The Night Shift / by Justin Merriman

Allegheny General Hospital's Angela Kost, left, a registered nurse, takes a call about a patient as she discusses the situation with Dr. Alex Britt, center, and Dr. Steve Perry, right, in the hospital's emergency department on Friday night, December 6, 2013.
 Jaime Bednarz, a registered nurse, at Allegheny General Hospital holds a patients hand while he's examined for chest pains.
 Dr. Jennifer Nelson prepares for the arrival of trauma patient, an 85-year-old woman who fell and is suffering from internal bleeding.
 Surgical tools sits in a pan after being used on a trauma patient in the emergency department.
 Dr. Jennifer Nelson, left, looks over a chest tube that she placed in an 85-year-old trauma patient.
Diana Novakovic, an advanced life support technician, works in the emergency room as a patient is treated.
The aftermath of a trauma room in Allegheny General Hospital's emergency department.  

On a winter night, the streets stretch empty and white from falling snow outside Allegheny General Hospital in the North Side. Few people inside the hospital’s emergency department notice the weather, or the time. A shift change from day to night happens seamlessly. A center office area is the hub of activity for the North Team Station, manned by doctors and nurses who fill the moments between trauma calls with computer and phone work. Even on the quietest of nights, they have work to do. As evening turns to morning, rooms fill and empty with patients: transfers from other hospitals, several people who fell, a homeless man with chest pains, and even a young man hurt while riding a bull. The most seriously injured person arrives around 4 a.m. — a woman, 85, whose lung collapsed when she fell. Blood is filling her chest. Doctors, nurses and other staffers in blue gowns and caps crowd into her room, white masks covering their mouths and noses so that only their eyes reveal the intensity of their work. They huddle beneath a glaringly bright overhead light, each practicing a craft, moving fluidly, with a singular goal of saving her life. 
On this night, they succeed.