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All That Glitters
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The Story Unfolds...

Season Five, Episode Thirty One..

  All That Glitters  

Debut Launch: March 1st, 2006.

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From: "crash200225" <crash200225@yahoo.com>
Date: Sun Mar 12, 2006  3:39 am
Subject: Gold Fever  
 

The men from Station 51's A-shift looked down at Johnny as he
squatted next to a wide, shallow bucket half filled with sand,
pebbles, and water.  In his hand was a small pan with sloped sides
that he carefully swirled.

"John," Cap sighed.  "You want to explain, again, why you are panning
for gold in a bucket in the station's parking lot?"

"I'm just practicing."  Johnny said as he continued the
swirling.  "You know Jim Hanes out of 110's? He and his wife, Pam, go
dredging for gold every spring and summer.  They invited me to go
with them to the Kern River for a few days to help them out in about
two weeks."

"Doesn't the water run too swift until July?"  Roy asked, knowing his
partner would dive into anything without much thought.  "I know they
have a sign up near the road saying how many people have drown in the
river."

Johnny laughed and said, "Jim and Pam are both experienced.  They'll
keep me out of trouble.  Besides, the upper Kern, that is the river
above the dam, is off limits to dredging.  We'll be going to a small
creek that feeds into the lower Kern, below Lake Isabella.  It's all dry
except for when the snow is melting off the high Sierras."

"Isn't a dredge a large machine that suctions out the bottom of lakes and
stuff?"  Marco asked.  "It can't possibly fit into a creek, can it?"

Johnny answered,  "They make them in many sizes.  The one Jim has is
made for prospecting.  It had two pontoons about six feet long.  It
uses an engine and air compressor to power the pump, and keeps the
person under water supplied with air.  It's a little like scuba diving, only
in shallow water and instead of air tanks, there are air lines going
down to the diver's regulator. Pam said it has a three inch intake
tube that is thirty feet long. She also said you wouldn't want to put any
body part in front of the intake. She'll be in charge of keeping the gas tank
full, because if it ever stopped, the diver digging under the creek
would have no air.  She'll  also watch the baffle for large nuggets that
might not get caught in it."

Cap cleared his throat and asked, "So what's your hand panning
here got to do with it if the machine does all the work?"

"It can't do it all.  Jim said it's easy to pick out the small
nuggets, but you still gotta pan the old fashion way to get the fine flakes
that the baffle may not catch.  You pan the sand and small pebbles
that flow off the end of the conveyor for the majority of the flakes."

Chet couldn't resist.  "You're a flake, Johnny, for getting caught
up in all of this. I hate to inform you, but the great Californian
Gold Rush was over two hundred years ago."

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Johnny ignored him. Pointedly.

Mike shook his head at Chet's remark and inquired,  "Isn't a baffle
kind of like a sifter in rapids with all the gold settling heavier than the
rock and sand? Don't the larger nuggets stay in the bottom of this
baffle thing while most of all the rest flows over them and off the dredge?"

Johnny grinned.  "Yep, except the baffles are thin and metal.  Kinda
like rungs on a ladder that have been laid flat."

"Well, Johnny, sounds like you know a lot about this."  stated
Roy.  "Sounds like it might be kinda fun doing all that."

"Yeah, it does sound like fun.  I can't wait." Johnny replied.

"You're going to have to, John.  Get this cleaned up.  You have cooking
duty and it's almost lunch.  I don't know about the rest of you, but
I'm starved."  Cap said as his stomach growled.

"Be right in, Cap."  Johnny sighed as he started cleaning up the
mess he had made.  "Man, you should see some of the gold nuggets
they've found already.   They're beautiful."

Roy smirked.  "I think you've got gold fever, you know that? You're
practically salivating here just talking about it."

"No, I don't." said Gage, putting dripping hands carefully onto his hips.

"Johnny, I'm telling you, you have gold fever.  You should see your
eyes when you talk about it.  They light up like, well, sun glinting
off a piece of gold."  Roy retorted, still smirking.

"No, they d-..."

"Gage. Lunch. Now."  came the voice of Cap from the bay door.

"On my way."  Johnny mumbled.  "Gold fever.. I do not have gold
fever.  I'm gonna get rich.  Maybe I'll even find the motherlode
all the stories say is still up there."

Roy just shook his head as he followed Johnny into the station. He
knew he'd be listening to his partner for the next two weeks about
this adventure he was going to go on.

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**************************************************
From: "Roxy Dee" <laterrapincabesa@hotmail.com>
Date: Thu Mar 16, 2006  11:17 am
Subject: Red, Red, Wine, You Make Me Feel So Fine~~


Lunch was in full swing and Johnny was trying his hand at
making something that wasn't a natural recipe in his family.
Spaghetti.

"Here, Chet. Come help me add these roma tomatoes to
the sauce. It's almost ready." Gage said, holding out a paring
knife.

"It's not my day for k.p. detail. It's yours." Chet said, opening up
the refrigerator in a hunt for something to drink before lunch.
His stomach rumbled audibly.

"Quit being so stubborn here. By the sound of all things gastronomical,
you're hungrier than Cap is." Johnny said in exasperation. "Now help me
out before the sauce bruises."

Hank gave a snort from where he was reading his newspaper. "Sauce
can bruise?"

Roy piped up from a shoe he was polishing. "I think he means scorching."

"No, I meant what I said." Johnny insisted, still holding out the knife for
Chet to take while he quickly stirred the pan with the simmering hamburger,
the pot with the boiling linguini and tossed the wooden bowl holding fresh
nearly whole romaine and raddichio greens to coat them with Caesar
dressing. "You know, where the sauce turns dark from under attention."

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"Scorching." Roy mouthed silently to the others as he shrugged again,
without looking up.

Gage stalked over to Chet and opened his palm and handed him
the vegetable knife like a surgical assistant handing off an operating
tool. "Go slice 'em up, wouldya? Please? I only got two hands ya know."

"All right, Johnny. Don't have a cow. I will. But under protest. Everyone, you're
my official witnesses. This means I get to ask Johnny here to do something
next time it's my turn to cook." said Kelly.

"Done." said Cap. "Hurry it up, Kelly. Me and the rest of the gang are still
starving."

"I'm hurrying. I'm hurrying." said, Chet, glancing down at the cutting board
as he chunked up the smallish tomatoes and added them to Johnny's
sauce pot. When Gage wasn't looking, he added more burgundy wine
to the hamburer in a quick splash and turned up the heat to denature the
extra added alcohol away.

Johnny glanced back at the fresh hiss of steam but didn't catch on at all.

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Then the oven buzzer went off. Gage hurried over and shut off the knob.
He was so frantic about making sure nothing burned that he forgot to
remember using heating pads when he reached for the bread tray.

Hank bellowed out loud. "Gloves!"

Gage immediately snatched his hand back with a wince. "Sorry, Cap. I
forgot."

"Yeah? Well one of these days, you're gonna remember on your own."
Hank chuckled. "The oven's no different a place than inside a car wreck
for safeguarding yourself. Aren't you sick of getting stitches at Rampart
yet?"

"Apparently not." Roy giggled, turning around to toss the pads to his
partner so he could take out the garlic french bread length from the
oven.

"How often do I cook here? I'm entitled to a few mistakes. Usually I rate
all the latrine detail."

"That's for being tardy, John. Not because we don't like your cooking."
Cap corrected.

Chet chuckled.
"He's not the brightest bush in the woods, DeSoto. I don't know how
you've managed to work together for so long without him managing to
chop off one of your arms or legs with a roaring K-12."

"I'm bigger than he is. Whenever it inadvertantly points at me or a victim
I usually wrestle the blade away from our danger zone in time." replied Roy.

"You shouldn't have to. " Chet said looking up. "That's the point I'm mak---OwW!
Cr*p." he said, dropping the knife and putting a smartly cut finger into his mouth.
He left the back counter to go sit down on the couch near Henry. "I'm through."

"You're not done yet." complained Johnny.

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"There's only one tomato left to cut up. You do it." said Chet mumbling around his
index finger. "I'm a little busy right now stopping this from---" he broke off
what he was saying when a strong squirt of blood gushed out from between his
teeth and down his chin. Kelly immediately paled and he pulled it out, staring
dumbly at his fountaining finger. He groaned, "Oh, ...I.. think I did a Gage, guys.
I think I'm gonna be--" Then he crumpled and sagged, landing chin up with his
head flung over the back of the couch. He stopped moving and his eyes fluttered
shut.

"Chet..quit kidding." said Marco. "So you nicked an artery. That cut's small
enough for you to handle."

"Chet?" Roy said, looking up.

Henry whined and started sniffing at Chet's lax face, ignoring the bleeding finger.
Then the color washed completely out of Chet's lips, too.

All the guys slammed out of their seats and rushed over to him.

Cap snapped out an order. "Gage, turn off the stove first. Then you can
get over here." he said as he crouched down next to Kelly. He put a hand
to Chet's neck to feel for a pulse. He expected it to be fast from  
typical faking it while joking tension, but it wasn't. "It's slow." he said,
looking up in surprise. "Very slow."

"I'll go get the gear." Roy said. He grabbed a towel from the table. He tossed
it to Lopez. "Here. Stop that finger hemorrhaging. Wipe his mouth
out, too, so he can breathe a little better. I'll be right back."

"You mean he's not faking, Cap?" Johnny said, the smile leaving his face as
he got to the couch.

"Not this time. What happened?" Hank asked, a little worried.

Johnny frowned as he pulled out a penlight. "Dilated pupils? I don't know
yet. Let's get him onto the floor. Marco, quit messing with his face. The blood's
all mopped up already. His throat sounds clear. Concentrate on that finger
instead. See if you can tell how bad it might be tendon wise once it stops
bleeding."


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"Gage. It's nothing. I can tell already. Looks like a pinprick." Marco said.

"Then it's just a lucky poke then." Johnny sighed.

"You mean unlucky." frowned Stoker. "Want me to get the O2?"

"Not yet. He was hyperventilating a little. Remember? He was sure
arguing up a storm with me. Last thing we wanna do is flood his
system with too much."

Roy arrived with the trauma box, the biophone and the EKG monitor.
"How's he doing, Johnny?"

"Still blacked out."

"His pressure coming back up yet?" asked Cap, keeping Kelly's
head tilted back gently so he could breathe without problems.

Johnny felt at the wrist, and when he felt at the brachial groove, he still
felt nothing. He moved to another check at Chet's carotid and found a weak
sluggish beat there. "Nope. It's still sitting somewhere below seventy."

"Doesn't make sense. Chet's not squeamish. Not at all." said Marco.
"So why did he pass out? Is it because he cut his finger?"

"There must be another reason why he fainted. Something we haven't
found yet." said Roy, unbuttoning Chet's uniform shirt. He was going to
cut apart Kelly's t-shirt with his clothes shears, but checked himself
and pulled the material up loosely around his jawline instead. Then he
reached for a blood pressure cuff from a gear box."Nicking an artery where
he has usually doesn't hurt at all."

Then Stoker pointed out something. "Look at his left arm, Gage. Is
that a bandaid?"

Johnny turned Kelly's arm while Roy started to get a blood pressure reading.
"It sure is." He pulled it off. "Looks like a needle mark or something here.
Right at the crook of the elbow."

"He's got one over here, too." said Marco, pointing to the right arm.

"What the heck?" Johnny rocked back onto his heels in exasperation.
"Now I know Chet isn't some kind of cheap street junkie. What are these
for?"

Cap, fiddling with Chet's t-shirt to expose his chest area further for the
monitor's pads, found the final clue. It was a red sticker with white lettering
on it. "I think I got the answer to that. Found this sticker on his shirt here. It
says," and he squinted as he read the fine print. "I gave blood today."

Johnny asked. "Does it have a date on it?"

"Yep. And a time. This morning. About two hours ago." Hank replied with a
relieved sigh. He began tapping Chet's face lightly with a few fingers. "Hey..
Chet.. Come on, pal. Wake up now. You're doing just fine." he said, keeping his
steady airway hold on him using both of his knees like a vice on either side of
Chet's head.

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Kelly finally moaned weakily. He tried to cough then, beginning to come to.

"Atta boy. Try to open those eyes. Lunch's getting cold waiting for us." smiled Hank.

Chet began to breathe in deeper and deeper but remained half out.

"So that's why he was digging in the frig for something to drink early. He probably
didn't take the juice the nurse handed out at the blood center like he should
have because he was late coming in to work." Gage said, noticing how he
was waking up.

Marco got busy with the limb leads. Then he hesitated. "He's gonna need
a shaver. He's more furry than an Italian stallion here. I can't find places to stick
these."

"I'll get one." said Stoker, rising to his feet. He jogged out for a disposable one
from the locker room spares box.

Johnny got up and got two of the couch cushions propped up under Chet's feet
and legs. "This'll speed things up a little faster. Roy, his pulse's still forty.
But regular."

"Vasovagal?" DeSoto asked, pulling the stethoscope down and out of his ears.

"That'd be my best guess. Still wanna call Rampart?" Johnny asked, holding up
the unactivated phone receiver.

"Do you?" Roy asked, looking a little shell shocked and slightly annoyed.

Coughing self consciously, Gage tossed it aside a few seconds later. "Let's scope
him first and see what we got. Then we'll decide on things. He's not that sweaty yet.
The color's back in his lips. Hey, Chet. You with me yet?" he said, digging a firm
knuckle into his breastbone.

Chet twitched his arms and groaned, but didn't open his eyes.

Mike returned with the shaver. He bent down to begin work when Roy stopped him.
"He'll kill us all if we do that." Then he pulled out a small bottle of Arrid
extra dry from his back pocket and an alcohol pad. He spread some on like defib
gel in the right places before wiping it off judiciously with the finger's towel. After the
same move with alcohol and another wipe off, he added a second coat from his sample
sized Arrid roll on. "Ok, now try them, Marco."

"Where'd you learn that trick?" asked Cap as the pads stuck through the furry mat of
Chet's chest hair.

"In Nam. From a very saucy nurse major named Hot Lips Hoolihan." Roy grinned.
"She taught me a lot of front line medic tricks like that one. Those pads are gonna keep
on sticking for at least a week." he said, flipping on the scope. "Still got brady showing,
Johnny. But nothing grossly abnormal is really apparent here."

"Let me see."

DeSoto turned the scope so Cap and Gage could both see it. The rate was rising but
still a bit sluggish.

Henry barked loudly from his place sitting up on the remaining couch cushion and
that made Kelly twitch into consciousness, working better than smelling salts.

"Oh,.. my head." Chet coughed. "Dizzy..." Then he realized where he was.
"What am I doing on the floor?"

"You fainted." Johnny grinned, picking up Chet's hand to examine the finger
nick. "Right after you did this.." he said showing Kelly the tiny wound.

"I did not."

Cap laughed. "You sure weren't sleeping any. How do you feel now?"
he asked, releasing Chet's head.

"I feel like something Henry dragged outta the trash."

"That's normal." Roy said. "Takes a few minutes for the body to regain its equilibrium
after an episode like this. Got any nausea?"

"A little." Chet said, rubbing his eyes.

"Next time, don't suck on a wound. Swallowing your blood is what makes you green."
Johnny told him.

Chet tried to sit up.

"Ah. ah. ah.. Not so fast. Your pressure's low." Cap said, keeping him down.

"What's it at? Come on, guys. This is embarrassing. Let me up." Kelly whined.

Roy finally got irritated. "It's fifty over patent pending, Chet. Now that's a fairly
deep faint for just donating a little blood to the blood bank. How many bags did
you con them into taking out of you this morning?"

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Chet was silent.

"Answer him, Chet. Cause if your BP doesn't rise to near normal in five minutes, you've
won yourself an I.V. wide open and a trip into Rampart. You can't keep your internal
organs under perfused for very long." Johnny growled.

"Well, you see.. I had extra bills to pay and so I went twice."

"You what?!" exclaimed Cap.

"I changed my clothes into a new disguise and went to a different
nurse a half hour later."

"How many.." Gage pressed, getting angry.

"Five. I think, uh,... five pints." Chet peeped.

"Without eating or drinking anything?" DeSoto asked incredulously.

"Uh,.. yeah. Look guys, I really needed the money."

Hank got livid. "I don't think the fire department would enjoy dishing
out injured pay to someone stupid enough to donate on a work day
who'd actually be dumb enough then to try a scba sweep of a house fire
afterwards. They have rules for that kind of incompetence. Stoker,
go get him that gallon jug of orange juice. Now. He's gonna stay right here,
on the floor, until he drinks the whole thing while we're watching."

"Aw, Cap. I'm not thirsty any more."

"That's because you're in shock, Chet. Psychogenic and maybe even
some slight hypovolemic shock."

"I am not."

"The monitor's bleeping out your brady big time." Gage insisted. "Here,
let me turn on the alarms for ya..." he yelled. The Tetronix warbled and
whistled fluting tones to beat the band over the supressed cardiac rhythm
which only made a very worried Henry start howling.

Until Cap turned them off again. "All right. Enough of the sand box routine.
Guys, is he serious enough to be put on the sick list?"

"No.."
 "Nope." said DeSoto and Gage. "Not for simple vasovagal syncope
syndrome."

"Are you sure that's what this is?" Hank roared.

Gage stuttered. "Uh,.. r-reasonably sure. We'll know more after
he eats and drinks a whole ton.." he glared at Chet.

"Ok. guys, lift him into a chair. We're feeding him lunch. Is he ready
for that yet?" Hank asked no nonsense.

"Uh, hang on. Let me check." Roy said, grabbing up Chet's wrist. He
could just barely feel a pulse there. "He can sit. Pressure's back up
to at least ninety."

Kelly protested when the guys each grabbed a limb while Johnny followed
behind them with the cardiac monitor. "Oh, come on. I can walk just fine."

"No, drink and chew first. And that's an order." said Hank, pulling out a kitchen
chair. The guys set him down from their four man arm and leg sitting carry
before they hurried back to their own plates to pile them high with spaghetti.

Johnny made it a sore point by plunking down the EKG monitor right next
to Chet's lunch plate so he could see its now tachycardic rate leap across the
screen. He turned on the periodic alarm so that it bleeped at him full volume.
"You got five minutes to make this shut up." he said, tapping the screen
with an angry finger. "Or it's Brackett's and a Ringer's time to take over. Eat!"

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"And drink all of that." Roy punctuated, shoving the jug of orange juice he
had just warmed up in the oven over to him.

Chet suffered Marco tucking in a napkin over his T-shirt. "Ok.. ok.. I learned
my lesson." he said sheepishly. "Sorry, Cap. Didn't mean to pull a fast one
at the blood bank. I just needed to make rent I'm behind on."

"Well, why didn't you ask us all for a loan?" Gage sighed. "We would've
helped ya."

"It's not easy for a guy to ask for help money wise, is it? Gimme a break."
Chet said in complaint, holding his head as he forced himself to drink
a few large swallows straight out of the jug. Then he put it down. "So why'd
I black out? Seeing blood doesn't bother me."

"Of course it doesn't." said Roy. "Not coming from others. It's a whole different story
when it's coming out of yourself. Tell me quite truthfully, when's the last time you
cut youself wide open at an artery?"

"Uh.. I don't think I ever have before."

"Now that's pure deja moo." scoffed Stoker.

"Pure what?" Kelly asked. "What's deja moo?"

"The feeling that you've heard that line of bull before."
Stoker replied, putting a bandage over Chet's punctured
finger to keep it from bleeding out again.

"No, truthfully. I haven't. I've lived a charmed life wound wise.
And so have you, Stoker. I don't even remember the last time you
managed to hurt yourself." sniffed Chet, shoveling in his food around
some lingering nausea. A few swallows of juice later and the EKG
monitor's alarms silenced as the rate fell below 120. "There. See?
I'm fine."

"Now you are.." mumbled Marco.

Kelly chewed a slice of bread and blushed. "So, what do they call
what happened to me?"

"Syncope." said all the others in stereo.

Chet made a face at his orange juice. "Yuck, this stuff's putrid luke warm.
Lopez, grab me a glass of ice cubes to chill this down, would ya?"

"Sure, pal." said Marco, getting up.

Roy and Johnny both shot out of their chairs and blocked off access
to the freezer. "No you're not. That'll make him faint again."

"What? That's sheer craziness." Kelly protested. "Marco, go ahead
and grab some out for me."

Cap interceded. "No, belay that."

Chet threw up his hands. "Ok, tell me why I can't drink cold stuff."

Johnny and Roy sat down again only when Marco did first.

Gage glared at him. "It's because your vagus nerve runs from
your eyeballs to your butt, Chet. Ever heard of the diving reflex?
Anything monkeying around your trachea and esophagus like
cold or touch will set off another faint by dropping your heart rate
down into the basement again. Especially if that nerve's still freshly
irritated like it is."

"What? I didn't drink cold liquids or swallow anything before.."
complained Kelly.

"No, you triggered your vagal faint for being low blood sugared and
then thinking about that active bleeding in your finger." Roy countered.
"How is it by the way? Has that finger bleeding stopped yet?"

"It has." answered Stoker for him. "And he's got full circulation,
feeling and function in it, too."

Image of stokercasualkitchen.jpg Image of royjohnnylooksofdisgustkitchen.jpg

"Thanks, Mike." said Roy. "It must have just been a spurting nick then."

Gage was evil. "Better watch out, because once you've figured out how to
do that mental trick fainting one time, Chet, you'll be able do it again." he said,
trying not to grin.

Kelly fell for it, hook, line and sinker. "You mean at the sight of blood?
Every time?" he asked genuinely crestfallen.

"Not every time. Only when you bleed out yourself. It's called negative
association." Johnny chided. "Kids develop phobias from bad experiences
like that all the time. It's because of the way your synapses impress while in
the shock state. It sets up a spontaneous fainting tendency into your nervous
system."

"Yeah, well I'm not a kid." Chet said defensively, feeding Henry half a bread
slice to calm him down. "That wouldn't be a good trait to have being a firefighter
like I am. Cap, that could get nasty if I'm in a rough spot somewhere when it happens."

The others kept their silence, seeing the value of tough love.

"Gonna take work beating that new reflex." Johnny went on.

"I'll do anything you tell me." Kelly said gratefully.

Johnny primed the pot. "Pull off those EKG pads. You've recovered."
he said, shutting off the now unbleeping EKG monitor.

Chet yanked on his wires and yelped immediately. "OwwWWW! That smarts!"

The gang burst out into loud laughter, pointing at him. Sympathetically,
Marco patted Chet on the back to ease the joke's sting.

"You mean I won't be an easy fainter after today?"

"No, you won't. Just don't give blood without eating or drinking anything
again like you did this time." Roy rescued him. "Just pull off the snaps.
Leave the pads. I made some improvised glue to get through all that chest
fur of yours. Figured you wouldn't mind waiting for them to fall off over waiting
for the hair to grow back in."

"You thought right." Kelly insisted, checking out his chest unfruitfully,
because his neck wouldn't bend that far down to allow him to see anything.
He contented himself with tucking his T-shirt back in around the pads
and rebuttoning up his blue outer shirt. "Thanks for not splitting open my
underwear, Roy." he said. "Uh,.. I meant, my T-shirt."

"No problem." DeSoto said, buried once again into his newspaper.
His food was already gone and milk glass empty.

Cap sighed, pushing away his own plate. "Marco, after you finish up,
put the med gear away, ok?"

"Sure, Cap."

Image of capcloselistenclose.jpg Image of marcobetter.jpg

The tones went off.

Hank kept a hand on Chet's shoulder to keep him in his chair when
Kelly failed to realize right away that it was a call for just the squad,
without the engine company.

Gage snatched up the EKG monitor and neatly wrapped the wires into
a coil before snapping it shut for potability. Marco helped Roy
gather up the other gear boxes to put them away into the squad's
side compartments. "Guys, keep an eye on him. Cap, make sure you
make him sleep it off after that orange juice jug's gone."

"I will." Cap promised.

##Squad 51. Biker down at the Glen Helen Motorcross Park. 1700 West
Carlsbad Way. 1700 West Carlsbad Way. Cross street, rural route,
McKenna County 5. Time out: 12:11.##

Cap rose to acknowledge L.A. for his paramedics so they could speed
up their belting in. "10-4. Squad 51 is responding. KMG 365.." he
said into the alcove mic.

Squad 51 roared out into the brilliant morning sunlight.

Image of lacountyheadquartersfrontentranceday.jpg Image of squadatya.jpg

***************************************************************
From: Sam Iam <lafddispatcher@yahoo.com>
Date: Fri Mar 17, 2006  5:49 pm
Subject: Getting There..


Johnny started laughing spontaneously in the squad for
no apparent reason.

It made Roy smile when he figured out why. He glanced
over at his partner. "I know. That was sheer stupidity,
wasn't it?" he smirked.

"You think I'd be used to Chet's antics by now. But that little
stunt took the cake and ate it, too. Boy, I'm sure glad he's
all right." Gage giggled.

"Me, too. Well, you got a chance to get your revenge out of it for
him scaring us all out of our wits like that..Have no fear."

Johnny looked at him askance. "I don't get it. How do you figure?"

Roy elaborated."He's gonna look like a vampire for the next few
days due to his anemia. You can take advantage of that and
get back at him for it."

Johnny blinked, totally not comprehending.

"You know, like he teased you about being Native American
a while back with that crazy peace pipe gag." Roy tried again.
"Y-you can use a vampire theme."

"Oh.. Heh. How exactly do I do that?" Johnny said, leaning an elbow
out the sunny window, seriously listening.

"You could always be subtle at the start. How about hanging garlic
strings around your bed or... how about leaving a wooden stake
and crucifix under Chet's pillow. "

Gage warmed up to the idea offering a thought of his own. "..or exchanging
his sheets for a body bag.." Johnny smiled mildly. "I'm surprised at you,
Roy. In all the years I've known you, this is the first time I've ever seen you
trying to be sneaky. You're actually helping me plan and pull a series of fast
ones on Kelly." Johnny gaped.

"Why not? I'm enjoying the war. And so are the rest of the guys." he sniffed,
turning back to watch the road as they sped along code three. "I'm
gonna try everything I can to keep it going. For Cap's sake."

Image of gagesatisfiedgrinsquad.jpg Image of roysatisfiedgrinsquad.jpg

Johnny's amused grin fell into one of wary suspicion. "For Cap's sake?
Why uh, H-how does he fit into all of this?"

"He's got a betting pool running on the two of you." admitted Roy with
a mild shrug.

Johnny shifted on his seat in dismay and readjusted his loose helmet
strap impatiently when they hit a series of railroad tracks without
slowing down. "You've got money down on us?! Roy, that's unethical.
That's.. that's tacky.." he complained. Then his face completely
changed expression. "So, who did ya pick to win?"

"You." Roy pointed. "Chet doesn't have enough class to outlast ya."

"How long do I got to beat him?" Johnny asked mildly.

"Can't tell ya." DeSoto smiled. "Because that would influence the outcome
and possibly throw off the entire contest. I don't want to skew the results
one way or the other."

"You're all heart."

"I try to be." Roy said just as fast. "Earning a little extra cash at the expense
of others harmlessly sure takes the sting out of the memory of all those
short matchstick-long matchstick chore drawings I always manage to lose."

Johnny's mouth fell clear open. "Roy, you haven't managed to lose even
one of those drawings in my recollection." he said incredulously.

"Really?"

"Yes.." Gage said empathetically.

"Oh. Guess I'm remembering wrong then."

"You sure are.....Man.." Johnny sighed. Then he pointed business-like
at a turn in front of them. "Take a left here. It's a short cut and it'll save
us a minute or two."

Roy dutifully squealed the squad into the turn. "How far are we?"

"Four minutes. Tops. We should start seeing the track in the distance
up the mountainside in a few seconds. Look right to your one o'clock."

Roy soon spotted their objective. He gave a low whistle under his breath.
" *WheWWwww* What a terrain."

Johnny nodded in agreement. "Looks like we'll have a huge crowd to
wade through, too. Just look at all the cars! There must be ten thousand
or more folks here."

Image of motorcrossaerial.jpg Image of gagemadinsquadroydrive.jpg

Roy silently agreed by altering their siren's slow screaming wail to a faster
oscillation so it would be heard more clearly over the babble of excited,
highly distracted people. "Look at all the motorcycles. They must be nuts!
Did you see how high that last crunch of bikers leaped off that jump?"

"I sure did. Ouch." he said, pressing his nose against the windshield. "I think..
I think...they all made their landings ok, though." Then he squinted.
"But I can't seem to spot where the officials are waving our yellow caution flags."

"Easy way around that. We'll just drive onto the course from somewhere and run
along it ourselves until we find them."

"What?!  Roy, no. The race is still going on. We'll kill somebody for sure."

"No we won't. Because everybody has an innate respect for anything painted
red that's bristling with pretty flashing lights. Including all the riders." he said
cheekily. "Find me a gap in the safety fence, Johnny, would ya? Time's wasting."

Gage corked any further protest and concentrated on guiding them in.

Image of motorcrossfly.jpg Image of 220.jpg

************************************************************************
From: Jeff Seltun <finiterider@yahoo.com>
Date: Sun Mar 26, 2006  6:27 pm
Subject: Much Too Little, Too Late

Johnny slowly let go of his tight hold on the dashboard and window frame
as the squad successfully made the track and was deftly avoided by
the bouncing, flying, motorcycle racers. Soon, the main pack outdistanced
them and disappeared over the crest of a dirt hill. "Whew.. glad that's over.
I was half expecting one of them to land on top of the squad or something
from that hilltop turn back there."

"It would never happen." grinned Roy. "We're throwing off a warning
dust cloud five times the size of one of theirs. Anybody'd be a fool to
take a jump into something like that." DeSoto kept to the very center of
the track, moving carefully forward, waiting on his speed until the dirt plume
billowing in front of them from the departing riders dissipated. Soon, they
had a clear view of the wide course snaking on ahead of them.

A white and red glint attracted Johnny's attention. It was a retired cadillac
ambulance parked prominently on the sidelines. Its attendants were oblivious
to the rushing rescue squad as they watched another serpentine bend in the
track where all the riders were competing with each other for the front spot in
between spectacular aerials acrobatics. One of the white clothed men
was taking rapid photos of the leapers as they passed the sun faded old
ambulance by. "Well, at least they have all the insurance angles covered. They've
got a volunteer crew over there. But I don't think they have radios on them.
I'm not seeing any antennaes on the roof of their ambulance." he said, peering
after the red bandana head wrapped men.

Image of johnnyviewsquaddaydrive.jpg Image of motorcrossambulance.jpg

"Maybe they're working CB from the broadcasters booth. Those TV announcers
would have the best view of the track of anybody from their building." suggested
Roy.

"Yeah, but let's still use our own service with Mayfair when we get there all right?  
The idea of letting those public ambulance attendants handle one of my patients,
gives me the willies."

"If you say so. They're still trained properly, Johnny. Or the state never
would have issued this motorcross event their racing permits." said Roy.

"Doesn't mean I have to work with em. Would you? They both have just
sneakers on." he complained. Gage suddenly pointed. "There! There! Officials
are waving a whole lotta yellow flags along the right margin on the straightaway.
And it looks like the crash bales have been knocked out of their alignment."

"That's it." said Roy, looking into his peek mirror to be sure that no straggling
bikers were moving around them before he hauled on the steering wheel to
get over there quickly.

Gage was out of the truck even before it stopped moving. "What's happening here?
he asked the nearest one. "Is this the right place for us?"

"Yes. A biker lost control in the air and landed wrong. We're getting him uncovered
a little better for ya." said the polo shirted official, pointing.

Roy and Johnny both glanced over in that direction while they rapidly pulled off
their helmets and left them on top of the squad while they got all their medical gear
out. A sea of backs from well meaning volunteers were clustered around a tangle
of haybales. Gage saw a pale, limp arm flop down in between a couple of feet.
He roared. "Hey! Don't move him around like that! All of you, just back off! What
if he's got a back injury or something? You wanna paralyze him?!" he said, rushing
over to a helmeted young man lying on the ground. He had one booted leg still
draped over a straw bale.

Murmuring apologies, the audience crowd gave him space and belatedly,
a couple of police officers rushed up to push them back behind the sagging
chain link fence.

The downed rider was unconscious and bleeding heavily from his chin.

Hearing the sound of weak choking, Johnny pulled out an oral airway from the
squad's resuscitator case and curled it carefully over the man's tongue to ease
his difficult, rapid breathing. He told the referee who had tried in vain to keep
all the worried spectators from interfering, now at the rider's head, to keep holding
the man's helmet still while he suctioned out some saliva and dirt from the man's
mouth with an active wand. Then he placed an oxygen mask over the rider's nose
and mouth on high flow. "Roy. His legs are shivering. Pulse's weak but
regular."

Image of motorcrossbikerdown.jpg Image of motorcrossrefs.jpg

Roy moved some of the fallen hay off the man's sun sweaty body.
"Priapism's starting up. If he didn't have one before, he's definitely got
a spinal cord compromise now." he said grimly, glaring up at the race
enthusiastic, beer perfumed crowd who was now ignoring them. :: Someone's
gonna have hell to pay for moving this injured man.:: thought Roy. ::I hope the
TV cameras are still recording the incident. It'd be nice if this man's family
had a legal recourse to follow up with later on. That's if we can get him
to survive that long.:: "I've found a left femur fracture and open left tib/fib ....
His chest seem to be clear though." DeSoto shared, lifting his stethoscope
away from the man's lungs. He tested the man's pelvic stability and found
an outward softening motion. "Possible pelvis, too."

"I'll get a pressure. 130 at the carotid. Breathing's 22 and real shallow." said
Gage.

Roy nodded grimly, looking at the stunned track official.

"I'm sorry. I tried to shove them off of him but they wouldn't listen to me.
Most of these people watching the race are drunk." said the man.

"You let alcohol in during an event like this?" Gage said, venting some
frustration and anger as he cut away the man's nylon jump suit to unstrap
the man's knee and elbow crash pads to look for more fractures and
bleeding.

"I don't make the rules around here. I only try to enforce those they tell me
about. I guess the sponsors feel that this race is no different than a baseball
game as long as the riders don't drink anything themselves." said the dusty,
head holding official.

"Yeah, well here's some fallout for you to go tell all of your sponsors once
we're through treating this man. He's paralyzed now, however indirectly,
because of that little ruling of theirs about beer and alcohol being allowed
for spectators. Maybe if that fence line over there were in better repair,
the general crowd might not have been able to swarm onto the track to
monkey with this injured rider in the first place! How about them apples,
huh?" Johnny hissed quietly into his face. Then Gage turned his back on
him to set up the biophone to notify Rampart of their victim.
"Rampart, this is Squad 51. How do you read?"

##51, this is Rampart.## came Dr. Brackett's voice. ##We read you loud
and clear.##


"Motorcross biker down. Please stand by. We're set to immobilize a freely
breathing spinal injury." said Gage.

##10-4, Standing by.##

Johnny set the phone receiver down.

Image of oralairwayinmouth.jpg Image of brackettonbiophoneside.jpg

The track man's bland haughtiness fell away into one of shock and he
glanced over to the sideline margins as if seeing the tattered metal chain
link fence for the first time."I never even considered that aspect... I-."

"It's not your job to do that. It's theirs." said Roy. "At least, you're helping
us with him right now and that's what matters here. Don't feel guilty about
this, ok? You tried your best to do what you could with what you had to
work with. We can still make a good difference if things decide to go our
way. He's gonna have to fight if he wants to live after today but live he
will with a little help from all three of us, mister, if we're lucky.
Ready to help us roll him onto this longboard? Johnny and I are going to
be busy using these sand bags next. We're gonna immobilize his head
and neck safely in a good line without taking this helmet off so things can't
be made any worse for him after we get him centered on the board inside
of these mast trousers."

"O- ok.." said the official numbly. "I'm ready. I've got a real good hold
here." he added eagerly. He was gripping the pale biker's helmet so
tightly that his tanned fingers were turning white.

Roy poked Johnny with an elbow while he connected the biker to the
EKG monitor, hinting for him to soothe the track official a little. Gage
looked at him. "I never said it was your fault. I just wanted you to be a
messenger, sir. For all this track's future injured riders' sakes."  
Johnny managed to put on a convincing smile and all it took was a
brief touch on the shoulder to make the man relax whole yards.  

Soon, the unconscious rider was bundled with the mast suit's first
chamber ready to inflate on Kel's order.

Roy began filling the hospital in with their findings...

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