##This is Battalion One I.C. Mayfair Command, go ahead.## said the Chief of|
the whole Los Angeles
County disaster operation.
"Battalion One. Police eyewitness has just reported that EMS personnel
on the Vincent Thomas Toll Bridge when it was washed away. I've confirmed
six of my people
as not responding on ambulance radio frequencies. Their signals
are...unaccounted for." she said evenly.
##How many units?##
"Two." Dixie replied.
Vince switched over to Main and added
more information. "They are Mayfair Modular
type cabs. Single axle." Howard told the chief. "And
there is one National Guardsman
assigned as a ride-along per rig."
##10-4. Eight first responders
missing at the Vincent Thomas Toll Bridge. I.C. out.##
Dixie startled when the chief's transmission
cut off into dead air. "Uh. Thanks, Vince.
I guess I'd..... better get back to work." she smiled without
"I'll let you know what I find out!" Howard promised her, running back for his squad
Feeling very small, McCall's eyes cast unbidden towards the familar outline of
51, parked on a knoll above them. ::I should tell Hank.:: she decided. Whistling,
she called over
a National Guardsman to deliver a message. Quickly she scribbled
down Brice and Johnny's names on
a piece of paper and the callsigns of their
missing ambulances and where they had last been seen.
::Maybe he can do something
faster.:: "Take this to that fire engine on the hill up there." she told
him. "Take it
to a man called Captain Stanley. He's with the fire department."
nodded crisply at her. Then he took her note and eyeballed an ATV that
was being guarded by an M.P.
"I'll get this to Engine 51, Ma'am. As fast as possible."
he promised. "I don't need to use the roads
to make it up there."
Dixie suppressed a single, powerful sob, and stifled it. She nodded her
He started to run, but not faster than Dixie's unbidden tears. She wiped them away
a deep breath before anyone else could see her reaction.
Then she went to find Roy DeSoto, who
was still working Triage somewhere in
Casey's Field with her.
From: patti k (email@example.com)
10/13/10 12:02 PM
"I'm sorry, Roy." said Dixie McCall. "I wish I had
happy news with that coffee." she whispered. She grasped his
upper arm in support when
DeSoto's hand, holding the cup,
started to shake.
"Thanks for that update. You were right
about me wanting to
keep current on issues, no matter what kind they are." he
Dr. Brackett was also in the rest and recuperation tent, taking
a short break to exchange
his blood flecked jumpsuit for a
clean one. "Tough break." Kel said, his mouth twitching in
"But I'm sure the fire department will pull out all
the stops to try and find them both."
if someone is assigned to it." DeSoto said simply.
"That whole bay out there is under the jurisdiction
of the Port
Roy got up restlessly to look outside their shelter and towards
Dixie frowned. "But isn't the bridge and the road that was on it,
the DOT's territory?
They are the ones who mandate paramedic
licensing." she pointed out.
"We'll see what the Chief
decides." DeSoto told them. "Quite
honestly, I can't see him pulling away critical resources on a
maybe that big."
"On a maybe?" Kel asked.
"Yeah." Roy sighed. "I- I checked the channels
on some other
rescue bands after the second wave hit. It seems there's been
to the beach harbor repeater tower near the
McCall sagged in relief. "Then it
may be that they just can't
get through because they're in a communications black out area."
what I'm hoping." Still not comforted, Roy watched the fire
department helicopters swiftly assessing
the half mile long distance
over the water out in the bay. His eye kept getting drawn back to the
horrifying gap in the skyline where the graceful tow bridge's light green
span used to be. All he
could see was churning brown water.
Their violent vertical
plummet suddenly stopped with a lurch and
sideways jolt as the Mayfair landed once more on top of
its tires on
slanted pavement. The National Guardsman and Jon Baker had
managed to draw up their
knees high enough to squat on their
feet to absorb the shock of the impact. They watched as the entire
length of the bridge, except their own island of concrete, slid underwater.
screamed in the back as he was thrown over the
empty patient cot and into the side door's well. His
through the window as the ambulance rolled onto its side and
he felt sudden, icy
seawater on his extruded leg.
"Poncherello!" yelled Craig Brice. He had been belted onto
rider bench and was fine. He reached out a fast hand and
offered Frank leverage to free his foot
from the hole where the
glass had been. "Are you all right?"
Frank scrambled onto the bench
back next to Craig.
"I'm not hurt! D*mn! Where did that come from? We were
forty feet up on the
bridge's roadway!" he shouted in anger
"We're still on it." said Brice. "What's
left of it."
Jon Baker and the Guardsman had time to look through
the peek window at the others
before the motion began
again. "Oh, no..." Baker tensed. "Not again! Ponch, look out!"
Hispanic CHiP officer curled up into a protective ball on
the wall that was now the floor as medical
equipment rained down onto him from spilled cabinets and
cubby holes. There was
another tremendous rush of water.
The tipped ambulance rocked, began to float, then resettled.
the water was gone along with the noise, and bright daylight
returned to fill the broken windows.
"Everybody out! We don't want to get swept away in here!" said
Brice flung the lower back door open to make an escape.
Thinking ahead, he grabbed the medical bags
and threw them outside
onto the wet rubble. Then he looped his radio's strap over his wrist.
All four of them tumbled out into the open, helping each other.
They were dry, but on an island of
pulverized roadway that was
folded like taffy into ribbons above and below them. Stuck into
mud like bent straws, lay the twisted steel remains of the
bridge's green suspension beams. And there
were mililtary cars
being tumbled about in the tsunami's currents. Four of them.
on solid footing, stunned and shaky, slowly realizing
that every colored speck of a vehicle caught
in the rolling tidal wave
they could see making landfall was actually full of the freshly dead.
Those who had been drivers and their passengers on the bridge.
Ponch's voice broke him out of horror.
"We're trapped out here! There's nothing but water surrounding|
us!" Frank said, running to the top
tilted corner on their slab of
"Are there more waves on the way in?" Brice asked.
Panicked, the others faced out to sea and studied the place
where the sea met the sky on the horizon
quickly. But there
was nothing but chop to be seen, churning up old and new debris.
his radio and pressed the talk button. "Mayfair
Eighteen to Triage. Do you copy?" There was no reply.
switched channels to the main emergency fire department's
and repeated his hail. He got nothing
but static back.
He looked for the large repeater tower on the hillside and realized
it was damaged severely, for it canted at a forty five degree
angle, facing inland. He heard choppers,
unseen, in the fog.
Reflexively, Craig looked at the top of the ambulance, which was
wall facing them, and noticed that their roof antennae was no
longer there. "The radio isn't working,
but they'll find us."
"Yeah, but they can't land. There's no room." Jon Baker said.
don't have to land." said the Guardsman. "They've got
scoop baskets and can lower those down to us
on a cable."
Ponch thought of something. "Is that damaged communications
tower over there
just the fire department's?" he asked Craig.
"Then I'll just bet our police one's
just fine. I still see it on top
of that mountain. Also our bike radios are one hundred percent
waterproof!" Frank grinned hugely and went running for the
mounted highway patrol motorcycles still
attached to the front
grill rack of the ambulance.
Ponch snatched up a microphone and dried
it on his
uniform shirt. "Seven Mary Four to CHiP Central. Do
you read me? Emergency."
Mary Four. Go ahead. You have channel priority.##
"We're in the middle of the bay. We're on a
pile of debris
where the Vincent Thomas Toll bridge used to be. Send
us a rescue helicopter for
four people. And notify the
fire department dispatcher of our status."
##10-4, Mary Four. Chopper
assistance is being dispatched
towards the Harbor Bay Inlet.##
Frank smiled hugely, and tossed
down the radio mic in satisfaction.
He jogged back to the others.
"Did you get through?" Craig
asked Ponch as he laid out their
medical gear and several folded blankets for warmth away from
cold, wet stone.
"Sure did. A chopper's coming. We're gonna need it." Frank
his black leather gloved hands together. "The
water's going down to normal towards the bridge head
shore, but not fast enough." he said, suddenly tired. He sat
down on the rocks to rest
a bit. "Wow. I'm bruised up."
Brice nodded in agreement. "Is anyone injured past that?" he |
asked to the group at large. "We fell
quite a distance."
"Me." said the Guardsman. "I... think I wrecked my back." he spoke
where he sat on the slippery pavement. "I felt a twinge a
minute ago and now... I can't feel my feet
anymore." A few seconds
later, he found that air only came into his lungs as voluntary gasps.
he asked, confused, startling.
"It's dyspnea. Take it easy. Just relax. How far down was it?"
asked, feeling his neck pulse. He found it fast and bounding.
"Between my shoulder...blades."
the man replied. "I'm really
beginning to hurt." he said, clenching his teeth at another spasm.
getting...very short of... breath."
"We'll help you with that. Try not to move any more." Brice
Craig glanced down and saw that the corpsman's boots were
starting to tremble. "Jon,
grab his head. Keep it still. He's a positive
spinal. Ponch, get the O2 resuscitator and a short
board. I'll grab
the long spinal board and a collar. Let's get him immobilized first,
sweep him for other trauma."
They got to work.
The Battalion Chief broke off radio communications with the Highway
Patrol Dispatcher after getting
all pertinent information. He lifted
his broad band handy talkie and spoke to everyone in the department.
"This is I.C. Battalion One to USAR Fire Station 103 in Pico Rivera,
and USAR Fire Station 134
in Lancaster. Respond your Squad and
Engine companies to the Vincent Thomas Toll Bridge collapse
Approach from the north side and stay on high ground. I want an
assessment of the terrain
and estimates on the chances of any
probable survivors. Combine your equipment and all personnel.
are so designated as a USAR Task Force. My call sign is now CA-2.
We are switching operations
to using the National Incident Management
System. I've just learned that this disaster is effecting
of coastline along the state's entire length with the hardest hit being
I want a report as soon as you get on scene. There's just
been a transmission from one of two missing
Mayfair ambulances. It
was on the bridge when it went down. Four victims. The Coast Guard
responding to assist."
##10-4, CA-2. 134 in Lancaster, we acknowledge relocation. Update:
Motel Super Eight structure is gone. It's been washed away. No
##CA-2. 103, Pico
Rivera copies. Our E.T.A. to the bridge site is six
Captain Stanley snapped
out orders. "Gang, get on the truck.
We're going to the bridge. It's in our assigned area."
Marco and Stoker did not question the decision. In fact,
they embraced it instantly, moving quickly
to secure themselves
to their seats.
"Any word from Johnny?" Kelly asked, worried. He still
hair, tangled and dirty. He shoved on his helmet to get it out of his
"Not yet." Cap told him as he belted in. "But you heard CA-2.
He said that one Mayfair ambulance is
"It's gotta be Brice." Chet mumbled. "He walks away from
of like Stoker here. Johnny just catches it
"Hey! Nobody's gonna write off anybody!
Especially you about
one of our own crewmates!" Hank bellowed. Then he quieted as
maneuvered the Ward onto a police controlled
freeway. "Johnny may get banged up a bit often, but he's
never down for good. Please don't forget that, pal." he said
to Chet, more gently. "Now let's go find
him and bail his butt."
he said, clutching the note that Dixie had delivered to him.
and Marco failed to smile.
ran over to Roy DeSoto with a written order from
the Battalion Chief. He started bouncing around happily.
"I've got you
sprung, Buddy. Let's go." he said. "Let's get out of here. The squad's
"You did what? I can't leave. There are tons of critical victims still
Roy said, showing Bob his patient injury soiled gloves.
"You can now. Dixie McCall is taking over
for you as head Triage
Officer. She put in a good word." he hinted, no nonsense. "And the
saw the wisdom after hearing that she had three doctors backing
her up." Bellingham ansed. "The Chief
says that he wants all available
pre-hospital care and technical rescue experts on the bridge. And
we're it! USAR's gonna beat us there if we don't hurry. So let's
Roy did, without
hesitation. He left his Head of Triage vest lying
abandoned on the grass next to his bloody gloves.
From: patti k (firstname.lastname@example.org)
10/14/10 2:36 AM
"How are you doing now, lieutenant?" Brice asked his
The pale Guardsman tried to smile. "I think my lungs are trying
on....strike." he gasped in spite of wearing a rich flow of pure oxygen.
his head, concentrating for a moment. Then he began
carefully palpating around the man's neck under
the cervical collar,
where it met the base of his skull. The sweating man screamed and
whipped his hands away just as fast. "A little tender?"
"Y-Yeah. And my fingers are buzzing a
"The....ring and pinky fingers on both.....hands and then down
outsides of my... wrists." said the soldier, out of breath.
Ponch looked up from the suction he
was setting up. "Is it his
Brice shook his head. "No. Down there is just a strained
I felt the tear. The problem is higher up. I felt a misalignment.
I'm thinking maybe it's
a compression of.." he hesitated, mindful
of the corpsman's knowledge. "C-1."
eyes grew wider in his distress. "A hangman's
Brice was firm. "There's some swelling.
Nothing else. There's
a very good chance this is just a disc pressing on--"
"..the nerves controlling
my...diaphragm muscles." he finished.
"Yes. Probably because we landed so hard, unprepared." said
Craig, pushing his glasses up a little farther onto his nose. "You
aren't claustrophobic are you?"
"Not... in the least." said the Guardsman with blue tinted lips.
"Okay, we're gonna start
bagging you to help you get in some
better inhalations. Relax. Don't fight it." Craig nodded to Ponch
The man held the bag valve mask away for a moment. "R.S.I.
for later?" he asked.
"Not with that neck." Craig replied rather sharply. "Believe it or
not, your being awake on assisted
ventilations will tell us a great
deal about how you're oxygenating over all."
Frank gave their
patient a test vent on ambu."How's that?"
The soldier lifted a weak hand of casual dismissal.
Once the man
was pink again, Brice hurried in his other care. He established an
I.V. of Normal
Saline and then looked up at Baker for some vital
signs in a questioning glance.
"His pressure's 80/64. Respirations were 32 unassisted, pulse|
is weak at 142, but still regular."
replied the blond haired CHiP
"Spinal shock'll do that. Doesn't mean he's critical.
compromised temporarily." Craig bumped up the Guardsman's I.V.
to wide open. Craig got
the soldier's attention. "Corpsman, I'm going
to go get orders for mannitol and a steroid. Now you
know as well
as I do that those meds should start easing the spinal cord swelling
in your neck.
I'll be right back." Brice waited for their patient's wave
before he departed for Ponch's bike radio.
Frank smiled while Jon Baker opened the man's shirt to listen to
his breath sounds by stethoscope.
Ponch didn't look away while
bag breathed for his patient. "I never thought I'd wake up this
having to be somebody's pair of lungs by lunch time."
The soldier laughed weakly.
"What's your name?" the Hispanic CHiP officer prompted.
"Michael." sighed the Guardsman
at the end of a delivered breath.
Baker spoke up, taking the hearing ports of his stethoscope
his ears. "His chest's clear."
The corpsman raised his eyebrows. "No asthma history.
"....you'd never be in this high a level in the National Guard. Yeah, I
that." Ponch finished for him. "You warm enough?"
Jon smiled. "I'll
go get those blankets then. The sun's probably
heated them up hot as a toaster by now."
added more."Between my partner and I, we'll get you out
of this shock real soon. Just grab my arm
if something feels off
on the bag, okay? I got the suction right here." he said.
tiredly, admiring the ironically calm blue sky
above them. "EMT, heal--"
I know." finished Ponch."I get a little gung ho
on rescues. Jon here can tell you that."
soldier held up amused, no comment gesturing palms.
Officer Baker began bundling up the injured
man and elevating
his feet by propping up the soldier's long board onto an unused
"Hmm. At what rate here, Jon?" Frank asked, pointing at Michael
with a finger around the inflatable
bag. "I forgot."
"Twelve!" Baker warned in alarm.
Michael flashed the same number, but
using his fingers.
Ponch became all highly amused teeth. "Just kidding, both of you.
up." he grinned as he kept squeezing on the bag without
breaking any rhythm.
The shocky Guardsman
finally relaxed his whole knotted up body
and let the highway patrol officers completely take over
A technical scout from the first urban search and rescue unit
crested the top of the hill above
the bridge site in full high angle
gear. He whistled low in his throat in utter disbelief. "I wonder
what the forces had to be to wash you away." he muttered to
the missing bridge. Then he got on his
radio and reported in his
findings. "This is Captain Cooper to USAR Taskforce One.
I've found a
safe entry point down to the debris field on the
shoreline. Regolith to the bridge head apron looks
stable. Go ahead and bring the trucks on down." Even as Robert
talked, he continually
glassed the water for survivors using a pair of
A figure in white, lying by a wave
crushed automobile on the beach,
attracted the USAR captain's attention. He carefully stepped over
lumber splinters, twisted steel gusset plates and other pier debris
until he was close enough to
reach what he now knew as a definite
victim from the bridge collapse, sprawled face down. It was
from the EMS profession.
Robert flipped him over and he saw a name tag. "Turner." he read.|
He could tell right away that the
trauma evident on the young curly
haired man hadn't been survivable. He toggled the talk switch on
his shoulder again. "Found a black tag at the waterline. He's a
Mayfair EMT. They've got to be around
here some place. He's
still got a radio on his belt. Also, he had nowhere else to go before
second wave struck."
##Think he was running?## asked another USAR commander,
by hand held transmission.
"H*ll, yeah. There's red mud still caked in the grooves of his sneaker
soles that matches right up with the hillside up there by our access
road. Seeing any skid marks matching
an ambulance's treads on
##Yes.## replied Scott.
Robert Cooper turned
back towards the choked ocean bay one
more time. "Then you are down here somewhere." he said to
about Mayfair Three. "Don't worry, you guys." he prayed
for its occupants. "My men and I are gonna
find you, come H*ll or
high water." he promised, studying the massive broken bones
of the toll
bridge's steel struts lying jumbled and groaning all around
From: patti k (email@example.com)
Sent: Thu 10/14/10 11:06 PM
A cool gush went into her lungs. Effortlessly.
Something soft and confining stayed pressing firmly
nose and mouth as her cheeks billowed out. She felt her lungs
expand a second
time. And she wasn't the one doing it. That
was startling; more than frightening. But she still couldn't
A male voice close to her sounded very far away. It was calling
her by name. "....rosalie? ...can you hear me? ....try to breathe
for me...." came a glimmer of command.
Chuuuuuhhhhh.... Again came another life giving breath. It was
delivered, in a hiss.
Complete consciousness returned in that last, noisy rush of sound.|
Rosalie Arnold suddenly snapped
wide awake, her wet limbs
flopping in blind panic. She found that she was coughing out pure
oxygen along with a lot of gritty dust. She choked violently,
trying to get rid of the pressure still
on top of her face, by twisting
her head to the side.
"No, you don't. Rosalie, you need this.
Hold still.." came the voice
again. This time it was right next to her ear, sounding both familiar
She started to feel the terror again, but then her muscles finally
to work in a first, very weak voluntary intake of breath.
To EMT Arnold, it felt like she had to
re-learn just how to do it,
all over again. And then her EMT memories suddenly came
back. "Johnny?!" she sobbed, her mouth dry and caked.
"Easy, easy, easy. Here..Keep this mask
on your face. I've been
helping you." Gage ordered, controlling her spasming with a forearm
he let go of the oxygen demand valve's ventilation trigger. "See if
you can do this yourself now.
It's on passive."
Rosalie gripped it with a hand and sucked in a larger breath of O2.
gave it to her in abundance.
"Good. Take another breath in. You're still a little cyanotic." he
said tensely, feeling her carotid pulse at her neck.
She did it.
"Feeling better? You're
getting rosier.." he joked.
Arnold didn't laugh.
"*Cough*...what happened?" she whispered hoarsely,
that they were still inside the Mayfair ambulance in the pitch black
now, there was a canted lit flashlight shining on her
face from where it was sitting on the caretaker's
"I found a piece of concrete lying on top of your chest when I woke up
after the second
wave hit. But you were fine. You were never under water.
You just got suffocated a little." He glanced
up at the roof of the ambulance
where it was sagging down under tons of rubble. Arnold could see
the hole was that had allowed the chunk of bridge debris that hurt her,
to get through.
"Not what I call a favorite souvenir." she grimaced as he held it up.
Then she thought back to
her last recall of events before she had
blacked out. Rosalie got mad and sat up on the ambulance
did Mel jump out? He was driving for Pete's sake!" She coughed again,
spitting out dirt
and saliva. She was gripping the demand valve
assembly so hard, that its rubber squeaked. "And, then..
we just fell off the edge--" she broke off, crying hot tears of shock.
gallows humor as he prepared a non rebreather for
her. "Nothing amnesiac for you about it. Yeah, the
out right in front of us. Turner must have had a thing about heights
or he never
would have panicked like that." he nodded, still feeling
her pulse rate in a wrist absently. He wasn't
even fully aware that
he was still doing it.
She wasn't aware of it either, still numb.
buried completely?" she said, looking around for daylight
and not finding any.
the radio's gone. Mel had it." he said, setting the new
flowing oxygen mask gingerly around her face.
"Can I start an I.V.
on you?" he asked, wincing reluctantly, with good reason.
"No." she said
instantly. "As far as you're concerned I stopped being
a patient the moment my eyes opened and I knew
where I was."
"I thought you might say that." he mumbled, setting a disgruntled
chin onto his
hand where he slumped onto his elbow on top of the
pillow next to her head.
a b*tch." she snapped. Then she whirled backwards.
"Wait a minute, where's the Guardsman?! He was
up front-" she started
to get up.
"No,..No!." he said, grabbing her dirty arm."You're not going
There's nothing left of the front end. It's been crushed flat by fallen
entire steel girder it looks like."
Rosalie flopped back
down onto the bed, feeling green. "If we're buried
by at least part of a highway bridge, how come
the air's so fresh in here?"
"I turned on the E tank in the side compartment. We've got oxygen
for nine hours if we breathe slow." Johnny told her.
sat in silence with only her hissing oxygen to keep them company.
Then Rosalie got analytical
EMT. "Are you hurt anywhere?" she asked,
feeling up and down her own body experimentally. "I already
"Not a scratch." he told her. "Only my hair's messed up." Johnny joked,
some dust out of it.
"Oww.." Rosalie said, feeling a twinge on her head. She felt where it|
was sore and was surprised by
the mummy's wrap job she felt around
"Yeah, you got beaned. I wrapped your head
to control the bleeding
from a cut on your forehead."
"You patched me up at the same time you
ventilated my lungs?"
Gage threw out a careless hand, then templed annoyed fingers in the
on top of his dirty white knees. "I'm good. Really good. Want to
see the strip I got off ya, too?"
he said, holding up the trailing
paper sticking out of the EKG machine.
"You got a reading
"You're on a twelve lead." Johnny smirked tightly, indicating the front
Rosalie looked down the collar of her neatly rebuttoned up uniform
shirt and saw that it was
true. "You're scary." she said, snatching
the tracing out of his hands.
Gage's mouth waxed
"No, I was...being considerate. I had no idea how you'd react once
you found out that
I had your shirt wide open down to bare skin."
"I was dying." she said, rolling unamused eyes
at him. "I wasn't
breathing. You had every right to rip my clothes off." she
snorted through her
oyxgen mask. "And besides that, I'm not shy.
Being totally naked for my own medical emergency doesn't
me in the least."
"Oh. Okay. I stand corrected." Gage snapped in irritation and
He reached out and undid a few buttons under
her throat so she could breathe more freely nimbly, without
"Smart guy. Grow up." she finally glared.
"I'm doing my job." he shrugged,
still shooting daggers. "And thank
you, Mr. Gage, for saving my life just now." he prompted.
softened, smoothing the wrinkles of her EKG strip neatly
onto her blanketed lap without reading it,
and then she smiled at
him with a genuine tentative warmth. Without saying anything,
her oxygen mask off her face to down around her neck,
leaned forward, and then she kissed him gently
on the lips. "You know
what I'm thinking."
"First time I finally do." he said quietly, reciprocating.
She sighed, completely enraptured.
Johnny leaned back when it was over and flicked on
the audio of
the Tetronix. "Okay, Miss EMT. What do we got on the scope?
Prescribe course of
treatment and any recommendations for this
patient's continued acute care."
"Don't leave Fireman
Johnny Gage's side." she grinned. "Can't anyway.
We're stuck down here."
Something in his
face changed. Arnold saw the paramedic in his expression
disappear leaving behind a sweet, adorable,
uncertain, but loving man.
"I can live with that. Probably for.. the rest of my life, Rosalie." he
"Be sure you do." she said, cocking her head saucily.
Johnny snapped her
oxygen mask back onto her face.
From: patti k (firstname.lastname@example.org)
10/16/10 1:09 AM
Subject: First Rule Of Survival... Don't Kill Each Other...
circle of flashlight illumination was almost comforting
again as Johnny Gage took the stethoscope
out of his ears after
taking Rosalie's blood pressure for the fifth time since her close
and near death experience. "Well, it's coming back up. Finally.
It's ninety eight over seventy four."
"That's good. I hated being nauseated." she coughed. Her voice
was still muffled behind the high
flowing oxygen mask.
Gage studied her face easily.
"That was shock. You didn't puke on me.
But your adrenaline
rush has got to be over by now." he analyzed out loud for her,
his watch for the time. "So do tell. Did that big concrete
chunk coming down break any of your ribs
or not?" he asked,
waggling a few fingers in a non-verbal yes-bad-or-no-good
pain level check.
"I'm noticing that you are purposely keeping
your inhalations shallow."
Arnold pulled the
blankets up to her chin in a hug. "You already
know the answer to that one." she grumbled. "I'm just
"Oww." Johnny exclaimed, pantomiming being shot the heart.
"Yeah. I had to find out,
but I'm not guilty as charged." he said.
"You didn't ventilate for me right away. So I got to thinking
a flail's chances on you, considering the weight of that rock,
were more than just good,
so I had to check for one."
"I'm not fractured. And I've been told by doctors that I've
really hard bones." she said, thumping her own breast
"And a really high pain threshold.
If I had a chest bruise that
big, I'd be crying like a baby." he told her.
making a face. "So... How long was I down?"
Johnny studied his mud cracked hands, almost reluctant
to tell her.
"You were throwing PVC's one every three with a rate of one
eighty V-tach so I'm
guessing.. three, almost four minutes in apnea?
I don't know exactly. I just remember waking up and
already deep in the middle of crisis. After that, my auto pilot
kicked in and I lost
track of time."
"Did you get a strip of any of that?" she asked curiously. "I've never
hypoxic effects on a patient."
He got irritated.
"No... Man, I was scoping ya with the paddles
at that point. Right
after I got a decent chest rise. I thought I could skip the 'C' in your
assessment, but I had to go right back up into the 'B' until
your color returned along with a sinus
rhythm. You were in bad
shape, Rosalie." Gage told her frankly.
"I still am." she declared, frowning, her eyes unfocusing.|
Johnny did a double take. "Huh?" His
eyes shot to the EKG monitor.
::What did I miss here?:: he thought to himself, paling.
let him off the hook. "I'm starving, Johnny. It's been six hours since
we had that buffet this morning.
Do we have any food stashed any place?"
Gage scoffed, equally relieved as annoyed. "Wow, Miss
Arnold. I guess
my brain is still too stuck in its life or death mode to have considered
else out that far yet."
Rosalie was equally sarcastic.
"Oh, yeah? Well, not me. I know we'll
be safe enough once we patch up
that roof hole again." she replied, eyeing it up appraisingly.
Johnny considered the problem. "You're right. You're still a target smack
dab in the center of a gravitational
bullseye." He got up and stood on the
rails of Rosalie's cot, balancing easily as he peered up into
the jagged gap
with a flashlight. "There's a lot of air moving through here." he confirmed,
his head through the tear. "It sounds echoey like there's a large
space or crevasse straight above
us." Gage got out the CPR board
and shoved it up through the hole vertically before he maneuvered
like a lid over the top of it. "There." he said, brushing the dust off of
his hands. "No
more debris falls for you."
Arnold smiled. "Oh, darn. And I wanted to play Atlas some more." she
admiring his constructed handy work.
Johnny finally broke out into genuine laughter.
"You're really something, you
know that? You almost died ten minutes ago and here you are joking about
"What else am I supposed to do?" she asked incredulously. "Act all meek
and helpless about it? *Pfsshh* It's over." she shrugged.
"I admire your moxy." he grinned, starting
to dig around all the extra gear
piled up outside of the regular storage spots that they had prepared
the onset of the tsunamis. "Food huh? Let's see what I can--" He hesitated
when he found the
Guardsman's field backpack behind the captain's seat,
but then he picked it up. "There's bound to
be some in here."
Rosalie scowled at him when she saw it, almost shivering. "Shouldn't we
that be? It's not ours."
Johnny held firm. "Rosalie, think about it. He would have probably shot
us if we DIDN'T scavenge his stuff, given our situation." he defended.
Rosalie finally relented.
"Make sure it's not booby trapped or rigged." she said, not wanting to
touch it after Gage set it
on top of her legs to thoroughly riffle through its
"He was a soldier, not a secret
agent." he chided.
"I'm talking about other loaded guns or unsheathed knives, Bucko.
fast. When you cut or shoot some fingers off, I'll make
sure to laugh really hard."
girl." he gaped. "Ah, here's something. A couple of MRE's."
A loud rumble from an interior gut's territory
made him stop cold. He
glanced at Arnold, expressionless. "Uh..need the bedpan? I...had to
some epi to jumpstart your breathing reflex again."
Rosalie's mouth flopped open under her oxygen
mask. "Oh, do divulge!
I have a right to know what you did to me. No wonder I was so keyed
coming to." she groused. "And that peristalsis a second ago was definitely
above the duodenum, Mr.
Paramedic. Fine tune those ears a little more.
You guessed wrong."
Johnny angled his head,
squinting at her in contemplation. "I'm not
saying it's for right now. I'm talking about the time
five minutes from
now." he clarified. "Epinephrine has a tendency to...speed things up
Rosalie snorted superiority, but then angrily admitted defeat, when her
moved south. "Do we have anywhere to dump it afterwards?"
Gage was good enough not to smile.
don't know yet. I haven't wanted to open up the rear doors for fear
that moving them would jostle
and destabilize the roof enough to bring
down all the rest of the debris lying on top of us."
"If the bridge hasn't crushed us by now, it's not going to without
a really big shove from another
tidal wave, first." she remarked dryly.
"I suppose so." he said, sitting back down onto the bench
silver bed pan parked next to him. "Ready?" he asked, reaching for
the hatch release. "I'm
gonna jerk one open in case it's gotten
jammed on us."
"Wa--!" she shouted, throwing up a warning
Gage flung open the left door vigorously with a shoulder
and a foot.
Nothing happened. The weight bowed ceiling didn't even groan.
The door slid back neatly into
the notched stay with a soft snick.
Johnny gave Rosalie a rakish half bow. "Milady." he sniffed in
"Your latrine awaits." and he pointed out to her the open rear end
with a flourish of showy
hands and a widened spotlight.
Arnold popped out her EKG cord plug from the monitor and threw|
her leads over a shoulder. Then she
unhooked her oxygen line
and did the same thing over the other side. The activity made
to cough again and feel dizzy.
He noticed her color change. "Ah. Ah. Ah! Slowly. Don't want you
to faint. Arnold, I'm telling you, you're getting off that cot slow." he
ignored him. She wormed herself around Gage to make a fast
beeline for the pitch black cavern of
debris that lay beyond. "About
time..." she complained, snatching both the metal pan and the flashlight
from his patiently waiting, item offering fingers.
Gage grinned. "See? I told you, you had
"Oh, shush!" she spat, wrapping the blanket around herself tightly
to ward off the damp.
She stumbled somewhat unsteadily into
"What do you want for a drink with your
food? Saline or D5W?"
he asked, raising his voice so she could still hear him outside
of the ambulance
as he looked at all the I.V. solution bags in a
storage compartment using his shirt pocket pen light.
"Both are totally disgusting outside of a vein!" she countered.
"Sorry, you don't want one
in yours. All I got are paper cups." he
"All right, already. You can stick me
when I get back!"
Johnny started chuckling as he smoothed down Rosalie's cot
to occupy himself long enough to give her some
visual privacy to take care of bodily business. ::Oh
are definitely looking up.:: he thought with a smile about her
improved medical condition.
::Now... I wonder what's for dinner?::
he wondered, peering at the labels of the military ready to
From: patti k (email@example.com)
10/17/10 5:26 AM
Subject: Muster and Bluster...
Captain Stanley had Stoker park the Ward far
forward of the
six vehicles comprising USAR Task Force One. As Chet,
Marco, Stoker and Hank piled
out of the cab, they saw Squad
51 pull up. Cap just about cried with relief when he saw who
with Bob Bellingham inside of it. "Roy!" Stanley shouted.
DeSoto slid on an
extra turnout jacket and station helmet over
his white Mayfair uniform and the two of them joined
Cap smiled and clapped Roy on the shoulder. "How did you get
away with showing up
here, pal?" he asked happily.
"They over delegated personnel assigned to Triage. Dixie had
lot to do with releasing me to Rescue Operations. I guess I'm
the official Mayfair Ambulance Company
representative to find
out and account for our missing people. Any word?" Roy asked.
nudged DeSoto, handing him a pair of field glasses.
"Just take a look at that pile of concrete out
there in the middle
of the bay. You'll be smiling."
Roy did. "Hey, it's Brice and the two
"Yep. And they've got a patient, a National Guardsman." said
county's about to fly them all out to Triage."
Roy squinted into the lifting fog in the sky.
"Where's the chopper?"
"They had to land a minute to dump a few stretchers in order to
more room on board." Cap reported.
DeSoto swore. "D*mn. I have to stay on the Mayfair frequencies
or I'd listen in." he said, gluing his eyes to the view finder targetting
the battered Mayfair tilted
precariously on the slab of broken
roadway. "Craig doesn't seem to be hurrying, but they're bagging
"It's a cervical spine case with no loss of consciousness. Only some
motor functions." replied a new voice. The Station 51
gang looked up. A man in USAR jumpsuit orange
offered Roy his hand.
"You must be the Mayfair liaison they told me was coming to the bridge."
DeSoto nodded, shaking palms quickly. "Captain..." he prompted.
"..Robert Cooper from 134's usually.
But now they've put me in charge
of this whole mess." he said, casting an arm out towards the twisted
framework of bridge stanchions.
"Any survivors discovered?" Roy asked.|
Robert's very light blue eyes softened into sympathy underneath
military buzzcut. "I'm afraid I have some bad news about a Mayfair
man." replied Cooper.
The gang immediately froze on their feet.
The USAR Captain showed Roy a battered name tag.
DeSoto read it. "Mel." he sighed. "He's one of our new EMTs." Roy
fingered it sadly and stuck it into
his shirt pocket.
"I'm sorry. He didn't make it." said Robert. "We have positive signs
his ambulance went down with the rest of the bridge on the north
side of the freeway near the shoreline.
We found tire marks consistent
with a Mayfair that went off the edge."
Cap's face fell. "Have
you heard anything from the rubble?"
"Not a peep. If they're still alive, they can't respond even
if they have
working radios. The local repeater tower's had it. The whole bay's
been blacked out
over anything that's on open water. Now if you'll
excuse me, my men and I need to get back to work."
"Captain Cooper." said Hank, stopping him. "Can you give us an
assignment? Station Ten is
also covering this area."
Robert sighed, somewhat impatiently. "With all due respect, 51. That
pile out there is no place for a regular firefighter crew. Paramedics,
we can use. They're always
working entrapments and high angle
rescues just like us."
Cap leaned in close, making sure
he had direct face to face contact.
His eyes glittered with smouldering conviction. "Sir, that's one
men lost out there. I'm not going anywhere until he's found or I'm
ordered to leave by CA-2
Cooper paused at the very persistent hand on his shoulder. He finally
to a decision. "Evac out anyone we get up to the road.
The intact part!" he warned.
you. We'll help muster your team's gear to the edge of the
walking away. "Look for Steve Ramsey in a white
helmet, two stripes. He'll tell you what to haul and
Cap pointed at Roy and Bellingham, passing off an extra radio. "I
want updates every
half hour." he ordered his paramedics.
Bob and DeSoto nodded and followed Captain Cooper on his
to rejoin his deploying USAR crew in the hot zone. They were very
glad they had been taken
in to become part of the team. Soon, they
knew, they would be hearing the initial scene size up that
the others had collected on solo sortees just a few minutes earlier.
and watched them go. "USAR's got a point, Cap.
Nothing out there can catch fire. It's all steel,
rock and seawater."
Cap's eyes never left Roy and Bob's departing backs. "Ambulances
"Okay, people! Listen
up!" said Cooper to the twelve men hustling
equipment and heavy rescue ropes and stays. "We are going
split up into two groups of six. Each group grabs a paramedic. This
is Bellingham. And that
is DeSoto to my right. Both are from 51's."
Bob and Roy accepted short nods in greeting from the
who didn't pause in their preparations.
"At no time will we enter the debris zone."
said Robert, loud enough
so that everyone could hear him. "Not until the USGS gives us the next
definitely confirmed E.T.A. We will be posting spotters on the
cliff tops at the north and south bridge
head entry points. USAR Air
is currently handling the survivors from the ambulance found above
If you find a positively known live victim elsewhere before
then, radio in your location and put
up a flare or dye bomb the water."
Robert told them.
"A chopper and/or the Navy Seals or a
cutter will come to assist you. That way, they can snatch you either
onto a wave proof
boat or get you up into the relative safety of the
air on a moment's notice in case of a new tsunami
alert. Our radios may be dead out there, but GPS is working. Utilize
Cooper, no nonsense.
The USAR men nodded, checking their shoulder units' battery packs.
keep your eyes peeled for another Mayfair ambulance like
the one you're all currently staring at instead
of looking at me. They
have three of four who were on board, still missing. The fourth was
he's a DOA on the beach near the location we suspect
the second ambulance was buried by the collapsing
Robert met every pair of eyes slowly, one by one.
"Do not tag the deceased. There are
too many of them. This is
strictly a pluck and run operation. The danger out there to life and
is still far too great to dilly dally. Keep in mind, at all times, that
your own safety is paramount.
Be sure of absolute stability anywhere
you step in heavily damaged searchable areas. Leave the mountain
climbing to the demolition crews who will be determining ways to
crack open potential survivor locations.
Keep within eye or earshot
range of everybody else in your group. Don't try to play the hero,
your backup team members WILL save your life, in a pinch. But
only if they know where you are and
what the problem is that
you've suddenly encountered, first hand. Okay! Let's move!" he
Then he gestured once more. "Technical specialists, a moment, if
you will." he beckoned.
Two men came forward, strapping on their equipment laden helmets.
Robert turned to them. "Watch
those two new paramedics like a hawk.
They know the ambulance victims."
"Yes, sir." they replied.
"Have at it, now. Good luck, men." Cooper nodded briskly.
Click Boot to |
go to Page Thirteen