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     Canine Capers
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                   Page Three

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Roy DeSoto crawled out of the car when the first critical was carried
out by stokes. He got onto his HT just as the second alarm station arrived
to help them stabilize the automobile's positioning on the overhang.
"L.A. This is Squad 51. Respond Copter Two and Three to our location.
We've three elderly criticals. Two females and a male. Station Eight
has completed clearing a landing zone that has already been paced
and checked out a block east of our location. There are power wires
on the perimeter in this churchyard upwind. We have a squad car
marking head wind direction. Request two additional BLS units
for three others involved in our incident for transportation by ground

##10-4, Squad 51. Copters Two and Three report an E.T.A. of two minutes.
Both ambulance units in four. Do you require a gas utility shutdown?##

Hank Stanley got on radio. "Engine 51, L.A. That's a negative. Pipes
involved were for water only. They're still out of service due to a
homeowner construction project." he said, climbing out of the hole in
the basement wall. He eyed the clearly inspection marked tags on
the valves of the network appreciatively. ::Smart family. They've done
everything by the book according to code. Nice. Things'll go smooth for
them insurance wise because of it and they'll have their basement back
and rebuilt good as new in a couple of weeks.:: he thought.

##10-4, Engine 51. Timestamp 17:03. Helicopter assistance is airbound.##
said L.A.

Squad Eight intercepted Roy and Johnny where they had carried their four
patients. Gage pointed to the skull fractured senior that Lopez was still bagging.
"BP's climbing. I've just begun her mannitol drip." he said, picking his ear off
the biophone receiver. "She's unresponsive totally. Glasgow's eight."

One of the medics had one of their engine crew take over for Marco. "How
about the others?"

"Blunt abdominal trauma, guarding lower left quadrant with diminished bowel
sounds and a broken humerus on her. She goes second. This third male's
shocky, history of heart trouble with bilateral tib/fib fractures. His scope's
clear, showing NSR without chest pain." Gage continued. "We've got in
their I.V.s, T.K.O. as their BP's are rallying to low normal. Brackett's promising
a surgical ward for all three on arrival."

Roy was kneeling over the little girl from the car. "We can't figure out who
she belongs to. Perhaps one or more of these folks are her grandparents."

"Condition?" asked eight's senior paramedic.

"Unmarked physically. Looks like she was protected by one of the adults
when the car went through the wall." DeSoto told him. "But she has yet to
answer questions. All vitals elevated slightly above normal. I found nothing
on this next middle age man's head to toe past a couple of forearm burns.
He's a confirmed psych patient in emotional crisis. Here are his meds. He's
been handcuffed for his own protection for being delusional. He's non-violent.
Vince'll follow behind his rig on the way in, in case things change."

"Where did you find him?" asked one of the urban specialist firefighters who
had tagged along to carry all the backboards into the street to lay them next
to the medical gear.

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"He was found under the car, hiding or something from his sister. She's probably
his legal out-of-hospital-care guardian." said Roy, watching as Stoker dressed
the man's burns with lidocaine salve and gauze wrap. DeSoto added more.
"Dixie's with a walking wounded, a struck pedestrian, over there. She says he's
stable and uninjured enough for ground transportation. Like our mystery child is."

A loud buzzing filled the trees over their heads as the first of the helicopters circled
the block, checking for obstacles in their flight path.

"There's our cue." said eight's medics. "We've got your two worst criticals in the
first bird." said Eight's captain motioning his relief paramedics to take over for Squad

"O.k. I'll take the leg fractured victim in Copter Three, when she's landed." Gage said.

Charlie, seeing the situation was back to normal, pulled back behind Squad 51.
He only led Felicia forward into the treatment area when Johnny motioned for
him to do so. Charlie grinned. ::So he could cover up folks's modesty and the
worse leftover bloodstained bandages that had been used to care for people's
injuries.:: the mechanic thought. ::Our gal's observing, true. But she's young
enough to still warrant sensible shielding from reality.::

Felicia immediately sat down next to the other little girl sitting next to Roy on
the yellow plastic tarp. "Is she ok?"

"She's fine. Just a little shaken up." DeSoto said. "Be careful not to get in
the other firefighters' way when they start moving these patients out. Looks
like you and I get to fly into the hospital next. They'll be circling back to
pick us up in fifteen minutes or so."

"Aren't you taking anybody in by sirens?" asked Felicia.

"Not this time. Our captain and the captain of another company felt that
Johnny and I needed to be relieved of the really badly hurt patients in order to
recuperate a bit ourselves from the effort it took to cut them out and rescue

"Aren't you mad about that?" Felicia asked incredulously.

"No, of course not. We're all on the same team." Johnny told her.

"Oh. Maybe I can help you while we wait for the taxi helicopter,
Mr. DeSoto."

"Sure. Want to hold this man's I.V. bag? If you get tired holding it up in
the air. Go ahead and tuck it under his shoulder. It'll still drip ok if you do
that. Don't get startled if he talks to you. He's awake and just resting." Roy replied.

"All right." said the sick child. Johnny and Roy could see that she was
absorbing all the sights and sounds around her like a sponge. She
eyed her patient's leg splints with open curiosity and a whole ton of
mature respect that far belied her tender age.

Very soon, Dixie came up and knelt down close to Johnny. "Anybody
going 'out' ?" she asked significantly.

"Nope. Just flying out. Nobody's dying today." Gage whispered to McCall.
"That's why we let Charlie bring Felicia in here." he confided. "How's your
car struck patient doing by the way? We never got to see hide nor hair
of him." he teased.

"He shipped out by Basic Life Support. He's already at the hospital and
yelling for his release papers." she replied.

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A short distance away, Dixie saw Felicia work the magic she had only
heard about from Captain Stanley. She was holding the car child's hand
while she spoke with her. "Hi. I'm Felicia. I know how you're feeling right
now. I can see it in your face. Is this man in the stretcher your grandpa?"

The dark skinned little girl nodded and began to cry.

"It's ok to cry. I cry all the time when I'm scared and you must be really
scared because you think you're all alone. But you're not alone. You're
with friends now. And everybody knows there's nobody friendlier than a
fireman, or a policeman, or even a nurse. Right?"

The sobbing little girl ducked her head shyly and rubbed her nose when
she stuck her other dirty hand out from underneath the blanket she
was wearing about her shoulders. She continued to cry.

Felicia only held her tighter. "Your grandpa's going to be all right. The
hospital will fix those legs of his good as new. You'll see. I see doctors
fix people all the time."

"You do?" asked the little girl.

"Uh huh. What's your name?"

"Mary. Mary Simons."

"Mary, that's a nice name. How old are you?" asked Felicia.

"I'm almost six years old."

"Wow, we're almost the same age." Felicia told her. "Maybe that
means we can become really good friends. Would you like that?"

Crying, and nodding yes, Mary buried her face in her hands. Tenderly,
Felicia, who was barely bigger than Mary was, slowly rocked the
frightened little girl to calmness inside a close, comforting embrace.

Near them, the grandfather sighed under his oxygen mask. "Who's that?"
he asked Roy, who had bent close when he stirred into motion.

"Just a guest rider of ours from a community program. She's here on
a kind of field trip today with us, sir." DeSoto replied.

"How did she do that? My grand daughter hasn't spoken to anyone
in two years.*gasp* Not.... since her mother died of cancer." he
whispered in surprise.

Dixie smiled, resting a hand on the old man's shoulder. "Sometimes
people are born with so much empathy, that it ... seems to leak out
of them from every pore. And sometimes, when someone else
really needs help, I sincerely believe the one in trouble can sense
that incredible, tangible caring inside of those very special folks
who're ultimately there, tending to them. And so they simply have
no choice then, but to get better." she said, her voice choking up.

"Angels on earth..." sighed the man as he fell back asleep, giving into
the effects of the morphine Johnny had given him. "They're so rare."

Dixie's eyes filled. "And precious." Then she took hold of herself and
got back to work.

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Charlie's radio crackled. ##..Spap.. Truck One! Firefighter trapped.##

"What happened?" snapped Charlie, opening the back of his work
truck for the tools there.

##His K-12 jammed and the skewed blade caught and snagged his
jacket sleeve. He's not injured but he can't get himself free.## reported
a fireman.

"Where are you?" the mechanic asked.

##At the car. Front end.##

"Ok, I'll be right there. Whatever you do, curb your instinct to just
hammer away blindly. Those units are made to disassemble easily."

##10-4, standing by.##

Roy grabbed Charlie's pants leg as the mechanic began to jog by
him while he put on his helmet. "Did I hear that correctly. A fireman trapped?"

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##Nothing for your department, slick. This one's all mine. It's just
a fatigue klutz call. Hey Felicia, wanna see ME in action?"

"Sure.." said the little girl. "I want to see it all." Then she turned to
Roy and Johnny. "How long have I got?"

"About five minutes. Tops. Then we have to leave with the chopper."
Roy grinned.

"Ok. Call Charlie on his radio and we'll come back in a hurry. I promise."
she said, eagerly taking Charlie's hand as they made their way
into the apartment building, led by Vince.

Once they got there, Felicia saw the whole extent of damage the car
took in the car crash. "Oh, that's bad. Did the brakes go funny?"

"Perhaps. Well, at least the emergency brake anyway. Mary's grandpa
said they were just sitting at the curb in idle when something called an
accelerator pedal sank down to the floor on its own and shot the car
into full forward throttle." Charlie explained. "Ok, boys, where is he?"
he asked the circle of firemen dismantling the car enough so that a tow
truck on the way would be able to complete freeing it from the tangle
of the basement's impact twisted up pipework.

"He's over there on the cellar stairs by the other window." they
replied, jerking fingers or glove thumbs to show him the way he had
to go.

"Ok. Felicia. Do you see this they're using? It's loud, I know. Just
cover your ears. This tool Mac's holding is called a zipgun. That's how
we got Mary's grandpa out so fast. The only thing faster, is the K-12
round saw that some probie just jammed up. And he's my current
emergency call. Let's go get him out of his bind." he said, motioning.

"Wow, are those really jaws?" Felicia said, eyeing up a second tool
in another firefighter's hands. "They're so big."

"Yep. Wanna hold em?" Charlie asked, winking at the man.

"Sure. But they might be too heavy for me, I'm not as strong as I used
to be anymore." Felicia said.

"That's ok. We'll help you." said Scott, the firefighter from Urban Rescue
who was assigned clean up detail. He gave the running spreaders to Charlie
while he walked over and picked up the car door they had torn free earlier
to get the old woman with the head fracture out. "Ok, Felicia. Wanna eat
car door for supper? Go ahead. Set the blades into the window and then
hit the red button. Wait a minute, first put on my helmet and slap the face
shield down."

Charlie knelt down behind her and together, they shredded the door apart
in about ten seconds.

"Wow.. That's so cool." Felicia said. "Now I can say I used a fire tool on
a real rescue."

"This one's a true lifesaver, girlie girl. She's saved over three thousand people
to date if I remember my figures right on this particular set of jaws." said
Charlie proudly. He handed the idling tool to Scott. "Ok, let's go bail
the grunt's butt before he dies of sheer embarrassment. He'll be the laughing
stock of the department if he wears that saw on his arm for much longer."

"Will he?" Felicia's mouth flopped open.

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"No.. only his stationmates get the honor of ribbing him for a Need-Charlie
goof call. And they only get to do so for a couple of days. Then his captain
will put a stop to it before things get ...out of hand." he joked.

Felicia got the pun immediately. "Out of hand.. Charlie.. that's a good one."
she chuckled, laughing so hard her eyes started tearing.

"Shhhh, or he'll hear us. Stop giggling. You don't want to hurt his feelings now
would you? He's raw enough around the edges as it is."

"No.." Felicia choked, still laughing. "I won't. See I can turn it off." and she
plastered her mouth shut.
Soon, Captain Stanley gave his disembark the scene orders to the gang.
"Marco, Roy's awol to Rampart with Felicia and Gage on backflight.
They're with Copter Two so take the squad home. Charlie'll meet the
three of them there at the hospital after her air round and we'll have them
all back just in time to ring the dinner bell."

"Right, Cap. All our gear's accounted for and stowed." Lopez reported.

"Good going. Chet, Stoker, we'll take the engine and rewrap the ropes.
Somebody, hang that hose we didn't use, too, to drain. It should be dry
and set by morning call for its repacking on the Ward's secondary
hosebed." Hank said. "Ok, enough said. Let's get back to base and
log this run in greater detail. The chief's gonna want the nitty gritties
before sundown because this was a sudden, unexpected MCI."


"So what we were on was called a mass casualty incident?" asked
Felicia to Roy.

"Yep. And we didn't even know we had one until we actually looked into
that smashed car. It happens that way sometimes when you least expect it."

"Well, I think you did a nice job running it, even though Captain Stanley
hasn't told you that yet face to face. I thought I'd be the first to tell you
that since it was my first one ever." she smiled with a derisive no
nonsense nod.

"Thanks." said Gage, checking the copter's cabin out and resupplying
everything he had used on Mary's grandpa's previous flight from his
supply box he had received on landing. "You didn't do so bad yourself.
We were so surprised and so was Mr. Suder, when Mary started talking.
How'd you convince her to open up again?"

"I knew she wanted to, so I told her by taking her hand that it was her
choice. Everyone else she knows always orders her to talk before she's
ever ready. She doesn't like that very much. She feels pressured." said

"Wow, a budding psychologist, too. I'm impressed." Gage said, patting
the cot. "Wanna see what makes up one of these birds as far as patient
care goes? Come on, I'll give you a tour."

"Ok.. I...oh, " and Felicia sat back down again. "Sorry. I ....think I'm getting
a little tired on you." she sighed, gasping.

Roy's eyebrows raised. "Short of breath?"

Felicia finally nodded.

"Huh, maybe it's our altitude." DeSoto guessed. "We are up kinda high."

"That's all right. Easy fix." Gage said. "Come over here and we'll
have you to rights in a couple of minutes. We'll be done with ya long
before we touch down so don't start freaking out on us." he said,
patting the cot.

Felicia eyeballed DeSoto getting a hissing mask ready.

"Ohhh, not the O2 therapy thing....again. I thought I .....was
doing great....all this week.. not needing it.." she puffed.

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"Hey, You think I wasn't puffing today hacking that car apart? I
was you know. Look..." and Gage sucked in a few lungfuls on
the mask himself, filling his chest. Then he wove and faked a faint
on the caretaker's bench. "Whoa.. I think I took too much.." he
said, acting dizzy. "Roy, I think I'm kicking the big one..Uhhhhh."
And he fell over.  Then his eyes opened. "Here Felicia, your turn
to take a hit." he said miraculously recovering. "I think I'm better."
he told her.

Felicia cracked up, laughing so hard that she made the pulse
oximeter Roy slipped onto her finger bleep in warning. "Ok, but
just for a little while."

"That's cool." said Gage.

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A few minutes later Felicia opened her eyes where she lay on
the made up cot. "Johnny, Roy? Can I ask you a personal question? don't have to answer it if you don't want to. I..wouldn't
want to make the two of you feel uncomfortable..but, I have to
ask this, both see this happening alot...with other people."
she said, lacing her hands across her chest. She seemed very small
under the oxygen mask and for the first time, strangely vulnerable to
the two paramedics. It made something deep inside of them, vaguely
ache in a pang of emotions.

"You can ask us anything, Felicia. We're friends, aren't we?" Johnny
finally said, breaking the silence. He fussed with her hair and pulled
some strands out that were tangling the elastic strap of her oxygen
mask. Then without asking, he began to braid some pleats up one
side of her head. "Go ahead, we're both listening and we don't have
to share this with your ma if you don't want us to."

Felicia stared at the ceiling of the chopper and a faraway look filled
her eyes as she went someplace that only she understood in her mind.
"I ask you...what it's die." she said finally, meeting their
eyes with her own suddenly haunted ones.

Gage was taken aback and his mouth opened and closed many times,
but he found he couldn't speak.

"I think I can answer that for you Felicia. But I don't know if it'll give you
the exact answers that you've probably been looking for all this time
since you learned of your final diagnosis from your doctors...
But I can try." DeSoto whispered.

Wanting silence, Roy pulled the beeping pulse ox off Felicia's finger.
Then he rubbed his lips and crossed his arms together in front of him
in deep contemplation. "I...died once."


"On a wire..." Roy answered softly, the distant look still shining in his
eyes. "I was dead enough that Johnny and a paramedic trainee found they
had to use CPR and a defibrillator on me in order to bring me back to life."

"Did it hurt?"

Roy's face twisted in memory. And doubt. "I'd be lying if I said it didn't. But
I wasn't in pain for long, Felicia. And soon, I was feeling..and seeing things
that I couldn't quite understand as actually relating to me in any way. But then
I felt... more than anything...that I've ever felt... in my entire life."

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"What did you feel, Roy? Were you scared?"

"No, I wasn't scared. I knew my friends were there. Trying to help me
breathe. And awaken again." DeSoto said. "But...I- I remembered that
I felt so alone, while it was all happening.."

Felicia began to cry silently, silver tears glistening in the growing darkness
from the lights of the helicopter controls. But she didn't move. Nor did she
take away her tiny hands that were gripping Roy's tightly.

Roy began to smile and his face began to dampen in new tears.
"But then I felt surrounded by incredible joy, Felicia. It was endless. There
were people there.. that I knew... who had gone before I had. And the joy
was deep, that I didn't want to leave it. But I knew it wasn't my time
to be there and so I left. I left the moment I felt the shock course through
my body and... then Karen said that I was breathing on my own again and
Johnny was saying something stupid like.. how's he doing? from somewhere
nearby. It...was weird.." Roy said, meeting Felicia's eyes. "Really weird.
But I can honestly tell you both, that if I were to have to die again.. I...don't
think I would fear it. Not at all. For I think I was shown that... death is simply,
another change of life. A change that just takes us, somewhere else
and into another direction where we can continue to grow and learn..
and love.." he thought carefully.

"I think that answers my question very well. It fits what I think I've seen
before at the hospital." the little girl said, drying her eyes. "Now I think I can
tell mom that I'm not afraid to die when my time finally does come." she whispered.

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It was three weeks later at the station house. Dixie McCall was happily
bringing the last dalmation pup to her new home when the guys finally
asked the question.

"How's our little gal doing, Dixie? Is she still eating up the sight of
passing ambulances and fire engines?" Cap asked. "Everytime we
see one ourselves, we think of her."

"Yeah, we sure do." said Marco.

Dixie's smile never quite went away, but it saddened measurably in
newly remembered heart pain. "I'm sorry to say this but uh,...she
passed this morning boys, around nine a.m. or so. It was painless,
according to her mother and Dr. Brackett." she sighed. "I was there."

The guys didn't know what to say, all they did was reach out and pet
the squirming restless puppy, like the nurse was doing, just to have
something to do with their hands.

Dixie McCall looked up and her eyes were shining brightly.
"Do you know.. that you boys were all she could talk about last night?"
Dixie sniffed, hugging the pup. "Her mother wanted me, uh.. to give you this.
It's her school paper. The one she said she wanted to write for her Wish."
she said, digging into her ample purse.

The gang was stunned silent until finally, Chet Kelly held out his hands.
"We..we're honored to have to this. Can... can.. are we allowed to read it?"

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"Of course. That's what it's for, guys. So we can share the world through
Felicia's own eyes as she experienced it."

With that softly said, Dixie left on silent shoes.


It was a long time before the gang decided where was the best place. They
finally chose the front driveway in front of the station. And before they
turned to the first page, they called Charlie, to spend those moments looking
through Felicia's eyes with him.

Charlie was nervous. They all were. And just about every fireman held
a dog in their laps where they all sat in a circle on the asphalt. Boot, Bonnie
and Henry, an ample belly or even just a tiny tail. It didn't matter. The dogs
were suddenly needed pillows of support for the sharing to come.

And come it did. :)

In bright glowing colors and fresh ideas. Talk of the day spent with Johnny on
his ranch playing with the horses, and rich technical descriptions of the
afternoon wasted playing paramedic with Henry as the patient on the couch.
Chet's water fight and Charlie's swim with the dalmation puppies. It was
all there. And it was happy.

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Something that the whole gang felt they couldn't possibly wish for as wanting
anything more for fulfilling the dream of one tiny, unique little girl.


"Hey, you know what else?" burped Charlie from where they leaned on lawn
chairs against the garage as they digested ample pots of hot cocoa in
memory of Felicia.

"Huh, what's that?" asked Gage.

"Do you know why them dogs of yours were acting so nuts today?"

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"They weren't acting nuts today, Charlie. Nah..." said Gage, lying through
his teeth.

"Sure they were. You're lying and you know it. I seen the way all your
bunks don't got any pillows on them anymore. Ripped them up did theys?
Heheheheh. Wanna know why? And it wasn't because of no pithling earthquake.
I'll tell all of yous why. It was a total solar eclipse that happened, that's why."

"When? Today? Huh. And here I thought it was just a power fluctuation
on the grid. This morning, right?" Cap sighed.

"Yep. It happened precisely around nine o'clock. On the dot."

Roy and Gage felt a shock at first and then a trickle of warmth, felt deep inside.
"Right when she died." murmured Johnny and Roy together, as one.

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Charlie leaned forward. "What was that?"

"Oh, ...nothing important. So, what do we want to do today to honor Felicia's
life. Keep and name a pup after her?" Roy suggested.

"Nah. Not too original. We'll think of something. And it'll be something truly
special." Chet said. "All we have to do is put our heads together and think
about it a bit."


Later that night, Johnny had a surprise visitor to his bunk. It was Bonnie.
"Heya girl, what are you doing up here with me? I thought you sleep
with Henry and Boot in Henry's house out back nowadays."

Bonnie just stood up on her haunches and whined delicately.

Understanding at once, Gage swept the tiny Yorkshire into his arms and
gave her a hug. "Yeah, I miss her, too." he whispered, kissing Bonnie's head
softly. "Shhhh, it's ok. Yes, she's gone. Let's just try and go to sleep.
Maybe we'll dream about her." he grinned.

Soon, .... they did.


Episode Forty    Canine Capers
Emergency Theater Live  

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Canine Capers
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