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    The Helper's              High
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Page Three

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Johnny did a quick mobility check. "Well, those nerves are in full
working order. And these pinky bones are intact and in alignment."
He looked up. "No fractures, Cap. Or tendon damage. He wasn't
nailed in the right spot." he said, applying a thick dressing for Marco
to cradle his hand into so Chet could let go of his hold.

Stoker showed up with a lantern light just as police sirens grew
urgently in the distance and the red of their lights began to fill up
the pitch blackness of the garage.

Marco chuckled. "Well that's a little too late. Those hoodlums are
long gone by now."

Hank begged to differ. "Well they still have to look at and document
your injury and find the bullet that hit you."

L.A.'s voice came over their intercom, patched HQ to direct station
link. ##L.A., Station 51. P.D. advises: Stay under cover until your
immediate vicinity is confirmed as quiet.##

"It WAS quiet earlier. And peaceful. I want that back!" Lopez whined

A clacking of a round being clicked into a firing chamber made them
all jump. It was Roy in one of the squad's bullet proof vests and his
duty helmet. The number "51" reflected eerily in the battery light.
"You got it." DeSoto said. "I'm just making sure things stay that way."

Marco sighed mightily at the same time Johnny let out the air in the
blood pressure cuff he was using on Lopez's good arm. "Spoken like
a true Viet Nam vet." Lopez giggled.

"D*mned straight. You're forgetting that Joanne, the kids and I, live in this
same neighborhood." Roy told him.

Hank chuckled. "Cops are here, Roy. How about putting that thing away
before they get a little trigger happy out there, looking in?"

##L.A., Station 51. What's your Code I's status?##

Cap thumbed the mic he still held in his lap. "Station 51, L.A. He's minor.
Go ahead and cancel our ambulance. He'll go in by squad if it's warranted
after we make a quick phone call to the hospital. Our update with P.D. will
follow by landline." Stanley replied.

##10-4, 51. Cancelling response.##

Gage let out a satisfied grunt. "Well, the bleeding's stopped and your
vitals are doing fine."

"Just like I told ya!" Marco sputtered, his adrenalin finally hitting.

Johnny grinned. "Easy, don't shoot the messenger. I'm bearing good
news. But I still have to make our phone call in." he said, jerking his thumb
squadwards towards the still stashed biophone.

Three smacks against the rear garage door by the yard startled everyone
badly. Except for Roy, who was calmly checking out the head hatted
silhouettes of cops showing through the cracks in the garage door. "Ah,"
DeSoto said. "That's our all clear. I'll go let them in." he said, flicking on
the garage lights again. "So, is he gonna make it there, Johnny?"

"Without a doubt. He's just winged a little." Gage smiled.

"Just like I've been trying to say all along!" Marco complained, getting to
his feet with Mike and Chet's help. He moved to the bench and sat down
next to Cap's office next to the file cabinet that held the station's photo
camera. He eyed it up as Cap drew it out. "In every gory detail, huh?"
he asked, about the report and statement taking to come.

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Hank patted him on his unbloody shoulder. "Won't take long." He glanced
over at Johnny, who was setting up the biophone. "Is it deep?"

"Nah, just a nasty furrow. Once it dries up, a little Second Skin'll cover it
good enough for working, as long as he keeps wearing a glove."

Hank relaxed. "Just what I wanted to hear. No fill-in necessary." Stanley

"Hey!" yelled Marco. "Did anybody ask ME about that? I've been shot!"

"Creased." Roy and Johnny both corrected him at the same time.

DeSoto smiled. "It's only a flesh wound. Like you said, it's nothing."
he rubbed in.

Marco scowled, growling.

Cap rolled his eyes. "I think I'm getting an even bigger headache now
to go with the one I've had all day." he muttered. "Do you guys know
how much paperwork I have to fill out because that little nick is actually
a gunshot wound?"

Stoker rocked back on his heels. "Aren't you glad you're the captain?"

"Go make yourself useful and mop up that blood. Then finish cooking
lunch for Marco until he gets his hand dressed out after all the necessary
photo taking." Cap glared, actually half sting.

"Yes sir." Stoker mock saluted. He diluted his mirth with a wink that stayed
all of Hank's temper about report filing, neatly.

Behind them, Gage began his hail. "Rampart, this is Squad 51, how do
you read?"

Dixie McCall answered the line. ##51, I read you loud and clear. Go ahead.##

"Rampart, I have a minor GSW-Code-I in a still alarm for documentation."
and he proceeded to give her all the nitty gritty details. When he was through,
Dixie asked. ##Apply dressings and elevate. I note patient wishes no
transportation. Are you bringing him in for a pain prescription?##

Johnny held up the phone receiver in a shrug to Marco, who was wrapped up
in deep conversation with Vince, who was the assigned information
gatherer for the incident.

Lopez shook his head vehemently and pointed lockerroomwards and made
pill bottle opening gestures with his hands. "I got Tylenol." he mouthed.

Gage nodded. "Negative, Rampart."

##Ok, 51. Thanks for the information the county needs. And stay safe out
there for Pete's sake!## Dixie said in a parting shot.

Marco couldn't resist. "We are! In here..." he said out loud.

Dixie hung up the line, laughing.

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From: patti keiper <>
Date: Sun Dec 2, 2007 6:57 pm
Subject: When Seconds Count..

An hour later, Marco's wound was shellacked down to
a crusty, pain free seam and the jokes were once again
flying thick around the rec room before the t.v. set still
turned to the brush fire coverage.

Cap hung up the phone, at the end of what was another
of numerous ones he had received from the chief regarding
the shooting. He smirked from the corner of his mouth, making
Marco mutter.

"Uh, oh.." trickled Lopez.

Stanley went to sit deliberately on the very edge of
his black recliner to face him. Then his mouth opened.
"Congratulations, pal. You're officially the first firefighter ever
to have gotten himself shot in a big house."

The rest of the gang burst out laughing.

Marco squirmed uncomfortably. "I don't know whether to
feel honored, or horrified."

Stoker's good humor barely slackened. "Definitely the latter.
That could have been very bad."

"I can think of worse things than just wounded firemen." said
Cap, sobering. "All the dead ones."

The gang quieted, deflected into dark seriousness in moments.

Johnny Gage broke the silence softly. "Say, Cap. Any word on
the number of casualties from working those San Bernadino
County fires?" he said, gesturing at the news with his Grape
Crush bottle.

"A lot." Cap said morosely, without blinking.

"Too many." echoed Stoker, unbidden.

"Don't we know it." agreed Hank, finally blinking, with emotion
restored to his face. "But the governor doesn't want to throw
our county into the battle just yet because many of us are
THEIR replacement standbys in their regular service areas,
McConnikee says. In fact, if Marco had found himself laid up,
there wouldn't have been somebody here at home available
to replace him."

"How so, Cap?" asked Roy.

Stoker replied, already knowing the answer. "Because our
secondary personnel have already been sent to combat the fires."

Chet made a face. "Well, that's dumb. What if a paramedic
somewhere in L.A. gets sick on the job or something and can't work?
Does that squad go out of service?" Kelly wondered.

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Cap said. "The chief's just authorized that anyone with the appropriate
side training can take over the missing spot with assisting the main

Gage immediately fell into an uproar. "Oh, Cap. A firefighter can't
start an I.V. or.. or - or utilize injectable meds.."

Stanley held up a finger. "No, but he can keep up the basics, like
resuscitation, right?"

Johnny piped down.

"Yeah, that happens anyways. " agreed Chet. "And we can handle
the biophone just fine in a pinch."

Gage shuddered. "Having someone like you? As my.." he gulped.
"..partner?" he squeaked. "Now that's scary." he breathed frankly.

Marco took offense. "Hey, what are we? Chopped liver?"

Johnny held up a hand. "No. Look,..Agh! I didn't mean it the way it
sounded. I was only thinking about other situations like.. What if
an engineer got laid up or a battalion chief got sudden emergency
medical leave? That could knock a whole station out of commission..
There'd be no one to drive the d*mn*d truck or run the proper
personnel assignments at mass casuality incidents if something big
should happen then."

Hank met his eyes miserably. "Now you know why every tenth brush fire
season or so, really sucks. This is one of them." he said, eyeing up
the news that was urgently murmuring, very close to them.

The tones went off.

##Station 51. Oil Spill at Shasta Pass. At mile marker one fourteen
involving a tanker on a viaduct. No smoke showing. At Shasta Pass,
marker 114 on the viaduct. Hazmat has been dispatched. Time out:
Fifteen nineteen.##

Chet shook his head. "Guys, did we just curse ourselves?" he asked
as they all fled for the bay at a run.

Cap was particularly tight lipped, giving no reply.

Stoker dutifully took the Ward after the squad, code three, and
together, the rescue trucks headed up into the mountains not yet
blanketed by fire smoke coming from their inferno plagued
neighboring ranges.

Kelly just shrugged. "So we get to play with some sand and a lot
of ground water. Should be no big deal to handle at all. Look, we'll
probably be home again by dinner time."

Although self professed as being non-superstitious, Cap muttered an
explicative anyway to protest his burning, report-overexposed eyes.
"Kelly, cork it!"

"Geez. Can't a raging optimist get anywhere around here?"

Stoker chuckled as he shifted the engine into a faster gear.
"Only when the last spark's out for good."

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Chet licked his lips. "Okay, I'm a pumper tanker full of water. Where's
the fire?" he joked.

Next to them, Cap whispered, rubbing sore temples. "It's still coming.."
he mumbled. "Can't you feel it?... I sure can.." It was spoken figuratively.

Station 51 passed a logger's truck, pulled out of their way onto
a runaway chute to let them by, heeding their lights.

Mike saw Roy slow up ahead in the squad as their vehicles' path
encountered a second downshifting logging truck.

"Man.." Chet breathed grandly. "Must be wonderful running business
as usual while the surrounding counties burn up all around you." Chet
scoffed at the driver. "Ain't this red engine big enough for you to see
in your rear view mirrors!"

Marco laughed, fingering his repaired hand. "Out of sight, out of mind.
Ah, there, he sees us. Can't smell or see the smoke way up here.
Only smog."

The logging truck bounced over a splintered rock lying in the road and
one of its steel securing chains, snapped. Ninety foot debarked pine logs
began sliding off the moving loader in a shuddering cascade of dead

"Look out!" Kelly startled.

"Brace yourselves!" Stoker yelled. And slammed on the brakes as the
squad maneuvered clear of the shavings spewing avalanche.

The terrifying end of a log falling, arched toward Engine 51's windshield
like a battering ram.

Mike threw on the emergency brake and the whole fire engine decelerated
almost to a standstill in one sickening jerk, bouncing on lurching, fully locked
up tire sets.

Everyone was thrown forward into their seatbelts, until their harnesses caught
them with a jolt, firmly.

The log...missed. Only narrowly avoiding an impact on their glass by the
smallest of feet.

"Ugh!" Cap grunted as his forehead went down fast onto his gloved hands,
holding onto the dashboard.

"Is everybody all right?" Stoker shouted when the Ward squealed to a halt
before the settling pile of fallen timbers.

"C-Call it in. " Hank said. "Hopefully, there aren't any injuries.." he told them,
thinking ahead to the driver of the timber truck and behind for the speeding
traffic that would inevitably meet up with them. "Mike, turn the sirens back on.
Let's prevent a rear collision." Stanley ordered, still resting against the door jam.

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Stoker nodded and recommitted the wailer. "I should have turned us sideways
to act like a crash barrier." he said, smacking the steering wheel.

"No room to maneuver now." Cap winced.

Marco said. "Let's just get out.. Before it happens."

Mike watched as the others fled. He picked up the radio mic.
"Engine 51. L.A..." he said quickly, watching for any new traffic

##Engine 51.##

"Log fall. Our highway at.. mile marker one ten. We are unavailable to
continue our response. We've a total road obstruction.." Mike shouted
loudly. "Suggest a reassign."

##10-4. Re-routing resources. Sending CHiP for traffic. Do you have
motorist casualities?##

"Not yet." Mike relayed nervously, glancing back in all of his mirrors
at the highway lanes at the back. ::If anyone heeds cherry flares, now's
the time.:: he thought as he watched Chet and Marco run along the
grassy margins on either side to light and lay a bunch. ::G*d,..Why don't
they give us warning signs to carry with us? It'd be an easy fix!:: Mike
thought quickly.

He bailed the cab the same time Hank did and the two of them made
for the roadside nearest the logger's truck. The driver's door was ajar
and open. The trucker was already safe, standing on the offside of
the guardrail away from his now empty loader.

"You okay?" Stoker shouted at him.

"Yeah! I'm fine! Now, at any rate.." he half laughed, not feeling happy
at all. "D*mn*d highway department! I told them yesterday, that cliff
face was still dumping debris onto the highway in this spot. But did
they come and blast the instability away and clean it up? No!"

"Well they will now.." Hank sighed, looking at him from under his
helmet. "They're on the way." He said, hefting up his radio.

Stoker and Cap's HTs sounded. ##Squad 51 to Engine 51. We're going
on ahead to survey our original call for Battalion.## said Roy.

Cap sat down tiredly onto the guard rail and replied back. "10-4, uh..Advise
the next responding engine what you find." Hank said, still shaken by
the near brush they had experienced, as he radioed out. He shrugged at
Stoker. "What else can go wrong today?"

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Mike laughed. "Well, at least, we're all safe. I haven't seen any cars coming
in, have you?"

Cap shook his head, rubbing it with fatigue. "No.."

Clearly, Squad 51 came over active. ##L.A., we're on scene. So far no
injuries or fire. We've several boxcars slightly derailed on the overpass.
Looks like crude raining down onto the roadway beneath. We're getting
the area free of motorists. L.A.P.D. is here, assisting. ## said Gage.

Mike glanced back at Stanley. "I think Marco and Chet were able to flag down
everybody okay, Cap." he said after another few tense seconds went by.

"Good." Stanley cracked in relief. Suddenly, Hank wove in place dizzily, leaning
oddly sideways, falling.

Mike yelled, catching him in shock as he passed out utterly. "Cap? What's--"
He bore his weight to the ground carefully. Only then did Stoker see his stiffened
arms and legs moments later as Hank's eyes fell half closed as all expression left
his face. "Cap? Can you hear me?" Stanley's feet curled and his hands clenched
and twisted up against his body.

Then Cap stopped moving, his slitted eyes fixed ahead. They were dilating.

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The trucker rushed over. "Oh, my G*d. What happened to him?"

"I don't know." Mike said, moving to Hank's head. He could feel a pulse. It was
very slow and irregular. He thumbed his HT. "Chet! Marco! One of you
get back here now. Cap's down and unconscious. And I don't know why!"

##On my way! Marco's watching our scene safety! I'll get the O2.## Kelly
replied, urgently.

Hank was now limp as a rag doll, and completely still.

Opening an airway, Mike bent low over Cap's nose and mouth, listening.
He heard nothing. Stunned, Stoker began giving him full breaths, mouth to
mouth, trying to regain at least some reflexive gasping out of him.

Cap didn't even try.

Chet ran by, without stopping, for the engine and the resuscitator apparatus.
"Is it cardiac?!" Kelly shouted, scared to death, as he fumbled open the
side catch on the Ward for their airways bag, too.

"I don't think so. He postured for a bit. I think his head was hurting him."
Mike said, grabbing for the demand valve as soon as Chet got it to him.
He started hyperventilating Hank, using its positive pressure trigger,
to eliminate any last trace of oxygen deficit. "Get us another squad."
he said quickly.

Kelly finished turning on the suction unit to standby and he grabbed up
Mike's HT from the ground. "L.A. we've a fireman down. Non-breathing
with a pulse. Send paramedics to our location. Squad 51 is unavailable."
::D*mn first in protocol. Roy and Johnny can't leave where they are until
the chief gets there after them with the second station's response crew.::

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Roy and Johnny startled from their position upwind of the derailment
at Chet's transmission. ##L.A., we've a fireman down. Non-breathing
with a pulse. Send paramedics to our location. Squad 51 is unavailable.##  

Johnny's mouth flopped open. "What? Involving OUR engine crew?"

##10-4, Engine 51. ## came L.A. ##*Beep. Beep. Beep* Squad 26.
Nonbreathing Code I. At Shasta Pass, mile marker one ten. Engine
crew is present. At Shasta Pass, mile marker one ten. Time out: Fifteen
forty five.##

##Squad 26, L.A. Our E.T.A. is ten minutes...##

Gage shouted. "D*mm*t! That's too long!" he said glaring at the radio
in his gloves.

DeSoto turned to face back down the highway from where they had come.
He stepped up onto the squad's side runner to see a little better and
so did Gage. They could still see the logging truck spill a few hairpin
turns away in the far distance, four miles away. Scared senseless, Roy
nodded. "Sounds like it could be a medical situation. Chet didn't say
anyone was struck by a car."

"But on who?" Gage said, his attention torn between managing their
incident safety and paying attention to his handytalkie. Then he thought back,
remembering subtle changes in his mind's eye of posture, and complaining.
"Oh sh*t. It's Cap... I thought he wasn't feeling okay. Remember?"
he said, whirling at DeSoto, testing his guess.

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"Yeah. And I think he even said as much, too. And we're still completely
stuck here.." Roy shouted in frustration, banging on the roof of the squad.
"...tied by standing orders.."

There was as yet no sign of their approaching Battalion's car. There was
only the sound of dripping oil falling from the box car tanker and police
orders coming over a bullhorn as they began evacuating sidewalk bystanders.

From: "Erin J." <>  and "Patti"
<> in a tandem story posting.
Subject: Skunked
Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2007 17:21:42 -0600

Johnny and Roy immediately cursed themselves and the
county as they realized they couldn't leave the scene.

A quick look between them and they knew they
had to do two things at once. They had to be the relay for Mike
and they had to stay put. They were NOT happy with the
second idea.

"There's no department rule that says we have to be at a patient's
side to transmit, is there?" Johnny said, rubbing his chin nervously.

"Not that I recall.." hurried DeSoto, instantly agreeing, as he rushed
back to his side.

Roy jumped on the portable radio as Johnny grabbed the biophone
out from inside the squad.

Johnny had the receiver opened in record time. "Rampart,
this is Squad 51. How do you read?"

Seconds later,  Morton's voice rang out. ##Go ahead 51, this
is Rampart. We read you loud and clear.##

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"Rampart, we have a Code I just up the road from our current
location. We will be doing an HT relay with them." Johnny said.

##10-4, 51. Do you know the identity of the Code I or the

"Negative on the circumstances, Rampart. We think the Code I
may be our captain." he said to peg age and record finding indicator.

Morton took a quick breath of frustration. ##10-4, 51. We'll keep
the line open. Let us know when you have more information.##

"10-4, Rampart."

Behind him, Roy couldn't thumb the talk button to the engine fast
enough. "HT 51 to Engine 51..."

There was no reply.

DeSoto fretted, running through worst case scenarios. ::Did Hank
arrest a little deeper?::

Finally, Chet came on the line. ##Engine 51 to HT 51. We hear you

"What have you got on him?" Roy asked quickly.

##We don't know. There's not a mark on him. I-- he's---##

"Easy. Calm down, Kelly. Just report what you're seeing. One
detail at a time. Is he ventilating okay?"

##Uh, yeah.##

"Has he vomited?"

##No. He's not reacting to pain or us fussing with him at all.##

"Okay.. Listen up. Now I know you know what we do. Go over him
head to toe. Tell me what you find. Each thing could be an important
clue. Don't miss it. Keep relaxed, and focused. And keep talking.
You're my eyes and hands." Roy told him.

Chet hid some more stress.
##Uh, earlier, his feet and hands were curling. But not any more.##

Roy cringed. ::Was that decorticate or decerebrate?:: he thought,
estimating Hank's coma scale score mentally. ::Either one is bad.::
"His head, and face, what do they look like?" Roy coached.

##Nothing's bleeding, no wounds. But, wait a minute. Mike, aren't
his eyes bulging out?##

Roy heard a muffled reply that sounded like affirmation. ::Oh no.::
DeSoto thought with fear. ::Increasing intracranial pressure.::
"What's his BP palpated? Is it high, or low?" ::Is this basilar or
or something internal?:: he worried. "Where are his pulses?"

##Uh,... we can find one at both wrists.##

"Strong or weak?"

##Bounding. Rate's around forty. And his veins are distending
in his hands even when we raise them higher than his heart.##

Roy covered the speaker. "Johnny, he's hypertensive. Badly."

Johnny grabbed the handytalkie Roy handed him while he
gave into some frustrated pacing, back and forth, before the viaduct.

Gage keyed in. "Get his head up! Immobilize him on a short board
and elevate his head as fast as you can. Watch out for airway obstructions.
And whatever you do, don't use an oral airway." ::That'll make his ICP
soar even higher.::

They could almost hear Kelly's fright over the line. ##10-4.##

Johnny made an effort to quiet his voice. "He may get restless later.
Combative. Making it harder to ventilate him. Don't fight him and don't
force in those breaths. Just do enough for a slight rise to keep him
in good color. Keep his head and neck in line using a jaw thrust.
Get EVERYbody on it, if that's what it takes. That's crucial."

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Roy was on the biophone to Morton, having just clarified the mechanism
of Stanley's collapse."Doc, it's definite on Cushing's triad. And
before his loss of consciousness, he exhibited faint extensor posturing."
he said over the relay. ::I feel blind. This is useless!:: he fretted.

Morton's reply was cautious, probing.
##I agree. This is a head injury that I also strongly suspect to have an
elevated ICP. Here's a trick. Aggressive hyperventilation with mechanical
ventilation results in narrowing of cerebral vessels and may delay his
brain's swelling. Tell them to start up on it, and not go overboard.##

Gage heard that clearly. "Chet, hyperventilate at 20 breaths/min but no
more, or cerebral ischemia'll set in, hurting him worse." he radioed.

Kelly looked up at Stoker. "Do twenty, exactly. And super light."

Footfalls behind them announced someone coming.
It was Marco, running.

Mike nodded, shifting his grip around, switching to an ambu bag,
while Marco Lopez checked and rechecked the straps and head block
cocooning Hank's puffy face.

Lopez tried to grin. "Yep, I'm here now. I lied and told the cops we had
a CPR going."

"Let's hope not." Stoker retorted, worried, concentrating hard.

"Oh G--, when did he stop breathing?" Marco asked, scared.

"Right away, man." Chet told him, miserable.

Underneath their hands, Hank seemed to drift farther away, his
skin mottling. He seemed smaller to them, lying down, propped
up as he was, and frighteningly, very vulnerable.

For the first time, Engine 51's crew feared that he would die.

Morton's orders continued.
##Establish large bore IV with Normal Saline at keep open rate.##

##Rampart, we will as soon as we have contact.## came Gage's
disembodied voice.

##Make it fast. Immobilize patient's C-spine with rigid cervical collar,
shortboard, and immobilize the patient's head until it's secured to the
backboard. Then raise it up higher than his feet.##

"Already done." Johnny told him from his location four miles out
from his patient.

##Begin transport immediately and repeat vital signs at least every
five minutes in transport.## Morton added. ##Even partial ones.
I want to know how he's progressing every minute.##

"You'll get 'em." he promised.


After what seemed like years, but in reality was only a few minutes,
Roy finally spotted the Chief's car pulling in. Relief filled his
voice as he once again keyed the HT. "Engine 51, Squad 51."

A shaky Chet replied, ##Go ahead, Squad 51.##

"Hang in there guys, we have a visual on the Chief. As soon as
he gives us the clearance, we'll be right there."

Roy could hear the sigh of relief through the HT. Chet came
back after a second, "Thank G*d. You two will definitely be

Roy swallowed hard. "We know. Squad 51 out."

As Roy was talking to Chet, Johnny restarted the squad. He wanted
to make sure that as soon as the Chief released them, that there was
nothing standing in their way. ::Hank's our captain, friend and
a fellow firefighter. If we could have, we would have been back
at the site as soon as his initial call went out.:: he thought.  
With the squad idling, Johnny jumped out.

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Together, Johnny and Roy sprinted for the Chief's car. Battalion
Chief Conrad had no choice but to meet them as soon as he
stepped out of the car. "Desoto, Gage, what's the size-up?"

Johnny bit back from mentioning the code I at first. Roy answered,
"Sir, we have a tanker not yet fully involved on the highway above.
No movement from the tanker, so victims unknown. That's heavy
crude on the ground and still falling."

Conrad looked up, "Holy s*** , that's gonna be one hot train."

Johnny couldn't hold back any longer. "Chief, can we stand
down from this incident?"

Conrad was confused, "Why?"

"We have a Code I just about four miles from here. Our
engine ran into some issues with a loose log from a logging

"Who's down?"

"Captain Stanley. Condition unknown, mostly likely a serious
head injury from what we were able to gather over the HT
from the engine crew."

Conrad knew he was standing in front of two of the county's
best paramedics and also two firefighters who would be
distracted if he kept them. "Go. One question."

Roy quickly asked, "Yes, sir?"

"Do you need any air transportation?"

"Yes, sir. Sir, I've been thinking. See if Sierra Rescue can come
in. That will give you man power here, and for us, a chopper.
You can have them land-in, still very close, at mile marker one ten.  
Don't worry about the two rangers who get bumped off, they can
grab a ride with the engine crew when they are freed up to respond
back here with you." Johnny replied quickly.

"You're r-.." Before Conrad could finish Roy and Johnny had
sprinted back to the squad. Conrad shook his head sadly
as he watched them leave. ::I can't blame them. I hate
to see any Code I. Especially someone I know, named Hank

Conrad cued his HT. "L.A., this is Battalion 14."

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Sam Lanier's voice came back, ##Go ahead, Battalion 14.##

"L.A., respond Sierra Rescue Code 3 to Engine 51's incident."

##10-4, Batallion 14.  They've been in the air five minutes,
approximate ETA, three minutes.##

"10-4, L.A. Respond three more engines and two trucks to my
current location. We have an oil tanker in high risk of
becoming fully involved."

##Battalion 14.##

Gage's voice rang out over the incident channel. "L.A. This
is Squad 51. Reroute your second paramedic response for
Engine 51's Code I to the tanker incident. We've just been
cleared to assist in their place."

"L.A., I verify the squad change. 14 out."

##L.A. clear, KMG 941. Squad 26, report to mile
marker one fourteen, as a fire standby.##

##Squad 26.##

Conrad stuffed his HT back in his turnout pocket as the
fireball he imagined as a possibility from the oil tanker grew
bigger in his mind's eye as he began calculating gallons
spilled out.


Roy and Johnny left hinges swinging wide
open on every door and compartment of the squad
as they met one of their crewmates, who rushed to aid

Kelly grabbed up the defibrillator and the second
oxygen tank.

"How's he doing?!" Roy hollered, hastening.

"The same. Carotids're equal on both sides." Chet said.

"You remembered to check that. Good." Gage said, hurrying.

All three could see Stoker working quietly with Marco to
keep oxygen flowing into Hank's lungs well.

Johnny flinched as he looked up as Sierra Rescue landed their
bird on a gravel margin just up the road on an emergency
runaway truck escape lane.

The roar of the rotors were compounded by the sound of bulldozers
coming to push the logs over the clifftop and out of the way of
the fire engine and waiting traffic. Gage covered his eyes protectively.

As he knelt, Johnny closed Hank's eyes, too, until they stayed shut
against the flying dirt. "Okay.." he shouted to the rescueman rangers
running their way with a stokes from the chopper running hot.
"Let's get him loaded!"

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A minute later, Chet, Marco and Mike could only watch as Cap
was bundled head first into the helicopter and into Roy and
Johnny's waiting hands, guided in by the bird's pilot.

Stoker felt something bump against him so he grabbed at it.
It had been put there by a bulldozer worker. "Here. Did you drop
this one?" asked the man, chuckling.

Mike looked down and saw Cap's helmet in between their hands.
"Yeah. I'll take it." he said, his eyes stinging from more than just
the wind.

"No problem, Mac. Nice driving if you avoided that mess. I know how
crazy these loggers like to take their corners."

Stoker looked up at the loose faced cliffside, which was getting
ignored by the DOT once again. ::Typical.:: he sighed. :: Don't we
always only see what we want to see?::

Inside the Sierra Ranger's National Park Service helicopter,
Gage and DeSoto had their hands going as fast as they
could go.

Morton's voice came over their headset earphones.
##Okay, 51. Set up for a rapid sequence intubation.
Pre-oxygenate for as long as possible, before
you fly. Use lidocaine as a pre-treatment.  Now!  I want to
prevent that rise in intracranial pressure we're going to get
with intubation.##

"10-4, Rampart. Lidocaine 1.0 mg/kg slow I.V. push.
We have a saline lock established." reported DeSoto.

##That'll do.## Dr. Morton said, ##Large bore's premature.##

A Sierra medic kept breaths continuous while they prepared
Stanley for an endotracheal tube. The EKG monitor wavered
unsteadily as Johnny flipped on the visual screen, already
wormy from the vibrations of the chopper.

##Apply cricoid pressure using the Sellick maneuver.
Paralyze with rocuronium, Roy. 0.6mg/kg. That paralytic
won't raise his ICP. Intubate using in-line C-spine stabilization
and release cricoid pressure only after successful intubation.
Food'll want to work its way up if it hasn't already. He's
got to be severely nauseated by now.##

"Suction's ready." Roy nodded at Gage.

##Add mannitol, 1g/kg by rapid IV bolus over 10 - 15 minutes
to his I.V. port. And an anti-seizure of phenytoin, 15 mg/kg.##

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DeSoto repeated his medication orders while Johnny
attempted his first intubation try. It went in.

"Okay, bag him. Catch up a little." Gage told the ranger medic.

"Got it." he replied.

"All right, let's lift off! He's intubated." Johnny shouted.

The chopper took to the smoky skies.

Morton came over the channel again. ##What's his pulse
rate? I can't tell by the EKG telemetry. There's too much
helicopter/bounce interference..##

"40, Rampart." Roy said. "Pressure's still 170 systolic."

##Okay, give him some atropine, 0.5 mg. to end that
brady's cycle. Once you're airborne, push Lasix, 40 to
80 mg. I want to decrease his ICP further.##

Johnny finished gelling Cap's eyes under dressings
where they jutted out to protect them. He looked
up and reported one last cardiac interpretation for
the hospital. "Roy, I'm seeing. Non-specific EKG
changes - large upright T waves, some ST
depressions, ...and U waves."


Brackett had entered the alcove, to consult with Morton
in the base station.. "Hmmm, U waves. Those are common
enough in the severe head injury patient. Okay, Mike, summon
the Neurosurgical Trauma Team a.s.a.p. and order up a stat CT
Scan." Kel suggested.  

Morton looked at him. "But that'll take anywhere from 15 to 45
minutes to complete."

Brackett lifted his chin, expressing his view. "With this intracranial
hypertension definitely suspected, we have to assess the degree
of ICP increase first to identify the cause of it so his surgeons will
know how to proceed best."

Morton stayed true to his questioning nature. "But his ICP will
continue to rise during radiographing."

Brackett was used to his resident's testing.
"It's a risk, yes. But operating without knowing where
the problem lies is more dangerous. I'm not
going to have anyone do blind burr holes, exposing
the additional risk of infection, when it might not
do any good at all in his case."

Morton nodded. "You're right, you know."

Kel met his eyes. "When he arrives, draw blood for electrolytes,
blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, glucose, complete blood cell
count with platelets, prothrombin time, activated partial
thromboplastin time, toxicology screen and serum alcohol level,
and blood type and crossmatch."

Morton went into motion, snatching up the black phone.
"Right away, Kel."

Soon, both left the base station, anticipating Cap's arrival.

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The stunned crew of engine 51 watched as the chopper took
off, taking Cap and their two frantically working paramedics
up into the air.

For a brief second, nobody said a word.

Then reality kicked in. They still had a job to do. As
much as none of them wanted to do it, they knew they had

One of the Sierra rescueman finally broke the silence,
"Guys, we know it's not much comfort, but at least your
Captain is headed for one of the best hospitals in the

Marco spoke quietly, "Thanks."

"You're welcome." said Ranger Matt Harper.

Mike was about to open his mouth when the engine's radio
squawked to life momentarily, startling everybody. ##Engine
51, Battalion 14.##

Mike reached into the cab of Big Red and grabbed the radio.
"Go, Battalion 14."

##I need you to continue in to the orginal call. I have a tanker
here that's getting angrier by the second and you're still the
closest engine.##

Mike took a quick breath. ::Duty calls. Even now.:: "10-4,
Battalion 14, ETA approximately three minutes. Be advised,
we have two members of Sierra rescue with us."

"Yep. Fireman Gage planned that. 10-4, 51. Battalion 14, out."

Mike turned back to the others. "Chet, Marco, let's get on the
back. Let the guys from Sierra have your seats." The others
snapped into action as Mike climbed back into the cab and
started Big Red. Briefly, he looked over at the Captain's seat.
All that remained to show that he had been there, was Hank's
retrieved helmet.

Shaking his head to clear his mind and refocus, Mike pulled
away with lights and sirens going as soon as the others
were in belted in and in position. It took only two minutes
for the engine to come screaming up to the scene.
Within seconds everybody had piled out and off of the Ward.

Chief Conrad jogged over as an ominous rumble was
heard from the bridge. "And there some settling. Thanks guys, I
know this isn't easy for any of you."

Chet and Marco held their tongues and Mike answered
solemnly, "No sir, it's not. We want to keep at it. What do
we have?"

"Initially, the tanker had escaping crude. However, more's
happening now. It's getting extremely close to exploding.
The train engine's still steaming up there." he replied.

Chet muttered, "Lovely."

One of the two Sierra rescuemen spoke up, "Chief, do we
know if there any victims?" said a man in his fifties.

Conrad frowned.
"Unknown at this time. It's still not safe enough to search
the area. When the second chopper arrives, I'll have him circle
overhead. Squad 51 didn't find signs of anyone when they were
here and I have not seen any since I've been on scene.
I'm banking on the possibility that they all got off."

"Okay." said Jack Moore, the chief ranger, nodding.

Battalion started planning for an escalation of resources.
Conrad turned to 51's four and asked, "Do you have anything
still with you representing a Captain's rank?"

Chet opened his mouth to say something nasty, but he
quickly shut it when Mike shot him a look.

Mike turned back to Conrad, "We have his helmet, sir. His turnouts
were cut away during trauma assessment." he told him, puzzled.

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"Fair enough."

Suddenly the earth beneath their feet rolled and bucked as a loud
BOOM!! was heard from above. Marco and Chet shouted at the
same time, "Holy mother of..."

Conrad cut them off, "Get under cover until it's over! Mike no arguments!  
Take the hat now. You're promoted emergency status to captain. Go..."

Conrad left an extremely surprised and stunned Stoker and the
rest of the engine crew with their jaws hanging open as he turned
away to redirect in a more powerful water curtain.

For a brief second, nobody could move. Then as a second
explosion ripped through the air, reality kicked in.

Mike turned and ordered in a voice that nobody had ever heard
him use. "Marco, Chet, get a three and wye out. Sierra, have you
had any experience on the lines?" he asked the two rangers with

Both guys from Sierra spoke at once, "Yes, but it's been a while."

"You're recruited, then. Get a two and a half inch unloaded. Kelly
and Lopez here'll show you how to lay and charge one." Stoker

Mike's sudden alteration disrupted and distracted everybody.

:: Even myself.::Mike trembled inwardly. ::Why me?::

But nobody had time to let that sink in.
What they had to handle immediately was one nasty fireball
that was going to get ahead of them quick if they didn't move!

In a matter of minutes, Chet had the three inch hooked
up and Marco had secured hose for Sierra. With slightly
shaking hands, Mike set up the panel controls for both lines.

Once they were going, he walked back to the cab, clutching
an HT now turned to the command channel. He didn't want
to disrepect the fallen, but he had to follow orders.

Stoker wearily climbed into the cab and removed his helmet.

As he reached over for Cap's helmet, his hands briefly shook again.

Mike thought to himself, ::Cap, get back quick. I'll mind the shop,
but we need you back. Hopefully, I can do this now and not get anybody
killed.:: Mike put the helmet on and adjusted it. Quietly, swallowing hard,
Mike felt the scuffed number on the plate in front of the striped helmet
where it sat on his dusty head. The helmet fit, bringing a lump to his throat.
::Oh, Hank. Please be okay.:: he sighed. Then he quickly climbed back
out of Big Red, and faced the fire.

Conrad ran back over, "Stoker I'm gonna need you to take over
as incident commander. There's a new development in
San Bernandino. A firestorm that needs me to join a think tank
for an hour or so by telecommunications link."

Mike took a quick breath, "Yes sir. What do you have on the way
in?" he asked, partially numb, feeling all eyes from Engine 51's crew
boring into his and the newly placed helmet. Their shock reflected
his own like a cracked mirror in a jumble of emotions.

"The whole kit and kaboodle from 8's, 2's, 24's and 110's. Squad 26,
originally for Hank, was swapped as you know, and they should be here
in seconds for your required paramedic backup crew, okay?" Conrad
backed off then. He wanted to see how Mike would handle things
before he went anywhere far away.

Mike cued up the radio as he drifted back to Engine 51 to recheck the
pressure of the hoselines. "L.A., Engine 51. Update on Battalion
14's incident.  The tanker is now fully engulfed, wind is from the east,
fifteen to twenty. Respond a foam unit to this location, non code R.
I am the new I.C. for the duration."

##10-4, 51.##

14 smiled, reassured. He left for a tent going up just down the highway.

Chet snagged Mike's arm as he jogged by to go make a cleared zone
for standby Mayfairs. "You took the cap's test without telling any of us?"

"I took ninety fourth. Does that make you feel any better?" Stoker told him.


"I feel exactly the same way." he muttered, once Kelly was out of sight
under the building, roiling smoke.

Soon after, he ordered everybody into scba gear and full turnout.

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