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 The Promise
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Page Four

"It's never good for a paramedic to be a victim."
Johnny said tightly.

"Exactly right. So just be a paramedic and everything
will turn out right if it's in your power, like it always

"Like it used to do.."

"Like it STILL does, partner.." he firmly glared.
"I'll let you know if you ever lose your edge. Remember,
Brackett says you're one of the best." he chuckled.
"And I'm keen on protecting that reputation because it
reflects well on me. Next month's review and raise is depending
on that. I'm also doing it because I've a lot of ground to
catch up on with my bills and my FAMILY's bills.." he groaned.
"So I'm gonna guarantee that fatter paycheck any way
I can."

Instead of laughing, Gage frowned.
"Yeah? Well what about my reputation in the eyes
of Dr. Morton? I'd say I'm just about shot as a medic
if he decides to blame his sister's death on me
in front of the paramedic's review board."

DeSoto stayed silent, not knowing what to say.

But then, a few minutes later, as the morning
warmth dried the sweat off their faces, DeSoto
spoke up. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
I'm sure that Brice, as head chair, would review
any case he overhears fairly in concern with
recertifying you if Morton should want an investigation
done examining the actions you took that day.
Craig is a walking rule book you know."

"And I'm a walking jobless man if I get a suit
filed against me. How can I keep my personal
promises then if I can't be a paramedic anymore?"

"Trust in your promises, Johnny. They're all
you've got. " he said seriously. Then he laughed,
adding. "Then trust your friends to know you
better than you do. They'll never tell you any lies
about how you really are."

Johnny finally harrumphed in his throat with
a slight smile which admitted that he gave
Roy a point for being right on that.

"Come on. This tire's all set. Let's get
some food. Dixie says the tuna fish casserole's
incredible. I'll vouch for it. I sure ate enough of
it during my hospital stay.."

Image of rampart.gif Image of jrcafeteria.jpg

From : "Katherine Bird" <>  
Subject : Indigestion..  
Date : Thu, 02 Oct 2003 05:06:55 +0100  

Roy had just paid for his lunch of pasta
when Johnny crashed into the back of
his partner with his own tray full of the
same thing. Gage had to go through heroics
in order to keep from spilling his milk
and keeping his cherry jello from jiggling
out of its pudding dish.

"Would you just cut that out already.."
DeSoto complained. His tray had been
uneffected by the impact since he was the bigger
man in mass of the two and had absorbed all
of it without ill effect.


"Quit slinking around here as if you expect
a firing squad to pop outta nowhere."

"I'm not slinking around.. I'm ..I'm..just keeping
an eye out, that's all."

"Don't tell me, you don't want to run into Mike
Morton.." he pegged in irritation in a half whisper
so the surrounding hospital staff wouldn't overhear.
He offered peace by pulling out a chair
at a nearby table for Johnny first before grabbing
and reversing another one for himself.
"I thought we had settled all that."

"...Not Look, Roy, I mean, he's bound
to show up looking for me sometime.."

"How do you know? You haven't yet even talked
to the man."

Gage began to gesture pointedly. "Can't
we just ...sit over there?" he pleaded half

"Where?" Roy said, irritated at the idea of
moving again when his stomach was complaining
so loudly.

Johnny pointed again and Roy looked over
his shoulder to the table his partner wanted.

Roy frowned. "There's no sun over there.
You wouldn't be able to see your plate well
enough to eat from it if we ate over there. I'm
fine right here. You can move if you like. Today,
I'm gonna be part chameleon and soak up
the daylight. Let's just say that tower's rubbed off
a little too much on me. I suddenly find I
really like open spaces." and he began to shovel
it in as only a hungry fireman could.

"Roy, would you jus--" And Gage broke off when he
saw Dixie and Brice headed their way. "Oh, no..
He's bad enough.." But rather than looking like he
was retreating, Johnny sat down next to Roy
and nervously positioned his arms and posture
to look like he wasn't nervous.. He failed miserably
and Dixie McCall caught on right away.

"Oh, come on, Johnny. It's not that bad." Dixie grinned.
"Mike won't bite your head off. I've been working on him these
last few weeks sharing with him just what you had to go
through during the incident where Angie Morton was killed.
I even showed him your medical chart showing how low your
PO2 levels were because of those freon fumes." she

"Dixie!" Gage said in mortification at that breach of confidentiality.
Johnny made a hushing face, but Brice seemed to be oblivious.

Craig just offered Dixie a third chair at Johnny and Roy's
table before he took the last one and began arranging
his tray and silverware just so on the china blue
formica table top. He even passed over the salt to the
head ER nurse so she could season her salad.

Johnny was beginning to relax about Dixie's
meddling admission when Craig Brice spouted off
in surprise instant support. "No paramedic could have been
expected to keep a clear head dealing with any rapid life or
death decision making processes with the marked
hypoxia you had during that crisis. I'll stand by what I
read.." he said matter of factly.

Johnny nearly choked on his tuna. "What is
this? Why is my medical chart suddenly everyone's
common property around here." he whined,
unconvincingly angry. "I thought there were rules
to protect my privacy that way.."

Dixie held out a hand apologetically to Johnny
and set a warm grip on his forearm. "I'm
sorry, Johnny. But Dr. Brackett felt that that was
the best way to defuse Mike from taking a legal
course of action against you by spreading
around just what you had to work with. "

The color drained from Gage's face. "He's
been doing  what?"

"Nothing official, Gage.." Brice said. "So far, it
was just a meeting with Dr. Brackett, Morton and
myself concerning competency.."

Johnny threw down his fork with a clatter and
jumped from his seat. "That's it! I'm going to
go talk ta Morton right now. This is really getting

"Wait a minute, Junior, where do you think you're
going?" Roy asked.
"Gage, hold on a short moment, before you take
 an action that you'll regret in the future." Brice
suggested blandly.
"Johnny.. pipe down everyone's gonna stare."
Dixie hissed. They all said simultaneously.

It took all three of them to pull the distraught
young paramedic back into his cafeteria seat.

"Shut up and eat." DeSoto said with finality,
handing Johnny back his fork and pulling away
the HT so Johnny couldn't leave.

"Don't think I can. I just lost my appetite."
Johnny mumbled. He toyed with the food on
his plate, pushing it around while watching the
steamy curls from his lunch waft away in the
breezy sunlight.

"Why don't you trust Dr. Brackett to manage
Doctor Morton about all this? You're not to blame
for what happened.." Dixie insisted.

"That's what I told him.." Roy agreed in exasperation.
"Only my half witted partner here doesn't believe me."

"Wait a minute. Wait a minute.. Guys. Don't you
think all of this should be between just Mike
Morton and me?"

"And a pair of lawyers, Gage. Can't forget them."
Brice piped up, trying to interject a bit of
reality to the problem.

Johnny's face went even a paler shade of gray.

"Oh, Johnny. Knock it off. You did what you could.
I heard the whole story from Hank Stanley when
he was here to see you two back then. Now, why
don't you just sit back and let Kel handle all this?
It's his job to go to bat for his paramedics."
Dixie moaned.

"And mine.." Craig piped up.

Somehow, Brice's admission didn't feel all that
warm and fuzzy to Johnny Gage like it could
have been. He just stuck magnet eyes on Craig
and mumbled tongue tied comments of no import
while he twisted his brain around the convolutions of
his current nightmare conversation.

Finally, Gage said something the others could
understand. "You mean, Brackett's cool about
all this? That he'd know if I could be sued for
incompetency over ..over.. Miss Morton's..?"

"He should know. He was handling your medical
calls that day." Dixie said firmly. "You're just
going to have to trust your higher-ups to know
what's best for you in the long run to patch
things between Morton and the courts before
this whole thing blows up out of porportion."

"That's what I'm afraid of.." Johnny whispered,
taking a bite of his suddenly cold food.
"I'm not in control here anymore." he said
in a way no one else heard.

While the others ate and moved happily onto
other subjects, Johnny Gage suddenly felt like the
loneliest man in the world.

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Johnny was heading out the cafeteria doors to
rejoin Roy in the squad, when he overheard the
clump of nurses he usually targetted for-asking
out-on-a-date practice, speaking in animated voices
amongst themselves.

::That's what I can do.. Get a new date to cheer
myself up!:: Johnny thought smiling to himself.

"Did you hear he's going to do it?" said
one pixie like nursing student, to the others.

"Who's going to do what?" asked another.

Johnny started to head over to them
wearing his best Johnny Gage suitor's
smile, when the next sentence floating
out to him from the entry way doors,
made him flatten against a shadowy wall.

"Why Morton, silly. He's going after a
paramedic who seriously let him down
on a run."

A third nurse gasped, her breath going
wide up in a whistle of shock. "No...
I feel sorry for whoever that paramedic
is. They're all so cute."

"Yeah,.. looks like we'll have one less
working here by the end of the week."
a third joked.

They melted away to their cars, going
off shift while Johnny stood stunned
in the corner.

::A lawsuit? Oh my G*d.::

He barely remembered getting into
the squad with Roy.

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Date: Thu, 2 Oct 2003 00:18:37 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Jeff Seltun" <>  
Subject:  Rated PG for Graphic Content.. The Tiny Miracle

*Beep* Beep* Beep*.

"Here we go.." Gage said, just to
fill the heavy void in his mind and heart.

##Station 51. Woman down. 911766 Lander's
Way. 911766 Lander's Way. Cross street,
Buena Vista Blvd. Time Out : 10: 46.##

"Looks like the engine's going to beat
us there, Johnny." Roy said as he
pulled into the drive of the hospital
and turned right under the walkway to
get to the freeway. "Hope it's a medical.
Not a trauma. They don't have that
much for gear.."

They were half way there when
the radio crackled, truck to truck.
##Engine 51 to Squad 51. We
have a s-stabbing, with arterial  
bleeding. What's your ETA?##

Gage didn't miss the odd tension
in his captain's voice. He immediately
frowned. "Now why would Cap
broadcast a medical update over
the radio?" he said aloud.

"I don't know." Roy replied. "Let's
just get there first. Sounds bad."
He rounded a turn and then rubbed
his lips in thought. "Lander's Way.
Now why does that sound familiar to

"Gotta be a business with a street
address number that long." Gage
concluded. "Turn left here." and
Gage thumbed the radio mic and
replied. "Engine 51. Our ETA is
three minutes."

##10-4. Be advised we have two
victims. Repeat two victims..##
Again they both heard the odd note
in Hank's voice even through the normal
tinny din of the open frequency.

Then another odd occurance happened.
They heard Cap calling out for another squad.

"Squad 8? They're farther away than us.
What the h*ll?" Johnny wondered as he
listened to Brice and Bellingham
acknowledge the call.

"We'll know when we get there. Maybe
it's that new rule of one critical per squad
Brackett was talking about during the last
meeting coming into effect a month early."
Roy guessed.

"That's right. I remember that. It was
Brackett and Brice's idea." Gage
replied. "And I know Cap's good with
delegating tasks when he's got his hands
full. Even for the medical stuff."

"They've got two O2 tanks." Roy agreed.
"Those'll last well for them until we get
there with ours."

Johnny glanced at his watch and
scribbled a note in his book. "T-minus
two minutes from arrival.."

Roy stepped on the accelerator.

Image of caponbiophone.jpg Image of johnnyviewsquaddaydrive.jpg

Marco was getting sick behind a parked
car a short distance away.

Chet's complexion was faring little better.
Kelly looked up from the dressing he held
over the woman's swollen belly and
away from the movement he was seeing
there. "What should I do, Cap? I don't
want to tip her over onto her side to deal
with that nausea or this fluid'll gush
out and expose it more.." he said
softly, with high stress.

Cap continued to whisper reassurances
to the half conscious woman on the ground.
"Easy.. It's ok. Just keep breathing this in.
The rescue squad IS on its way here." he
said, holding a passive demand valve over
her face trying to ease the oxygen debt she
was feeling due to her massive
hemorrhaging. ::I sure hope it's Brice who
gets here first..::
"Chet. Just keep her on her back. I got
the suction here if she gets ill, ok, pal?
Just keep pressure around that wound
without pressing down too much. Just
apply dressings enough to slow the
bleeding. We have to keep any more
contamination from getting inside of her
abdomen there."

"Where's my husband?" she moaned.
"I want to see him... Oh...hHHh."

"Don't talk right now. Please, just keep still."
Cap soothed, then he looked up with
a tight mouth. "Stoker! Any sign of
her assailant? There's more blood over
here possibly from a second person,
by Marco. On second thought, never
mind. Go check on Lopez and see
how he's doing. We need help here.
She's waking up."

"The thief's gone, Cap. I just talked to a witness
over here who said he ran to the north with
her purse. He must have mugged her when
she came out of the grocery store." Mike

Hank nodded in agreement. "Probably
because she was pregnant. Go handle
Marco then get back here with more
dressings. Also, we can at least set
up a burn sheet to get her off the ground.
 Get a backboard and c-collar while
you're at it. We can start immobilizing her,
too, after we cut these clothes off. But first,
get her covered up. There are too many
gawkers gathering here."

The sight of the engine and four firefighters
was indeed drawing a crowd from
the shopping mart and a coffee shop from
across the street. There was as yet, no
P.D. for crowd control. Hank got on his
HT. "Squad Eight, Engine 51. What's
your ETA?"

## Four minutes.##

"10-4, Squad Eight. Our victim's regaining some
consciousness but is developing complications."

##Understood. We're increasing our speed.##
came Brice's cool reply.

Cap wished he could tell his arriving people
more but didn't want to run the risk for
safety reasons. ::It's bad enough as it is..::

A choking sound drew Hank's attention
downwards. "Maam?!" he shouted. "Can
you hear me?" The woman's stomach
began to heave as she tried to quell
sudden rising bile.

It caused some amber amniotic fluid to run
from the gaping stab wound Chet was
managing. "Easy.. easy!" Kelly urged.
"Don't move down here.You'll hurt yourself

Hank saw the woman's eyes roll back
into her head as shock finally stole away her
consciousness. He tipped back her head
and looked into her mouth with practiced
cross scissor fingers. Quickly, he suction
wanded out some welling emesis he
found there from the back of her throat
until the choking sounds were gone.

When he looked up, he saw all three
of his men around him over the woman.
::Good going. Now we'll get things done.::

Cap bent low to listen for sounds
of respirations. "She's still breathing.
Marco, get a resp rate after you're
through strapping her onto that long
board. Stoker. Get another sheet over her
as soon as he's through. Her pulse's
weakening. It's 130." he said, keeping
one monitoring finger on a deeply
sunk in carotid artery.

Image of chethelmetclosefrown.jpg Image of capcheckbreathing.jpg

"Cap, I don't know about this." Chet said
from where he was kneeling with his hold
around the stab wound. "There's a lot
of air getting in around the baby. I'm getting
real worried here that I'm not doing enough."

"Just hang on, pal. As long as she
doesn't lose any more amniotic fluid,
we're fine. The baby'll share the O2 she's
getting, through the umbilical cord." And he
stepped up his care, starting to actively
ventilate the woman when her breathing
grew too shallow for his liking.

::Come on, Johnny, Roy. Get the lead out.::
Chet willed mentally. ::She's one we can't

Cap looked up to see an arrowing squad
flying towards them from the east. It wasn't
squad 8. ::Uh oh. Didn't want that to happen.::
"Stoker get set. Watch Roy carefully
when he gets here. And keep him away from
me. Gage's the only one allowed to handle
her." he said, keeping up his vents on
Joanne DeSoto.

"Regulations?" Marco asked.

Cap nodded his head.

All three were watching when Roy's
horrid cry of recognition exploded from
his lips. Mike Stoker intercepted DeSoto's
desperate charge to get near his wife
and unborn child. "Joanne!"

Gage almost dropped the gear boxes
and O2 he was carrying. "What?!"
He ran by Stoker. "Don't you let go of
him.." he ordered. "No matter what he
does or says. Brice and Bellingham
will be here long before I get in over
my head."

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Mike had brought Roy to his knees to
keep him from getting into his crewmates'
way. He kept talking to DeSoto, telling
him what was wrong and what they had
found on her.

"Joanne? Stabbed in the abdomen?
The baby!!" Roy panicked. "I gotta
get over there."

"DeSoto. Stay put!" Cap snapped.
"Or it's your job, pal. Understood?"
he said more softly, in sympathy.

Roy nodded reluctantly, but finally
he stopped struggling with Stoker. He
tried to content himself with trying to see
over the sheets to where Johnny, Chet,
Marco and Cap were crouched. He
could barely make out the slight rise
and fall of Joanne's chest in between
the breaths Cap was giving her.

At a glance from Gage, Hank reported,
"She got sick once. And I already listened.
Nothing got into her chest. It's clear."

Gage sighed in relief. ::One hurdle
down. Let's see how far we get with
the rest of things.:: Johnny was already
sweeping over Joanne's body in a rapid
assessment. "Only that one stab wound?"
he demanded of Kelly.

"Yeah, there's no exit wound.
Johnny,...hurry. It's coming out.." Chet
said in a tight whisper. "So's all the fluid

"What?" Gage leaned in closer,
quickly pulling on a pair of sterile latex gloves
from an obstetrical trauma kit. He nodded
for Marco to lift the sheet a little higher and
to place a penlight into his mouth so Johnny
could shine it into the dark wound that way.

He could see Roy and Joanne's third
unborn child floating silently, without
independent movement, deep within,
with his naked eye.
::Oh, my g*d. Please be alive. Please.
Please..:: he begged mentally, and he
reached out carefully to a limb he saw just
beneath the surface of inner skin surrounding
the torn uterus. A tiny hand tightly gripped his
finger in reflex to his stroking of its palm instantly.

Image of birth.jpg Image of johnwithivshot.jpg

Johnny's eyes teared up in a relieving surge of
glad discovery. "The baby's alive, Roy. Looks
like the knife didn't get down that far. I'm not
seeing any bright arterial blood in here."

Roy wilted in a relieved father's release
and Stoker let him go. "Th- Thank you."
he said glancing up. Bright tears had
filled his eyes. "How's she doing, Johnny?"

Johnny freed the tiny hand from his
index finger and covered it with a
damp sterile saline gauze pad carefully.
"Chet. This doesn't come off. Got it?"

"Clear as anything."

Johnny addressed his distraught partner.
"She's fine, Roy. I got pulses down
to the brachial level on both arms and
good bilateral femoral pulses. Looks like
the knife didn't hit any major organs either.
I'm not smelling any bowel. Just the anterior
superior uterus here seems effected in the
central umbilical region.This laceration's only
about four inches long but it's penetrating
clear through to the womb obliquely."

He glanced lower and didn't find any
bloody show further down. "The birth
canal's intact, Roy. Thing's are looking
real good." he sighed out loud. "All her
trauma seems to be extremely localized."

He peeled off his fluid stained gloves
and got out a blood pressure cuff.
"Ok, Chet. The bleeding's mostly stopped.
Your job is to make sure the baby
doesn't poke through again, ok? Put
on this second pair of gloves and
maintain a firm barrier over the wound."
"I'm no nurse, Johnny. I don't want
to hurt the baby." Kelly frowned.

"You won't, the baby'll move back
away from you shortly. It's not
uncommon for free movement this
late along, during a second trimester."

Roy was nodding his head in agreement
despite his numbing emotional fog. He
nodded every step of the way, too, during
Johnny's biophone call to Rampart, at
every satisfactory aspect of his partner's
examination results and vital signs report.

"....Rampart, it appears she's lost about
800 cc's of blood to the outside and
about......" he added, lifting up the cut away
garments forgotten and shoved into a heap
behind Chet,  to look more closely for a better
estimate of volume. "...200 cc's of amniotic fluid
from what I'm seeing here." he said.

Kel's firm no nonsense voice filled the air.
"51, start two I.V.'s Normal Saline and run
wide open until her B.P. comes up. Under
no circumstances are you to pack
the wound. I'd rather it drain freely. We'll
handle any major leakage when she arrives
and gets sent into surgery. Use no pain
medications on the victim, at all. It might
further depress the baby's vital signs.
What are they, 51?"

Gage read his notes. "Fetal pulse is 180
via stethoscope auscultation. Mother's
respiratory rate, assisted, is 22 on 16 liters
of O2."

"Good enough. Watch for fetal protrusions
such as free limbs or the umbilical cord in
transit. Under no circumstances are you
to push any such extrusion back into the
uterus. Just maintain space around the
area manually to keep good circulation
going in the part."

"10-4, Rampart. So far, just an arm's been
visible, that only submerged, and a hand,

Over the radio, Dr. Morton, who had been
walking by, commented. "No doubt that's
how Gage found out the baby was still
alive. The grasping reflex.."

"No doubt.." Kel agreed.

Brackett re-thumbed the talk button.
"Keep her warm, keep her legs
elevated and get her and baby in
here a.s.a.p. Tell the ambulance
driver to avoid potholes if at all
possible. Oh, and don't forget to
apply an occlusive dressing over the
wound to slow the amniotic fluid loss
you're experiencing. That's irreplaceable
at this stage of the game."

"10-4, Rampart. Treat for shock.
and use an air tight dressing."

Right then, Squad Eight came
tearing around a corner, screeching
efficiently to a halt and Brice
and Bellingham got out. "Rampart,
an additional squad has arrived to
help me keep her and her wound stable.
Our ETA is approximately fifteen
minutes. The Mayfair's here."
Gage added when a second set of sirens
grew in rising pitch, from the distance.

Image of brackettscrubs.jpg Image of mortononbiophoneintercom.jpg

Roy was finally allowed to sit by
Joanne's head, slightly to one
side so he didn't get in the way of
the oxygen being delivered to his still
wife and very active baby.  Already, the
shock he experienced when he first got
to the scene, was lifting.
"I don't suppose you saw the baby's
gender over there." Roy quipped, trying to
smile and he gently caressed Joanne's
pale face around Cap's jaw gripping

Johnny shook his head. "Sorry about that.
Your baby decided to not cooperate in
that way, Pally. Relax.. They're both in
good hands. Mine. I promised you that
I'd be here."

"And you are.." Brice said, kneeling, as
he snatched Johnny's notepad from
his hands to read what Gage had written

His speculative eye cast over Joanne
once and his head bobbed in satisfaction
over the progress of her course of treatment
thus far. Craig waved over the ambulance
attendants. "We're ready here. Looks like
everything's set and good to go."

Image of roycapbyengine.jpg Image of bricearrivesmed.jpg Image of mayfairrush.jpg

Date: Thu, 2 Oct 2003 00:52:00 -0700  
From: "Sam Iam" <>  
Subject:  Bull in a China Shop..

"Hey..." Dixie gently woke her two favorite
paramedics where they slumped in their
seats outside the surgical family waiting room.

Roy and Johnny both sat up, rubbing sleepers
out of their eyes quickly and they both coughed
to get their voices back from the depths of

"It's over. The surgery was a success. Dr.
Brackett managed to seal up your wife's
womb without losing any more amniotic fluid.
Joanne's just been extubated and is resting
comfortably. So's the baby on the sonograms,
Joe says. And there's a one hundred percent
chance she'll be able to carry your baby
all the way to full term for a normal delivery."

"When can I see her, Dix?" Roy asked.

"Oh, in about an hour or so. By then,
she'll be awake enough for visits.."
McCall grinned. "I gotta go. My shift's

"See ya Dixie..And, thanks for everything."
DeSoto said after her as she padded
quietly down the hall towards the elevators
in the semi darkness of the nighttime hospital

"Say, maybe this's is gonna fix
everything." Gage said softly.

"What's gonna fix what?" Roy
croaked groggily.

"This whole rescue and how
Morton feels about me being the one
who headed it. He can't possibly
hold malice towards me now."

"Oh, that again?" Roy said rubbing tired
eyes as he almost began drifting
off to sleep right where he was
in his waiting room chair.

"Maybe if he sees how well I handled
Joanne and the baby on paper.." he paused.
"With you, of course.. that he'll have
no desire to press charges about how
I handled his sister that day. He
was there in the room with Brackett for
this one. I know. I heard him."

"Who knows what that man thinks.
I don't think anyone around Rampart
can say much about him personally."
Roy admitted. "So how can you predict
how he'll react with any certainty?"

"Yeah, guess you're right.." Gage
said, sinking into a depression once
again that outshown the joy he
felt meeting Roy's unborn son or
daughter peeking out of the womb.

He thought again about what he
had overheard from the student nurses
on his way out the ER doors the day before.
::Man.. Maybe I SHOULD bow out while
I still have my pride left. I can't take this
anymore. Gonna have to do something about
that before I'm embarrassed publicly before
everyone in a courtroom.::

Somewhere halfway to home, Johnny Gage
made his final decision.

Image of dixroyjohnnyinnurseslounge.jpg Image of mortonjohnnywaitaminute.jpg

It was the next day after a harrowing
fire call, at the resupplying  station.

"Gage, I wanna talk to you."

"About what..?" Johnny said,
stiffening up at Morton's approach.
::Here it comes, the ultimatum.::

"About missing critical vital signs
on a patient that we both took care
of together."

"On who?" Johnny blinked in surprise.

"Baby DeSoto."

"I didn't miss any vitals signs on the baby."
he said fading from neutral into a tone
which carried a tinge of irritation.

"This here says you did. There's a blank
space glaring out at me. Caused me
and my receptionist a few headaches
transcribing my ER report this morning."

"Give me that.." Johnny said, snatching
up the run sheet xerox from Mike's hands
and reading where the young doctor
was pointing.

"I did take a fetal pulse. Apically.."
Gage insisted. "I got a rate of 180."

"Where? I don't see any notation
about it on Joanne's run sheet.
See? It isn't anywhere on here."

Johnny just gaped like a fish..

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 The Promise
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