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The Quint Connection
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Page  Four

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Mike blew on his hands to warm them. "Oh, I guess forgot about that
frozen water effect. Well, I'm going to be sort of useless then. There
isn't going to be any pump that needs manning."

"No, but that car's got to be split open a.s.a.p. See what you can do."
he told Lopez and Stoker. "Guys, use these." he said, handing Roy,
Marco and Mike a bundle of spare duty gloves Tim had given him after
they had pulled up in the trail groomer.

"Right, Cap." they said.

Mike didn't even feel his scalded sore foot and smarting hand. He let the
cold and all the heart pounding adrenalin he felt surging through him
take care of that for the moment.

Hank looked up. "Tim! This is Lopez and Stoker, Firefighter3/EMTs.
And DeSoto, a Firefighter1/paramedic. Could you use a couple more
hands on the heavy equipment and your patient care?"

"Send em down with the jaws and zip gun. DeSoto,
I've got my men lowering the first stokes with all the
medical gear. They'll help you check the victims to learn their
status. Grab helmets from the back of the winching truck."
Eihausen ordered. "Be careful down there, the avalance powder's
still settling. Visibility will be seriously reduced for a while
until things finish blowing out of the trees in the wind."

"Okay, Cap." Roy said to Eihausen, tying on the rope he had
strung out on the road for a safety line for an improvised hip cradle.
"Got our lines?" he asked Hank and Kel.

"Yep." said Hank.
Brackett and Cap took hold of the rappelling rope after snugging
the end of it off on a nearby pine branch jutting up from a huge fallen
trunk at the top of the steep slope.

"Roy, I've got a radio." said Kel, holding up the one Cap handed to him.

"I'll let you know what we got right away." said DeSoto and the L.A. County
trio began their slow descent down to the fallen car they could barely see.

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Dixie caught up with Gage and Skoloda rapidly using the broken
snow trail they had left behind.  "Johnny, wait for me!" she shouted to
get his attention.

"Dixie? What are you doing here?" Gage asked, grabbing her elbow
to help guide her as they kept running.

"Same reason you are. Three are far better to stabilize if he's critical."
she replied.

Nicole recognized Dixie, even in her hood. "You're that nurse from yesterday."

McCall nodded.

"Here, tie this on." Skoloda said, handing her the end of the safety rope John
and she were tied together with. "That way, if anybody falls, the other two can
anchor themselves down and stop any sliding. Just drop down onto your back
if that happens and dig your heels in like spurs to catch them."

"Got it." said Dixie.

A few minutes later, Nicole pointed to a turn around a large boulder as
they flanked the great, silently frozen tumble of water from the creekbed
arching straight above, as fast as they could.

"Where is he?" Chet said, whirling around. "This IS the base of the cliff."

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Nicole stopped them in their tracks. "Hang on, there might be a new expanded
drift pocket at the base of the falls. I don't see the warning snow fence and sign
we put up earlier in the season keeping people away from all this unstable cliff ice."  
She drew out a search probe and began stabbing the snow in a line carefully in
front of her before each step. "Stay behind me." she ordered.

A tense minute later and the probe nearly fell out of her glove. "There's the lip.
The slide must have first widened, then capped it off. Watch your step." she said.
"The hollow's right underneath us."

"How deep?" Johnny asked, feeling the change in the snow's texture as they
sank in thigh deep into the jumbled pile left over from the slide.

"Six feet or so. Level bottom." Nicole replied. "About fifteen yards wide once
you're in." Skoloda shared.

The three of them startled when a shelf of snow collapsed as they passed by,
exposing the natural rock grotto. "There he is.." said Johnny, kicking off his
skiis and running across the bare stone floor of it.

The man was conscious, but bug eyed in voiceless pain.

Dixie, too, freed her feet and got to his side. "Easy,..easy, just lie still." she
said, keeping him from reaching out to them from where he lay on his back
in a pile of fallen snow. She grabbed his wrist to get his pulse. "We're on
the ski patrol team. Can you breathe ok?"

The stunned skier coughed weakily, unable to understand the question
as his vision swam with shock and very apparent internal agony. He still
wanted to struggle to lift his head up in a blur of confusion.

"No.." Gage told him, setting two knees on either side of his head to hold
him snugly still in a vice using them. "Keep still." he said, placing his gloved
hands firmly over his ears in a controlled pin.

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"No radials.." said Dixie, letting go of the skier's bruised wrist. She began
sweeping down his body swiftly, looking for active blood flow soaking through
his fall torn ski suit while Nicole broke out their oxygen and insulated blankets.

The injured skier moaned incoherently when Dixie pressed down on his
abdomen.

McCall stopped. "Positive pelvis instability and rigidity upper right quadrant."
"This is a bleed out." she called out. "Also, I've found two tibial fractures
and a dislocated left ankle. Femurs are fine."

Kelly glanced down at the man's hands. "His thumbs are jammed out
of their joints. "

"That's from the pole handles he was still hanging onto when he hit."
Skoloda explained.

"Do they need splinting?" Chet asked, digging into her pack for
a couple of Sam's to start on the man's legs.

"No, his gloves'll be enough protection." she replied. "They'll
slip back into place when he starts trying to move his fingers again."

"Ok.." said Kelly. "His color's still good in all limbs." he reported.

The man's eyes rolled up into his head as his consciousness began
sinking slowly.

Gage slipped his little fingers under the man's chin and jaw to help him
keep an open airway when he started gurgling. He cracked opened the man's
mouth and peered inside. "Not blood. And he isn't getting sick."

Nicole suctioned pink saliva and snow water out of the man's mouth
with a hand held baster from the trauma kit. "I got him. How's his chest?"

"Intact with...even movements." replied Dixie, reaching inside of his suit
down to the skin after feeling around his rib cage and along his sternum
with her bare hands. "Do you have a cervical collar in that pack?" she said
drawing her hands out to look for blood stains smearing them.

"Yes, right on top." replied Skoloda, setting the restless skier on high flow
oxygen.

Dixie took it out and she and Kelly used it to free up Johnny.

Gage finished inserting an NP down the skier's right nostril. "I take it you
have bags of Ringer's."

Nicole nodded. "Here." she said handing him a navy pouch full of catheters,
gauged needles and fluid flow tubing. "All you need's inside."

Dixie pulled out orange labelled foil squares from a sack. She wasn't familiar
with them. "What are these?" she asked, uncoiling a stethoscope with her other
hand quickly.

"Heat packs. Break open the capsule inside with a striking fist. They'll last
half an hour." Nicole told her.

McCall and Chet put several inside the man's suit under his arm pits and groin area
and Dixie prepared one for the bag insulating the I.V. fluid pouch Gage was
stringing into readiness inside of a insulated hang sack.

All three of them snugged wool blankets underneath the frighteningly quieting man
as far as they could to keep him mostly protected from the cold ground and snow
under his back. Only then did Nicole radio out to those listening. "Ouray Rescue
One to CalFire. One alive, at the base of Cascade Falls fumerole. Request a rapid
extricate. Abdominal trauma and multiple fractures on all extremities. Diminishing
level of consciousness is apparent. A paramedic and an R.N. are on scene."

##PCSO copies. One victim. Cascade Falls. ALS present. ETA of your Cal Star
helicopter is ten minutes. Pilot reports they're flying out of Marshall Hospital in
Placerville. Weather is clear.##

"Ouray One acknowledges. Note. Closest zone is Red Mountain Pass. She's
snow free and clear to land."

##Roger that.##

Frowning, Nicole bent closer to their work area as she began cutting
free the rest of the skier's clothing in a closer survey inside of his blankets,
looking for other wounds.

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At the buried highway, things were progressing rapidly in scope
and information.

"These three, are dead." Stoker told all the firefighters in the ring out from
where he peeked inside the car. "The driver's still alive and conscious."

"Ok." said the Meeks Bay fire captain. "Let's get the top off." Tim ordered.

Soon, the deeply snowed in ravine resounded with the noise of rescue.

Up above, Kel Brackett began to fret. "What's taking them so long to
report in?"

Hank answered."They'll get all their preliminary information first, start any
life support if it's needed, then they'll call. Takes a while."

"I never knew that." Brackett admitted. "From my end at Rampart, everything's
always so neat and tidy." he said ruefully. "And fast."

"Welcome to the real life rescue world, doc. Out here, you learn quickly that
patience is a virtue." Stanley said. "In this case, their lack of communication's
a good thing. That means they found somebody alive down there, and savable."

"Thank heavens for that." said Brackett. "What happens now?"

Cap looked at him and shrugged. "We wait. Somedays, that's the toughest
part of the job. It really sucks being a little higher up in the chain of command."

"You're telling me?" Kel said, wrapping a blanket around himself as the sweat
inside of his clothes began to freeze. "Try seeing things from my perspective once."
he scoffed mildly. "I can't see anything listening over a base radio."

The two men turned to watch the tiny dots of color far down below circling around
the flanks of the car amid a sea of white and tangled timber.

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Photos: None.

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From: Patti or Jeff or Cassidy <theaterhost@voyagerliveaction.com>
Date: Wed Apr 4, 2007 10:12 am
Subject: Coalescence

Roy and Marco placed themselves as the victim tenders while
the car was ripped apart around them. Stoker expertly butter knifed
the windshield open and soon, the Meeks Bay company had sliced
and lifted the car roof off of them.

DeSoto was on the man's head, providing oxygen and head and
neck stabilization all the while he was talking to the terrorized man.
"We're here right next to you. Don't worry, the car's not going to
fall any more. It's at the bottom. Don't move around at all. I got you.
Tell me where it hurts."

The man only groaned, unable to absorb what had happened to
him as his swollen eyes witnessed the other firefighters moving
the green tarp covered members of his dead companions out of the car
and away from him to create space enough to free him from the car.

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DeSoto realized he wasn't going to be given information. "Marco,
sweep him head to toe and tell me if he's pinned. I'm hearing rasps
as he breathes."

Lopez checked. "There's bruising along the left side of his ribcage."

"Any holes?"

"No, the skin over them's intact." Marco lifted his head from where
he crouched. "He's clear, arms and legs."

"Ok, maybe this difficulty breathing is something else."

"He's wheezing." Marco noticed.

"Yeah." DeSoto said as the other firefighters began to feed a long
board behind the driver in between Roy's hands. "Could be asthma or
something similar working on him. Once we finish his rapid extrication,
hand me the respiratory gear box. Also try to locate the albuterol in there."

"Right."

The driver was soon collared, head strapped, and bound safely on a spine
board inside of a winter survival sleeping bag packed full of chemical heating
packs.

"Okay, let's get him up top. He's still conscious." Roy told them. "I'll follow
along and monitor his breathing." he said re-securing his lifeline around
his waist and putting his gloves back on. "We've more than enough people
covering scree."

Stoker made sure the guiding rope on the plastic sled litter was secured
in front before he jogged ahead back up the avalanche chewed slope.
"All right, we've got a good anchor point!" he shouted. "The spider
rig's ready."

As they were beginning to move the man uphill, he shuddered and started
crying out for someone lucidly. A single name.

"Hold it. Hold it." DeSoto said, leaning close to the man's oyxgen masked
face. "Say that again. Easy.." And then he listened carefully. He looked up in
alarm. "He says there was a year old baby boy in the car."

"There was no car seat." Marco said in shocked dismay.

"I know. The infant may have been ejected during the crash. A set of seat
belts back there are ripped apart." DeSoto said. "We didn't cut those
middle ones."

"Maybe that seat protected him good enough." Lopez hoped. "But then
he got buried."

"Go." Roy told him. "Follow the debris pattern."

Marco and two of Meeks Bay's crew immediately grabbed tools and started
probing the snow in everwidening circles around the car and along the way
they had come as Roy and his rescue party continued to leave the gorge.

The emotional heaviness in Lopez's chest began to grow as the minutes
started to crawl by while they searched.

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Back in the grotto, Gage cursed. "I can't get a vein. He's
too cold."

Nicole said. "Put a hotpack below your tourniquet. It may raise
one mid lateral instead of antecubital."

"Trying that." he replied.

A grinding rumble from above startled them. "Rockfall!"
Johnny shouted and they both hugged the shelf around
the ice column of creekwater desperately. Nicole quickly
shelled an open gear stuffed pack over the skier's face to
protect him but she wasn't fast enough. A large stone caught
her on the wrist with its full falling weight.

"Ahh..!" she screamed, sinking to her knees, cradling her
left forearm.

Dixie and Chet had run the other way, out into the open.
"Move!" Kelly yelled to them. "More's coming down."

"Watch out!" Dixie warned.

A cluster of cantaloupe sized rocks impacted on the icy floor
of the grotto and exploded apart violently, spraying stone splinters
and dust that hit and impacted Skoloda and Gage.

Nicole screamed and ducked her head desperately to save her
eyes.

Johnny grabbed her by the ski suit collar and dragged her closer
to the cliff and under cover. "Did you break it?"

"I----I don't know.." she panted. "Hurts like a mother f*****"

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"Keep it still. Gimme your radio if you can." he said.

Nicole passed it over, her injured arm resting oddly on
her knees as she curled around it. " Ouch! G*d, I didn't need THIS
happening right now." she complained. "He needs to get out of here."

"Working on that. Ouray to base. We're dodging rocks. Three are
pinned against the cliff. Our patient is ....down a 50 slope. He's got
head injuries, leg fractures, bruises and lacerations with internal bleeding.
He is conscious but listless. His pupils are equal. He is receiving oxygen,
but he has no recollection of the accident." he reported.

##PSCO copies. Latitude and Longitude is needed for helicopter LZ.##

Johnny looked askance, flinching as he looked up the waterfall for
more signs of falling boulders.

"Give it here." Nicole said, tossing her head.

Johnny held the radio close to her mouth and pressed the talk button.

Nicole took in a painful breath. "We're at 37 59^(1) 41 and 107 47^(1) 02.6
at 12,300-12,500 ft. Air temperature is twenty five degrees. Winds are
10-15 from the north east, with gusts to twenty. I've been injured, but
I'm stable."

The second ski patrol team responded instantly. ##Bob and Karen are just
entering the alley trailhead. ETA three minutes. We've positioned four people
on the southwest ridge fixed with binoculars to triangulate your position.  They
are at the northernmost visible notch. Are the two of you and your victim at
the top of the couloir?##

Nicole nodded tiredly at Gage, who pressed the talk button again.
"Negative, we're at the bottom. Use Cascade Falls as a guide. We're
at the base of them."

##10-4.##

Gage added more. "We need 1,100 ft. of guiding line: a 350 meter,
11 mil rope; a 65 meter guiding rope; two 30 meter, 8 mil cords; and
all the webbing, carabiners and pulleys you have with your litter. A couple
of head lamps would be nice. It's getting dark."

##Roger that.##

Chet and Dixie called out again. "Okay. It's over. We're coming
back."

As soon as she could, Nicole let Dixie guide her out into the open
and away from danger. Skoloda was undistracted by pain and she
soon waved Dixie away, knowing her priorities. "I'll get smoke up for
the helicopter!" she yelled back at Johnny.

"Okay." he replied. "Dixie, come help me try this I.V. again."
Johnny said. "I've tried twice already."

"How about a jugular stick?" McCall said.

"Won't work. He's too depressed pressure wise."

"Let me try." Dixie said, rethreading another catheter and needle
guide. "Maybe a temple vein will be better."

"I'll get you a twenty five gauge." Johnny said.

A few minutes later, the third I.V. attempt was declared as
failed. Soon after, Nicole's radio battery started beeping out loud
every minute or so. It was dying because of the cold. "We're OOC."
she said, checking its crystal display indicator.

"Yeah, but looks like we're no longer alone.." Gage said, pointing,
with a happy grin.

They could see Team Two coming fast and already, they
were shooting a line up the cliff from the rope gun, a grounder.

"Nicole?! Are you okay?" one of them asked. "We heard."
a tall man questioned. He and the others dropped the orange
sled stretcher down onto the snow that they had carried up with
them that had attached to their ski lift chair.

"I'm fine. It's just an arm. Keep working." she said with a nod
and a falsely loose grin mustered up to reassure her fellow
coworkers.

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"If you say so." he said, barely convinced. He turned away only
when he realized that a paramedic and a nurse were standing by
her.

Soon, the new team began guiding line tensioning until it was fixed,
the twine removed and the lines connected up to those rescuers
helping out the helicopter pilot at the top of the cliff.
 
Two in the patrol started putting up main and belay lines.

Gage apologized in advance. "Nicole, I gotta go with him. Stay with
Dixie. She'll take good care of you after I'm topside." he promised
her, pointing to her arm.

"Yeah. Thanks." she grunted, rising to her feet painfully.

Soon, the collected team started raising the litter loaded skier back
up the cliff to the waiting bird. The spotters disappeared.

"He's up. And they're in the air." Nicole gasped happily, leaning heavily
against the rock surrounding them. She watched as the CalStar
chopper banked suddenly north, heading for town.

"Here. Get your leverage against me." Dixie said, taking her by
the shoulders. "Are we heading back down on foot? Or are we
sledding you down?" she asked.

"I'm walking." Skoloda nodded.

"How about letting me splint that first?" she suggested, watching
Nicole's reluctance in letting go of her injury.

"My arm can wait. I put it inside my coat. I can still feel and wiggle
my fingers okay. The pain's gone way down. It doesn't hurt enough
now to be broken and there's been no bone noises."

"All right. You're a better judge of your current condition than I am.
We'll help you balance." McCall compromised as she and another
aided Skoloda along the route back towards the ski run and the resort.

Chet Kelly popped his skis on and said. "I'm headed to the highway.
I just have to check whether or not rescue's found them."

"Go ahead. We'll manage just fine." Dixie told him.

Kelly skied the fastest circuit of his life, cutting through the trees
on top of the avalanche path.

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Ski Patrol Paramedic Ryan Shreves glanced up when the rest of his
follow up team caught up with him. "I can't find her, but Max's pointing
on something right here." he said, digging underneath his knees.

"Okay.." they said, beginning to make the snow fly with shovels.

Max began to bark excitedly, but Ryan was still keeping his feelings
guarded. ::This slide's like concrete. I don't think there're gonna be
any air spaces.:: he thought privately.

Twenty minutes later, they broke through into a pit of ice. The snow
had sandwiched the woman skier tightly and had her completely
entombed. Ryan did not find a palpable pulse. "No vitals. Let's
get her out. Don't suddenly move her at all or ice crystallization will
shred her tissues. She's partially frozen." he said, seeing her blue
white hands that were almost the same color as the snow. Ryan checked
in. "Ouray to Dr. Brackett on Tact Two."

##Go ahead, Ouray.## answered Kel from his rescue scene.

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"Pulseless hypothermic. Possibly deceased. Female around one
hundred ten pounds. Limbs intact without fractures. Color, chalky on all
limbs and involving the trunk. Orders."

##She's too cold for countershocking. Do not defibrillate. Her cardiac
impulses won't be reactive to conductivity or synthetic medications until
she's brought back up to at least 94F internally. Epinephrine will have no
effect and will just pool in her half frozen tissues. Carefully begin manual
CPR only without jarring her unnecessarily to prevent cellular damage
and begin passive rewarming.##

"10-4."Ryan said.

A younger member of the ski team scratched his hair underneath his ski
cap as he watched two of his seniors begin simple life support. "Isn't
she gone?"

Ryan pegged him with a familiar mantra. "She's not dead until she's warm
and dead." he told the teenager seriously.

"Oh, uh,.. really? Sorry."  said the young patroller, frightened when he
realized that he had been caught writing someone off too soon.

Ryan was kindly, remembering his first slide victim.
"Don't be concerned if you aren't ventilating her enough. She'll only need
a few breaths every minute. Her stored oxygen is still there inside, not
being used up yet. Keep her head exposed but start getting the rest of her
warm with plenty of heating packs. But not too quickly, or she'll shock out.
We need to prevent brain damage from happening with a gradual recovery."

"Yes, sir." he replied.

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Kelly made the highway in less than a minute and a half.

"Cap?! Is everything all right?" he asked, sliding to a stop
on the road in front of Dr. Brackett and Stanley.

"Everything's going fine so far. They're working their way
up right now. How are the other victims?"

"Our guy's airlifted. I don't know about the woman Ouray found."

"She's arrested but very chilled. She's has a shot getting back
if she was cooled down fast enough after getting trapped underneath
the avalanche layer." Brackett told him.

Cap introduced Eihausen to Kelly and they shook hands.

"I'm a huge fan of older, and smaller firetrucks. Seems like you have
a good collection of them working for you." Chet admired, smiling at Tim.

"We do. We procure them from auctions and test them under our
mountain conditions to see which ones'll serve us best."

A burst of static came out all the roadside radioes. ##Meeks Bay
to HT 61. We need a sharper angle. And lights. The ropes are
getting snagged on all of this brush.## reported a firemen hanging
with Roy and their patient on the slope.

"10-4. Rolling a better winch." promised Captain Eihausen. "Hang
tight."  He started to shout orders to a crewman manning a stretcher
line to go find a pickup and return to the station to go get the Quint out.

Chet stopped him. "Uh, sir. That might take a while. I'm very mobile with
these things on." he said, shuffling his ski bound feet. "How about I go
get it for you."

Tim glanced questioning at Hank. "Does Chet know how to drive a rig?"

Stanley started to shrug ignorance of that fact, when Chet spoke up.
"Yes, sir. I do. I know Quints like the back of my hand. I just passed my
certs day before yesterday. So yeah, I can drive her no problems at all."

"Okay. Station's a mile down the road on your left. Door's already open."
Tim agreed.

"I'll be right back!" Chet said, picking up speed downhill along the road.
"What's your call sign?"

"61's." replied Tim.

"Got it." Kelly shouted over his shoulder.

Soon, they heard Chet returning in the Quint as he made his way up
the steep mountain switchbacks.

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Kelly toggled the radio mic, wearing one of the rural station's helmets
and turnout gear. "Quint to HT 61. I'm one minute out."

Tim and Hank both, began to smile. "That was fast." Eihausen remarked.

"He normally is." Cap remarked with a chuckle. "He only gets into trouble
every once in a while as a way too frequent Code I." Stanley shared.

Tim grinned. "Huh. We've got one of those, too. A real practical joker."

"Sounds familiar. Must run with the territory." Stanley said.

"It must."  Tim smiled.

The two fire captains looked up at the sound of a manual diesel shifting gears,
with satisfaction. "Once we get the lights on, and get that new higher
centering pulley on one of the extension aerials, things'll speed up."

"They sure will. You can count on it." Hank agreed.

But there were difficulties encountered almost immediately
in getting the car survivor up the slope.

A spotter radioed in. ##Light is on the victim.##

Tim followed up. "HT 61 to Ouray Two. Can you see
the lights?"

##Negative. Ice fog is moving in and there's still heavy tree
snow fallout.##

"Are you at the steeper couloir angling point?"

##Yes, 61.##

"Ok, I'm sending a man down with head lamps to your
position." Tim promised. "The new boom's almost ready.
Get set for a rope end." he said, watching as Chet swung
the aerial over the drop off where the new pulley system
was snugged securely.

## 10-4, we have a tag line set up. ##

"Copy that."

Then, Roy's voice sounded over the valley team's
channel. ##Patient is becoming combative. We need
a second paramedic down here a.s.a.p.##

"Working on that." Tim relayed. Then he spotted Gage running
from a returned, road landed lifeflight. "Is he your other one?"

"Yeah." Hank said. "Johnny, get on a line. A male, combative multiple
trauma. Roy's got his hands full."

Gage nodded and quickly rappelled out of sight.

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Click the winter river for a music soundtrack change.

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Roy, Johnny, Nicole and Dixie were all at the Marshall Medical
Center in Placerville, gathered together in an emergency cubical
where Nicole had been assigned to get treated.

"I wanted to thank you for this." she said to Johnny, holding up
an expertly Sam splinted wrist. "I didn't know that my boss was
going to order me onto a bird to go get my arm fixed."

"No problem. Binding that up was no big deal at all. I don't think
it's broken any." he smiled lightly.

"I'm kind of figuring that, too." sighed Nicole, a little tipsy on
pain killer. She let John lower her onto the bed again where
she had been seated, still in her full ski gear. "Oh, this stuff's
w-wonderful." she sighed.

Johnny snicked up the bedrails on either side of the gurney
deftly. "It won't last, so get ready." he laughed.

Nicole regarded him spinny eyed and smiling a little.
"I know. Maybe the doctor will follow up with some Versed."
she mused, scratching an itchy nose. "Sorry I'm such a bother.
You two are on vacation and I'm not someone in a life threat."

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"So what? So we have to do a little babysitting until the doctor
finishes up with our other three. Glad they're all gonna make it okay."
Gage shrugged.

Skoloda refused to meet their eyes.

Gage tapped her shoulder to get her to look up.
"So we narc'd ya, Miss EMT. That's no biggie. We had to do
something. Your systolic was falling below a hundred due to pain."

Nicole chuckled, picking at her bed sheets.

Roy quickly clarified their mindset. "No, really. We're glad to help.
Colleagues shouldn't ever feel bad about getting some assistance
from a coworker when it's needed."

Next to him, Dixie nodded in full silent agreement where she stood,
nursing a steaming cup of coffee as she was inhaling its
hot vapors, near her mouth.

Gage finally grinned.
"In fact, Roy and myself really got a kick out of getting another
chance to see you. Uh, I mean, in a way that's not medically related."
he began, starting to lead somewhere.

DeSoto shot a look at his partner so he'd tell the truth.

Gage cleared his throat self consciously. "Well I did... At least...
Anyway..." he said shyly. "Too bad he's a happily married man." he
said, cock eye grinned.

Nicole took the bait. "And you're not?"

Johnny blushed even harder. "Well.. uh.." he stammered.
"No, not right now, I guess. I'd never, ..uh. Yeah, I'm single."
he said folding up a BP cuff that he had used a minute before.
"Your pressure's perfect." But then he froze.

Roy stepped in. "I think, he thinks, so are you."

Gage cast Roy a grateful look and then he began studying
his toes in embarrassment from where he was gripping
the bed rail a little too hard.

Nicole regarded them both.
"That's so sweet. The answer's yes. I'll have dinner with you
tonight, Johnny Gage. Just as soon as I get my cast on and
my land legs back."

"Well, far out." Gage grinned, feeling completely thawed out for
the first time ever all night. "That's incredible. I mean, you're
incredible. Absolutely. I-I'd be honored." he finished, finally
relaxing in front of her as their eyes met softly.

Unseen, Dixie and Roy slipped quietly out of the curtained
room to give them some privacy.

McCall turned to DeSoto in the hallway. "Say, did you get
the message from the front desk that Mike Morton left us?
That little girl from the house fire's gonna be just fine."

"I got it. Hey, why don't we go grab a beer to celebrate
a little. We've got good reasons for doing so."

"You're on. Just so I'm located less than three feet away
from a roaring fire."

"Consider it done. I promise I'll keep you from singeing
any of your toes." DeSoto grinned, offering Dixie his elbow.

"Spoken like a true firefighter." McCall said, taking his arm.
"Come on, let's catch the next shuttle going back to the resort.
I'm sure Johnny can manage here just fine, on his own."

Roy remembered another thing about another victim.
"Want to go see Marco's miracle car baby? He got through
his ordeal without a scratch. They found him in a tree top,
all safe and sound, still in his blanket strapped seat."

"Let's." McCall grinned, beginning to hum Rock-A-Bye baby.
"You should have seen Marco celebrating after they found him."

"Why? What did he do?"

"According to Hank, he dropped right down in the snow
right there on the spot and made himself an angel by flapping
all of his arms and legs."

Roy chuckled good naturedly with amusement. "Yeah, that sounds
like something Lopez would do. Boy, I'm sure glad that story had a
happy ending."

"So am I. They're the best kind." McCall sighed contentedly as she
leaned on his shoulder affectionately as they walked.


FIN

The Quint Connection  
Episode 43, Season Six
Emergency Theater Live
 
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