Image of anifireforest.gif Image of emergencylogo.gif Image of anifireforest.gif

Image of rushmanambuhall.jpg
   Crossing The
    Red Line
Image of rushmanambuhall.jpg

       Page Three

"Good. Last thing we need is more outgassing." he said remembering
Chet's stinging eyes from before. "Let's advance ten feet and start
picking away this debris with pikes. Watch for power lines. Odergard!
Take over Mike's lead. I'm having him take out the Engine behind us as
we advance!"

The way before them wasn't easy. Shards of glass from the explosion
damaged windows above them constantly rained down on them and
wind blown bits of burning roof material. Foot by foot, they neared the
place where Stoker said the Mayfair lay buried.

A tumbled burning billboard sign sliced the supply line in two when it
impacted the pavement and the stairwell side of the hose started bucking
around the garage door frame opening. The half feeding the engine, went limp
and useless, tattered and dragging on the ground.

"Leave it!" Cap ordered. "We'll pull just off the engine's tank for now.
Our recovery push has the priority!" Inside, he wondered. ::Just how
long can our 400 gallon water reservoir last in all this heat? Guess
we're gonna find out.::

Image of buildingfireframe.jpg Image of stokercapinenginecab.jpg Image of chetinenginecrop.jpg


Roy DeSoto coughed, shaking himself awake. The first thing he did
was give an order to Malcolm, the attendant in the back with him, "Shut off all
the oxygen! Do it now!" he said, groping around the spilled medical
supplies around him for a flashlight. Roy could see active fire licking
the back windows. He flicked on the torch to find them sitting
on the side wall of the ambulance, the gurney still latch clamped
to the floor with his patient hanging there from his straps. Not surprisingly,
the man was awake. "Get me out of here! I'm gonna fall...*cough* "
moaned the man.

"The main valve's off.." Malcolm told Roy, cradling a broken arm.

"You sure?"

"Yeah. I just bled the regulator by feel. It's dead." the ambulance
attendant assured him.

Roy nodded at Malcolm's injury but the rippled haired man
waved him off. "Check on Art. I haven't heard him at all yet."

Reaching out in the darkness, DeSoto found the yellow air bottle that
he had taken with him in his haste to leave for Rampart. It was
something he always did in brush fire season. Just to have it
between his knees, even riding inside the squad within city limits.
Now, it was going to pay him dividends. He slipped into its mask.

Roy suppressed his own fear and ignored the cut he felt throbbing on his
forehead. "We're gonna be fine." he told them both. Then he pinned
a stare at his patient, who was ripping off his EKG pads and wires.
" I'll deal with you after I check out our driver, ok, mister....." he dug
for information.

"..Smith..." said the worker evasively. " John B. Smith. " when he
realized by the outside lab smell filtering in to him on just what his
current situation was. "Let me outta here now!"

"Mr. Smith... Quit thrashing around. Malcolm's gonna free you.
Now we're much safer in here than we'll be out there so just
relax.  Let me get by to the front. You hurt anywhere?" he asked
him. The man's head shake answered back. "Good.
Now just hang tight for a sec. Art?! You ok up there?" DeSoto said
pounding on the narrow peek window of the ambulance.  He
opened it.

A wall of bitter, burning smoke rushed in and all Roy got was a glimpse
of spidered glass, twisted metal and blood where the front end of the
Mayfair used to be.

The cab was completely flattened and so was the roof, right
over where Art had once been sitting behind the wheel. A person
shaped charcoal colored mass fully on fire lay across the seat now.

DeSoto slammed the window shut with a gasp. His look told
Malcolm all he needed to know.

Image of windshieldblood.jpg Image of roywithvictiminambulance.jpg

"What's that new smell?" complained their impatient patient.
" I think I'm going to be sick."

Roy  covered his nose and mouth with a hand to hide
his stunned reaction. "Try to breathe slow, Mr. Smith. You're only
going to pass out again if you keep hyperventilating. How do you

"How am I supposed to feel? Like sh*t! Now, I-- I-m trapped
in what looks like an ambulance that got caught when our
crystal meth cookery blew up. And here we are tipped ov--"
Mr. Smith broke off when he realized what he was saying.

Roy's eyes narrowed as he took a pull off his air mask,
handing it to Malcolm so that he could breathe in a clean lungful.
" Mr. Smith. Am I hearing you right? Now I believe you better start
levelling with me right now. A lot of lives are in danger from that
noxious mess that you and your chem cooking buddies created
so carelessly. Now, the hazmat team handling this's gonna haveta
know what main ingredients you were using and how much!"

"Ain't gonna talk without my lawyer." the shifty man said flatly
with only a little intelligence. "I'm choking here. Give me some
air like you're giving him."

"No, you're contaminated with something that I don't know about.
I don't wanna increase the risk to Malcolm and I by sharing with
you." DeSoto replied quietly.

"Just what kind of paramedic are you withholding care from me?!
I'll tell my lawyer. Just how would you like a charge of malpractice on
your hands Fireman DeSoto.." he glared, reading Roy's dusty name
tag. "And I'll charge your friend here, too. He shut off my oxygen."
And Mr. Smith reached for the valve that would turn on the flow
to the mask hanging around his neck.

Roy tackled his arm away. "There's fire out there! Are you sick or

The man nodded animatedly, yanking out his I.V. with a jerk and folding
his arm up. "Ummm Hmm and crazy.. Why do you think I staggered
into the supe's office and collapsed on the floor? I was feeling lousy.
Mac mixed something that wasn't pure."  Again the bald headed lanky
druggie clamped a hand over his mouth to silence himself.
He immediately started coughing when the stench from the forward
cab began to leak through the cracked window. "Come on! You guys
are already contaminated from touching me because of the way
we're all pretzeled together around this gurney. Gimme some air, I--I'm
..*gag* choking on the dead guy.."

Roy's mouth pressed into a firm line as he took his turn to suck on
his SCBA tank mask.  "Not until you give me a list of everything in
that lab, starting with the largest quantity medium first."


Image of anistrobe.gif Image of roymadcutonhead.jpg Image of danny.gif Image of anistrobe.gif

The six firemen watched the fires raging above them intently. The
sky had grown grayer. They first thought it was smoke but soon
it proved to be a rare California cloud burst.

The rain fell but was evaporated before it hit the ground in front of
them and the fire started from the building debris  began
igniting a cocoon of fire around them and the engine.

"Into the cab! Into the cab! Now!" Cap shouted. "Get up onto
the hose bed if you have to. Kelly, Lopez ! Knock that down
before we burn!"

Two of the firemen climbed onto the roof as Stoker advanced
Engine 51 ahead. The moment the way was clear and just
steaming, they leaped onto the Mayfair patient compartment.

Hank was just as fast on HT as he was on his feet. He joined
24's men on pounding on the skin of the ambulance. "Roy!
Can you hear me?" he shouted into the HT on Roy's band.

Muffled solid pounds answered back to their great relief.

Three times, the swirling fire igniting the debris in the parking
lot threatening the ambulance while a K-12 split open the shell
encasing Roy and the others before Kelly and Lopez's single line
pushed it back again.

"Benzene, Cap!.. Gage got into benzene!" said, Roy thrusting
a rumpled bill of lading through the sizzling gap. "He had
this in his pocket. The whole damned * choke* list."

"Got it.. Radioing it out." Then Cap was back reaching into
the hole for Roy's arm. "You guys ok in there?" said Cap quickly.
"We already know about the driver. Any back or neck injuries?"
he said while his men worked to fold back the skin.

Image of caphtoutsideengineclosehelmetright.jpg Image of benzene730.jpg Image of roycrawlcoughscba.jpg

"Malcolm's got a broken arm. Just get us out of here.."
Roy said. "How's Johnny?"

"He's doing ok. Stoker intubated him."

"What?! Any complications? I mean.. d- did it work?"
DeSoto said as he was pulled outside.

"Course it worked! I'm Brackett's star pupil remember?"
Mike grinned enthusiastically from inside the idling Ward.

Image of royriglookback.jpg Image of stokerdrivebynexxie.jpg

Then the water ran out and his smile faded instantly.

"Our welcome's just got jaded pal. Ready to move?
Side fires are pressing in, Roy." Hank said.

DeSoto crouched down looking back through the
hole in the Mayfair as 24's men hoisted an arm splinted
Malcolm out. "Yeah. But our crook's not cooperating. He
said he wanted to stay in there when you guys showed up."

"Oh really..." Cap said glowering.

A ladder hook to the shirt collar soon fished the reluctant
patient out.  Malcolm and Mr. Smith were given SCBAs
to wear and everyone climbed onto the Ward's hose bed
as the fire mounted around them.

"Go! Stoker Go!" Cap said, as he smacked the roof of the engine
cab. "Back to the garage. Ram the billboard clutter out of
the way if you have to. Just get us back inside in one piece!"

Stoker reversed direction after Kelly and Lopez cast off the useless
hose. The tires on the engine began to smoulder as she was moved
slower and slower due to reduced visibility.

Mike Stoker shouted. "I don't think the engine can take much
more of this, Captain!"

"She's gonna have to!" Hank said, huddling down with the rest
of them on top over the injured Malcolm and the blubbering Mr.
Smith. "Put the pedal to the metal, Pal, even on rims!"

Image of hugeexplosionnearengineandsquad.jpg Image of capyellatfirebricks.jpg

Everybody swatted cinders landing on everybody else for
long seconds. Then a current of white frothy liquid from an
unexpected source covered them in a drenching cold deluge.
A team of fire fighters using alcohol foam from the roof of a
nearby house coated Engine 51 and put out her fires.

Image of enginesmoke.jpg Image of buildingfirehugefoam.jpg

The Ward swept into the morgue garage moments after.

Soon, it was back into hiding for all of them while the Carson
City fire raged on.


Image of explodeballoverladder.jpg Image of fire_gif.gif Image of explodeoutbuildingnightduck.jpg

Date: Thu, 5 Aug 2004 10:37:09 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Patti or Jeff or Cassidy" <>  
Subject:  The Subtle Differences

Doctor Scribbs immediately looked up as the engine crew
returned with Roy, Malcolm, and Mr. Smith. "In there." he said pointing
to a second autopsy room that had a shower ring already placed
and running over the exam table. "I've got things set up for
their decontamination. Gentlemen, I suggest you all take
another round of scouring yourselves. I've fresh scrubs for
you all to change into." the medical examiner said no nonsense.
"Like these.." he said pulling on his own top.

"Thanks. " Roy said, immediately recognizing his
benefactor. "Hiya, doc. Thanks for putting up with us."

"Gladly, Roy. You and your patients all right?"
said Dr. Scribbs. "Belliveau and Sheppard have
Gage well under control." he said crisply.  "He's showing
signs of waking according to them, but his pupils are still
a bit dilated and sluggish and he has decreased
deep tendon reflexes."

"Benzene'll do that. Any arrythmias showing up on
the monitor, Sheppard?" DeSoto asked the Station
24 medic.

"No. He's one lucky b*st*rd. No pulmonary edema either."
said the tan haired man sitting by Gage's head. "He's
breathing now. Began to happen almost as soon as
we got the stuff off of him. Starting to react to pain."

Roy nodded, glancing at Belliveau who had already started
Malcolm's decontamination after a quick vitals set and a switch
to a new clean arm splint. Marco and Chet helped Malcolm steady
himself where he was seated under the shower ring.
"He never lost consciousness, Bob. Did real good the whole
time." he reported.

"Thanks.." Belliveau said. "And you?" he said, motioning to
the cut on Roy's forehead.

"I'm ok. I had a brief blackout but I'm not the least bit nauseated.
You can fuss over me once we get these two taken care of."
Then DeSoto excused himself and took the fastest scrub of
his life.

Image of gilsheppardmedic.jpg Image of roymadcutonhead.jpg Image of belliveau.jpg

While the gang decontaminated once again, Dr. Scribbs
filled in Hank Stanley. "The Support area's been established
outside. A doc and a head nurse are coming here to handle
our situation. Coming in by bird. Some hot shot named..uh..."

"Brackett.." Cap guessed."Good. He handled Gage previously
with Stoker on the HT band. Although I don't know how they're
going to get in here. Your front entrance may be in the Hot Zone
from the meth explosion." Cap admitted.

"We're not. The chief says all LEL sensors are showing zero
on our block. There's a bunch of firemen upstairs and a Battalion
Chief setting up a base in my office right now. They've cleared
us." Scribbs affirmed.

"Terrific.. You don't know how good that sounds. I'll be right back."
said the sweaty fire captain. "I'm joining them after washing up.
Keep this radio handy. I'm putting you in charge of keeping me
updated on all of my men."

Scribbs noticed and appreciated the trust 51's captain was
imparting to him. "You got it." said the no nonsense M.E.
"You'll know faster than they will of any status changes. I'm a keen
observer.." the doc added, jerking a thumb over at the paramedics
tending Malcolm and Gage.

"I have no doubt about that." Hank grinned. "And keep an eye
on that turkey over there. He's a criminal of the worst kind.
He's one of the ones responsible for the disaster outside."

"Oh, really.." said Scribbs darkly. "Looks like there'll be
no pot of coffee open for him.  Nothing by mouth for any injured
patient, right?" he asked sarcastically. "I think I'll doubly
enforce that right now.." he said, moving off to verbally let loose
his two cents opinion in a furious tirade to the blanket wrapped
man about the meth lab in city hall.

Stanley cringed. "Ooo. I'd hate to be on the receiving end of
that. Scribbs'll dissect him, piece by piece, for sure!"

Image of capamusedsmile.jpg Image of quincyclose.gif

Roy sat down on a stool by Johnny Gage's side and immediately
set his hands on his chest to feel his breathing while he checked
out the shifting movements of his partner's eyes beneath their eyelids.
He felt Mike Stoker's presence behind him and the engineer's worry
practically rolled off of him like a scent. "Stoker, you made all the
difference in the world. Relax. Johnny's almost all the way back
to fighting his airway now. The perfect one you established, I'll
remind you."

Caught lingering, Mike almost whispered.
"Could he have hurt his throat after that spasm? I mean, I had
that scope down past his soft palate when it happened." Mike

"Nah. His muscles would've pushed it out before any injury. I've
had that happen a million times. Not your fault he cramped up.
Benzene makes a victim a little sensitive to bronchospasms and
throat lockups." Roy said, listening to Gage's chest. "He's still
clear here. No edema.." he smiled.

The quiet engineer visibly relaxed and took a place on Johnny's
free side just to be near him. Roy didn't fail to see the grip Stoker
made to check for a beat in Johnny's wrist. "I thought I screwed up
majorly." Mike sighed as he reassured himself that Johnny's
BP was indeed on the rise.

Roy shook his head. "Here. Have a listen to where your tube is."
he offered, passing the stethoscope over to Mike to use.
"You got it just above the bronchial split and there's no gastric
bubbling at all behind it, so the endotrach's straight and not
bowing against the esophagus through his trachea like what
sometimes happens when a size too big is used. You guessed
Johnny's need for a seven french like a pro. Like I said, he's
got an absolutely perfect airway all thanks to you."

Mike watched his crewmates across the room get cleaned
and changed. "You know. I don't know how you and Johnny
handle all the pressure. I mean, I handle that myself, but
it's pressure of the water kind, not a gush of emotion like I felt
when Johnny went down."

He set the stethoscope down unused.

"That's normal." DeSoto said. "I'd start to worry if you hadn't felt
that. The intensity of it diminishes with practice and in time you...
....learn to deal with it. ....and push it aside. Your training will
get you through every time. You'll be so busy thinking ...what
next? that you'll hardly have time for self doubt. Stoker, you're
just new. And what I've seen today.. Your instincts are right on
for a paramedic intermediate rookie in this stage of the game.
You didn't freeze up nor buckle under one h*ll of a snap decision.
I think Kel Brackett knew you better than you know yourself.
You can handle it. And you did." he chuckled, pointing to where
Gage was bundled up inside the warm body bag. Roy frowned.
"Although I don't think Johnny's gonna like the choice of bedclothes
here when he wakes up. Could ya find me some blankets or
something? Maybe we can disguise the cadaver table here
a bit so he won't notice."

Image of stokerlookscaredclose.jpg Image of jincoma.jpg

"Sure.." Mike said. "Thanks for the pep talk.." he said, leaning
over so Sheppard didn't hear him.

"Anytime. Thanks for saving my partner's life. I owe you one."

"Who's keeping score?" Stoker shrugged, and went off
searching the morgue's cabinets, whistling aimlessly,
his hands in his scrubs pockets.

Roy smiled and rechecked Johnny's liter of normal saline
drip flow rate for the millionth time unnecessarily. DeSoto
lifted his head when he heard the sound of helicopter blades
slicing the air as it landed on the medical examiner's building.

Image of bracketthelicopter.jpg Image of roydixcrossedarms.jpg

Dr. Brackett and Dixie McCall swept into the morgue with
full jump bags. "Ok, what do we got?" Kel ordered.

"Johnny's breathing and starting to fuss." Sheppard announced.

"Tidal volume without support?"

"Full and clear."

"Ok. extubate him. Gently. Benzene'll make him extra sensitive
to vagal stimulation and may cause another spasm. If he
goes into ventricular tachyrhythmias, avoid epinephrine completely.
Use a beta blocker. His pressure above 90?"

"Yeah, I got a wrist pulse.." Stoker volunteered to Dr. Brackett.

"Nice work earlier on the endotrach, Stoker. Ok, Sheppard, turn
down that I.V. to an infusion rate of 150 to 200 mL/hour. Have
Diazepam, a 5 to 10 mg i.v. dose handy in case he seizes. Repeat
that every 10 to 15 minutes as needed when and if he does. Use a light
metaproterenol inhaler for any bronchospasms. Benzene
has an anesthetic action on the central nervous system in high enough
doses. That's most likely why he collapsed and quit breathing on us
so fast. Now that he's washed, he'll come around fairly rapidly."

"Right.." acknowledged Sheppard with a nod.

Dr. Brackett frowned. "I just wish I could run a few tests here.." he

Dr. Scribbs overheard. "You can, doctor. This may be an L.A. County
autopsy lab, but Sam and I have state of the art analysis equipment
that's the rival of anything you have at the hospital. Including an
electron microscope. What do you need?"

Kel blinked, watching Dixie get vitals on Roy and Mr. Smith.
"Oh...Uh. ..ok.. Think you and your assistant can handle all of these?
A CBC with differential, Hct, Hgb, serum erythrocyte count.
Erythrocyte indices, three of them, an MCV, MCH, and MCHC along
with a platelet count? We're gonna have to check for developing

"Easily.." Scribbs punctuated.

Image of quincy3.jpg Image of brackettothermedicchat.jpg

"Ok, how about a BUN, blood calcium, creatinine series. Liver function
tests of these two types,.. looking for hepatic aminotransferase levels..
..AST, ALT. A search for elevated bilirubin, and a prothrombin time.
Also a urinalysis check for phenol. That's a byproduct of benzene
as it decomposes in the renal system. " Dr. Brackett rattled off.
"Percutaneous absorption can contribute to total body burden."

"I'm aware of that metabolite and fact, Dr. Brackett."

"Oh. You are? Sorry. Oh, .. and  I'd like to pin down signs of
paroxysmal hemoglobinuria."

"No problem." Scribbs fired off.

"How about checking for intravascular hemolysis? We'll have
to give him 50 to 100 mEq of sodium bicarbonate intravenously
to his I.V. to initiate urinary alkalinization to stop it." Kel
asked, still deep in concern and concentration.

Scribbs laughed out loud noisily to get the Rampart M.D.'s
attention. "Doctor, there isn't one test we can't do here. Just
because we deal with deceased persons, doesn't mean that
we're  limited medically speaking in the slightest way."

" Whoops. I never said you were." Kel said automatically.

Dixie McCall shot back. "How about having the ability
to make a decent cup of coffee? It's something the hospital
stinks at."

Kel made a face at Dix in commiseration.

Scribbs rolled his eyes self consciously. "Now that's one
procedure my assistant and I haven't been able to master."

"Too bad.." McCall grinned, getting the needed blood
and urine samples from Gage efficiently. "These boys
look like they could use a bit of something to warm up a bit."

Image of brackettnightfrown.jpg Image of dixiesmirkmild.jpg

"I'll turn up the thermostat." and Scribbs rushed off to
show Kel Brackett where the testing equipment was
located. "Uh, that's if someone would be so kind as to
shut that storage cooler door up first. Right this way,
Mr. Brackett. The lab stairway's right through here."

"Wait a minute." Brackett stopped Scribbs. "I'd like to hear
about my other three patients first if you don't mind."

"Oh, right. Sorry. I'm so used to one "patient" at
a time. This triage concept's a little foreign to me."
he admitted.

"Nothing to it. Belliveau? How's your three?"

"Mr. Smith's vitals are a bit elevated but he has
no traumatic injuries. Roy here on the other hand,
suffered a black out when the ambulance overturned."

"Roy's vitals are normal. Pupils are equal and reactive."
Dixie supplied, to end Kel's frown about hearing that.

Kel nodded. "And Malcolm here?"

"A simple radial ulnar break I think. Circulation, sensation
and motor ability in the hand is intact." Bob answered.
"No loss of consciousness in his history at all."

"Great news." and Dr. Brackett looked up. "We'll save the rest of
our I.V.s for walk in casualties. " Then he fell to rubbing his chin,
"Say I wonder if we can get that fracture x--"

Scribbs was quick. "We can..  I'll get Roy's full skull series going, too.
If you two gentlemen will follow me." he gestured to the ambulance
attendant and head bandaged paramedic respectively.
"Malcolm, you stay right there in that wheel chair with that arm splint
propped up. No one that needy ever walks in my office."

"Of that I have no doubt.." rejoined Chet Kelly.

Marco Lopez and Mike Stoker laughed at his joke.

Image of chetsmirkwithmarcotable.jpg Image of xrayleg.jpg

Upstairs, Captain Stanley was only half heartened by the
solid rain falling from the clouds. "That'll end the roof fires, chief."
he adressed Battalion. "But what about any chemicals reactant
to water?"

"We're letting the heart of the Hot Zone burn. That'll decompose
most of what this bill of lading has listed. The perimeter units, Foam
127 and 110 are covering the spread of that. The only risk factor
I see is the benzene, with its outgassing ability and the fact that
it's heavier than air. It may flow into the street craters where the
gaslines blew and reignite isolated pockets of liquid gas on
lingering sparks." the chief said.

"Fill the trenches with foam. We've plenty. I just heard L.A. City's

"Might work." Battalion admitted.

"I know it will." said the surgical scrubbed garbed captain.
He absently adjusted the helmet that still perched on his head.

The chief had a chuckle at Hank's clothes. "You know, you look
like a doc from a television soap opera wearing those."

Hank looked down at himself subconsciously and whirled to
see if any other of the bustling firefighters going in and out of
the building were staring. But none were. "Sorry, chief. It was
all they had."

"The hat's enough for your rank identification. Tell me. How
are those two Code I's of yours?"

"Fine,.. well, one is fine. Roy DeSoto took a knock on the
head but it's minor. My other paramedic is.." and he shrugged
when his voice choked off.

The chief patted Hank's shoulder as Stanley busied himself
with not reading the city map festooned with the red fire point
stick pins, spread out on the communications desk before them.
"I overheard your engineer on the radio. Tell me, does he always
play paramedic for your station?"

Cap immediately blushed. "Uh, Chief. Stoker's been fully authorized
by the head of the paramedic program, Kel Brackett. I--I'm surprised
you didn't get the memo.."

Image of gangfirewashaftermath.jpg Image of capbattalionchief.jpg

Image of aniskullspin.gif
     Click the skull to
  go to Page Four

Image of rushmanambuhall.jpg
   Crossing The
    Red Line
Image of rushmanambuhall.jpg

Image of anifireforest.gif Image of emergencylogo.gif Image of anifireforest.gif

<BGSOUND src="revulsionbyjoriswittenberg.mp3" LOOP=INFINITE>