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Page Three

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From: "Patti" <>
Date: Fri Dec 1, 2006 7:13 pm
Subject: Just Like Jiffy Pop..

Chet got on his HT. "I'm there, Cap.  We've got our man bundled up in
the stokes and we're just about ready to start on our interior descent route.
How're things looking so far with the spread of nearby fire?"

##Hold on, pal. Chief Conrad's still checking in with our other companies.
The next update will come in half a mic." replied Hank over the radio.

"All right. Standing by. Cap, it's probably a safe bet that our radios won't work
well once we're all inside." Chet panted, still trying to catch his breath after the
long climb up the tower. "I'm seeing galvanized heavy carbon steel up here."

Hank replied back. ##Yeah, I agree. Spotty at the best. That'll depend on the
tower's metal shielding and the presence or absence of ventilating airshafts.
We'll cross that broken bridge when we get to it. Your top priority is getting
yourselves and your victim out of current danger. If that tank near you decides
to blow..##

"Copy. Hustle the muscle. I'll tone a triple toggle on your channel
just before we close the door."

##I'll be listening for it with both ears.## said Cap from far down below.

Roy started work on the locking mechanism attached to the only maintenance door
located on their walkway's level which led to the distillation chamber shaft above the
mechanical room and its escape tunnel. DeSoto began using his jacket halligan
as a wedge to try and loosen the hatch's access wheel.  It began to give only slightly
with a painfully resistant, dry, fire heated creak.

Gage moved to help Roy with his own jacket tool on the other side. "Chet, stay by
Marve's head and keep monitoring his breathing. Some bad chemical's in all this
smoke." he hissed through his scba mask.

"I noticed. It went from mostly gray to almost all black with flecks of brown on the
way up. It couldn't have smelled very good to Marve before we got him on this air."
Kelly said, tightening the straps over his own face and the manager's where it lolled
in between his sooty knees.

"He's gonna get into cyanide and carbon monoxide issues real soon if he hasn't
already." Roy added, grunting as he and Gage strained against the wheel.
"Can't wait to get a couple of hands on some oxygen."

"We'll be down in ten minutes, Roy. Just keep your eye...... on the squad." joked
Gage to encourage him as they both struggled to turn the door's hatch mechanism.

Blinking away sweat, Roy did so, strictly for the mental perk.

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Marco Lopez took a wrong turn running a fresh set of air bottles over
to Cap and Stoker where they stood beneath Roy and Johnny's tower.

He startled when a small white building he hadn't noticed before caught
his attention. Part of it was turning yellow on one side from some kind of watery
cascade and it began to glint eerily under the smoke smothered daylight. He
hastily backed up behind some protective pipework and started broadcasting
over his HT on Emergency channel. "Bund leak! Chemical rupture at 51's
location! Out building twelve east. Pressurized liquid gas is escaping."
Then he ran for his fire engine and the squad his crewmates were already
preparing to speed away.

"How bad is it, Marco?" Cap asked when he spied Marco flying in out of the smoke.
"Can we get Roy, Johnny and Chet down and out safely before the fire reaches
that gas?"

"No. We don't have even two minutes. An overflow valve's failed. The gasoline
pool's already dozens of feet in diameter and a tendril's headed right for our
burning terminal, flowing downhill. That area's inaccessible to the helicopter.
There are too many pipes in the way." Lopez said, helping Stoker drop the
charged hoses off their pumper valves to free the Ward LaFrance for escape.

That was all the news Hank needed to hear. He boosted his handheld's gain
to maximum. ##Engine 51 to HT 51. Get under cover! Major blow on the way!##
Cap told his paramedics.  ::D*mn! All we can do now is flee with the rest of the
fire truck companies for the bridge protected upwind part of the freeway.

At the same time, the chief took Marco's hasty visual report deeply to heart.
##Battalion 4 to all fire crews. Evacuate immediately. Explosion at
tanker 12 is imminent! Everybody back! Get back!##

Cap slammed his cab door shut as he radioed Aircrane 47 on their channel.
"Pull up! Explosion coming!"

##Aircrane 47 copies. Abandoning.## and the helitanker lurched away from Arco
and the distillation tower.

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Roy and Johnny noticed the sudden lack of rotor blade noise. "Uh, oh." said Gage.

Kelly leaped at the bulkhead wheel, throwing his additional weight onto the
struts. Frantic, Johnny hefted up an air bottle and hammered it down onto the
wheel gear again and again to break away its rusty corrosion. "OSHA's gonna
have a field day up here..." he grunted.

"I think they already are." said Chet about the fire surrounding them. "Third fire
in eighteen months? Heads are gonna roll.." he strained.

"But hopefully, not ours!" said Roy.

All three firemen fell to the metal decking when the wheel gave way at last,
suddenly functioning. They scrambled to their feet to crank it around into

The hatch clanked open with an echoing bang as Chet gleefully signalled
success over his HT by pressing the talkie's attention button in a triple hail.

Just as fast, a smothering deep belching gurgle, heralding an inferno, swept
up the tower as tank number twelve annihilated itself into monsterous h*llfire.

"Get down!" Johnny screamed as the heat and light from the explosion rocked
them. The punishing lick of a giant fireball scintillated past their ducked heads
and folded limbs, reducing the railing above their shoulders into red hot slag.

"Get him in!" Roy hollered, grabbing Marve's stokes and manhandling it into
the dark hatch. Johnny barely had the lowering ropes tied to the inner turn
wheel of the door when they dropped him to hang head up and dove inside.

Roy gasped as his gloved fingers almost lost hold of the rungs of the interior
ladder. Gage grabbed him by the collar and hooked both legs around
a support. He latched on Roy's lifebelt clasp to a rung. "I got you.. AhhhHH!
Quit kicking. You're locked in!"

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DeSoto froze after his feet and gloves found anchor. "Where's...*cough *cough*
Chet? I thought he was right behind us!" he shouted through his air mask.

Johnny ducked his head back outside under the flames and peered about.
Chet was lying eight feet away from the hatch on his stomach. He had
been sandwiched face down against the wall from the force of the explosion.

Gage blinked at the searing horrible mushroom cloud roiling into being over
them and quickly looked away to save his eyes from flash burning. He grabbed
Kelly's arm and began hauling him towards the hatched doorway and safety.
"Chet?...*cough* Can you hear me?"

Kelly remained limp as his jacket started smoldering. Johnny realized with
a shock that Chet's air mask was punched in, and his air hose, shredded
beyond any usefulness. He shoved Chet's head inside the hole."Roy! Grab
him. He's out! He's got no air!" Johnny yelled.

"Got him!"

Gage felt Roy snick Chet's lifebelt connector to the stokes rim as he flopped
inside and fell into the tower like a rag doll. The two paramedics slammed
the hatch shut just as a huge new wall of fire boiled into the place they
had just left. Outside,blazing suddenly orange and white, the metal walkway
ring melted, slagging away from the tower stack.

"Are you ok?"  Roy gasped at Johnny through his sweaty mask.

"I think so...*ughnn* All in one piece I think." Johnny said.

Building plasma began fusing the hatch door to the bulkhead with
hissing pops and deafening snaps, causing the door to bow in
at the edges, admitting flames.

"Down, move down! We've got to get to that protected room now." he
choked. "Before we run out of free air. Chet's maskless."

Hastily, the two paramedics strained on the ladder, lowering the weight
of two men and the air bottle laden stokes down onto the roof of the
maintenance room with a couple of hand held ropes.

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As soon as Chet and Marve touched bottom, Roy and Johnny slid down
the ladder sides like a firepole.

Kneeling, Johnny ripped off Chet's shattered face plate as he bent
down over Kelly's nose and mouth. "He's breathing. Barely."

"S.I. for sure." DeSoto said. "Marve's still the same." he said, placing
a hand on the manager's dirty chest.

The firefighters were horrified to find that they could see in the darkness.
The many rivetted seams of the tower's inner skin were becoming
unsealed by the tremendous heat outside, admitting an eerie arc weld
like phosphorescent yellow glow as their sulfur soldering burned away.

"In..  Get them in!" said Johnny. "There's toxic fumes out here."

Using ropes tied around the stokes and looped underneath Kelly's
arms, Roy and Johnny got both men inside the maintenance chamber
through the room's roof access hatch.

For a second time, a heavy steel door closed down and locked,...
and this time, the darkness was absolute. Roy pulled off a glove
to feel the air's temperature on the skin of one trembling hand.
"It's cool. Safe enough to breathe."

Coughing and choking, Roy and Johnny peeled out of their
helmets and air masks and they toggled their regulators to 'off'
to conserve their bottles' air for a later need.  

The two paramedics flopped down and lay on their backs,
spread eagle, gasping in utter exhaustion.

Gage acted first once he found he could move past the cramps.
He rolled over and pulled one of the spare air bottles and
masks out of the stokes to use on Kelly. Quickly, he pulled off Chet's
smoking shirt to end any chemical burning. He stopped peeling off
layers when Kelly's T-shirt underneath revealed itself by touch
to be still whole and undamaged. "We need better light to
see how they're really doing. Maybe we should try and open that
vent up there."

"Not yet. The explosions are still going on. Feel that?"
Roy asked him.

Dimly, Gage felt shudders and shifting as the tower rocked, as
it burned, its exterior paint fully on fire. He felt off balance at every
jarring. ::Is that in my head or outside my body?:: Johnny thought.
"Unfortunately, I still can." he grunted as an answer.

"At least we know the tower won't collapse on us." Roy said.

"How do know you that?" Johnny said, monitoring Chet's coratid pulse.

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"I know that because it hasn't yet." Roy told him with a grin. DeSoto
bent over Marve to determine his breathing condition once more.
"Marve's inhalations are weaker. Gimme the drug box."

Johnny groaned as he groped around blindly until he found it.
He thrust it out into the general direction of Roy's voice. "Here."
he said. "How long do you think our air'll last before we find ourselves
stuck breathing out of our scba gear?"

"Hard to say. This isn't like a brush forest firestorm at all. The fire's
stationary. It's burning in one place."

"Maybe the action of the fire burning inside that blown tanker'll...act like
a chimney for us, pulling in fresh atmosphere into the tower through
the gaps." Gage hoped.

"Johnny, you absolutely astound me. Are you trying to be optimistic for
a change?" Roy chuckled.

"Oh, why don't you just hush. Of course I am. That's better than.. than..than...
thinking we're all gonna die horrible deaths in here." Gage said in

"Perish the thought."

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Battalion Four immediately conferred with Hank Stanley.
"Are you sure you've heard from them?"

"Yes, Chief. Absolutely. Chet fired off a triple pulse just before the tanker
blew. That means they made it inside and--"

"...that your men are still well enough to take that escape route through the

"...and get out to us on the freeway intact. Yes." Cap completed for him.

Conrad sighed, long and wearily around the sweat on his face. "Tell me
frankly, Hank. Do they have enough self contained air for all of them to
make it out still breathing?"

"That depends on the fire, Chief. And whether or not those explosions are
compromising their underground tunnel or not." Stanley said, rubbing his
sooty mouth.

Battalion nodded. "I'll concentrate both Aircranes' foam drops over your
men's mapped route. Anything we can do now will cool the ground above
them and help cut down rock and regolith buckling."

"Thanks, Chief."

"Don't thank me yet. Thank me when we have three live firemen and a live
victim firmly in our hands." he frowned seriously.

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From: "patti keiper" <>
Date: Sat Dec 2, 2006 7:09 pm
Subject: The Defining Hour..

Roy snapped open the drug box and unsandwiched the organizational
trays. "Blind as a bat." he complained, grumbling. "I can't find the
epinephrine, Johnny."

Gage coughed. "It should be right there." he said pointing somewhat
blindly himself. "On the top shelf. Left hand side with the adult doses
to the right of the peds ones with the 1/1,000's sideways and the
1/10,000's stacked vertically."

"They're not. Trust me."

"Well, why not?" Gage needled, bending over to listen to Chet's
lungs with an ear laid against the skin of his chest.

"Because I completely reorganized the drug box on Dr. Brackett's orders
this morning, remember?!" Roy snapped. "And neither one of us has had
time to memorize where all the new things are yet." In frustration, he
dragged out a pocket mask from his turnout and pushed it into usable
shape with his thumbs. He tossed it onto Marve's stomach as a standby.

"Hang on a sec." said Johnny. Gage reached over and pulled out
a gauze 4 X 4. He rolled it up into a tube and tore the paper off one
end. He dipped it into a puddle of oil that had dripped in after them
and waited a few seconds until the gauze acted like a wick and sucked
up the crude into its cotton fibers. Then he touched the soaked tip against
an ember still smoldering on Chet's stripped off turnout coat.

A small flame ignited with a poof on the improvised brand he had made.
"Wahla.. one tiki torch, free,.. at no charge." he joked flatly, handing it over.

Roy regarded him with squinty eyes.
"You've started watching Adam-12 episodes again, haven't you?
This is what Officer Jim Reed does when he finds himself
pinned down by snipers at night." Roy smiled, poking the bottom end
of the bizarre candle into an un-plungered un-needled syringe barrel
so they could hold onto it without burning their fingers.

Gage didn't say anything. "Chet's not the only one who can be
resourceful at times." he said matter of factly, then he picked up
his head. "Roy, he's got rhonci, both sides, with some serious
spasming. Give me an albuterol inhaler canister."

"Can he feel pain?" DeSoto asked, moving to kneel by Marve's
head to take off the manager's scba mask as he tossed over the bronchodilator.

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Johnny pinched Chet's earlobe with a couple of sooty fingernails
after he, too, peeled off Kelly's air supply.

Kelly began rasping liquidly without moving and he started
working his mouth soundlessly as Johnny sat him up quickly
against his chest in order to get him ready for the shot of misted
drug to come, into his lungs.

"Yep." they both said at the same time.

Gage tipped Chet's head back over a shoulder to place the mouthpiece
and triggered the albuterol. Then he waited for the medication to
work itself in a little deeper.

DeSoto glanced down at Marve's gray skin. "How's Chet's color?
Marve's isn't so good." he said, leaning over to apply the
pocket mask around the manager's head. Roy started giving
him breaths through the one way valve intermittently, whenever
the man didn't breathe in on his own.

Gage moved the candle a little closer to his partner, bundling its
pointed base into a nested glove. "We can't wait any more, Roy.
I'm going to go try to get Rampart on HT for that guy's epinephrine

"Don't fry yourself in the process." DeSoto quipped.

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"Have I ever?" Johnny frowned ruefully, lowering Chet back down
onto his back again. He refitted the scba gear over Kelly's face.
"Help me watch him. Pulse's rising."

"He didn't need that double dose, partner."

"I like to err to the side of caution." Gage replied. "So I get a little
over protective working on somebody I know. Is that such a big deal?"

Roy didn't say anything, past a slow smile."Let's just hope Chet didn't
hear you say that last remark. He'll never let you live it down if he did."

Gage glared at him and scrambled over to the ceiling vent. He kicked
out its sealing grill with a foot and gasped in relief when weak, smoke
filtered daylight started streaming in. "I promise I'll block this off with a
rug if the smoke starts coming in." Then he pulled out his handy talkie.
"Gage on HT 51 to Battalion I.C. Do you read me?"

The loud crackle of committing frequency filled the room and lifted
both the paramedics' spirits. ##Loud and clear, 51. What's your status?##
answered Conrad.

"One non-breather and one Code I in respiratory difficulty from smoke
inhalation. We need a patch to Rampart, a.s.a.p. DeSoto and I are safe
for the moment but our two victims can't be moved yet without treatment first."
Johnny explained.

##Battalion Four to HT 51. Stand by while I set up your hospital's relay through
L.A.## came the Chief's solution.

Johnny watched as Roy set up a concentrated I.M. of epinephrine for Marve
in between his mouth to mask ventilations. ::Come on. Come on..Hurry it up
and answer, or both of these guys are gonna slip into metabolic acidosis
problems.:: he fretted mentally.

Seconds later, Johnny heard Brackett's rich baritone taking over.
##Squad 51, I've been apprised of your situation. Go ahead and deliver
1 milligram of 1/10,000 epinephrine I.M. on respiratory arresting victim
one and give me a set of vitals on your downed fireman afterwards.##

Roy stabbed the medication home into Marve's hip after swabbing it down.
Very soon, the manager started gasping noisily. "He's effective now."
DeSoto told Johnny as he retipped the man's head into a better position.
A minute later, he traded the pocket mask back out for his air flowing scba's
face plate once more. "He's at twenty again, but they're somewhat shallow."
he said placing a hand on the manager's stomach for a respirations count.

Johnny relaxed, just a tad. "Rampart, victim one's breathing on his own.
Twenty and shallow. But still unconscious. Uh,..doc. Please note that we're
currently holed up away from a fire without our medical oxygen. We've
just air bottles."

##They'll do, 51. What are victim two's vital signs?##

"Pulse is 140 due to albuterol times 2. Respirations are wet but open, at
twenty four. Reactive to pain. Rampart, we've no BP cuff. His pulse is
regular and palpable. We can feel it strongly at the carotid but it's absent
in the limbs and he's somewhat diaphoretic. He has no burns or other signs
of trauma."

##Sounds like shock's already kicking in. Is his core perfusion holding up?##

"Yes so far, Rampart. Update: Victim one's vitals are now stabilizing. His pulse
is being felt now at the brachial at a rate of 110." Gage told him from what he
read off Roy's care notes.

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Johnny could almost see Kel's approving, thoughtful nod in front of him.
##Keep both their heads elevated despite that obvious hypotension so
we can gain more breathing ability. 51, we're going to treat for smoke poisoning
strictly on the basis of their altered levels of consciousness. I assume you two
have had time to implement the new modifications I wanted instigated into your
pharmceuticals box, correct?##

"That's affirmative, doc." Johnny started. ::Whew. Thank heavens for Roy's sense
of do-right-away when it comes to doing paramedic chores.::

##All right. Let's begin their antidote treatment. I want an estimate of how long
both your victims may have been trapped in the fire. I'm trying to extrapolate the
maximal carboxyhemoglobin and CN levels they may have sustained thus far.##

Johnny didn't hesitate. He had already done the calculations. "Victim one,
twenty two minutes in moderate to light smoke. Victim Two, about five in
heavy smoke. Uh, our combustive constituents were petroleum and natural
gas producing chemical additives. Victim one's weight is approximately
140- 145 lbs, and victim two weighs 185 pounds."

##10-4, 51. I want a tighter Glasgow estimate for both.##

"Victim one, coma scale 9. Victim two, 11, nonverbal."

##Is victim two starting to show signs of restlessness?##

"10-4, movements are more like those associated with confusion and
syncope rather than any seizure activity, Rampart."

##All right, that puts him in the potential of 40% HbCO by volume. Do you
have volumetric I.V. fluids capability?##

"Negative. Just our drug box. If needed, we've saline boluses of ten and
one hundred cc's."

##Skip those. Break two ampuls of Amyl nitrite inhalant and hold under Victim
Two's nose for thirty seconds on every minute for four minutes. Use his air
flow source as an impromptu nebulizer. I want to convert some of his
hemogoblin to methemoglobin to start binding up some of the worst of his
CN and carbon monoxide poisoning. Continue using I.N. vials until you get
to the rest of your gear and become able to establish an I.V. of normal saline
with 10 mL of a 3% solution sodium nitirite pushed over 2-4 min.  We'll
worry about using methylene blue as a reduction agent to reclaim his
oxyhemoglobin once his kidneys have started excreting bound up toxins.
When that happens, use a 1-2 mg/kg IV dosage over 5 min. Its peak beneficial
effect will occur in half an hour. We'll be the ones repeating his second course
of that once he's been transported, as necessary.##

"10-4. Continuous inhaled Isoamyl nitrite on victim two until two drugs into an
I.V. N.S.. 10cc's of 3% sodium nitrate over 2-4, followed by 1-2mgs/kg methylene
blue over 5." Gage recited in confirmation.

##Yes, 51. ##


##Wait a minute, Johnny.##


##In true fact, I like this course of treatment so much, do the same for Victim One
while you're at it. The only drawback will be that he recovers from his smoke
inhalation a little faster that your other patient.## chuckled Kel.

Gage and Roy both grinned.

##Continue assessing both their airways and monitor for any further detrimental
respiratory changes. Treat any compromises aggressively like you did
with the albuterol for those bronchospasms. Once they both awaken,
watch for hoarseness, any changes in voice, complaints of
throat pain, or odynophagia. These indicate an upper airway injury that
may be severe. Carbonaceous sputum should be regarded as a marker
of dangerous alveoliar exposure. Help either one along on ambu if necessary
to splint and keep protecting their airsacs. Start 100% 02 on both
as soon as possible. Give full vitals sets once in transit along with a
pair of twelve lead EKG readings. Continuous.## ordered Kel.

"10-4, Rampart. Monitor and support upper airways on O2, and get EKG
telemetry and vitals."

##Stay safe in there, you two. ## Brackett said uncharacteristically.

The heartfelt worry evident in the doctor's voice almost brought tears of
emotion to the paramedics' eyes because of the weight of their horrible

"We will." promised Gage.

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In the base station, Brackett hung up the red phone that had connected
him through the dispatcher to Roy and Johnny's HT.

"Dix, once they arrive, order these blood tests: a complete blood count,
chemistries, serum electrolytes, arterial blood gases with carboxyhemoglobin
and methemoglobin levels both along with BUN and creatine studies.
I want a full series of chest roentgenograms and a bronchoscopy room
opened." Kel ordered.

"Are you afraid their lactate levels will be elevated?" Dix asked.

"That and their Clara cells. Last thing we need is for either of one of them
to start accumulating protein-rich fluid in any bronchial cast formations.
In that case, they'd stand a very poor chance of survival once ARDS sets
in. Have respiratory therapy prepare a couple of ventilators in case they
need P.E.E.P. support. Putting a hyperbaric chamber on standby wouldn't
be such a bad idea either."

"Already done." McCall said, inclining her head. "Did 51 say anything about
further casualties?"

"They didn't." smiled Brackett. "And that, is exactly the kind of miracle I've
been hoping for all day." Kel picked up his coffee mug and saluted his nurse
gleefully. "Here's to one toasted oil refinery and no deaths, down the hatch."

"Amen to that." said Dixie, sipping gratefully from hers.

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Johnny looked down and peered into Chet's face when he started to moan.
"Lie still and keep this mask on. I know this stuff smells nasty but it's saving
your life."

Kelly coughed and made a face at the vapors of Amyl nitrite drifting around
the snapped ampul taped into place under his nose. He made a half
hearted attempt to pull off the scba gear.

"Ah.ah.ah. No." Gage said, gripping his wrists and guiding Chet's hands down.
"Are you awake yet? Can you talk?"

Kelly frowned when he saw the fireglow flickering behind Johnny's head in
an eerie reflection from the round ventilation shaft Gage had opened to gain
radio line of sight. "When everything is coming your way,'re in the wrong
lane..." he whispered about the oil fire exploding around them.

"What was that, Chet?" Gage said. "I didn't quite hear you."

Chet started to smile, still not opening his gritty eyes.
"Gage, listen to me. This is important."

Johnny lowered himself down right next to Chet's mouth and
set an ear onto his mask's glass plate.

Kelly smiled, arching his dirty eyebrows. "What you do today, might
burn your butt tomorrow."

Gage straightened up in a mix of relief and annoyance. "Oh, gahh..
No sh*t. We're firefighters, Chet. Now shut up and conserve your oxygen."

Roy piped up from where he was folded around the manager.
"Glad to see you're feeling better, Kelly. How's the head?"

"Painful. *gasp* And I'm......still......kinda short of breath."

"You will be for a while." Roy told him. "And so will our friend here until
all that poison gas decides to leave both your systems using the antidote
medications we're running into ya."

"...yipee skippy.." Chet said without enthusiasm. "'s he doing over
there?" Kelly wondered, wincing as Gage exchanged another vile smelling
cracked vapor ampul for the spent old one without lifting up his air mask any
further than what was necessary to slip in a few fingers.

"He's stable. He quit breathing for a minute, ten minutes ago. But it was
nothing that a little epinephrine couldn't fix." Johnny told him, grinning.

Chet stayed silent, gaping vacantly at his surroundings.
Then a look of panic entered his eyes. His hands flew to his throat.  

"Chet? What's wrong?...." Johnny demanded, setting his hands on either
side of Kelly's head.

Roy moved over to his side. "Are you choking?" he asked Kelly, taking
a hold of his shoulders.

Kelly just gurgled and clawed at the mask.

Johnny pulled it off. "Hey, take a breath. You're still ok.."

Chet began to fight them, trying to move.

Roy's hand slipped during the struggle and one of them fell onto Kelly's
stomach by accident. DeSoto glanced down and finally saw the rocking
there. "He's just nauseated. He's not obstructing."

"Oh. Ok. uh, ok.." Johnny helped Chet roll onto his side and soon, the
firefighter emptied and purged himself of old coffee and half digested

Kelly shuddered when the spasm ended and he stopped tensing once he
was propped up against the box they got for him to lie on. He held up his
hand to show them that he was fine even though he was collapsed limp with
his eyes closed.

"Are you all right now?" Roy asked him, taking his racing pulse at the neck.

Chet opened his eyes. "My job.... would be just perfect.....if I never had to
deal with any smoke!" he complained, as he pulled the scba air mask back
down over his face from where it had been shoved up on top of his head.
He suddenly looked comical with the white taped X still holding the ampul
of cyanide antidote under his nose with his rescue messed hair.

Roy and Johnny burst out laughing and they were only interrupted when the
manager awoke and began asking questions of his own.

"Come on, let's get them out of here. They're ready to leave." Gage said to
his partner, tapping him on the shoulder. "I think I see the door that leads to  
the escape tunnel Chet promised us, right over there."

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Click the firetruck for a soundtrack change. :)

It was a couple of days later, in the nurse's lounge of Rampart.

And at least three of Station 51's crew had finally broken the curse of
no sleep.

Chet was sitting in a wheel chair in his street clothes, filling out his discharge
papers under Dixie's happy scrutiny. Roy and Johnny were there, too, trying
to down a whole pot of coffee between the two of them to fortify themselves
for the hours they were going to spend taking Chet out to a baseball game
to celebrate his release.

For Kel Brackett and McCall, it was deja vu all over again for the television
set was on, covering the refinery fire and its aftermath.

##Last night, Three Valleys Water announced that it has detected the fire
retardant perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), used in fire fighting foam, in a
ground water bore hole close to the Arco site. Representatives have
stated that no water from this well will enter the public water supply and
that a nearby well and pumping station have been closed as a precaution.
The chemical is a known health risk and the state of California is about to
ban its use...##

Kelly piped up. "Ha! Out it goes like the way of the abestos tarp! I always knew
that stuff was foul."

"But it worked so well." Johnny said matter of factly, still sucked into the
news report. His coffee mug was finally being ignored. "I wonder what they're
gonna get to replace it."

"More Aircrane helitankers." DeSoto joked.

The hospital breakroom erupted into laughter.

"Heh, yeah.. But seriously, they do have a new fangled dry red powder they're still
testing up at 110's to handle brush and fuel fires." Roy chuckled. "So I know we're
not going to be suffering any no matter what they decide to do in the end."

Johnny hissed out loud. "Shhh. I wanna hear this." he said, pointing to the TV set.

##However, just prior to the announcement the Drinking Water Commission
announced that it was increasing the safe level of the chemical in municipal
drinking water. This prompted the Arco refinery's CEO, Mike Penning, to accuse
the government of changing the rules to suit the situation in which PFOS levels
in drinking water in the area may rise in the future....

##A further announcement was made this afternoon about the sequence
of events which enabled the Arco disaster to occur. Starting at 19:00 on the
evening of 10 December Tank 12, towards the north west of the main
depot, was filled with unleaded gasoline. At midnight the terminal closed,
and a check was made of the contents of tanks, which found everything
normal. At approximately 03:00, the level gauge for Tank 12 began
indicating an unchanging level reading, despite fuel filling continuing at
1600 gallons per hour into its reservoir. Calculations show that the tank
would have begun to overflow at about 14:20."

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"And that's what Marco saw!" said Gage. "Holy cow."

## Forty minutes later, an estimated 300 tons of natural gas would have
spilled down the side of the tank onto the ground inside bund A, a
semi-enclosed compound surrounding the block's several tanks. There is
evidence suggesting that a high level switch, which should have detected
that the tank was full and shut off the supply, failed to operate. CCTV
footage shows a cloud of vapor, eight feet deep flowing away
from the tank. By 15:01, when the first explosion occurred, the cloud had
spread beyond the boundaries of the Arco site.

##The extent of the damage meant it was not possible to determine the
exact source of ignition, but possibilities include an emergency generator
and the depot's fire pump system. Investigators do not believe that
it was caused either by a driver of a fuel tanker, as had been speculated,
or by anyone using a mobile radio....

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##Other safety experts spoke of a known "Weekend effect" in industry, in which
the lack of weekend maintenance creates an unsafe condition. Arco's
production of oil and fuel products have dropped 60 % and will remain so
until repairs can be affected. Previously, Arco Corp. filled 400 tanker trucks
every day and handled around 2.37 million tons of fuel a year...##

Chet's mirth was contagious and soon, the others' attentions moved away
from the murmuring TV and back into amicable conversations.

Kel Brackett was thoughtful. "You were far luckier than you could ever
possibly know, Chet."

"How so, doc? No one cooked... I don't get your meaning." he shrugged,
rubbing a bruised cheekbone.

"He means about that distillation tower of yours, fellas." Dixie elaborated.

Roy, Johnny and Chet stopped talking, their foreheads wrinking in confusion.

"What about it?" asked Chet.

Dixie's face fell into a soft line. "We saw footage taken from one of the Aircrane
pilot's automatic cameras, covering the firecrews overseeing your own
incident's rescue and recovery..." she fell quiet.

"And..?" asked Gage seriously.

"They went back right after your ambulance left to see exactly where you three
took refuge..." McCall demurred, deeply effected. The nurse found that
she couldn't complete her sentence when a sudden lump tightened her throat.

Dr. Brackett finished it for her.
He met the firefighters' eyes.. All of them.

"..and there was nothing there." Kel said.


Burnout    Episode Thirty Nine
Emergency Theater Live


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