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            Eligibility
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       Page Three

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From: "Roxy Dee" <laterrapincabesa@hotmail.com>
Date: Thu Feb 23, 2006 5:19pm
Subject: The Cheynes-Stokes Scare~~


Henry began to whine softly in the darkness.

From his bunk, Chet groaned. "Oh, for Pete's sake,
Gage. Did you forget it was your turn to let Henry out
earlier?"

"I let him out. I let him out.. Two hours ago. Maybe he's
just bored or something.." Johnny said flipping over onto
his back. "It is kind of unusual that all of us went to bed
at the same time. Maybe he's just picking up on that fact
as being a little odd."

"Yeah, well, let's just hope for your sake that he settles
down." said Kelly as he flipped back over.

Johnny smiled in the blackness surrounding them,
stretching a little. Then he thought of something. "Hey, Roy.
You asleep?"

"I was. What do ya want?" DeSoto complained sleepily where
he lay half out on his stomach.

"I was wondering whether or not you know what's eating Henry
up so bad. I mean, there's no reason for his fussing. Know what
I mean?"

Roy gave a sigh of long suffering. "I'm amazed that you even
heard him. Usually you sleep like a log when it's so quiet in
here."

"That's it. It's silent! I'll just bet Cap snuck off to the office ten
minutes ago to study the chief's books again. That explains
everything." Johnny said, sitting up."Hey Marco... Hey!  Is Cap
over there?"

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Lopez flipped over in irritation. "Oh, for crying out. l- Ok, I'll
look if only to shut you--" he broke off. "Uh, guys.. he's still
here."

Something in Marco's voice made a chill flow down all their spines.

Lopez immediately pegged the problem for what it was. "Why isn't
he snoring like he usually does?"  Marco sat up, and peered the
four feet over to his left to Cap's bunk. "Guys, I don't think he's
moving."

Gage and the others shot to their feet but no one was faster than
Chet. "Hey, Cap?!" Kelly said loudly as Roy waved the lights on
at the radio table next to the window. "Gage, I don't think he's
breathing." said the curly haired fireman, going nearer.

That alarmed Roy and Johnny and they hurried over to his bed,
and they both kneeled down on either side of Hank, pulling
his covers down and off of his chest. They were about to shake
him when Stanley shifted in an involuntary jerk where he was on his
back. Then he choked oddly and started gasping violently through
a half open mouth without waking up. And fell into the normal snoring
pattern they all were familiar with hearing at night.

Johnny glanced up at Lopez. "Are you sure you weren't seeing things?
He's just fine. Geez, Marco. Thanks for scaring the h*ll out of all
of us like that." said Gage, hurrying back across the cold floor to get
under his blankets again.

"I know what I saw." declared Marco. "How could Henry and I both be
wrong? How else would you explain why he's so uneasy. We all
felt it a moment ago. That's what probably woke us all up."

The bunkroom erupted in loud conversation when everybody began
debating about the real reason why they had crawling skin.

Then the expression on Roy's face stopped them all. His head was
tilted as he listened to something they weren't yet aware of and his
eyes slowly fixed on Cap's face. His snoring had gone completely
absent and Cap lay still as concrete. Then they all noticed that
he wasn't even trying to draw breath in any more.

"Holy sh*t." Johnny immediately gulped and jumped out of bed
and he flew back over to Cap's side. "What's the problem? Roy, is
he sick?"

"See? I told you." said Marco as he joined the others in a rush for
Hank's bed.

Gage was just about to touch him when Roy stayed his hand. "Wait
a minute. I think I just figured something out about what's happening
here. I don't think we have to wake him just yet. I wanna see if I'm
right about my sudden idea."

"Are you crazy? Let me at least open his airw--" Gage protested.

*Choke!* came the odd noise again from Cap.
They all froze when Hank once again sputtered and gasped as if he
were partially throat blocked for a few seconds. Then his snoring
became once again what was normal for him during sleep.

Narrowing his eyes, Gage thought about it. "Every minute he does
that?"

"Apparently." Roy said, folding his arms.

Chet was nervous. "Shouldn't we wake him and see if he's really ok?
I mean, it might be a stroke or something."

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The rest of the guys just rolled their eyes at Kelly.

"Oh, Chet, please, he's as healthy as an ox." Johnny scoffed, folding his
arms like Roy was doing but for a different reason.

"Be that as it may, I'm gonna go get the O2. Just in case." Kelly said,
jogging out of the room. "Unlike the rest of you, I'm getting ready for
the unexpected."

Roy sat on the edge of Cap's bed and felt his pulse. "Normal. His
color's good, too."

Gage figured it out. "Nah, it can't be."

"Only one way to find out." admitted Roy.

"Find out what?" Stoker asked, carefully watching Hank for any
further adverse changes from where he crouched on his toes.

"We'll see in a just under a minute if what we think is up happens
again." Gage told him.

Kelly came clattering back with the oxygen apparatus and he was
intercepted instantly by Roy and Johnny and made to keep quieter.
They took the equipment from his hands.

"What're you doing? We probably need that for him." Kelly snapped.

"Shhh! No we don't." Johnny hissed, jerking a thumb at where Cap lay
slumbering. "Just hush up and watch him along with the rest of us, ok?"

"Watch for what?" Chet whispered, still scared.

From the other side of the room, Henry started whining again.
Faintly, and worried.

Cap's loud snores grew more and more labored over time, but
he didn't wake, his eyes rolling under their eyelids. Then he seemed
to relax and his chin fell onto his chest again like usual. But while
doing it, he fell silent and didn't draw in another breath. For ten seconds,
fifteen... twenty..

Roy and Johnny watched tensely, still monitoring Hank's pulse, which
was picking up.

Chet ansed. "I don't like this one bit. What's wrong with him?"

"Chet,...we don't know for sure. But Johnny and I see that he's not
in any kind of danger yet. His color's still real good." Roy answered.

"What?"

"See for yourself." Gage said, gesturing.

"But he's not breathing." Kelly insisted.

Roy nodded in agreement. "If I'm right, he'll start up again in
five seconds.."

Unconsciously, the others looked at their watches.

Mike stood in nervous anticipation, glancing at the oxygen gear
in a brief flicker.

Gage was about to fidget himself when Cap repeated the violent
recovery cycle of his strange seeming affliction without waking up
in the slightest.

Roy timed the rate they all saw and heard as he resumed snoring.

Kelly squinted suspiciously. "Is this what I think it is?"

"You mean about him probably having a bad case of sleep apnea?"
Roy asked. "That's what we both think it is." he said, pulling
a BP cuff and stethoscope out of the desk drawer. He also grabbed a
tape recorder, set it on the table, and hit the record button. "We're
gonna document this right now and play it back for Cap in a few minutes
when we wake him up. If we don't have proof of something odd going on,
he'll never go to the doctor's about it. You remember how he was last
year with the tendonitis he found in his hands. It almost took a catapult to
get him in to see Dr. Brackett. Now, everybody, pipe down. Let's
get two minutes of this recorded, ok?"

The rest of the gang twitched nervously, but they held their tongues.

Johnny showed pure paramedic skill when he got a blood pressure
reading off Cap without disturbing him. "It's fine. 130/90." Then Hank's
odd breathing started rising in ever increasing apparent difficulty.

Until he quit trying to do it at all.

It took everything the others had to hold their own breaths so the tape
recorder caught everything without giving into their training to fix Cap's
situation with a firm head adjustment.

A half minute went by where Cap didn't breathe. Then suddenly, he did,
just like he had before in great shuddering inhalations until he was
resting peacefully.

The gang watched this agonizing cycle once more before they couldn't
hold themselves still enough to wait any longer.

They woke him. Swiftly.

Hank shot up onto his hands and butt blearily. "What?" he mumbled,
rubbing a very sleep heavy face."I didn't hear anything. Did I finally
sleep through an alarm call here?"

"Not exactly.." said Marco after a pause.

"No, wait a minute, Marco, that isn't exactly true, now is it? Cap, for a
few minutes there, we thought you were one." Kelly said in exasperation.

Cap's eyes squinted in a don't-you-go-kidding-with-me look. Then he noticed
the oxygen apparatus by his bedside and the cuff still wrapped around his
arm. "What's this all about? Are you playing some kind of joke on me,
Chet?"

"Wish he was, Cap." Gage said, rubbing his face. "We all think you got a little
problem coming out that needs you to start paying attention to it. It also
explains why you've been feeling so tired lately. Just listen to this."
said Johnny, rewinding and playing back the tape for Hank to hear.

The captain's face fell from embarrassment to actual horror when he
heard himself stop snoring so disturbingly for so long. Henry's quiet
moans in the background only increased his fright. "That was me?
J*sus!" he sat up a little straighter, hugging his knees. "I sound like
I'm dying. No wonder you guys dragged that in here." he said, jerking a
thumb at the resuscitator apparatus next to him. Then he blinked as
he absently calmed an overjoyed Henry with a few pets. "Uh..  
Why am I doing that kind of thing?" he said, flipping off the tape with
a shudder.

Roy sighed, folding his fingers on the bed. "Have you ever heard of
sleep apnea, Cap?"

"Yeah, isn't that what people develop when they get a little too overweight?"
Hank guessed nervously, coughing. He was a still a little uncomfortable with
everyone staring at him like they were still doing in serious concern.

DeSoto shrugged. "Deviated septums, enlarged tonsils, abnormal REM
cycles, sleep ailments..any number of things can bring it out if one has
a tendency for it."

"Well,.well.. uh.. What's a guy supposed to do about it in the meantime?
Is it dangerous?"

"For you, not yet." said DeSoto. "You don't develop cyanosis when you quit
breathing because your body fights back and starts it up again before even
a minute goes by."

"But you probably never get a chance to hit REM sleep, Cap, before you're
half jolted awake enough to fix your own airway by harder snoring. I'll just
bet you can't remember the last time you dreamed about anything. How
could you? You never get into that state which allows it." Gage said,
rubbing his chin thoughtfully.

"Sure I do. I last dreamed about..." he broke off, rubbing burning eyes. "Well,
I'm sure I dreamed something last week.. or was it last month?" he sighed
in confusion. Then he sagged back onto his pillow and peeled the BP cuff
off his arm. "I'm too tired to think about it any more, guys. Me with sleep apnea?
I just can't believe it.. I mean, well,...why doesn't my wife notice this? We sleep
together in the same bed."

"Maybe she's just a sound sleeper." Roy suggested.

Cap made a face.

"It might be true you know. Most likely, your dog'd notice things before she would.
Because he isn't so habituated. I mean, that's what happened to us, with Henry.
He's the one who woke us all up to check you out in the first place." said Johnny.

"He did?"

The rest of the guys nodded.

Then Chet said. "We thought you had gone into the office again to study. Just
imagine our fright when we found you still in bed, not moving. You scared the h*ll
outta Marco here."

"Sorry, Marco." Cap winced. "I didn't realize."

"Well, now you do. You should schedule an appointment with a doctor in a sleep
lab a.s.a.p." said Roy firmly.

"Oh, now, don't go starting that go see a doctor business up with me again."
Hank stiffened.

"Do you like feeling tired all the time?" Johnny insisted, getting frustrated instantly.
"Sooner or later, your fatigue's gonna start effecting your job, Cap. And quite, frankly,
I don't think Headquarters is gonna be too keen on letting you get a chief's spot while
still suffering from uncontrolled night apnea."

Cap seemed to shrink in his underwear. "What do I do in the meantime..?" he whispered.
"I'm so tired tonight, I - I, I can't even think straight anymore." he said, his lower lip
quivering with an uncharacteristic waver. "And we still have a full day to get through
tomorrow."

Gage nodded at Roy knowingly, until DeSoto said, "We can do this, Hank." and
he handed Stanley a plastic oxygen mask. "Just for tonight. Setting the regulator
at half a liter a minute should get you through until dawn without another episode.
When you're fully rested in the morning, we'll talk about it some more then, ok?"

"I can't use this. I'll look stupid having to explain things when A-shift sees a
discrepancy in oxygen tank usage in the equipment logbook in a day or two."

"So?" shrugged Gage. "We can cover for ya. I know at least one intern who owes
me a favor for letting him go on a ride along. We can bring your emptys to Rampart
in the squad and I can have him fill them up there each day until you finally get
evaluated and treated."

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"You don't have to do that for me." Hank sighed. "I - I can always stand up to
them on A-shift, and, and- and be evasive. I am a captain after all."

"Yeah, but why risk such a glowing record as one by lying to another shift
at your own station. That won't wash over well with McConnike once he finds out.
And find out he will once Brice figures things out about what we're doing on our
end." Roy told him.

Cap couldn't say anything else as a huge yawn threatened to crack his
jaw in two. Henry yawned right after him, and curled up on his stomach with a
worry releasing sigh.

Gage just ended the conversation by turning on the oxygen and hooking it
up. "Here. Go to sleep already. Once you are, I'll sneak back over here
and turn the recorder back on to see how the bumped up oxygen helps ya.
The doctors will wanna know what makes it better and how much. The tape'll
tell them."

"I can't sleep now! Not with knowing about this.." protested Cap.
His body immediately refuted that statement into a lie by making
Hank yawn again.

"Oh, yes, you can." chuckled Stoker. "Come on, roll over or I'll go call
Dixie to come to the stationhouse just to tuck you in."

"Yes, mother.." growled Cap through the mask he set reluctantly onto his
face. He turned away from everybody and curled his arms around himself
as he got comfortable on his left side. "Pretend this never happened, ok?
I'm embarrassed enough as it is."

The gang respected that and turned off the lights. They all laid down
to sleep again, except for Gage who sat indian style on top of his blankets,
waiting for the moment to switch the recording machine back on.

Softly, he whispered. "You take good care of him, Henry. Woof when he's
asleep for me, ok? I can't see him very well from over here."

Henry sneezed. Johnny took that as a yes for his answer.

Then Gage turned towards the window to pass the time and he let the sight
of the slowly rising moon fill his eyes.  

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**************************************************
From: "Cory Anda" <andacory@...>
Date: Sun Feb 26, 2006  5:34 pm
Subject: Start of the Day.

It was five fifty six a.m.
Station 51's kitchen was in full chaos mode.

The gang, except the still slumbering Cap, had unspokenly
agreed sometime in the night to KP without him. Stoker took
the brunt of egg frying while the others juggled carefully contrived
waffle searing and general mayhem with the bacon.

Johnny rubbed his nose as he began to set the table for
all the food. "Man, are we lucky no calls have come in.
Cap's still sleeping like baby in there." he chuckled.
"And before you ask, Roy, yes, I made sure that he's not
tangled up in tubing."

Roy looked at his watch. "At least that worked some. I heard
second part of his sleeping tape while shaving. Do you think
we should disable the overhead in the bunkroom so he gets
in a little more pillow work? L.A.'s morning communications
check is due in four minutes."

Johnny opened his mouth, gesturing with a fork.

"Noooo wayyy, Gage. Don't do it. " interrupted Chet. "Do you really
wanna face Hank's wrath once he learns he actually lived through
one of his worst Captain's fears? You heard him last night. He never
wants to wake up to the day he misses hearing a call. Even if
it is just the usual county a.m. wake up tones."

Stoker was mischievious. "Why not? Let's go ahead and live dangerously."

Gage snorted in laughter. "No thanks. I think what we already do
for all our jobs is excitement enough. So,.." he said turning around
a chair at the table so he could butt perch on its highback edge with his
shoes planted on the seat. "What's gonna be the gameplan for
getting him into Rampart for a sleep study test?"

Chet shrugged. "We could always hook part of a ceiling on
an extinguished fire call down on top of him when he's not looking.
You know, just to wing him a little bit into a precautionary ambulance trip.
That way, Brackett can get his meaty claws locked onto him a little easier."

Roy smiled. "That'd be attempted murder charges, Chet." he kidded. "At
the very least. But I don't think we're gonna have to get quite so drastic
getting him in to see a doc about his apnea. That tape did all the scaring
work for us."

"Nah, I'll believe it when I see it." Chet said, stealing a bacon strip off
the sizzling grill. He burned his fingers on it. "Ouch!"

"What a dummy." said Marco, throwing him a wet towel. "Why don't you
wait for your food like the rest of us?"

"I'm used to pilfering. That's how I survived growing up competing
with my much older big sister." Kelly replied.

"What'd your parents do? Starve you two?" asked Gage incredulously.

"No, we both like drumsticks. And after dad got his there was only one
left to grab. I got good at it." said Chet.

"Boy, don't I know that. I'm still missing yesterday's potatoes."
Gage mumbled.

"I'll make some more just for you at lunch later on today. Deal?" Kelly
said, running his seared fingers under the tap. Then he shook his
head. "Man I never thought I'd see the day where I renegged on a
food snatch. Mark it as a landmark moment everybody."  

No one did.

Then Stoker did a Radar O'Reilly. "Wait for it. Not for us.."

##Rrawww OOO EEeeeeeeo.#### said the SCU tones.
##This is L.A. testing with Stations, 24, 99, 18, 110, 8 and 51.
Your time check is now 0700.## declared the speaker grill.


A minute later, they all heard the clattering of the oxygen
apparatus as Cap put it away back into the squad's gear stow.

Hank soon shuffled in and sat down, fully dressed in uniform.
He looked self conscious for only a moment, thinking about
what had happened to him in the night but then he said, "I
put the empty tank away and covered the top of it with a biobag
so you guys won't accidentally grab it on a medical call." he
said to Roy and Johnny.

"Thanks, Cap." said Roy, not looking up intentionally from
his folded newspaper.

Then Gage neatly changed the subject. "So, who's ready for
the Fireman's Ball? I got my tux rented."

Marco smiled. "I am. My mother's gonna pick it up for me
today from the rental place at one since I'm working."

"That was nice of her." said Cap. "Wish my wife would pick
up mine."

Chet frowned. "What's wrong with the one you wore at your
brother's wedding? I thought that one looked just fine, Cap."

"The wife doesn't like gray." shrugged Cap, dishing out some
peaches from the large can opened on the table into his bowl.
"She says it'll clash with everything she's got in the closet."

"Well, there's no accounting for taste these days." said Chet
"I think she just doesn't realize the impeccable fashion sense
you possess, Cap."

Cap set down his spoon. "Are you saying that to try and butter
me up into helping you study for the captain's test?"

"Yes." said Gage.

"Shut up, Gage." said Chet with no sting. "I'm brown nosing here."

"It's not gonna work.." Johnny said relentlessly. "Cap doesn't
like that kind of thing."

"I don't like fake sentiment either, Johnny. So don't buddy up to
me by reverse association. I'm onto you as well. If you want help
studying, the same resuscitation challenge's waiting for you."
he said.

"No thanks. I know my own abilities with that and how good a
student I make while studying on my own."

"I'll vouch for that." said Roy. "He did graduate paramedic class
at the top of the pile."

"Who's side are you on, Roy?" Kelly wondered sarcastically.

"His." DeSoto said, pointing at Johnny while chewing without breaking off
from his reading. "He's the better man for the possible captaincy
here."


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"What makes you say that?" asked Cap in amusement to Chet's
chagrin.

"Maybe it's because I know him so well. Anybody with bad habits
as transparent as his has gotta have something going for him inside
any command chain. Any men who find themselves under him will see
right through those and automatically learn the good habits."

"Thanks a lot for the personality profile, Pal." Johnny told Roy.
"If that's true, then how do you explain him?" And he jerked a thumb
at the pondering Chet.

Stoker did another precog. "This one's us..." he warned.

Then Henry barked.

The gang got to their feet, abandoning breakfast.

"Rrawww OOO EEeeeeeeo." said the SCU tones.
##Station 51. Unknown type rescue. 1457 Marx Way. 1457 Marx Way.
Cross street. Jefferson St. Time out : 0709.##

Cap muttered as he pulled on his turnout coat. "That sounds
like a house address."

"It is.." said Stoker, fingering the wall map for a route trace.
"It's in the West Carson neighborhood by the ballpark."

The station rolled out.

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**************************************************
From: Patti or Jeff or Cassidy <theaterhost@voyagerliveaction.com>
Date: Wed Mar 1, 2006  11:02 pm
Subject:  Sleep Eternal...

Roy and Johnny were two minutes into the trip when Johnny said,
"Man, I got a real bad feeling about this one." he said, rubbing
his lips nervously. "Hair's prickling on the back of my neck."

"Are you sure it isn't because of the word 'unknown' being used
on a call. That's all it takes for me. It's only slightly better than
responding to a domestic disturbance and getting there before
any police arrive." Roy said, gripping the steering wheel.

"It's more than that, Roy. I haven't felt like this since I looked
down and realized that it was my best friend lying in pieces
on the side of the road in a patrolman's uniform."

"You're just tired, that's all. We did have a restless night
thinking about Cap and how to best monitor him last night."
Roy smiled in an attempt to cheer him. "I saw the way you
were still watching him when I got up this morning. You didn't
have to do that. He was just fine. And so are you right now."

"Then why do I feel like I have to throw up?" Gage asked with
a little fear. "A lack of sleep doesn't explain that away
at all."

The two said nothing while Roy simultaneously kept tabs on
the engine speeding at a safe distance behind them and the
turns they were carefully taking as Johnny directed their route
by pointing, nervously.

An unwelcome tension began to permeate the squad.

Image of royjohnnytalkambulanceentranceinsquad.jpg Image of capcabradioframe.jpg

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Captain Stanley tried to ease the anxiety quotient on their rescue
call. He contacted Headquarters. "L.A., This is engine 51."

##Go ahead, Engine 51.##

"Do you have any more information regarding the nature
of our current call?"

##Engine 51. Negative. Your response was designated as unknown
when the caller left the operator on an open line. However, I've
notified the police. A squad car is responding to the same address.
Their approximate ETA is two and a half minutes.##

"10-4, L.A. Engine 51 out. Will advise upon arrival." sighed Hank.

He shook his head at Stoker to share mutual frustration while
the engineer skillfully maneuvered the Ward through the busy traffic
surrounding them.

Dawn had burned away into full daylight when there was no more
distance or time left for which they had to wait. Cap saw the squad
jam its tires up against the curb and park there. As protocol demanded,
they didn't immediately get out. Instead, they watched and listened for
a response from inside the house reacting to the sounds of their sirens.

But Stoker's blasting airhorn summoned no one's face to either
window by the door when they turned them all off to listen.

Just then, Vince pulled up in his squad car and drew out his gun.
"Wait right there until I check it out, boys.." he said. "Turn down
your radio scanner for a minute, all right?"

Hank nodded and gestured a glove at Mike to lower the volume
quickly. Then everybody got out on the street side of their vehicles.

They watched as Howard hugged the bushes, keeping under
close concealment as he moved towards the house's white painted
porch. He found the front door open and went inside, his gun preceding
him.

Peering around the engine's fender, Cap held the others back and got on
his HT. "Engine 51, to squad 51. Stay behind the squad until we get
word from Vince to follow. Get all the gear you can reach over there
on that side of the truck only.." he ordered.

##HT 51, to Engine 51. We're standing by.## said Gage into his own HT
with every syllable of his answer showing how unhappy he was at
having to freeze in place and not act on anything. He smacked
a frustrated glove against the mirror frame of the driver's door
where he was crouched next to Roy.

"Easy." said DeSoto. "We'll get in there and at an answer soon enough.
You know how this works."

Johnny ignored him and pulled the resuscitator apparatus even closer to
his side.

Image of vincegageambulancegunapproach.jpg Image of roydaylightbythesquadlights.jpg

Then, a shadow appeared in the doorway. It was Vince, waving them
in.

L.A.'s voice erupted over the loud speakers of both trucks and all
their walkie talkies. ##Station 51.  LAPD reports a child call with
a mother in attendance.##

"10-4, dispatch an ambulance times one to our location as soon
as possible." confirmed Hank over the radio. "We've no fire."

##Engine 51.##

"Go..guys.. Move it." Cap said unnecessarily to the others as
he helped carry the EKG monitor and defibrillator while they
gathered the rest of the squad's medical equipment and followed
the rushing paramedics.

Vince said. "The baby's not breathing. But mom seems to have
been trained well enough. She's doing some pretty good CPR
on her."

Without another word, the gang entered the house and got into
the bedroom Vince indicated.

It was a sheer shock when the mother looked up in almost
blind terror. "Roy? Johnny?" she whispered hoarsely. "What
took you so long? I...can't get ..my daughter going
anymore." she sobbed through stringy sweat soaked hair.

Gage and DeSoto startled as they ran to the bed when Chet
said something that explained the mother's odd familiarity towards
them. "Karen Overstreet?"

It was the paramedic trainee who had saved Roy's life the day
he got electrocuted and fell off of a rooftop two years ago.

Image of vinceclosetalkoutside.jpg Image of mombabymouthtomouth.jpg

Captain Stanley immediately grabbed her shoulders. "Hand her over
to them, Karen. Let them see her." he told her firmly, pulling
her hands away from a small, limp infant who was only weeks old
from where she lay on the blanket rumpled bed. "They can help her now."

"No!!" she said, trying to pull her daughter back. Vince got
her away from the firefighters and gently tripped her leg so
she would fall seated into a nearby chair. "Jennifer..?!" Karen
screamed, trying to get up again. She was restrained by both
Marco and Vince instantly. "Let me go!.."

Roy immediately saw the tiny child's bluish color and he placed
a stethoscope over the baby's chest. He shook his head at
Johnny and quickly started manual CPR, nodding to the others
to get out the neonate resuscitation gear while he gave the
baby careful breaths through his lips and restarted light compressions
using his thumbs while he worked the baby on top of the defibrillator
case.  

There would be no using that equipment, Johnny knew. The child's
body size was far too small to handle even its lowest shock setting.

Gage lowered his voice to calm her when Karen finally stopped
fighting Vince and Lopez's grip and giving into hysterics. "Karen..
Karen. We're getting her on some oxygen right now." he said, watching
Cap and Chet getting some set up and flowing into a newborn's ambu
bag. "You gotta tell us all you know about what's happened. How
long do you think she was down without a pulse before you
found her?" he asked, holding her arms tightly by the shoulders.

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"I don't know. I don't know.." Karen cried, only being able to
focus now on the floor in front of her bare feet.

Gage gripped her chin and forced it up until she met his eyes.

"Johnny, I'm so scared..." she gasped, sucking in a ragged breath.

"Easy, Karen. We're here now. It's ok to be frightened. But you gotta
guess what time was it when you first noticed that your baby was in
trouble." Gage told her firmly.

A second startling sight above them almost dragged his attention away
from Karen when his eyes spotted the paramedic's certificate
hanging on a frame and a medal of valor for fire services
rendered, perched in a case next to it on a bookshelf.
::Well, I'll be, she made it through the program and then some.::
he thought. He fought and regained his focus in seconds.

Overstreet trembled, grabbing onto Johnny's gripping hand
with both of her trembling ones."She was asleep, that's all.
Jeff just left for work. I.. uh, it was ..then was six. He always
leaves at six." she said, in fear.

Johnny soothed her. "Tell me more. Then I gotta get over
there to help Roy out with her."

Karen just about fell apart, trying to keep herself talking.
"Ok..*gasp* ..ok..  I think the time was 2:00 a.m. when Jeff came to bed.
I donít know exactly at what time I awoke, but I reached for Jenny. Just
something that I always do. I reach out and touch my children when
they're sleeping with me. I was groggy but she felt so cool. I thought she
had just kicked the covers off. So I went to reposition her and snuggle
her up against me. When I did, I could tell something was wrong. She was
so limp..." she sobbed. "Oh, Johnny,.. I remember so many things about
that moment. Her little face was turned in toward the sheet, but I donít actually
know if it was that way before I started to reposition her or if my repositioning
did that. When I first reached out to rearrange her I didnít have my eyes open.
I scooped Jenny up, turned the light on and I said, 'Jenny's cold... Jeff?' But
he had already left."

"After six am? Or was it later? Your call reached us at 0709, Karen." Hank asked
from where he crouched over the bed, watching Chet work the bag while
he himself did CPR with his thumbs over the breastbone, his large
hands encircling Jennifer's tiny chest. "It's important for the doctors to know--"

"Don't you think I know that!" she screamed. "You guys supposedly taught me
everything I know." she cried bitterly. "You made me into one of you and
I went kicking and fighting all the way!"

The firefighters fell silent, working only for the child.

Stoker spoke up softly while he set up the biophone. "Karen, we're not
going to lie to you. It's bad, but she may still have a chance. We have to find
out whether or not Jennifer may be a victim of SIDS or not, in order to treat
her more effectively."

But Overstreet was beyond listening. She mumbled. "I remembered that your
station's rescue squad was less than a mile from my house, so I dialed the
operator and I told her.. 'Oh, G*d! Please hurry!.'  They've got to come. I said
to myself. They've got to come fast..." she sobbed, rocking her face against her
knees. "Then I don't remember anything, guys. I can't even remember now.."
she cried, fresh tears re-staining her face.

Vince took a quilt off of a love seat and covered her up. "I'll go call
mobile crisis from the hotline for her to meet us at the hospital." he
offered. "I'll try to track down Jeff, too. Won't be hard. Looks like she's
married." he said, tucking in Karen's left hand under the blanket where
she sat dazed and rocking and twisting the wedding band on her finger
numbly.

"Mike, keep an eye on her. Watch her for further signs of shock after
you're through with your initial hail to Rampart." Hank ordered.

Stoker hurried to obey.

Vince had a million thoughts running through his head. ::Observe
the scene. Take note of what was moved and how. The final determination
of SIDS as the cause of the baby's problem will be based on possible evidence
at the scene.:: he chided to himself. ::Just because we're hastening to resuscitate
the infant, evidence can easily be destroyed and valuable information lost.
Document what you found when you arrived; it may prove invaluable later.
Remember the beginning? We needed to move the patient, and a few other things
in the room, like the mother. Note it! Then go out and lock your car. You're
going with them. But first, clean up the mess being made. Last thing this
mother needs are reminders of today when she returns back home again.::

Karen spoke up as she felt Johnny leave her side for the bed. "ALTE! She's
got ALTE..It's come three times before." she gushed, struggling to stop shivering.

"Got it.." said Johnny as he took the phone from Mike. He spoke softly
to the doctor who had answered the call. "Rampart, this is Squad 51."

##Go, ahead, 51.## replied Joe Early.

"Rampart we have a female infant less than eight weeks, down. She has
a history of multiple apparent life-threatening event incidences. Uh, the mother
was performing effective first aid upon our arrival. We've no vital signs,
but there isn't clear evidence ruling in algor mortis. Livor mortis
is not apparent either. CPR on one hundred 02 is in progress." Gage told
him.

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##10-4, 51. Start an I.V. of  Ringer's Lactate, O.S and give a 5 ml/kg fluid bolus.
Make sure you angle your needle to avoid damaging the epiphyseal plate.
Establish an endotrachael airway and deliver by intraosseous infusion:
0.01 mg/kg epinephrine of 1:1,000 solution. If there's no response in three minutes,
make your second and subsequent doses 0.1 mg/kg of 1:1,000 solution. Repeat
every 3-5 minutes. Get me a cardiac reading from more than one lead.
Administer sodium bicarb as a one time bolus 1ml.kg-1 of an 8.4% solution
if you're absolutely sure the child is being effectively ventilated or
paradoxical intracellular acidosis will result. Transport as soon as possible
continuing full resuscitation en route.## said Joe.

Gage repeated the orders he had written down. He eyeballed Roy.
"Epi, .01 of 1:1,000 through her tibia, Roy. I'll get her ET in a sec after
Rampart's got her half minute strip. Bolus in an 8.4% solution bicarb
neonate O.S."

The paramedics tried not to look at the absolutely flat asystole scrolling
across the screen as the tube threaded down too easily. Cap resumed
compressions while Kelly ventilated and the paramedics delivered all
their death correcting medications in rapid sequence.

Stoker ran back in with a KED short board and Jennifer was transferred
onto that and physically bandaged to it using soft gauze rollers by her head,
upper legs and armpits without hindering her CPR.

Karen followed them out the door and jumped into the passenger side of
the Mayfair's work door. She took to the rider bench immediately
and Vince sat with her with Mike Stoker on the other side. They didn't
stop her from holding Jennifer's hand and made ample room for her
while they worked fast to secure fluid lines, cardiac wires and
oxygen over the small baby.

Chet traded his ventilating spot at the baby's head with the non-driving
ambulance attendant. "Do your best." he whispered in his ear. "We know
the mother."

Then he was gone to drive the squad in, with Marco following, driving the
engine. Roy relieved Cap from his two fingered compressions and watched
as Cap got out of the ambulance and closed the doors between them.
Two slaps came soon afterwards and then the Mayfair took off code three.

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Hank Stanley's lanky form dwindled in the window to a tan spot
on gray asphalt. He was the very picture of the grief they all felt
starting to rip through the tenderest parts of their souls.

Roy didn't know at what point Karen quit listening to them when
she realized that her daughter was going to die. ::She's knows
we're not going to be able to save her.:: he thought.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
At the hospital, Karen Overstreet sat in the waiting room,
waiting. Rocking, praying, bargaining with God. ::It didn't
work.:: a small voice with no sound shouted at her.

She remembered few things of the ride in to Rampart. The corner streetlight
was backed up where she normally turned at with patients, while she was
working her station shifts. ::That driver took a different route to get us here.
Working in EMS, we know lots of short cuts.:: she thought numbly.

She watched as a very concerned, professionally smiling Dixie tried to reach
her husband who worked sixty miles away to tell him that Jennifer had been
taken in to the hospital.

::Wasn't I just grand? When we pulled up at the entrance I sure ran in the ER
entrance like I owned the place.:: Karen's mind started crying. ::I have to get to
Jennifer soon, she's probably so scared. I have to see those big blue eyes
light up at me.::  Overstreet blew her nose. Then she looked up and let
the quilt from home drop from her shoulders. ::That police officer's taking my hand.::

Then Karen knew she was in real trouble. Two other doctors flanked her
sides and she remembered someone touching her elbow as they told her in the ER
hallway that Jennifer didn't make it. Karen saw a tech come out of the room at that
moment with a grim look on his face carrying a pediatric cardiac pacer tray. It still
had the blinking battery unit on it.

::Oh G*d they had to heart stab my little baby!::  Karen started crying softly.
"I have to see her! This can't be real. I promise I won't start screaming or faint."
she told them.

Overstreet could feel that her daughter was gone but she didn't believe it.
She watched with detachment as they led her into the nurses' lounge
and told her that she could call anyone she needed to.  There were
others in the room that she recognized as the hospital chaplain, and
the family crisis counselor from the ninth floor.

Karen ignored Dixie as she gripped the red phone. "Jeff, I need you here, now."

##False alarm, huh?## asked Mr. Overstreet.

Karen couldn't reply, his statement had caused the second biggest blow
to her soul in as many minutes.

A small whimper trickled from her lips as tears blinded her.
"What should I say?" Karen asked the chaplain.

##Just tell me, Karen.## demanded Jeff, growing alarmed.

Mrs. Overstreet did very quickly and she heard and felt Jeff falling
to the ground to scream in pain through the phone.
At that moment Karen thought. ::I want to launch the
rescue helicopter to go and get him.::  But out loud she said,
"Please don't let him drive in such an upset condition." she
told them all. Her own voice sounded so calm in her ears,
that it amazed her. "He'll just hurt himself more." she said,
hanging up the phone receiver.

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Vince replied. "I'll go get him, ma'am, if you'll give me the address."

Numbly, Karen handed it to him from her purse. "Thank you." she told
him as he left. Karen didn't think she could breathe another minute being so
far away from her husband even though she was surrounded by two doctors,
so she desperately started talking again. "What exactly did you do for
Jennifer? I'm....trying to reconstruct what happened. You see, I just
completed a neonatal resuscitation course a few weeks ago and I want
to make sure .." her face twisted in pain as the white hot grief she had prevented
knotted up once more in her throat.."that you did everything correct."

The tears came then, unrelenting.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Roy and Johnny and Cap went into the room with Karen.
The police officer, Vince Howard, was guarding her door.

The baby was so tiny ...laying on the stretcher in the ER.

Dixie handed Jennifer to Karen and they watched her sink to the floor rocking
her baby in her arms. Within moments, the chaplain entered the room
with Jeff Overstreet and he started praying with and for all three of them.

Roy's face was a mask of pain.
::My insides are tearing apart. I've never in my life hurt so much as holding that
babyís lifeless body.:: he thought looking at her.

Jennifer's eyes were ever so slightly open and she was still pinkish; just a tinge
of blue at her eyes and lips.

Karen's mind wailed. "Oh, I want to look at her tummy, arms, back, and
everything. But I'm so scared. I'm scared that she won't look the way
that she should. I want to change her diaper."  She didn't. "I want to nurse
her!" She couldnít.

Johnny saw her shrivel and felt horrible, too. ::So much physical pain comes with
emotional pain. And there's not a d*mned thing I can do about it.:: he
thought. Then he went to crouch down next to Karen, just to be near in
support. Gently, he combed a few fingers through Jennifer's hair to
neaten it with a soft caress.

Cap turned quickly away and had to leave the room before it became too
much for him to bear.

Karen's mind raced. "Why couldnít it have been me?! What did or didn't I do?!"
she demanded of Jeff and the chaplain and Dixie. Now it was guilt's turn to rule
her. "I just want to hold her forever. I don't want to see death come!" she sobbed.
"Please bring her back. Please. Oh, Jennifer... I'm so sorry...." she said, flooding
her infant daughter's still face with kisses.

Time both crept and sped by for Karen.  Jeff had left the hospital for a little
while because he wanted to go home and hold his two older daughters and
get them out of school.

Karen understood that, but knew, too, that she couldn't leave Jennifer..

Mrs. Overstreet had to go several times to the bathroom but didn't want to let
go of Jennifer, "I don't want her to be lonely." she sniffed.  

Roy offered to hold Jennifer while she went.

Gage knew it took guts for him to be there because he knew he had a red
headed little boy at home. The same red hair as Jennifer's.  

When Karen's husband returned to the hospital, Jeff Overstreet said, "The
girls are waiting. They want to know what happened and they're asking
me if Jennifer had to have a shot." Breaking down, Karen and her husband
sagged into each others arms around their silent baby.

Ten minutes later, holding hands tightly, they left with their
infant child to tell them together, leaving the chaplain alone with the
firefighters and Dixie.


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