base. In practice, your best bet is to shove an RPG into their AV while the recovery team's down - a lot of them make the mistake of hovering the AV in one place, or even landing.
As for doing it yourself: I don't, and I never have, and I've never come under pressure to do it. Our recovery rate is good enough without going out and looking for trouble.
Now down to team specifics. The pilot and co-pilot have to be rigged these days, though when I started we still had a few virgins. Pilot takes the main turret, co-pilot any remotes. If you can afford them, recon drones are a nice extra.
Trauma Team security is about speed. The medtech's going to be on the ground for maybe fifteen seconds max, and you've got to make sure he's safe for that time. Area weapons are nice if you can avoid the patient. HMGs and mounted flamethrowers are popular right now. Have a 4-pod rocket handy for the hard cases. Boosted reflexes, as good as you can afford, and perceptive enhancers too.
You won't have time to fight, but a pistol's always nice. Body-mounted independent weapons can be useful too. Wear heavy armour with lots of pockets for trauma drugs.
When you entered training, there were six times as many of you as there are now. Around 20% of you will die each year you're on the job. The few who make it - you'll be in my place, twenty years from now. All the perks, hot and cold running luxuries... so why do I stay on duty? It's the thrill, my friends. It gets into your blood. I wish you the best of luck.
Pilot: Sarah "Shadow" Bentley
Co-pilot: John "Wirehead" Spruance
Security: Alex "Borguignonne" Wyndham
Doctor: Caitlin "Dark Angel" Tremaine
Medtech: Maksim "Lazarus" Il'ych Zhalov