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        En Route
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The Story Unfolds...

Season Seven, "Movie Two", Episode Fifty Four

 En Route  

Debut Launch: June 25th, 2010.


***************************************************************
Subject: The Coffee Chat..
From:  patti k (pattik1@hotmail.com)
Sent: Fri 6/25/10 2:50 AM


The glass enclosed peace of the paramedic base station room was pure bliss.
::And I don't even have to go on vacation to get it.:: sighed Dixie McCall in
relief, as she changed the recording cassettes between radio electrocardio
gram receivers deftly to get them ready for the next rescue call.

It was Thursday. The last day of Dixie's self scheduled week before her
off duty weekend began. ::Yeah, but what's so special about it?::
she mused. ::Kel's working. And everybody else is scheduled double
shifts. Including Joe and Mike.::

Dixie leaned on the counter top and drew the station I.D. magnets
back to their starting places on the status board over her head. "And it's
not even busy." she said, sipping her cup of coffee.

She eyed her abandoned desk through the window, feeling almost
guilty for not attending the phones another nurse hastened to answer
from Resupply that she knew had been coming. ::I hate inventory. Why
should I have to be the one to do that chore every month?:: she protested
mentally, mildly.

McCall made sure she threw Carol a grateful look while she did a few
graceful arm and leg stretches, using the countertop in front of her. She
held up five fingers. ::That's how long I'll be in here.:: she decided. ::Not five
minutes, five days.:: she groaned in her thoughts. ::Am I growing jaded?
Seems like I'm only happy now when Rampart's hotter case wise than a
rat's nest and the staff's turning themselves into basket cases..:: she
chuckled. ::Including me.::

She startled when a voice behind her issued a statement. "Is that
healthy?"

Dixie whirled, surprised out of her brain fog's weariness. "Oh, Joe.
You scared me. I didn't even hear you open the door."

Early apologized with a duck of his head and eyed up her coffee mug again.

McCall just looked at him, amazement on her face at his intuitiveness,
when it dawned. "Oh, oh, oh.. You meant this. Sure. Here." she said,
giving up the caffeine she knew she didn't need, to him. "I thought
you meant the state of my mind today."

"Nope, although I'll confess to the state of my stomach's."
Joe joined her by sitting on the counter top at her side while he drank
her coffee in one long draught. "Ah, that tastes good."

"Always does." Dixie shrugged in dry amusement. "Almost too much.
Slap my hand if I reach for the pot again."

"Deal." he agreed wholeheartedly. "And I'll add in a free blood pressure
check."

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"What? On me? Why?"

"Your face is flushed again." he told her, seriously.

"That's a hot flash." she grumbled, not amused.

"Oh. Sorry. I didn't know about your new Change." Early pouted.

"Don't I wish I could change." Dixie simpered, on a completely
different topic. "I mean, is that what I really want?"

"I don't know. You tell me." Early said, easily slipping into Freudian
mode as the friend who knew his nurse better than himself.

"Joe, is my career going stale?" she asked him. "I mean. It's not
burn out. That I would know. I've seen it in others." she self analyzed.

Joe just let her talk. Gravely, he nodded sagely, agreeing with her
self diagnosis."No way in h*ll."

Dixie took that as encouragement even though she was only
half paying attention to him, lost in self doubt and part amusement.
"Then why can't I enjoy myself away from this place?" she pegged
as she finally identified the nagging little irk that had been bugging
the back of her mind over the last ten minutes.

"Hmm." Joe grunted, eyeing up a chart Dixie had yet to transcribe into
nurse notes for his perusal. "I've been there." he shared. "What you need,
is to find a new angle on the old block."

Dixie's face fell. "Yeah? And how am I gonna do that? I'm the head of
the head of the.."

"..whole ER shabang. I know. That's because you were never ever a fan of
being a desk jockey for administration." Joe said, his eyes twinkling.
"Why don't you ask around and see what others think about you doing
your job to get some true feelers about your current.., and it is imagined,
angst?"

Dixie looked up at Joe with not amused daggers, but waxed reluctant
when she began thinking about her usual company of coworkers."Well,
I don't know about--"

"I'm not talking about them. They're just other nurses." Early pointed
out expansively. "And I'm just a doctor. Why don't you reach a little
further out to try for fresh eyes about you, on their perspective?"

"Who? I don't see anybody else while at work, Joe." Dixie harrumphed in
frustration.

"Yes, you do. And they're not wearing hospital white." With that, Early
made his exit, softly leaving Dixie's refilled mug back in its usual hidden
place behind the EKG machine after kissing the top of her head
affectionately in a playful peck.

Dixie's expression turned ironic as the door closed, returning her
solitude to cool, muffled silence. "Paramedics?" she finally said out loud.
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**************************************************
Subject: Hormones..
From:  patti k (pattik1@hotmail.com)
Sent: Wed 6/30/10 12:24 PM

McCall sighed softly, regretting the seconds ticking by on her wrist watch.
"Can they be cool appraisers of me?" she wondered. "I'm a head nurse, the
one who trained most of them." she said to herself. She eyed up Roy and
Johnny, who were standing most of the way down the hallway after turning
over their non critical patient that they had finished transporting from one
hospital to another, to orderlies. "Oh,...Maybe later." Dixie decided, shaking
her head suddenly.

When one of them happened to glance in her direction, she hid her upper
body behind the EKG machine in a fake check of its cables, to escape
detection. McCall groaned, thinking again. ::Just look at me. I'm a mess.
I'm actually hiding out on people.::  Angry at her own timidity in distress,
she grabbed the bull by both horns. She straightened, shoved her coffee
mug neatly away from her questing fingers, and exited the communications
alcove. "Thanks, Carol. I'm back."

"How is your back?" asked Evans. "You did some stretches that would
certainly break mine if I tried them." she said with a grin, biting on a pen with
a grimace.

Dixie chuckled."It's fine. I'm probably the one who's not." she remarked,
sitting dully onto the desk stool.

"What's wrong?" asked Carol as she suddenly took alarm and grabbed
for the pulse point in McCall's wrist. "You are kinda red. Do you have a
headache?"

Dix snatched away her arm in boredom. "Oh, stop. I'm not sick. Those are
hormones acting up. Or... I mean... probably the lack of them anyway."

Carol immediate understood. "Oh. I see. I hope you brought a ton of uniforms,
Dix. When I went through my first months of menopause, I drenched one every
few hours at even the barest thought of physical activity. What were you doing
anyway to set this one off?" she asked about Dixie's current hot flash.

"Drinking coffee." she said guiltily.

Carol whacked her arm with her chart. "Shame on you. Didn't Joe read you the
riot act about that?"

"No. He just found out my new condition a few minutes ago." Dixie snapped,
lightly defensive.

A passing new student nurse walked by, overhearing and misinterpreting.
"Congratulations!" she said brightly.

"Not that." Dixie shouted back at her. "Do I look like I could have a baby?!"

The younger nurse in blue scuttled away, embarrassed, hugging her blood draw
samples basket.

"Down, girl. Easy.." Carol chided. "Wow, you are messed up today." Then she
found the track of the conversation again. "Good for Dr. Early then. Now he can
join me in keeping you away from the stuff." Carol said as she sniffed, no
nonsense.

"I did tell him to do that." McCall said dutifully, surprised at the wild swing of
emotion that just had its evil hold on her with the student nurse. "My mug's
still in there."
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Carol dipped her head to distract her."Sign that, Miss Hyde. This is 51's organ
transplant recipient they just brought in for the floors. She had intravenous lines
so they needed paramedics to move her."

"How's she doing? I haven't read in that far yet." Dixie asked, burying her
face in the chart to hide her embarrassment at her current mood. "Naomi Wilder.
Age twenty."

"Her spirits are up. Bless her soul. But her counts are, too." Carol frowned
sympathetically.

"Then isn't it great that she's here to get a new kidney?" Dixie asked,
reading the data, refusing to be negative about a patient even while she was
being negative about herself.

"If we can find one that matches in time." Carol said quietly.

"The dialysis will buy her time." Dixie smiled, trying to feel it.

"That new fangled machine?" Carol grumphed. "I don't trust it, Dix. I mean,
how can you sterilize the inside of a block of steel that size? I know I
wouldn't want my blood circulating inside of it and returning back to my veins
through it anytime soon."

McCall just nodded that she was listening, but her brain was far away.
"It's all experimental, but so's our heart lung machine for bypasses."

Carol shuddered. "I knew our hospital was a bit Frankensteinian. But all this
sudden new invasive technique technology coming in so fast, takes the cake."

Dixie rubbed Carol's arm warmly, to smooth down the goose pimples. "You said
that about rewarming hypothermia cases in pulseless reservoir drownings. And
look at our survival rates for kids in those." she remarked, happy.

"Yeah. We do save a lot. Maybe that'll be how all the kidney and heart cases will
turn out, too. Thanks, hon. My heebie jeebies are gone." she said squeezing Dixie's
hand in gratitude. Then she chuckled. "Maybe I'm just too old school. But I tell ya,
they'll be writing me off soon, Dix. I can feel it." Carol groused, partly in joke, she
said, turning to the phone to get an orderly to take Naomi's admission chart up to
the floors with her.

Something about that statement struck home deep inside of Dixie, and she
frowned, disturbed. ::Am I doing that to myself?:: she thought in horror. Then
she looked back at Roy and Johnny, lost in their conversation by the x-ray
machine near the nurse's lounge. ::Maybe I.. should.. talk to them.:: McCall
reconsidered. ::But when's the best time? I only see them when I'm on duty.::

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"What a sweet young lady, Roy." Gage laughed, as he waved at Naomi as the
orderlies took her into the elevator. "She made me smile the whole way in."

"Yeah, she reminds me of my daughter a whole lot." DeSoto grinned, folding
his arms around the I.V. resupply box he was holding.

"Roy." said Johnny. "Your daughter's twelve." he insisted, firmly.

"Yeah, but I can see a strong resemblance anyway." he said right back, just as
firm. "Maybe one day if you ever have kids you'll understand how I'm able
to do that."

"Don't rush me. I'm still trying to get past the dating chore." Gage groused.

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"Since when is spending time with the opposite sex, a chore?" Roy asked,
amused.

"Since last week, Roy. I can't stop thinking about her." he said, suddenly mad
that what was bothering him had finally been pegged.

"Oh yeah? Where'd you meet her?" Roy asked, suddenly interested.

"At work." Johnny said reluctantly, fiddling with his green pen's clicker that
was parked in his shirt pocket. "And never mind. It's none of your business."
Gage barked. "I can handle it."

"It's Rosalie Arnold. Isn't it? That new EMT from Mayfair Ambulance?"

"So..." Gage fired back. "What's it to ya?"

"Oh, nothing. But ever since last week, when she showed up at one of
our rescue calls in a pick-up, you've been doing nothing else but thinking about
her."

"Thinking about her? Roy, I'm a professional. I don't date out of my own level. It,
would be.. awkward. I'm a paramedic, she's an EMT."

"That doesn't stop you from trying to ask out the nurses." Roy grinned. "Aren't
they a little out of your league, too?" he teased. "They have what? Two years
more training then we do?"

Johnny squared his jaw, biting down in irritation as he bent over to get a drink from
the water fountain in the wall.  He sipped only once before his head came up.
"Roy, that's not the same thing."

"Oh, isn't it?" DeSoto pounced. "A nice, friendly pleasant woman is a nice friendly
pleasant woman, regardless of what her career is. Just look at Dixie and Kel.
They've been going steady for years now as doctor and a nurse."

"Yeah? But they're not married. Now what's wrong with that picture?" Johnny
said, waggling his hand in the air in front of him. "Could it possibly be the career
level difference getting in the way?"

Roy's mouth just flopped open. "You're crazy. You're-- you're absolutely nuts. You
think I'd've figured that out about you by now, after six years. But I guess I'm just
a hopeless raging optimist about the finer side of your probable integrity."

"Huh?" Gage blinked.

"Oh boy." Roy shifted onto the other foot irritatedly. "I'm talking about Rosalie.
You like her, right? So why not ask her out?"

"She's female, Roy." Gage insisted. "I don't mean that- that's the problem.. That's
perfect actually. I--I mean, It's just that she's only sort of my line of work." he said,
with difficult articulation, but pleased at his explanation.
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Roy just looked at him and gestured an I-said-that-already hand at him and at all
the nurses carefully ignoring Johnny's flirting grins as they bustled around them.

"Oh, never mind. You'll never understand where I'm coming from." Gage snapped.

"I'm trying to. Believe me, I'm trying to." Roy shared, scratching his head. "And I'm
not gonna give up because I'll go absolutely stir crazy if I don't figure you out
someday."

"Just forget my love life. All right? Let's just go, or we'll be late for our monthly
A-shift meeting." Johnny groused, snatching the box from Roy's hands and trading
it for the squad keys. "You drive back to the station. I don't feel like it today."

"You never feel like it. Why do you think I drive all the time?" Roy glared back.
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**************************************************
Subject: P's and Cues..
From:  patti k (pattik1@hotmail.com)
Sent: Thu 7/01/10 2:43 AM

"Okay. Coffee's on. Check." said Cap as he crossed off items on
his list as the gang sat all round the kitchen table back at Station 51.
"All the donuts are being inhaled.." he glanced up. "Correction. They're
gone. Thanks for leaving just the crumbs." he said with arched eyebrows,
while he peered myopically at his list.

"You snooze.." Gage started.

"You lose.." Chet crowed as he and Johnny
high fived each other at their craftiness in emptying a plate so fast. "And I
got the last bite." Kelly celebrated.

"Yeah?" said Hank. "Well, I'm bigger than you are so watch your knuckles
really close next time." and Cap slapped the flat of a butter knife down
onto the table top with a sharp crack only inches away from Kelly's other
hand. It made the rest of the gang literally jump in startlement.

"...we're still hungry?" moused Marco as a weak excuse.

Cap just glared. "You know it's share-sies on any station bought food.
I don't care about myself but it's always DOGS FIRST. Just look at him!"
thundered Hank, pointing an accusatory finger at a pathetically dewy and
sad eyed Henry, the basset hound. "Now he's sitting at that really rare for him,
absolute attention pose, all for nothing. Stoker, go grab him a slice of Kelly's
deli bacon outta the frig to cover the lack."

"Aw, Cap. That stuff's expensive!" protested Chet. "I can only get it--"

"Aw, Cap, nothing! He's our beloved adopted mascot for Pete's sake.
And you know the rules. Last dibbles..."

Kelly grumbled down into a croak. "...are kibbles." finished Chet morosely.

"D@mn straight." roared Cap. "I'd rather a paunch on him, than on me.
And tonight, you're the guilty one. So you're coughing up!"

Woof! said Henry.

The gang was struck silent in slight fear of a formal reprimand.

Cap sucked in a huge cleansing breath to get his blood pressure
back down. Then he neatly stacked his meeting itinerary notes in front
of him deftly. "Now, that aside, let's get the first points of order, out of
the way." said Hank airily, totally pleasant and mild.

"Being late.." offered Chet.
 "More spit and polish.." said Marco.
"And another CPR drill with a manikin." volunteered Stoker.

Hank's eyes bugged out. "Well, uh, yeah. How'd all you guys know?" he
asked with genuine amazement.

All five pairs of the gangs' eyes flickered towards the sheaf of papers in
Cap's hands.

Hank protectively hugged his notes to his chest unconsciously. "Are you
guys sneaking into the office again? Because I'm telling you, if I catch even
one finger touching my brand new desk phone, I'll--"

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Kelly started guffawing with huge amusement. "No, Cap. We just read your
brain cells, man."

Cap broke off his tirade. "Huh?"

Marco reiterated. "For the last six months at all these meetings of ours,
you always start with the same three things for us to think about or
do."

"Yeah." said Chet. "And only one of us is still being chronically late."

"Hey!" Gage complained. "I am not."

Hank just rolled his eyes. "Gage, the time clock never lies. It's true. Just
look at your paycheck hours sometime. They're off usually by ten minutes
each week."

"Oh. Sorry."

"And that's what Gage always says." moaned Marco. "Look, can we just get
on with it and then through the fake heart attack exercise? We might get a run
soon."

"Geez, fellas. I thought we were all pals here." Cap said. "Why are you
chewing on this meeting like a pack of starving dogs?"

"Maybe because we are starving dogs. Just look at our salaries on the regular
firefighter rate once, Cap." Kelly joked. "We may be getting paid to sit here
and go over done-to-death policies and procedures, but that doesn't mean we
have to like it."

Cap blinked.
"Oh. Okay. I guess I can be even more brief than the usual three minutes
of meeting time for the month. I have one more point of order." Cap
said dryly, not taking offense. "Gage. DeSoto. Effective immediately by order of
Chief McConnike. Starting July 1st, you hearby have to start serving sixty four
hundred hours of work time over the rest of the summer season, at your choice
of a local ambulance service, to train EMTs."

"What?!" sputtered Gage.

Cap just shrugged. "It's all part of a new cooperative being crafted between all
the local fire departments, us, and all the private ambulance companies, the other
guys, who will soon be legally consolidated under Los Angeles County policies
regarding licensure, rules of practice and procedures. The chief tried taking
volunteers last month from the current county paramedic pool to become part of
their team of associate supervisor advisors, but he got no takers. So he decided to
grab up all the day shift medics he could get his hands on, to fill up the rest of the
mayor's governor-approved program. It's being called the Bus Project, by the way."

"How apt." Roy groaned.

"Can he even do that?" Johnny asked, his mouth still flopped open in shock.

"Yep. Under something called a priority mandate. Ambulances are a critical
city service and must be provided in full to the entire population, by law. So
consider yourselves recruited."

"Hopefully with the same pay." Roy butted in. "I've got kids to feed."

Cap held up a wait finger and kept talking as he read his memo. "Accustomed
paramedic assignments will be preserved inside all effected ambulance companies
to help the new, and I quote, streamlined, process along. So I went ahead and
offered up the two of you as the chief's first pair at the head of the line."

"Cap. I-" Gage waggled his head, sputtering. "I'm speechless."

"That's a first." Chet quipped.

Gage didn't even hear him.
"Why'd ya do it, Cap?" Johnny asked. "You could've held out, letting other
pairs go first, until fall at least. Then Roy's kids would've been in school most
of the day and out of the house."

Hank didn't even stiffen. He turned all captain and glared. "It's because I owe
McConnike for burning his hat, if you must know."

"Oh, so we pay the price?" Johnny scoffed, part serious.

Roy spoke up. "He's speaking for himself, Cap."

"Is that a hint of insubordination I hear, Fireman Gage?" Cap shot back, equally
in only half jest.

Johnny bellied up. "No, uh. No, Cap. I uh--"

"Good. Cause it's a done deal. And no, you aren't gonna be shorted any pay.
If anything, you both are gonna have easier shifts assigned than you do now; no
fires, hard rescues, or safety checks. You'll be paid a captain's wage. It's part of a
temporary promotion that you'll need in order to teach all of the new ambulance
employees."

"That's a lot of bling." Kelly gaped. "Heya, Cap. Does that mean that Roy
and Johnny can quit having to salute you this summer during a chief's visit
while in an inspection line?"

The three of them ignored him.

"Cap, what happened to all of the old ones?" Roy asked.

Hank was matter of fact.
"They quit. They heard there wasn't going to be a union any more because their bosses
were going to contract with the County. They didn't hang around long enough for the
memo which explained that they weren't going to lose any of their benefits." Hank
said, angling his head.

"So what are they using now for workers? We just had an ambulance call this
afternoon." Johnny asked.

"Corpsmen from the army." Cap said. "Technically, they qualify. But they'll be here in
town, helping out, only long enough for you guys to fully train in all the EMTs the
County needs."

"I thought something funny was going on." DeSoto remarked.

"What was funny? I thought they were actually pretty good. They didn't drop our
patient going down that warped fire escape of hers." Johnny chuckled.

"Their shoes were polished and they both had crewcuts." Roy sighed.

"Oh. No sneakers and Beatles' hair doos?" Gage wondered.

"Nope." Roy told him.

"Must have missed that." Gage puzzled, picking at a salt shaker.

"Naomi was very pretty." Roy drawled, grinning. "And I'm a married man."

"I told you, I don't date EMTs. Or patients." Gage hissed defensively.

"You did once. Remember Valerie?" Kelly dangled.
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Johnny broke off his denial and mumbled. "She didn't count. She--"

Cap started smiling.
"Sure she did. You treated her for being hit by that car and then you two
started going out right afterwards, from my perspective."

"You know about that?" Johnny paled.

"Yep." Hank nodded. "But you both were adults back then. So I stayed
out of it." he shrugged.

Gage was thoroughly gagged, mortified.

Kelly ran with it. "Valerie was a bust with those nasty kids of hers so you're
off the morality hook, Johnny. Relax."

"Speaking of "Relax". It's three minutes and one second. Meeting adjourned."
Lopez chipped in. "I'll be the one to fake cardiac arrest so we can get that
whole bit over with. Ready?" and he flopped over sideways in his chair.

Clunk!

Marco hit the floor with his head and shoulder. "Ouch! Why didn't you
catch me, you guys?"

Kelly looked at his watch. "My watch is still running slow. And so's theirs."
he looked at it. " Three, two, one. Now, it's been three minutes." he joked.
"Marco, you moved too soon."

Johnny and Roy chuckled as they rose from their seats to go grab the
manikin for the actual compressions and defibrillating phase.

Chet knelt down on the tiles where Marco sprawled, still rubbing his head.
"Okay, pal. You're not injured so lay back and we'll get started." He wiped his
face into a professional care giver's mode. "Hey, can you hear me, sir?"
he said, digging a pair of knuckles into Marco's breastbone.

"Ow!" Lopez twitched, shoving Kelly's hands away.

"You're unconscious, man. Act the part." Kelly told him. "It was your idea."

"I see nothing." said Cap, "I'm cooking over there on the stove." he said,
covering his eyes in a play act so he wouldn't mess up their timing of
the scenario.

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Lopez glared at Chet then went into an exaggerated limpness, on his
back.

"Cap! Man down." Kelly said loudly.

"Is he conscious?" Hank said, finally playing his part right.

"No. Not reacting to pain at all." Kelly shared, doing his part of
opening Marco's airway like he would on a real victim.

"Guys, go grab the gear. I'll help Kelly out." Cap ordered.

"I'll call it in." Stoker offered, playing another role. He ran to the radio alcove in
the bay. "L.A., Station 51. This is an exercise."

##Station 51. L.A.## replied Sam Lanier the dispatcher. ##Go ahead.##

"Still alarm. One male. Unconscious. Probable medical. This is an exercise."
repeated Mike for the audio logs.

##Responding one ambulance to your location. Time out : 14: 46. They report
an ETA of four minutes. I acknowledge your exercise.##

"10-4. KMG 365. This is an exercise." Mike concluded. Then he hung up
the mic onto its spigot and ran for the oxygen apparatus from the closet that
was full of only room air and a training ambu bag.

Roy and Johnny beat him back through the door with the training manikin slung
between them while Cap hustled past them for the real defib and EKG unit.
"No pulse." he told them. "He's still got a clear airway."

"Got it." Roy and Johnny nodded, now knowing what the exercise was going to
be medical wise.

They slammed the manikin down on the ground next to Marco, in the same
pose, for the next phase. Kelly scooted over from where he was faking
mouth to mouth breaths on Marco. He leaned over and gave a double set
of breaths to the training doll before starting in on rapid fast chest compressions
for one man CPR.

Lopez got up from the floor, ignoring his unbuttoned shirt, and sat on the couch
to watch the rest of the drill from the sidelines. He smiled as Henry started
to half bark at all of the excitement going on in front of him. "Geez, Henry.
We do this every month. You should be used to it already, you crazy mutt."
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Gage reached over and felt the manikin's neck. "I've got good compressions, Chet.
I can feel a pulse with em." he reported. "When did he go down? Did you see
the time?"

"14: 45. It's marked on that napkin by his head." Kelly pointed out, keeping up
his CPR.

"Got it." Gage said, snatching it up for his notes.

Cap returned with the real Datascope and monitor, and with the fake drug and
I.V. boxes that were only filled with water from the training closet. "Kelly, set
up his leads when Roy's ready."

"Yes, sir."

"Okay, go do it." DeSoto said, knocking Chet's hands out of the way, taking over.
Roy delivered compressions and breaths that were proper without missing a beat,
working on the rubber man.

Stoker set the training oxygen apparatus and real biophone down onto the floor
next to Gage and DeSoto. He opened and set up the receiver and antennae.
"Okay. Biophone on." he reported.

Cap took over Roy's ventilations with a flowing ambu bag after setting it up. He
used an oral airway on the manikin that he had measured for size, jawline to ear lobe,
quickly, in between breaths. "Short airway's in, all. Mouth's still clear."

Gage leaned over the manikin, listening with a stethoscope. "I've got good
breath sounds. No gurgling over the stomach." he shared, listening in multiple
places. "Not gonna be a vomiter."

Kelly hurried in his assigned task. "Leads are on, RA, RL, LL, LA. And..
set.." he said pushing the EKG monitor button on. The green diode cursor
began to glow on its screen.

Cap announced what he was told to say for the scenario from his meeting memo.
"Ventricular tachycardia. Pulseless."

Gage nodded, pretending that rhythm was what he saw on the monitor. "V-tach,
Roy." he reached up to the manikin's neck to feel the plastic tube there that
served as a carotid artery. "Hold off a sec."

Roy froze where he had his hands positioned for chest compressions over
the manikin's chest.

"No pulse." Johnny confirmed. "Continue CPR." Then he punched the
Datascope's power up button. "Charging. One hundred, two hundred,
three hundred...."

Roy started in again as a chest compressor.
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Nearby, Stoker had opened communications with the hospital."Rampart this
is Station 51. How do you read? This is an exercise."

##We read you loud and clear, 51.## Dixie replied over the airwaves. ##I copy
your exercise at 14: 48. Mark.## she said, clicking on a special fire department
recording tape. ##What is your still alarm, 51?##

"Rampart we have a witnessed cardiac arrest in a male age 27. No airway
obstruction. CPR is in progress with fifteen liters of oxygen by bag. EKG
telemetry has been established." Mike said.

"Okay,.. Four hundred watt seconds. Hook him up to the radio, Kelly."
Gage glanced at Mike. "When he's done, gimme the phone."

Soon, Stoker handed over the black receiver.

"Rampart we show and have confirmed pulseless V-Tach. Ready to
countershock four hundred watt seconds. This will be on Lead II."
Johnny reported. "Hand me the paddles, Chet, after you gel them up."

"All right." Kelly said, hurrying quickly. He started rubbing them together to
spread the conductive paste evenly over the shocking surfaces.

##10-4, 51.## Dixie flipped a switch, and started receiving the manikin's I.D.
trace. It showed Roy's effective CPR signature.  ##CPR is adequate.##

"There you go, Gage. They're ready." Chet said, passing over the defib
electrodes.

"Clear!" Gage said, ordering Cap and Roy away from the manikin's form.
He pressed down the paddles in a shock frame on the manikin's skin
and delivered the first jolt.

Chet looked at his watch. "Time. 14:49 and 23." he told everyone.

Hank shared what he was told to say for the exercise from the memo.
"Sinus rhythm. Rate of 44. Spontaneous breathing."

Dixie saw the Datascope deliver a full energy shock on her strip in a sharp dip
of the electronic tracer. ##Shock confirmed. What do you have, 51?## she
said into the intercom.

Gage told her. "Recaptured. NSR of 44. He's breathing on his own."

##10-4, uh... ## she said, reading through her own memo of this month's
exercise for Station 51 for the doctor's treatment to prescribe. ##Start
an I.V. of Normal Saline wide open with a Lidocaine Drip. Titrate until you get
a rate of at least seventy. Continue monitoring vitals every five minutes
and maintain oxygen. Treat for shock. Recontact us en route if there are
any further changes. We'll have a room waiting for you.##

Cap winked as he looked up at Mike. "Let's save some time, shall we?
Go grab a stokes. We'll meet the ambulance in the driveway with him."

"Isn't that cheating, Cap?" Kelly chuckled as Roy and Johnny continued
their treatment steps of setting up an I.V.

Hank grinned broadly.
"Nope. It's called using your noggin. The chief says he likes a little ingenuity.
So I'm just giving him some for our drill here." Then he looked up at Lopez.
"Marco? Park yourself back down here." he said, patting the floor. At
the same time, he shoved the manikin out of the way with a foot once
Gage peeled off the EKG electrode stickers from its chest.
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Barking, Henry leaped down from the couch and started accosting
one of its legs in a playful bite and head shake.

The gang laughed.

Lopez repositioned himself where the manikin used to be and let
Cap put on a flowing oxygen mask that was just air over his nose
and mouth. "Make sure you get my left arm. That's got a good vein."

Roy grinned evilly. "Is he awake, Cap?"

"Nope." said Hank, double checking the memo on the table.

DeSoto leaned down. "Shut up, Marco. You can't talk."

Lopez made a face and closed his eyes. He didn't even flinch when
Gage started an antecubital line of sterilized water and taped it off.

Chet leaned into Johnny. "Turn it wide open. That way he'll have to
pee real bad before he gets to Rampart. It'll challenge the EMTs
a little." he whispered.

Gage grinned back. "She did say wide open." he tsk'd, making it so.
Then he added even more water by piggy backing the fake Lidocaine
bag and labelling it with a mock orange sticker with the time it
had been started. "Gushing BOTH in at 14:52." he reported.

Cap was oblivious. "Oh, we got a gag reflex!" he said, flipping the
oral airway he had palmed into his hand at the manikin for human switch
into the air to simulate pulling it out of Marco's mouth. It landed on
Lopez's bare stomach. Roy just rolled his eyes and stuffed it into Marco's
shirt pocket for safe keeping.

Gage wasn't about to fall for an exercise complication. "Did he puke?"

Cap made a show of lifting up Marco's face mask and peering in with
the penlight Johnny offered to him. "Uh...nope. Just needs a lot of
mouthwash."

"Hey.." said their patient. "So I love onions. Big deal."

"Either that or Chet does." Gage giggled.
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"Shhh!" hissed Hank, fighting laughter. "I think I hear the ambulance coming.
Let's get him lifted into the stokes. One, Two..Lift!" he said, shaving off
another second.

The gang dropped him into the stokes hastily and dumped the EKG monitor,
open defib and a hastily thrown blanket onto his legs as they four man carried
him swiftly out the kitchen door. Chet trailed after them with the air only
apparatus and a couple of water I.V.s.

Henry just held onto a loose, dangling stokes strap and tried to slow them
all down.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Out in the sunlight, Marco was forced to play his part. Cap was nice and held
up his hand to shadow the bright light away from his eyes while he laid there
in the stokes surrounded by the others on the pavement. "Are they here yet?"
Lopez wondered. "Man, I'm really starting to have to go. Cap, do you think I have
time to get up and use the urinal real quick?"

Hank frowned. "Guys, are you pulling a fast one on him?"

"Shhh! Here they come!" Kelly hissed, flagging them down. "It's a Mayfair."
he hinted strongly at Johnny as soon as the rushing Code Three ambulance
turned the corner and onto their boulevard.

Mike Stoker hoofed it out onto the street to direct traffic so they could park
perpendicular to unload their stretcher. "And looky there. They're both girls."
he shared loudly.

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Marco almost sat bolt upright in horror as his bladder continued to voice its
rising rebellion. "Cap.." he whined without moving.

"Hush, I'll figure out a way to fix this." Hank promised, snapping the fake oxygen
mask back onto Marco's face. He thought fast and then retreated into the
bay swiftly for a few seconds to retrieve something from a storage locker.

Then he jogged back just as the ambulance had finished backing up into
loading position. "Marco. Here." he said, pulling up the blanket to the man's
chin. He shoved a small, red nozzled, plastic can into Lopez's hidden hands.

"What?" Lopez said through the oxygen mask, keeping still and eyes tightened
to stay in his role.

"Just get it done!" Cap said, standing up again and leaving him alone. He
moved to hide movement from the EMTs who were naturally curious about
their new patient. "I'm Captain Stanley. One of our firefighters went into
cardiac arrest..." he began in explanation.

"He will soon for real, won't he?" Chet sniggered at Roy.

DeSoto had the joke on Marco figured out. "You guys are pure evil." he hissed,
starting to glance back over his shoulder.

Cap's hook like grip on his shoulder made him freeze into place before he did.
"Isn't that so, DeSoto?" Hank prompted smoothly.

"Uh, yeah. Started breathing on his own right afterwards." Roy improvised.

"Oh, okay." said one of the EMTs. "Any airway trouble?" she asked opening
the rear door of the Mayfair. Her partner turned to help her.

At that moment, Marco had finished his business and chucked out the
gas can from under the blanket and quickly went zombie quiet again.
It landed on the lawn and rapidly emptied, safely out of eye shot.

Kelly noticed. "D@mn. Cap helped him out." he grimaced at Gage.

But Henry eagerly chased after it thinking the whole deal was a game of fetch.
He grabbed onto the gas can and began to lug it back.

"Can't win em all." Johnny chuckled. "We're gonna pay for this one you know,
with our hides."

"Yeah? But it was so worth it." Kelly said, watching one of the lady EMTs
feel Marco's neck for a pre-transport pulse quality check. "And it's not over
yet. You better let me know how it turns out."

"Nah, I'm done." Johnny whispered, his humor dying.

"You owe me." Chet pegged, pointing at him as he jogged away to help
Stoker block traffic again.

"I'll follow you in." Roy told Johnny, staying out of the prank deliberately and
tossing a thumb over his shoulder at the squad.

"Okay." Gage said, still grinning. "Man, I'm happy you're still alive, Marco.
Just keep hanging in there." he quipped, patting his pal's head after they
had lifted him from the stokes onto the gurney and had strapped him in.

"I'mgonnakillyou." Marco coughed-talked through the oxygen mask.

"What was that?" the other girl EMT asked, looking down.

"Nothing." Johnny told her. "He.. just had an airway pulled out while we
were inside."

"I'll get the suction ready." she replied, looking suspiciously at both of them.

Soon, they were loaded up.

Cap got back on the biophone he had been carrying. He had
reconnected it up to Marco's live cardiac leads. "Station 51 to Rampart,
ambulance is here and we're transporting in less than one. Our patient is
semi conscious with a gag." he rolled his eyes at the pun she would
never get. "This is an exercise."

##10-4, 51. We're standing by.## Dixie replied. ## Showing a
heart rate of 136? Try to calm the patient down en route a little.##
she advised. ##This marks the end of the first leg of your drill at...
14: 57.##

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Kelly and Gage both cracked up laughing hysterically. Johnny almost
dropped the biophone he had taken from Hank, to travel with them.

Cap's now angry mood was tempered when he realized
he'd just finished the fastest first part exercise completion time of the
whole county for the month of June. "Nice work all. See you
when you get back for a post mortem report." he said crisply.

The ambulance driver looked down when she felt a nudge at her leg.
It was Henry, offering her the gas can.

"What's this?" she asked Cap, holding it up.

"Oh. He just wants you to go a little faster I guess." Hank replied, being
sensitive about Marco's still urgent and ongoing liquid situation. "I'll
just take this back." he said sweetly, tucking it under his arm.

Her face broke out into a wide grin. "Cute dog." she said, climbing into
the rig.

Then the Mayfair was gone, full lights and siren, with the squad, likewise lit
up like a Christmas tree, chasing behind it.
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***************************************************
Subject: Ready? Set? G-!
From:  patti k (pattik1@hotmail.com)
Sent: Thu 7/01/10 1:57 PM

Johnny was still fighting a grin as he played with the EKG monitor still
showing Marco's agitated real state when the red haired female EMT
riding in the captain's chair spoke. "So tell me again about what his
problem is. I'm sure it'll be a first for all the medical journals." she said,
taking a BP on Marco's fake limp arm.

"Huh?" Gage asked, snapping out of his mirth to keep in character
for the scenario for her benefit. "Oh, uh, what did they tell you?"

She raised an arched eyebrow, reading her notes slowly, with
sarcasm. " Said captain- 'One of our firefighters went into
cardiac arrest.' Said paramedic partner- 'Started breathing on his
own right afterwards.' "

Gage barely choked down a laugh. "They said what? Uh, Never mind.
What I think they meant was that, uh. He crashed and then we defib'd
and THEN he started breathing again."

"Uh huh." she said dryly, pursing her lips in doubt. "Okay. Got it. They
were just cutting corners." She reached up and rapped the peek window
between her and her driving partner up front in the cab. "Kate, it's
a drill, babe. Go ahead and slow down." she said, shooting daggers
at him.

The sliding window door opened.
"Another one?" said a brief brunette pageboy haired head.
"Okay. Got it. Going in Code Two." And it snicked shut again.

"Hey, you can't do that!" Johnny insisted. "All our steps taken are timed
and given to Headquarters for evaluation."

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"I don't care if the President himself gets to see your score, Mr. Gage."
she said reading his nametag. "I'm not risking our safety, for a fake
run."  She eyed up Marco's questing fingers that were trying to sneak
up the short I.V. pole in an attempt to slow down the raging drip on
his I.V. bag. "And this prank of yours, just caps what I've already figured
out, about firefighters." she said. She reached down, grabbed Marco's
hand, and placed it on the dial that he wanted to turn off.

"Sorry." Marco said, pulling off his oxygen mask. "We were just--"

"I know what you were trying to do, Mr. Lopez. I just wish you station
guys would quit trying to ruin all the mocks for us with stupid jokes. I
gotta new gal up front who's greener than your face feeling a full
bladder! She needs to start racking up calls enough to feel good
about her own skills really soon, kapesh? Or I'm gonna lose her
when she quits like the last two girls did on hearing the big system
overhaul news!"

Marco nodded apologetically. His eyes flickered to the EMT's
perfect, sleeve pressed shirt. "We really didn't mean any slight, Ms.
Stanton. We were just suffering meetings ad nauseum, each ends
in what we feel is an unnecessary drill, that's all."

The girl EMT's curly haired head, bobbed.
"Oh, nice. Unnecessary, huh? Too bad you're out in the thick of it with
all those prime life and death situations that better your own skills
and problem solving abilities in less than a month. Too bad you're already
set with sharply honed hero instincts. So you feel there isn't anything
out there that you can't handle? Wow. That must be really amazing to
even just think about. What do we EMTs see each time at the real thing?"
she asked, getting bitter. "A patient already figured out, patched up nice
and neat, with blood already circulating in some fashion with the good
air going in and the bad air going out. One already clean, neat and tidy
paramedic package, every time. Where's the challenge in that? So yeah,
we actually get excited and live for these drills, because that's when
we're actually called to use the skills for which we were trained and are
literally supposed to use sometimes. Some of the better fire stations
know how to let us really shine." she said accusingly, glaring.

Johnny and Marco were both cowed into speechlessness. "Sorry
we wrecked it for you." they finally said. Both of them offered
handshakes.

The girl in white swallowed, shook their hands in acceptance one by
one and finally smiled. "My name's Liz by the way. Five year EMT and
a one year firefighter cadet wash up."

Gage's face immediately fell neutral. "Sorry to hear that. What uh--
What happened?"

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"They found out I wear hearing aids. Said they'd melt in a fire and
that I'd be a liability to a fire crew afterwards for being close to
deaf without em so they politely told me that I couldn't graduate.
I see their point, but sometimes I wish that eye glasses would be
outlawed, too, just to make things fair. Most are plastic and can
melt just as fast."

"But in smoke we're always blind." Marco reasoned.

"And in a roaring fire, everybody's deaf." Liz countered mildly.
"I'm not deaf outside of one." she said pointing to her bionics.

"Well, why don't the chiefs realize that?" Marco asked, shaking his head.

"That's what I want to find out." Liz scoffed, only partly amused.

Gage eyed her eagerly, trying to lighten her mood. "I know a few
deaf paramedics who are working in the field."

Liz chuckled.
"Yeah, in a hospital setting. In ICU. That's boring. The patients
there are even more neatly packaged then since the surgeons have
already gone inside to fix things. What's left there to do skill wise?
Work a code like a common nurse?"

"I see your point." Johnny told her. "You're not an office girl."

"Nope. Never was. Neither is Kate, nor any of us who're in the
ambulance business for that matter." Liz said, proudly.

"So why don't you become a paramedic?" Marco asked.

"Because paramedics aren't ever placed in an ambulance only
setting." she said simply. "Only the fire department holds that ace
in this day and age."

Gage just looked at her, stunned.

"Whoa, wait. Johnny, that can't be right." Lopez breathed, pulling
off the air mask that was still flowing from around his neck.

"It's true. She's right. We aren't in em." Johnny said, with dawning
realization. "Now that I think about it."

"And I think they should be." Liz said with passion. "Or else all
an ambulance company will ever be, is a glorified meat wagon
taxi service. Just one small step above a hearse."
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