"Any head involvement or other trauma?" Kel said, glancing at|
the child's face and nose around the
ambu's mask looking
for swelling and redness under the ashy soot he saw there.
"None. We all
saw her just pass out slowly onto a metal walkway."
Roy answered for Dwyer.
"What kind of fire
was she in, Roy?" the dark haired doctor said,
holding the door to Treatment Three open as orderlies
maneuvered both Gage and Megan's beds into the same
"In a clean flaming one,
burning explosives. We found her
amid complete incendiaries and others that were unassembled
labs, from what I saw. Doc, I wouldn't doubt those scientists
had all the usual chemical building
blocks necessary to make an
entire military arsenal. A real toxic soup. You should see our hats,doc.
That smoke turned our helmet numbers green." DeSoto said
"Really? Green's a good
color.." Gage piped up.
"Shh..." Dwyer hissed at Johnny. "Let them work or
do I have to come
over there with a bite stick." he warned
Brackett and DeSoto never even heard the
on behind them. Roy went on with more information.
"She was inside for about twenty
minutes, near the
ceiling of a warehouse on a catwalk."
Kel rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
"Hmm, bound to be a lot of nitrates and cyanide created
in that kind of blaze if I picked up any
kind of hazmat
know how from listening to you fellas all the time."
"That's a sure bet." Gage
coughed from his gurney.
Dr. Brackett regarded his tiny patient steadily|
as he unbound Megan's cushioning C-collar and listened
around her oral airway for breath and lung sounds. "No rhonci or
rales yet. But I'm hearing a
bit of bronchiospasm on the
left side. Roy, Stan, do I have parental consent to treat this
I didn't see anyone here with you guys in the hallway."
"You do." Roy said. "We got it verbally
at the fire.
The father's on his way in on another ambulance for mild smoke
Miller specifically told us to tell you to go
ahead with Megan's treatment sight unseen. And Vince
witnessed that statement being given first hand."
Kelly Brackett smiled crookedly. "Wouldn't
nice if all future parental care authorizations can go as smoothly
as this one has?" he quipped
"Dix, draw blood on her for an ABG, have the lab run
a full creatinine series with
a BUN. Also electrolytes.
Tell them to also check for elevated HbCO and CN levels as well.
you're done, run a nebulizer to that ventilator you're setting up
and give her 2.5 mg of .5% solution
Albuterol in a 2.5 ml saline push.
I want to get her lung perfusion a little higher than what we're
manually. I'm not satisfied her capillary refill's being truthful here.
Keep the bird's
vents on the low end. I don't want atelectasis setting
in on top of her other problems."
away, Kel." Dixie replied.
"And have the pharmacy prepare a peds dose of Sodium Nitrite
I want to chase some of that cyanide out of her
blood before any rhabdomyolysis gets a foothold.
schedule a session in our hyperbaric chamber. She'll
only blow out all her hemoglobin bound
carbon monoxide faster
that way I think. Anything to shorten the CO's half life inside
But first, let's see how she's managing."
Dr. Brackett glanced at Dwyer.
"Get her patched in, Stan.
I wanna see that tachycardia written out now."
Stan nodded and efficiently
got a two lead EKG connected
to the comatose child.
Everyone in the room held their breaths
while Brackett read
the strip that was whistling audible warbles into the bustling
got a stable rhythm. I think I like it all things
considering. Gage, how are you doing?" Kel asked
of his second patient, without looking up.
"*Cough!* Nothing that an ice pack for my nosebleed
You concentrate on that little girl there first." Johnny complained.
"He was out for a while doc.." Roy said rolling his eyes, refusing
to play coverup.
Johnny shot Roy a betrayed hurt look laced with a seething anger
that Gage immediately broke off
when Kel moved over to his
bed to begin his examination. "Uh huh".. Brackett said, looking
Johnny's nose and eyes with a penlight. "Dix. Call X-ray...."
he said, placing an ice bag over Johnny's
Roy interrupted,.." ..for a chest film on Megan and a full skull series|
on Johnny." At Brackett's
and Dixie's surprised looks, he blushed
and said, "I - I already told them on the way in here.."
gestured at the door. "I had nothing better to do so I anticipated
a few things."
scowled, sourly cross. "Crazy paramedics think they
can practice medicine without a license behind
physician's back." His harsh frown fell away into a mischievious
wink. "Good call,
Roy. Exactly what I would've done. Did you also
draw up a syringe of 1 ml succinylcholine in case
we have to paralyze
Megan here for an endotracheal intubation if she loses any more
Roy held up his left hand from its needle guarded position
next to Dixie's shoulder a little higher,
complete with alcohol
soaked cotton ball folded under a pinkie.
Kel chortled and began laughing.
"G*d I love the paramedic program. Why did I ever think
that it wouldn't work, Miss McCall?" he sighed
"Because you were stubborn, opinionated and slow to change
at the time, Doctor
Brackett." Nurse Dixie said evenly.
"Took everything I had to bring you around.."
cleared his throat. "Ehem.. well.."
getting suddenly uncomfortable. "I didn't
think the men could
handle what a doctor
could do then, Dix. I'll be frank about that.
It took that miracle, and you,
to convince me
to speak in committee to reverse my mindset
Gage's mouth flopped
open. "Is that true, doc? You
voted against us in the beginning?" he said, pushing
and penlight away. "I hadn't heard anything
about that at all." he said incredulously. "Man, what
were you thinking? Roy and I were sticking our
legal necks out for you in the field, pulling nurses
from under falling cars,... and defibrillating with experimental
equipment in mud raining tunnels,..
and -and you had
the gall to think we were out of our scope doing
what you sent us out there to
do all along?"
"Gage! Hush or I'll order an arterial blood gas on you, too."
sternly in an attempt to be funny. It failed
Johnny quieted down instantly.
"Now, where was I?" he demanded of Gage.
Johnny just gaped like a fish, cowed, thinking
of even opening his mouth.
Roy licked his lips, suffering pangs for Johnny's trapped
"Secondary assessment, doc."
"Oh yeah.. that's right. Does this hurt?" Kel said
in a countering move. He began
probing Johnny's ribs firmly with both hands, knowing
that it would
fiercely tickle the ticklish young paramedic
where he couldn't stop him because of the long board's
complete arm and leg immobilization ability.
"Nope.." Johnny squeaked five octaves higher than
normal around his oxygen mask.
"Well, how about here, down a little lower?" Kel asked
to quadrant check Johnny's belly with air
wriggling fingers hovering inches away from their target,
his eyes flashing dangerously amused.
he chipmunked chirped, making a face of unhappy
Dixie laughed in her throat.
"Nothing can torment a patient
more than ten fingers fully versed on the human nervous
Leave off, Kel. The first amendment's still honored
in this country or have you forgotten about it
in your old age."
"I'm not old! But I will admit to being an expert. " Brackett
to move out of the way of the
X-ray people. "And experts deserve a little privacy.
what I might have thought in the past about a
certain brand new county program beginning with a "p"
ending in with a "c" five years ago. Do I make myself clear?"
he said to the only one wearing
a white skirt in the room.
Dixie nodded in grudging agreement. "Ok, you win.
she added under her breath. "But what
happened back then is all moot anyway. Don't be
so sore about
it. Roy proves his worth every day.
So does Johnny. You just celebrated an example
of it a few
Brackett pretended he didn't hear his head nurse at
all and he let his good natured
smile fully return.
"Gage, I'll be merciful this time." Kel said rapping a
knuckle on johnny's
chest strap buckle. "I'm gonna take an
action that might make those inappropriate verbal comments
I'm hearing from the peanut gallery go away. I have a new
theory developing right now that spineboard
with blood flow to the brain in people not needing neck and back
So I'm gonna have the orderlies spring you from
this contraption right now right after the Xray technicians
chest and head films on both you and the girl.."
Johnny sighed in relief...
after their one hour lunch break of course.."
Gage's eyes widened in immediate dismay.
"I'm just kidding, Johnny. Really. That was a little bedside humor
working there. Dixie
keeps telling me to practice improving
upon it all the time. So I just did. Dwyer. Free him while
up here on our favorite hose jockey.." Brackett winked. " And Dix,
see what you can
do to get these two upstairs. We've a full
waiting room outside."
McCall nodded. "I think
I can pull off another miracle, Kel.
Unlike changing the mind of a doctor, that's gonna be
little bedside humor..:: Gage thought morosely of
his very active companion in the darkened bed next
him. ::There can be too much of a good thing. :: And he
gave out a long sigh while he endured
of chatter from his tiny, now familiar roommate.
::Why did I have to be transferred
to pediatrics?:: he
thought fervently shifting onto his side, pulling a pillow
over his face to
shut out Megan's non stop singing
"And those jokes..." Johnny moaned as a crack
the doorway to his room opened, admitting Dixie
"What about those jokes.. I happen
to like them.."
she purred, walking nearer to their beds with a silver
tray that contained a few
things. "So be nice, ok?"
she addressed Johnny. "I traded a few minutes with
Cheryl so I could
check up on you two.. Hiya Megan.
Feeling a bit better?"
"Oh, yes maam.." Megan said brightly.
left and look what he left me! More coloring books!"
she displayed her stack, thunking
them noisely down
onto her bedside tray where she began to scribble
vigorously on the first of
them with a well used green pen.
Johnny pulled the blanket down from around his head
"Really, coloring books? I don't suppose you'd
like to share.." he mumbled. "I'd give anything to
something else around here besides watching the late show."
he said dryly.
piped up. "Lady, you can give the fire
man that one with the trucks. That's boy's stuff."
raised her eyebrows in an "isn't that something"
look of her tiny new friend and she handed over the
book to Gage with a tiny bow.
Gage glanced over at Megan. "Hey.. Psst.."
up from the horse she was coloring
so carefully with her ink pen. "What?"
"Am I supposed to
color here with my fingers?"
Johnny said crankily. He didn't care that Dixie
was asking him non
verbally to distract Megan
away from another blood sample syringe
she was preparing for the child.
Megan just sighed and ignored him.
Gage sighed a likewise sigh and snaked out
a hand and
grabbed out the green pen from
in between the child's fingers. "Thanks, kid."
"That's MY pen."
"So?" Gage guffawed. "I happen to really like green.
favorite color. Gotta problem with that?"
"Yeah. I had it first."|
"Yeah, well I'm bigger so live with it."
Dixie fired a glare at
Johnny for not helping
build a feeling of good will in advance with Megan
to aid her cause but
immediately turned all soft
and bubbly when the girl glanced up at her.
"Lady, tell the rude
fire man it's not nice to grab."
"Mister Gage. " Dixie said. "Our little gal
absolutely in the right." she said pleasantly.
"Now give it back.." she said heavily dark while
"Oh, all right.. Here. But I doubt you're gonna
wanna hold that once she's through
"When who's through with me?"
Dixie's looks could have killed Johnny, but
had the sense to not tempt "medusa's"
gaze. "Me, I'm afraid, honey. Mister Gage told
there. ...If a bit bluntly.." she hissed under
her breath at the gowned paramedic. "I have
a sample for the lab Megan."
Megan squealed and ran to Gage's bed and
kneeled on his pillow,
grabbing his head in a death's
grip while she put him between herself and the needle
nurse. Johnny barely grabbed her IV stand
to keep it from pulling the Ringer's line out of her arm.
"Oh come now, Megan, it's not going to be that bad.
I happen to be very good at this. Now which
arm do you want your shot in?"
"Yours..!" Megan insisted, pointing at Dixie.
out laughing. "That is a viable option, Dix."
"Oh, stop.." Dixie half frowned and grinned.
Johnny wrapped his arms around Megan and brushed
her blond hair out of her eyes, "No chance of
a red top out of her IV?"
"Nope. We need another ABG."
"Ooooo." Gage said softly, pulling
until she sat on the bed next to him. Then he took
a breath and said. "Tell you what?
You let Dixie get
that sample and I'll teach you some jokes that you
can tell all of your friends
when you get out of here,
ok? Do we have a deal?"
Megan grunted in protesting dismay only
then her older personality began to reassert itself.
"I guess. Daddy's always said it
takes some hurt
to feel better about things sometimes."
"Good girl." Dixie said. "Now park
it over here."
The head nurse said, tapping on Megan's blankets.
"Mister Gage can hold your hand
while I'm doing
this if you'd like. He's a paramedic and he sees
lab samples drawn by me all the
time. He knows how
to get little girls through so they don't feel much."
"Ok. He can come over.."
Megan whispered tearfully, turning her head away
so she couldn't
see anything while she placed her
left arm onto her bed stand tray.
Gage drew himself around
Megan in a bearhug.
"Hi... Guess what Megan?"
"What?" she sniffed, breathing in tight sobs.
"The snuggle monster's here."
"W-What does he do?"
"This.." and Gage snatched her wrist
up to his lips and
farted a noise from his mouth loudly against her skin.
Megan laughed in
squeaky birdlike mirth, showing a gap
tooth in front.
"And you know what else?"
face shifted and fell from fear of Dixie's syringe to laughing
hide and seek anticipation of Gage's next trick
again, but nodded, unable to speak.
"Why did the chicken cross the road?" Gage asked.
Megan rolled her eyes nervously and sniffed.
"That one's dumb. To get to the other side."
"Oh yeah, are you calling my funnies stupid?"
Megan giggled... a little.
"Ok, answer me
"Shhh, Dixie's almost through, hon, then we can play all night..
Why did the chicken cross the basketball court ?"
Megan stiffened but Johnny held her arm
still so she
wouldn't move it dangerously. "Ow. Ow..! It hurts."
"Why did the chicken cross the basketball court, Megan?"|
Johnny said a little more insistently but
bright. "Come on, think about it.."
"I don't know. Ow..! Take it out, Dixie.
want to give a blood sample. I changed my mind..!"
Gage said,.. "Because he heard the
referee calling out
Megan's cry of panicky pain fell into one of hysterical
and she started giggling. "Where did you
hear that one?"
"From Chet Kelly. He's the bully
in my stationhouse.
I- I mean, he's a bully but he's also my friend. In a good
"ok,comeonMegan.Youtellmeone, ok?" Gage whispered
in encouragement as Dixie found the artery at
"Okkayy..ouchie! W- Why did the chicken cross the
road, roll in the mud and cross the
road again ?"
"I don't know. Why?"
Megan tipped her head back gasping and laughing
to be brave while Dixie completed her blood
tapping. "Because he was a dirty double-crosser!"
Dixie chortled at that one. "That's new. Tell us
another joke, Megan. The vial's almost full."
"Yes, *sniff* yes maam.. aghHH ! *sob*Why didn't
t-the chicken skeleton cross the road ?"
give up, Megan.." Johnny said, holding
her arm and head still.
"Because he didn't have enough
yelled. "Is it over yet?" she sobbed.
"Almost there.." Dixie said.
joke Megan, tell us just
one more. Then we can color some, ok?"
Johnny said seeing Dixie working
"Mister G-Gage." Megan said not looking
at her arm nor the needle there.
"Why did the turtle cross the r-road ?" Megan
That stymied both nurse
Even long after the cotton was pressed
down and a Scooby Doo bandaid was stuck
Megan sighed a deep sigh and coughed
hoarsely, sinking back into her pillow.
"Give up you guys?"
"Yeah.." Johnny said with frustration,
scratching his head.
get to the Shell station..." Megan said
matter of factly, grabbing for her coloring book
green pen Johnny was too slow to
think to claim.
Dixie's laughter echoed down the hall as
padded away. "Megan, I promise my
next visit will have no needles."
Gage still didn't get it.
"I got another joke that might be good for
you to tell to your friend Chet, Mister Gage."
said industriously coloring the grass
around her horse.
"Oh? ...what's that?"
2 0 is on the inside of a fire hydrant, what
is on the outside?"
"I give up.."
"Oh, Megan.. That's gross. " Gage said laughing.
"But it's true. Dogs like hydrants."|
Johnny grimaced and got off Megan's bed
into his own, pulling back the covers.
"You don't gross out much at icky stuff or that kind of
"Mister Gage. I got three brothers at home." Megan said
in a no nonsense duhhh tone.
"Oh, uh, ok, then I'll tell you one Chet told me the other
"Ok,.. shoot.. Just make
sure it isn't a shot." Megan quipped.
"Deal.. Ok, here goes. Last week, firemen rescued a
who was badly injured in a car accident.
The entire left half of his body was torn off. He was
to the hospital and examined.... Ready for the
Megan's mouth was hanging open
and she was
grinning ear to ear. She nodded eagerly,
thoroughly cute faced. "What happened to
"Oh,.. nothing much, really. The doctors said he
was all right and the nurses said
there wasn't ..much
Megan's squeal of delight caused more than a few
heads in the
hallway to look up from the pediatric
From : Cory Anda <firstname.lastname@example.org>
: Thursday, December 18, 2003 8:35 PM
Subject : Bonds and Brice and Everything Not Nice...
Mike Stoker pulled E 51 neatly back into her place
in the station vehicle bay and distastefully peeled
out of his
smoky jacket and helmet. He didn't head for the kitchen
and the warming promise of
the coffee pot. Instead, he
headed for the showers. "Man, I stink. Remind me never to
to coordinate a basket rescue, Cap. I swear the
sulfur fumes dyed my hair funny colors." Mike sighed,
coughing as he slammed the driver's door shut. He began
looking at his head and combing through
with fussy fingers using the spot mirror.
"I know it did mine. The curl's gone out
of it, too,
and my mustache feels awfully slimy." Chet moaned.
Lopez didn't need any prompting
to start washing down
all the turnouts and air bottles free of the chemical stains
them from the warehouse fire.
"It was bad." Hank laughed good naturedly as every
one else followed
Stoker's good idea to get into the showers to
clean up. " Mike, your air bottle was stained greenish
olive. Didn't you notice it?..."
"No." he chuckled. "I guess I was too happy that we got
kid out." Stoker craned a neck around the corner of
the hall into the bay to see the bottle Marco
was spraying off
in the back yard. The Latin American fireman was holding
Boot away at leg's
length with a shoe to keep him from
drinking the chemical filled runoff trailing down the sidewalk
to the parking lot drain.
"Hey Marco. Let me see it!" Stoker shouted.|
Lopez looked up from his liberal garden hosing and
up the offending apparatus gingerly, showing it off like a
fisherman's trophy. "Nothing like
caustic smoke for a change
in wardrobe." Then he faked a French fashion designer's
humble audience, let me introduce you to ..
the new mossy chartreuse shade of SCBA tank, sure to
allow perfect camouflage in all kinds of daytime and nightime
brush fires with the least amount of
eye clashing distrac--"
"Lopez..." shotgunned a voice of authority.
"Yeah, Cap?" Lopez
sputtered, thrown off his joking tirade.
"Can it and let's get presentable. You're to have the
chow on before
DeSoto gets back. He's gonna hate the fact that Brice is filling
in for the rest
of Gage's night shift. I want us all defumagated
for supper or at least in time before our next rescue
call so speed
it up a little. You got five minutes to finish the wash. Comprende?"
Listen Cap, is that little girl gonna make it?"
"Roy said she was breathing ok, only needing help
a lightly used ambu, when he left in the rig. Gage was
doing fine, too, with no real signs
of serious concussion
cropping up at all, he said."
"What's for dinner
by the way?" Cap said, shooing the
giggling others into the locker room with get a move on
"Sounds delicious. I'm sure Craig will enjoy those
too, once he gets
here from 10's." Cap's toothy grin
disappeared in the darkness.
Marco grumbled as he hung the
jacket on its hook to drain. "Double chore duty..
It's not fair. I get fire cleanup
and KP detail just because
Gage gets himself winged enough to be declared
unfit for duty. My turn
was supposed to rotate in NEXT week
for cooking.." he mumbled to Boot who was eyeing
trickling down the sewer grill in the pavement.
The shaggy mutt began tilting his head at the funny
noises cascading upwards from far below.
Boot whined and sat down in sympathy at
"Yeah, I know how you feel.." Marco sighed.
"Craig..!" Cap beamed, rising in his chair to greet Johnny's|
the gang rose in their seats, too, as Craig Brice walked
through the kitchen door, each nodding greetings
and handing over
a plateful of chow or offering a coffee mug.
"Thanks, but no thanks. I've
already eaten. Meyers chili is quite
sufficient for good nourishment. And I've had plenty.." Brice
drawly and smoothing down his spotless shirt over
his non existent paunch. "But I will take
you up on your offer of
coffee. We've had quite a night."
"So have we.." Marco moaned. "An
explosives factory fire."
Brice nodded. "I heard your run toned out. Then later, I heard
Code I over the radio..." Craig set down his mug
without drinking from it and asked. "I know it's
to divulge information about patient conditions.." Craig
broke off, trying
another way to express himself and what
he wanted to know.."But we got a fire of our own before I
any news about Gage."
Chet couldn't resist. "Brice.. You? Seeking to bend the regulations?
Now this is very interesting.." he said rubbing his squeaky clean
mustache. "I never would've dreamed
that you even cared about
Johnny in the slightest.."
"Why wouldn't I inquire about a colleague's
health? I'm only asking
out of professional courtesy.." Brice shrugged, nonplussed. "So
I ask again,
if I may, Captain. How is Mr. Gage doing?"
The others moused down with amused grins when Cap hesitated
on his reply.
"Maybe I can answer that.." Roy said from the doorway, smiling as
his helmet onto the top of the squad's roof without looking.
The gang celebrated his return with
heart felt warm back slapping.
DeSoto took the chair and coffee and steaming
to him graciously. "Johnny asked me to tell you all how he's
doing so any special
rule no longer applies, Cap. He's got
a mild concussion and some smoke inhalation but nothing else
to really sweat over. Brackett says he can be released in the
morning for light duty. Megan the
little girl's gonna be ok, too. She
woke up off my support after five minutes under aggressive
treatment and now she and Johnny are roommates in
Room 405, pediatric floor."
"The kid's wing? Oh, he's gonna hate that."
Roy smiled slightly. "Now I wouldn't say that. I ran
again just as I was finishing my followup exam and she said
Johnny and Megan are getting
to be fast friends. She said
their laughter's so loud you could hear it all the way out
nurse's desk." he giggled.
The guys fell silent.
Chet spoke up to break the quiet. "Now
are you sure she's
sure what she heard up there? The Johnny I know wouldn't usually
ten feet of a kid unless they were in dire need of
rescuing or something."
A chorus of agreement
from all the guys, including a nod from
Brice, chimed in around Roy making him throw up his hands
defense. "I know what Dixie said and I'm inclined to believe her.
There's something special
about Megan. I felt it when I was
with her, even when she was unconscious. She made my parenting
surge big time, e-even more than they usually do for
any kid I'm taking care of."
said, taking a last bite of his refried beans.
"That's neat." he smiled.
Chet was solemn.
"Maybe Megan will rub off permanently on
Gage and he'll run out and get himself married to some chick
just so he can have his OWN kid."
"Stranger things have happened.." DeSoto grinned, playing
his marriage band around his finger. "At any rate. I think
Johnny's got himself a new lifelong friend.
Dixie says they're
bonding pretty tight."
"This I gotta see." Kelly piped up, reaching for
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