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  The Long Hours
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Page Three

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##Engine 51.##

Gage shouted."Get stokes and backboards!"

The gang rushed forward, wetting down the pier as they hurried to reach the
blast victims' sides.

Roy dropped onto his knees next to the first who wasn't moving. He lifted the
cracked face shield and startled. "Ahh.." A six inch spike had penetrated the
special plastic and was embedded sickeningly in between the man's bulging
eyes. They stared up sightlessly. "This officer's dead." he said as his probing
fingers found the lack of a pulse in his bloody neck. He saw gray matter beginning
to drip out of his nose. "He's past attempting." he told the others. "Leave him."

DeSoto turned to the screaming man to whom Johnny was speaking.

Johnny was quickly exposing areas showing blood.
"Easy, easy. Just lie still. You've got punctures all over the place up
and down both of your arms and legs and you're bleeding badly from your
thigh. Don't move. We're gonna stop it and your pain as soon as we can."

"Marve? M-Marve?!" The second man kept trying to reach for the feet of
the first.

DeSoto grabbed the older officer's shoulders when he saw Marco begin
to apply a femoral artery pressure hold. "Hey. Listen to me. I'm sorry.
But Marve didn't make it. He's gone."

The wounded cop's face fell into lines of grief, shock. " Not Marve.."
he gasped, finally accepting what his eyes were telling him. Then he grimaced
as the agony of his wounds bore down in sharp focus when the adrenaline he
had been experiencing, starting wearing off.

Roy held his head as Chet prepared flowing oxygen. "Where else do
you hurt? How's your head? Chest?"

"Just my legs and arms.." the man sobbed, sweating. "Oh, G*d. Why did we
come?" he cried.

His detective boss was thunderstruck. Kneeling carefully in the sharp debris,
he took his police officer's bloody hand without moving it. "Because you had
to, Steve. Lives were at stake. Did you think Marve doubted, even for once
instant, that you and he weren't absolutely the best men for the job?! We'll
get that b*st*rd who did this. And he'll pay. Mark my words, Steve. He'll
pay dearly."

Hank sighed when he saw Stoker pull a sheet over the dead man.
"L.A. Engine 51. Cancel the second squad. We've one alive, one Code F
at the scene. Please respond the county examiner."

##Engine 51. Baywatch is responding to secure your landing zone on
the beach three hundred feet south of the pier. E.T.A of Copter Two is
five minutes.##

"10-4, L.A." Stanley replied. "We'll use stokes and bring him down there
using a lifeguard truck."

Steve tried to talk, but pain made it impossible and he cried out as numbness
swept down his left leg. He lifted his head and saw that the paramedics were
clamping off part of its circulation with hemostats, probing a gaping wound
cratering around an embedded nail stuck in at an angle near his groin.
"How ba-- bad is it?" he finally managed.

Roy looked up. "You won't lose the leg. The main artery's only nicked and
this nail's no longer a danger. It's in a bone. Lie back and keep still. Our ride
to the hospital's on the way."

Johnny Gage stayed on his feet to avoid red hot pieces of steaming metal.
##Rampart, this is Squad 51. How do you read?## he hailed over the loud
noise of Stoker's hose as he snuffed out the last of the fire sputtering on
the planks around them.

It was Joe Early who answered the biophone.

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From :  Patti or Jeff or Cassidy <>
Sent :  Wednesday, July 11, 2007 2:16 PM
Subject :  Aftermath..

##Go ahead, 51. I read you loud and clear.## replied Early.

Johnny nodded at Roy to tell him that their broadcast
was being received in spite of them being on the busy coastline.
"Rampart, we've a conscious male in his early thirties. Victim of
a close quarters pipe bomb. A second victim is a Code F from the
same range due to ejecta. There are signs of primary and secondary
blast injury. Outwardly, multiple superficial and penetrating wounds
are evident about the arms and legs only. He is wearing protective
Kevlar ballistics gear that was effective over all vital areas. We are
controlling an active left upper thigh arterial hemorrhage with
clamps. Stand by for vital signs..."

##Standing by, 51.## said Joe.  


The silver haired doctor frowned as he wrote down his notes
from the rescue call. Thinking a bit, he picked up the black phone
on the wall. "Hello, this is Dr. Early. Send down a full trauma team
to Emergency. I want an X-ray team, a respiratory specialist, and
two surgeons. We've a blast victim coming in with a severe
vascular injury. That's right. Just the one... Thanks." and he hung
up the receiver.

Grabbing a cup of coffee just outside the glass door of the base station,
Joe waited for the red light to turn back on with a channel return from
Squad 51.


Roy gestured at Lopez. "Keep up that pressure point at the femoral.
Watch yourself. There's nail right there."

Marco nodded, pressing his gloves down as he leaned in with most of
his weight over the area without disturbing the impaled metal.

Gage looked up as the gang ran oxygen and a long board over to them
from the engine. Johnny shouted. "Guys, go ahead and get him on
a high flow! Set it top aperature. He's still breathing okay. But wait on the
spine board. We've got to get the rest of this gear off first.  Be careful
around this." he said, pointing to the still oozing thigh wound that he and
Roy had exposed with scissors through pants material. Two used
hemostat clamps stuck out of the wound, throbbing with each
pulsebeat around the hidden leg artery that they were only partially
constricting. "Marco, is that starting to stop yet?" he asked.

Lopez coughed, not lifting up his gloved hands over the pressure point in
the man's groin. "A clot's forming. But it's still bleeding a bit."

Gage leaned over the jagged gash. "Good enough. We don't want
to cut off total circulation. Keep at it. If you get tired, switch off with Chet."

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Kelly smiled as he fussed with the policeman's protective helmet
and face shield as he figured out how to pull it off. "Easy, Steve. I got some
relief for ya." he said, holding up an oxygen mask. "Just try and slow your
breathing down a little. That might be part of why you're feeling so dizzy." he
said, seeing the man's eyes spinning around. He had to firmly hold Steve's
face in between his knees long enough to finish applying the hissing oxygen

"My.. my ears are ringing... badly.." Steve coughed, still gasping.

Roy got out his penlight and began a thorough head to toe assessment.
"Steve, your eardrums are okay. That vertigo could be after effects of
all that noise from the explosion working on you. Do you hurt anywhere else
besides your arms and legs?" he said, checking his pupils, mouth, ears and
nostrils for occult blood.

"My...sinuses. They're burn...burning.." he said, bringing up an abraded hand.
As he spoke, a trickle of pink fluid ran out of his nose.

DeSoto wiped the fluid away with a 4 X 4, and handed a new one to Chet
for him to use. "I know. The explosion's shaken up everything hollow inside
of you. That's why I'm checking you out. How's your neck and back? Can you
move your feet and hands okay?" he said, checking the red stain on the gauze
square for signs of the yellowing edge of cerebral spinal fluid. There were none.

Steve cleared his throat, sounding hoarse. "They're fine." he said shakily.
"I still feel them."

"All right. We're gonna get the rest of this stuff off." DeSoto said, patting
the thick armor over Steve's chest. "But don't do any work. Let us do it for
you." he told him, nodding to the other officers that it was okay to help get
him out of the blast gear. "After that, I gotta cut your uniform off to see
where else you've been hurt."

"Oh." said Steve. He closed his eyes as he started to shake in reaction.
"I'm..I'm so cold."

"We'll fix that. How's your pain on a scale of one to ten?" Johnny asked.

"F-Four or five." bubbled Steve, grimacing.

"Think you need something for it?" Gage said as he placed the steel
drum of a stethoscope onto Steve's bare chest. He listened over all areas,
tipping his head down to drown out the sounds of the fire hose.

"Not ..that bad. Maybe....later." he answered, his face growing blank with
shock. "How's Marve?" Then he remembered. "Oh...G*d..." he said, tears
falling slowly. Steve blinked, muzzy. "Chief, what are we doing in the parking

The paramedics exchanged looks at the new sign of missing memory.

His boss knelt around fine, splattered blood. "Steve, we're all here
with ya. So's Mac, Newmy, Scott. We're not going anywhere. And I'm
personally going with ya in the chopper."

Roy looked up at the detective. "Tell me about this kind of bomb. We
need to know the power of the energy it may have released.
He may be hurt internally as well."

The detective's face became more lined as he watched his man get
covered up with a thick wool blanket. "Fireman, this was an L.E. It causes
deflagration rather than detonation and the release of energy was relatively
slow, we read it went off at under 40 kilopascal or 6 psi. That was a subsonic
explosion lacking the overpressurization blast wave that characterizes H.E.s,
like dynamite, TNT or C4 gel. It had practically no punch."

DeSoto nodded, remembering his days serving in Viet Nam. "So nowhere
near the threshold of inflicting deep cardiac or intestinal blast injury?"

"Most likely not. It lost a lot of force, just sending out those shrapnel fragments."

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"Okay, thanks. That info helps." Roy told him.

Gage thought of more. "What about the propellant? Will it burn these wounds?"

"No. It's gun powder. And it's already cold." replied Cap, who was standing near
by, getting their stokes straps ready. "Recognize that smell?"

"All I can smell is blood, Cap." Johnny said quietly as he started swabbing off
a clear place on Steve's arm for an I.V. start.

Roy looked up from taking a blood pressure.
"Chet could you set him up on an EKG? Turn it to audible so we can hear it."

"Okay." answered Kelly. "A two lead?"

"No, twelve. We need the whole picture." said Roy. "Skip the limb leads.
They won't stick." Roy picked up the biophone. "Rampart, Squad 51."
He accepted Johnny's care notes quickly.

##Go ahead.## said Joe.

"Doc, this is what we've got. Blood pressure's 86 over 54. Respirations
are still labored at twenty two. Chest is wheezy in all fields. He's exhibiting
temporary bouts of amnesia about recent events concerning the incident.
On the left, he has a hemotympanum without perforation and bilateral tinnitus.
Pupils are equal and reactive. EKG is showing.." he paused while Kelly turned
the monitor so he could see it. "...mild bradycardia with that hypotension.
Bleeding from the leg is now minimal." Roy reported. "Pulse is 42. Skin cool
and wet. He's on O2 being actively treated for shock. Also, he's got some
tinged fluid coming from both nostrils that's negative for CNS involvement."
Roy clarified. "Sending you a strip, Lead XII."

Early read the EKG rhythm swiftly. Then he fingered the talk button.
##After starting two large bore I.V.'s of Ringer's Lactate in both arms, and
if he's negative for neck or spinal injuries, raise his head, 51. Assume the
patient's wheezing is associated with a blast injury involving pulmonary

Joe's voice became very serious with the next orders, making Roy's eyes
widen in surprise. ##Listen carefully. A thoracic PBI produces a unique
cardiovascular response, observed nowhere else in medicine, Roy, that
might cause an arrest in this victim in the absence of any demonstratable
physical injury to the chest.The immediate cardiovascular response to pulmonary
blast injury is this decrease in heart rate, stroke volume, and strength. The
normal reflexive increase in systemic vascular resistance isn't occurring. That's
why his blood pressure's falling inexplicably. Be super-aggressive with those I.V.s.
Bag him without an ET if he stops breathing. He should recover a good BP again
and regain any consciousness loss, within 15 minutes. Use 1 mg. epinephrine
I.V. push only if he goes apneic.##

DeSoto looked up quickly. "Two of L.R. Push it. Faster than wide." he told Johnny.
"Chet prep an ambu."

Gage knelt on the I.V. bag he already had going and passed off the second to
an eager policeman. "Squeeze that. Hard. As fast as it'll drip." he told him.

Roy was still receiving his orders.
##Look for quaternary injuries, including thermal burns, scattered petechiae,
and confluent hemorrhages over all areas above gas containing organs.
Suction away hemoptysis as needed and watch for newly developing chest
pain. Monitor his neurological status. Primary blast waves cause concussions
without a direct blow to the head. That might explain his inability to stay focused
on events. Splint his left leg and pelvis and transport by air a.s.a.p. Keep me
posted on any further downgrade and we'll manage it together, step by step.##
said Joe. ##Contact me every five minutes en route with new vitals.##

"10-4, doc. Aggressive fluid and respiratory support. Load and go. Squad
51, out."

As Roy hung up the phone, Steve's eyes fluttered shut. "Johnny..."
DeSoto warned.

"Steve?" asked the detective in alarm. "Guys...!" he pointed urgently.

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Gage pulled the blanket down and set both hands on the wounded
police officer's stomach. "He's breathing. But it's shallow. Chet, help
him a little on the ins. Don't overdo it. He's developed lung bruising."
he said as he re-covered their patient.

"Pulse's still slowing." Kelly said, taking a quick carotid to make sure it
was still being felt despite the visual and audio on the monitor.

Roy glanced at him. "It's gonna happen. Keep a look out for PEA on
the quick view. If he slips into it and loses that beat, yell. Do you
remember how that arrythmia presents before it takes effect?"

Kelly nodded, keeping up his slow, steady assistance bagging on the
unconscious man. "Yeah, you showed me several different kinds on
paper strips last month."

"I did? Okay." Roy rubbed his sweaty forehead in hurried concentration.
"That was smart thinking." Roy hurried as he began to pack up their gear.
"Cap, Mike. Carry him head end higher once we get him in the stokes.
We'll splint that bad leg once we're in the air."

"Want an O.P. in?" Kelly asked them, reaching a couple of fingers into
his turnout jacket for the pack of oral airways he always kept there.

"No, the doc says he's waking up in a few. Says this is just a temporary
reaction." DeSoto told him. He regarded their patient with a close eye.
"He does seem to be managing well enough with just that head tilt.
How does he feel?"

"Easy in-s. No problems." Chet said, as he watched the man's chest rises
along with the placement of his fingers over the mask of the bag valve
resuscitator. He repositioned them lightly to stop a sudden face leak.

"Kelly.." DeSoto said, dissatisfied. " you want the detective to help
you? Looks like you might need two people there."

"All right, I can use him." agreed Kelly quickly. "He's shivering a bit."

"I'm here. Right here." said the worried chief. "Just like CPR class?"
he said, taking over Chet's finger-cupped mask hold.

"Yep." said Chet. "Use two fingers to lift up his jaw as you
do that. It works better. Grab the mask like you guys hold a shot gun,
in a double grip." he shared, as he began to use both hands to
squeeze the breathing bag. "See?"

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"Yeah.. yeah.." said the cop when he felt an easier flow of oxygen
begin to move through Steve's wider opened windpipe. "I got it."

Cap spoke, telling the rest of the worried, still armored policemen to
step back as he and the rest of the gang lifted Steve off the wet pier
planks and into the wire basket. "Thanks, fellas, we've got him from
here. He's going to Rampart Emergency. Marco, replace yourself
with a couple of sandbags, then help us carry him to the pier's entryway.
Is he and the gear all in and strapped down? Okay, guys, let's move him


Joe Early abandoned the bomb squad man into the hands of
his surgeons. He soon returned to the front desk by Dixie's stool. He
smiled when he saw Roy and Johnny reassembling their spent
resuscitation tank with fresh parts as they kneeled nearby. They were
also recoiling the wires on the EKG monitor back into reassessible
potability inside of its defibrillator case. "Hey, Roy, Johnny, Chet. Nice
job on our patient."

"He's gonna make it?" Gage asked in an incredulous tone.

"You doubt your acting physician's direct prognosis?" he chuckled.
"Of course he's gonna make it. That explosion was an L.E. Those
only kill with the debris it manages to fling out."

"That's a relief. It was pretty touch and go for a while there once
we were airborne." said DeSoto. "For a few seconds, Chet, Johnny
and I thought we had actually lost his pulse."

"That was just his further slowing bradycardia. Bound to skip a beat or
two at the height of its effect. He didn't lose color at all, did he?" Early
challenged in good humor.

"No. That's what finally clued us off that he wasn't shockable." Roy smiled.
"That and the heartbeat Johnny heard apically."

"Glad you weren't fooled into attempting compressions. Our man's got
enough healing to do without adding cracked ribs to the mix."

"So what's the next step for him? Past that surgery to repatch his leg artery?"
Johnny wondered.

Joe shrugged. "A couple of chest x-rays for sure, eventually. Blast lung
produces a characteristic “butterfly” pattern on films. His next risks are
systemic air embolism, and free radical–associated injuries such as thrombosis,
lipoxygenation, and disseminated intravascular coagulation."

"Fat balls, air bubbles and clots in his tissues and circulatory system?" Gage
wondered. Then he gave out a long sigh of sympathy.

"Yes. Those are secondary complications. He may even develop ARDS as
a result of his direct lung injury, which has turned out to be something called
acute gas embolism, a form of pulmonary barotrauma. The air and fat emboli
that have broken free into his lungs, might later occlude blood vessels
in the brain or spinal cord."

"Sounds nasty." said Kelly. "It's like he got the bends from a firecracker."

"Apt analogy. Things can get bad. But I have every confidence that he won't
reach a stroke or paralysis endstage. We got his pressure back up fast
enough and you guys did an absolutely terrific job by not jostling him
unnecessarily during flight." Early told them, pleased.

Roy accepted the compliment gracefully, as did the others. But he was still
worried. "What about his intestines? I didn't hear active peristalsis."

Joe held up his hand to reassure him. "Abdominal injuries from explosions
may be occult, showing up only days later. Serial examinations are often required.
But in his case, that air by the sea was a very poor conductor of blast-wave
energy. It was too thick to push very far. In fact, any close quarters pressure
changes he might have experienced colon wise had to work through all that tough
body armor first. His blood work's coming back good, all things considering. I think
they're just in spasm for now, because he's still cold. It won't be long before he
reawakens in Recovery under heated blankets, and when he does, they'll most
likely follow suit."

Gage relaxed. "I really thought he was goner, doc. He's my first bombing victim."

"I hope you'll never see another case." said Joe. "They are the most complexly injured
patient that any paramedic ever encounters."

Roy agreed, regarding his partner with a look of deep thought and a little sorrow.
"I hated seeing that outside of a war zone.." he broke off, "Incendiaries are a
horrific way to maim and destroy people."

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Gage set his hand on DeSoto's shoulder, remembering his war vet status only
belatedly. He didn't look at Roy's face, offering him a bit of privacy for the
emotions that were still twisting on his features. He changed the subject by
asking Joe another question. "How's Dr. Morton doing? Is he any better?"

Joe looked up from his coffee cup and replied...

From :  patti keiper <>
Sent :  Wednesday, July 11, 2007 11:01 PM
Subject :  A Little Sugar and Cream Never Hurt Anybody..

"Well, I don't know the latest, since I've been filling in for Kel
and Dixie down here, all night. But I can tell you that--"

"He's awake, on soft foods, wiggling all of his fingers and
toes, and asking for visitors.." said a happy, husky voice
approaching from down the hall.

"Dixie!" said Roy, Chet, Johnny and Joe joyfully.

Gage gave her a hug. "Boy, am I relieved. So he's over his

"Yep." she said, accepting the embrace.

"Any further complications?" asked Roy.

"Nope." she replied, returning Roy's smile.

"Who's Dr. Morton?" asked Chet.

Gage burst out laughing. "Chet, you mean to tell me that you can't
remember the man who got you started on the great crash diet
craze?" He let Dixie go, and offered her a cup of coffee.

Chet shook his head.

Johnny tried again.

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"Remember when you tried to starve our whole shift half to death?
It was about the same week Cap almost got electrocuted on that wire."

Chet shook his head a second time.

Gage got real bugged, thinking Chet was up to some funny business.
"Are you kidding me about this?" he asked suspiciously.

Kelly shook his head once more, exactly like the first two.

"Okay, I believe ya." said Johnny, putting both hands into his pockets.

Roy sighed, rubbing his chin, still studying Chet who saundered over
to the drinking fountain to wet his whistle. "All those figs he ate back then,
must have wiped out his memory or something, eh, Johnny?"

"No, maybe WE did, after we glommed onto him for inflicting that diet
of his on us." Johnny scoffed, good naturedly. But then he snapped
his fingers, getting an idea. "Say, Roy? Let's see if he remembers
Mike after his memory's jogged a little, shall we? Dix? Is Morton still
in the same room?"

"No, he's been moved to the general floor and out of ICU. He's in
309 East." McCall replied.

They started off for the elevators.

She stopped them.
"Wait a minute. You guys don't have a 'get well fast' card, gift, or
anything to offer Morton yet. Why go right now? He'll be better rested
tomorrow." she reasoned.

Gage leaned backwards into Dixie's ear. "Yeah, but tomorrow Chet
won't be here to see him. Get my point?"

"No." she answered truthfully, looking blank.

Johnny humored her, indicating to Chet and Roy that he was heading
for the souvenir shop. "We'll think of something. You're welcome to
come along with us."

"Nope. For today, I'm his nurses' supervisor. He doesn't get to see
me again unless he's dying a second time and I'm pushing in his
crash cart." she quipped. "Once was bad enough."

Roy scratched his head. "This is a little unrelated but...How come
doctors can treat other doctors, and nurses other doctors, but
paramedics can't treat their own family members?"

Dixie made a face. "Personal involvement?"  

Joe laughed. "Ah, I believe the key word is intimate personal

McCall chuckled. "Well, that doesn't wash. Kel and I were involved
when I broke my ankle six years ago."

Gage grinned. "Yeah, but he wasn't the one who reset your bone.
Dr. Rivers did that. Kel only came in there to gloat."

Dixie frowned. "Don't remind me. I hated every minute of being a
patient in my own department."

Roy looked at her. "Think of it from Dr. Morton's perspective. He's
got it worse. He's going to be a patient in his own hospital for at least
week or more."

Dixie grew thoughtful. "Hmm. Maybe I can rub that in a little."

Joe smacked her arm. "Don't you dare. He's still a sick man."

McCall compromised. "Okay. I won't. I'll wait until he's filling out
the discharge papers that only I'll be bringing him."

Roy smirked. "You're evil."

"No, just playful." she corrected evenly. "Gotta make up for all the
gruffness he's dished out on my nurses today one way or another.
They aren't standing up to him one iota. I've been watching."

Joe sighed. "That's because he's a doctor." he teased in a whisper.

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Click the ekg for a music soundtrack change.

Dixie held up a finger. "No, it's because he's Dr. Morton. There's a
difference." she explained carefully. " 'Bedside Brusk', that's what
they call his personality."

"Can't say that's not true.." Joe admitted honestly. "But he's still a
h*ll of a good resident and I'm glad I work with him."

"Uh, huh. You work WITH him. Not under him." McCall clarified.
"He's a whole different man if you're living in our shoes." she said
about herself and the other nurses on her staff.

Joe smiled, realizing he was treading in increasingly hot water. He
glanced at Roy and Johnny. "Keep it short. He's still tired most likely."

Gage started giggling. "We will. See you later. Come on, Chet. Start
breaking out your wallet. I wanna pool our money together to buy
Mike a gift. Ah, ah, ah.. Before you open your mouth, don't worry.." he
added, fending off Chet's not yet formed complaint. "We'll both pay
you back before the shift's over, okay?"

"Okay, but I still don't know this Morton guy." Kelly said.

"Oh, you will." said Johnny. "Boy, will you!" he laughed.

Roy agreed. "In a couple of seconds."


A quiet knock at the door alerted Dr. Morton to open his eyes.
He tried to clear his throat when he remembered yet again
that the drain tube was still threading out of his back around
the sutures. He decided not to move again.  

But the well aimed pillow had silenced the EKG monitor that
had been bleeping over his bed. Mike had been sweaty
and panting after that little goal was accomplished, but he was
VERY proud of himself for the silence that he had won.

Until now. He began to grumble but then stopped himself
when the knock repeated even softer than before.

"Come in?" he replied reflexively, finally recognizing that the
raps were friendly and not at all medically efficient like those
of the nurses caring for him.

"Dr. Morton?" asked Roy through the crack in the door.
"Are you awake?"

Mike sat up in his bed, grimacing a little. "Yeah. Come in. All
three of you." he gasped around his nasal cannula.

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"Dr. Morton, how are you feeling?" Gage began when
they had entered.

"Fellas, please, call me Mike." he smiled. "I'm a patient now."

"Okay." Johnny smiled warmly, still being quiet. It didn't work
very well when a brown paper bag behind his bag rustled loudly
from where he had it hidden.

"Is that Chester Kelly?" Morton trickled, squinting a little.

"Yeah. Uh,.. hi." said Kelly, truly acting like he didn't know Morton.

"Don't you remember me? I turned you into a real
bonafide health nut by accident." Mike said to him.

"Really? Well, isn't that kind of like what a doctor is supposed
to do for his patient?" Chet asked, guessing what their
relationship had been.

Johnny smacked Kelly on the arm. "Chet, you weren't his patient.
He was your advisor, at the station. You two discussed nothing but
food for an entire hour in the bunkroom according to Cap."

"Doesn't ring a bell. But I'm really glad to meet you now. Man,
the other day, I thought you were a goner." he said, leaning over
the bed as he held out his hand.

Morton grinned, taking the offered handshake into his own."Sorry to
disappoint you then, Chester B. Guess these two paramedic
boys are just too d*mned efficient to play the sudden death game
very often, huh?"

Chet confided in him. "Yeah, they don't like getting halos on their
patients. So,...You got all your toes and fingers back."

"I sure did. No paralysis whatsoever. See?" he said wiggling them
under the blankets. "But seriously, fellas. It's my turn to say that
I'm grateful I'm still alive." he told them. "Roy, Johnny. I heard
what you guys did for me this morning when I stopped breathing."

Gage shrugged, crossing his arms respectfully. "We didn't do
much. We just... took over for the machine for a while until your
seizure was knocked out."

"I would have died." Mike said significantly. "Sure the code blue
team would have eventually brought me around. But not easily
if my heart had gone out as well. And all that CPR you prevented
could have redamaged my spinal fracture site. Then where would
I be?"

"I don't know." said Roy, not willing to brag, even as he smiled.

"I probably wouldn't be a doctor any more. All that motion would
have severed my spinal cord, Kel said. He just saw my X-rays a
couple of minutes ago." Mike shared. "So, please, accept my
thanks... from the bottom of my heart. Literally."

Roy and Johnny were struck speechless, very touched.

"No problem, Mike." Chet said for the both of them. Then he
reached back and snagged the bag Johnny still held out of sight.
"Hey, did you see what we brought ya?" Kelly asked. "You're
not restricted to just clears are you?"

"Nah, I'm up to soft food already."

"Good, 'cause you're gonna love what we brought ya." Chet said,
dumping out the contents onto Mike's bed covers.

Mike's lit up eyes, then fell into a look of confusion when he saw what
his gift items were. "Three eggs, a can of evaporated milk, a salt
shaker, a jar of strawberry preserves and a half pound of sugar?"

"Oh, and don't forget these." Johnny said eagerly, handing over
a wooden spoon and a porcelain mixing bowl that Roy had been

"What are these, boys? Are you sure you brought the right bag?"
he laughed.

"Sure we did." said Johnny eagerly. "Haven't you ever heard of
homemade ice cream before?"

Morton rubbed a scab on his nose left over from the sea chafing
he had suffered. "Yeah. But I don't see any ice here, do you?"

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For a few seconds, Roy, Johnny and Chet's faces fell into ones
of deep dismay but then, just as quick they dropped all pretense,
letting Dr. Morton off the hook. "Got ya. Of course we didn't forget
the chilly stuff. How could we? That wouldn't have been very smart."

Morton looked at them expectantly, lacing his fingers together.
"So,..where it is?"

Gage snapped his fingers. "Gimme your pillow case." he ordered,

"I beg your pardon?" Morton sputtered.

"Your pillowcase." Roy repeated, looking highly amused.

Shrugging, Mike lifted up his head and started to grab the soft
bundle under his head.

"No, not that one. Hand us the one you're not using." Chet said
with duh, written all over his voice.

Mike sighed and did so. "This is crazy, absolutely nuts."

"Not really. It's called..." said Chet expansively. "Science.." he
finished mysteriously. He went on in a voice sounding like an
absent minded professor. "As liquid evaporates, it gets cold.
This effect, familiar to anyone who has been wet, happens
because it takes energy to turn a liquid into a gas, and that
energy comes from heat drawn out of the liquid. How that
interaction works is one of the most complicated subjects in
science, but what’s important, is that it can be used to
make....  homemade ice cream."

"I don't get it." Morton gestured, crossing his arms together
around his shoulder cast as best as he could, in puzzlement.

"Oh, you will. You will." said Gage. "Shh, I think Chet's on a
roll here." he whispered, sotto voce'.

Chet went on as if their little exchange had never taken place.
"Now, you can’t just let cream evaporate and expect to get ice cream.
No... Water in the open air won’t freeze from evaporation alone. But
evaporating pressurized liquid carbon dioxide, draws so much energy
out of it, that about a third ends up frozen solid." he concluded.

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"That’s dry ice." added Roy, waggling his eyebrows like Groucho

Morton started to giggle around his pain meds in spite of himself.

"Just where do you get a tank of liquid CO2? From fire equipment pros,
of course. Like any of us firemen." Kelly droned on, completely
oblivious to the fact that he had Morton in stitches, a kind you couldn't
snip when all the healing was done.

Roy and Johnny got into the presentation. Jogging quickly over
to the other side of the room, they snatched open the fire extinguisher
case with a flourish.

Morton's eyes got real big. "No.. You're not going to use that to--"

"Shhh. Do you want your EKG to speed up any faster? Having a nurse
fly in here right now to check up on that'll only spoil our party." Johnny
insisted, pushing Mike back down onto the bed.

Chet opened his eyes. They were twinkling. "Discharge a 10-pound
CO2 fire extinguisher full blast into a pillowcase for about 10 seconds,
and you’ll have several pounds of finely powdered dry ice."

He demonstrated that step most enthusiastically, until he had some.

"Don’t play with it though. Dry ice can give you frostbite in a few seconds."
added Roy, still doing his Marx impersonation with an invisible cigar.

Morton was turning red, fighting himself to keep laughter inside so
he wouldn't trigger his cardiac monitor alarms.

Gage took over. "Then it’s a simple matter of pouring it into a bowl of
ice-cream ingredients and stirring until frozen." He did so, splashing
everything together into the bowl that he began whipping up.
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"Add the dry ice slowly to avoid the hard-as-rock syndrome..." said
Chet, doing so.

"And wah la.. Instant strawberry ice cream." said Roy, in his normal voice
at last.

"Dig in.." they all said at the same time.

Morton chortled, and accepted the plastic spoon that Johnny dug out
of his untouched green jello. "So is it edible?" he asked, making a face.

Gage shrugged. "Why not?" he returned, leaning on the frost discharged
extinguisher with his chin. "These were originally invented to be used in
restaurant kitchens. CO2 fire extinguishers are still filled only with food-grade

Mike wiped the tears out of his eyes and tasted a small sliver of the stuff.

"Interesting." he said as the pink creamy lump melted on his tongue. "So
tell me, carbon dioxide is what makes soda fizz, right?"

"Right." they replied.

He tipped his ace. "This ice cream actually came out carbonated."

"What?!" the guys exclaimed. They just had to dig their fingers
into the bowl to taste it themselves.

"Not bad." said Morton, with his mouth full. "But don’t plan on seeing CO2
Crunch in the ice-cream case any time soon. It makes your teeth pop."
he concluded. "And I wouldn't recommend eating any of the lumps either."

"Why not?" Gage wanted to know.

"Because they're pure dry ice. Get me a glass of water. I think I froze
my spoon to the roof of my mouth. Ow.."

"What?!" Johnny sputtered.
"Easy, doc. Don't close your mouth!" Roy panicked.

"Shall I call for another doctor? Oh, no! Man chokes to death
in his own hospital r--" Kelly quailed.

"Quiet, Chet, and go get us some hot water. That'll work better."
snapped Johnny, as he held Mike's jaws open so he could
continue to breathe.

"Guyth?...Guyths? Really, I'm thine. Juth gith me a bith, and we'll keet
on eating. I'm acthually quite hungee." Mike mouthed around the spoon.

"You are?" Johnny paused, his fingers still inside Morton's mouth.

"Yeth." said Mike. He exhaled a big breath and his tongue
released the stick of the spoon. "Ahhh. It's come off. Skip that lavage,
Chet. I'm free!" said Morton aloud. "Grab yourselves a couple
of those plastic puke basins, boys, and I'll divee this delicious glop
up, fair and square." he beamed, finally forgetting his pain for the first
time since his near fatal plane crash accident.

Behind him, Chet smiled. ::Goal accomplished. Man! Doc, patients
don't need morphine all the time.:: he thought. ::Don't they always
say that laughter's the best medicine of all? I rest my case and


Episode Forty Six,  The Long Hours
Emergency Theater Live
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