Ponch and Jon hurried down the freeway, dodging grid locked|
autos sprawled across all six lanes and
standing drivers who were
outside of their cars discussing what they thought the emergency was
other curious onlookers. They wove past the people crunches
and soon, they hit an open area of roadway
where they could speed
"Seven Mary, Three and Four. Our E.T.A to Squad 51's 10-27 is
two minutes." Ponch told their dispatcher using his
radio. "Respond three wreckers. I'm seeing at
least two trucks and
a car from my point of view northbound at mile marker 117. All
he reported. "There may be more."
##10-4, Mary Four.## replied a female voice at CHiP Central.
Jon Baker eased up on his throttle when they reached three patrol cars
funneling traffic off the
freeway and away from the fire. One was
Seven Mary David, Baricza's unit. "Bear, what do you got?"
shouted over the din of honking impatient cars and his own radio's
there's a driver in that blue car and the somebody in the silver
one nearest the fire. Don't know
about that tipped over truck out in
the open!" he hollered back. "The truck in the tunnel's toast.
like that originating fire's already caught and killed its driver."
"Okay, looks like
you've got this under control. We're going on to assess
other damage and injuries. Mayfair's been
notified!" Ponch shared.
They found several more CHiP officers waving on traffic into the evacuation
lanes. Finally, they located Sergeant Joe Getraer standing on the side of the road
near where some
engine companies and other non-activated ambulances
were awaiting possible standby or relief assignments
from Captain Stanley.
"Joe! What do you want us to do?! Traffic's being handled!" Ponch shouted
from where they idled, still on their motors, in the road.
"Look for survivors Fire hasn't spotted
yet. We need more eyes on this whole
thing. But be careful." Sgt. Getraer ordered. "Baricza's been
designated as our Safety.
Listen to him at all times!" Joe shouted, knowing Ponch's propensity for
"I don't wanna hear about anyone getting singed today doing something stupid."
grinned ruefully through his sunglasses, shaded under his gold helmet.
"Would I do that, Sarge?"
"Yes." replied Jon, next to him. "Come on, let's go. I think we can go up
that slope over there with
our bikes without problems. It's the best vantage
point. Bear's probably gonna join us up there in
a few minutes once his
backup checks in."
Ponch nodded and flanked his partner in tight formation
as he let Baker
lead him to the spot he had chosen to be a look out.
Sarge watched them go
only briefly before he was called away to
report to an incident command table designated for the Highway
by their own Division Chief.
Captain Stanley saw people
hurt and upset, but none with any injuries
that had to be treated right away. ::They're all green
tags.:: he decided.
He lifted his handy talkie. "IC 51 to Squad 51. Confirm that fatality in the
Find out if that individual was alone or with others. They may
have gotten out."
51.## replied Bellingham on hand held. He looked at Brice.
"Okay, looks like that brush fire's crossed
the road. Are you ready? I'm
going to speed up and then coast the rest of the way over to the viaduct
in neutral, just in case the lack of air under all that smoke snuffs out the
engine." he hissed through
his air flowing face plate.
"It won't kill." Craig smiled. "Charlie tuned it up only last week.
She's running real rich even in clear air." he said, readjusting his helmet over
straps of his air mask. "Rev it up once."
Bob did so. Squad 51 responded nimbly. "Like a top.
Real smooth. Okay,
we've got our way out." he said grimly. "Let's go."
"I'm seeing a blue car
upside down, just outside the smoke field." Brice reported.
"Anybody over there yet?" Bob asked.
"Yeah. A CHiPs officer and his partner. They just got off their bikes."
"Good enough for now."
Bellingham decided. "They'll keep the driver alive until
we get to them with all the gear."
minute more and Squad 51 was soon alone under an angry spark filled darkness
next to the burning hill.
They could just make out a fire engine at the cross ramp,
intersecting the freeway, watching out for
their safety. Brice and Bellingham parked,
engine running, upwind of the tunnel and got out, leaving
their squad doors wide open.
They cautiously looked for a blown out hazardous chemical placard
pieces of the burning semi they could see inside the tunnel.
The explosion had destroyed all markings on the truck's remains. |
"Had to be hard." Bob groused,
watching where he was putting his feet while
he carried a fire extinguisher in one glove. "The card's
"Okay. Assuming everything damaged is caustic." Brice told Bellingham after tapping
on the shoulder. "Including the ground. Walk on no debris at all."
"I'm with you there." Bob agreed
whole heartedly. "We have six minutes of bottle
air left. Mark." he said, squinting at his watch
through the glowing gloom surrounding
them. "Let's make this fast."
Quickly, Brice and Bellingham
made their way under the bridge pylons and peered
down the tunnel. "The overpass's pillars are sound.
That road's not gonna collapse
with this one." Bob said of the tunnel fire."They aren't even nicked
"So it's just down here." Brice surmised.
"Yeah. Sepulveda east/west only."
Craig reported in on his radio. "Squad 51 to IC 51."
## This is IC-51..##
infrastructures are sound. But there are no survivors in the tunnel.
We note just the blue car on
the south fringe. CHiP is present."
##Okay, get yourselves out of there. Report upwind. There
are some victims
over there to treat.##
"10-4, IC." said Brice.
They lingered in the
opening of the burning tunnel hopefully, for a minute more, searching for signs of movement that wasn't
just draft and breeze driven flames. But then they turned sadly away and hurried to the squad to make
their escape back into the daylight.
They were nearly at the edge of clear air when they spotted a highway patrolman|
at the door of an orange car that was nearly the same color
as the burning embers blowing around it,
barely seen under the smoke. "There's a kid
in here!" shouted Ponch as he coughed and struggled with
the driver's door.
"Get out of the smoke! We'll handle it!" Bellingham ordered, taking Ponch's
saw an unconscious teen lying on the seat.
Frank backed away, shielding his face
from the heat of the smoke, and retreated back
to safety under the sunlight and fresh air.
car did not appear to be damaged so Bob took a risk as both he and Brice grabbed
the boy for a short
two man carry out of danger. "Must be out from just the smoke. He
doesn't have any injuries."
Vince met them with a stokes in the green zone and the teenager was promptly swarmed
by other firefighters.
They began a fast vitals check. "He's alive." one of them said through
his air mask. "Breathing's
okay." Then they picked him up and bore him off to triage at a
Bellingham was horrified. "We almost missed him!" Bob said as he watched them go.|
Craig was calm
"That's why Hank or another commander assigned a second layer of eyes
CHiPs officers. He knew we couldn't do it all by ourselves down here."
Brice reasoned. "There's too
much going on, even at the edges."
"Thanks, Brice. I needed to hear that. Let's get back out
to that other side-tipped semi.
I'll just bet that's where Cap says more victims are located. I think
I saw that CHiPPer
run over that way. The fire must be spreading." Bob said with alarm. They ran
Squad 51, their nearly spent air bottles rattling, to go join them.
Battalion 14 watched as his firefighters struggled to contain the tunnel fire. He had
Stanley of command to free him up to handle his own men, who were
doing the same thing. He lifted
his radio to his mouth from his vantage point next
to the fire department Safety Officer. "Battalion
14, Bulldozers Nine and Twelve.
Start your brush clearing to the west. Bury the flames with your dirt.
contain the wildfire long enough for the aircranes to get here with their water drops."
##10-4, Battalion 14.## said both air bottled Caterpillar operators. They got to work.
Minute after long minute, the fight over the fuel fire in the tunnel began to yield some|
Foam and water swirled over hot, warped metal, followed by fanning
spray after fanning spray of those
firefighters working to keep the danger away
from the working rescue crews surrounding the second
semi they had found.
Captain Stanley ran over to where he had positioned Marco Lopez, to cool
the belly of the tipped truck lying in the middle of the road only a short distance
away from the
bones of the first one, melted inside the tunnel. "Marco, how's it
going?" he hollered over the roaring
din of wind and foam compressors.
"I'm smelling gas, Cap. Started a few seconds ago!"
if you can wash it out!" Hank ordered. "Then get yourself way the h*ll away
Lopez grunted, fighting with the bucking hose as inconsistent pressure
delivered water to his fanning
nozzle. "I'll leave when the other crews do."
"Make it a vow, Marco." Cap growled.
simply nodded tightly and crossed himself in the Holy Trinity.
Then Cap shouted a priority hail.
"Brice! Bellingham! Get the driver out. Rapid
extrication! This truck's ready to blow!"
the way to the accident site, Johnny received a phone call through his Mayfair's
biophone. He didn't
disturb Roy, who was concentrating on driving the rig through the
maze of backed up traffic that the
highway patrol was still clearing out. "Mayfair One."
Gage replied into its receiver at the sound
of a triple tone.
##Mayfair One, this is Doctor Brackett. We've just got word from your Triage
Officer. There are six victims so far. Think you can handle their transportation in
won't be able to land as long as that brush fire's still burning.##
"Yeah, doc. Roy and I have
mobilized the whole ambulance fleet. We can use them
all if necessary."
##And how many is
"Twelve rigs, doc. They had twenty four EMTs starting up this morning."
deal. Let's hope we won't have to use them all. Rampart out.##
and Bellingham quickly pry barred the driver's door open on the truck.
"Hey!" shouted Brice loudly.
"Can you hear me in there? Fire Department!"
Behind a web of shattered glass, an older man wearing
a gray tunic replied.
"...yes... please hurry... I'm... in a lot of....pain."
"Where do you
hurt?" asked Bob.
"I...think I ...jammed my shoulder."
##Make it fast, pal.## came Cap's
urgent transmission in their ear. ##It's
getting away from them.## came a message from their pocketted
"No where else?" Brice hollered down.
Bob reached down a gloved arm.
"Grab my hand, mister. We've got to get you
out of here a.s.a.p. Your truck's starting to burn!"
"I'm sorry. I--" The man sagged and suddenly went limp and sweaty.|
"I'll go wake him up." said
Brice, peeling out of his turnout. He jumped down
into the cab next to the driver and knelt quickly.
He freed his hand from
a glove and pressed a few knuckles hard into the soft bone of the man's
"Hey! You gotta keep conscious. We're gonna lift you out of here."
"OOohhh." the wounded driver
Bob looked up. "Hey, Cap! Marco! On the double. It's gonna take all four of us
him out of here. He's going into shock!"
"Man!" Cap grumbled, quickly shimmeying up the side
of the toppled semi. He gave
Lopez a hand up and soon, Brice and Bob were pushing the groggy driver
their arms. Marco and Hank muscled their big patient down to the ground where Bob
caught his head as he flopped back onto the ground after being hung by
the arms from above.
gas is getting stronger. Let's get out of here!" coughed Cap.
Marco and Hank both jumped off of
the truck cab and rolled protectively to absorb
the impact. Then together, they helped Bob and Craig
arm and shoulder dangle
carry the driver as fast as they could go, out of the area.
travelled about twenty feet away from the truck when its fuel line at
the other end, decided to blow.
They were uninjured after getting showered with fresh sparks and fine debris.
our lucky stars." grunted Cap to the others.
Hastily, they made it out to the first of the Mayfair
ambulances just beginning to
ring the outside of the green zone.
Ten minutes later,
Ponch left his place on the hill next to Baricza and walked
down to the blue car that had the last
remaining trapped victim on scene.
He leaned down and addressed Bob Bellingham where he was treating
the injured driver until heavier equipment arrived to cut him out. "Need
any more help here?" he asked.
The sooty paramedic raised his head. "Yeah, could you.. fan all the brush
and truck smoke away
a little? It's making my eyes start to water." he
"You could put your
mask back on."
"Can't." said Bob. "I gave it to him." he said, pointing down at the man who
receiving an I.V. as fast as it could be pushed into his veins.
"I'll go grab another air bottle."
Ponch promised. "Then I'll..yell at Mother
Nature a bit until she begins to cooperate."
Bob coughed. "And thanks for finding that kid in there. We really appreciate it."
Us service people? We should just stick together, like bread and butter, you know? That way we can just
clean up." Poncherello grinned.
Cap and Vince were
prioritizing the green tagged triage victims
for Craig Brice. One of them, was a witness to the accident.
"Yeah, I'm telling you guys." he said. "It was a pair of kids who
caused the whole thing. They
were throwing rocks down onto the
freeway. A few of the bigger ones bounced and hit that guy's
he pointed, meaning the truck driver that Roy and
Johnny were currently loading up onto a Mayfair.
and fishtailed his rig right into the one that died in the tunnel."
The witness shook
his head ruefully. "Man, I'd hate to be him."
he paled. "Knowing that I killed someone."
didn't do it intentionally, mister. Don't judge this outcome too
soon." Vince shared. "Now I think
you ought sit down before you
fall down. You're as white as a sheet." said the burly cop.
grabbed the man's arm. "Are you feeling dizzy at all?"
"Yeah, a little, that smoke's awful." said
the witness. "Someone
told me that stench is actually dead guy."
Johnny Gage was
answering EMT Stanley Dubois's question.
"And if it was, you'd have to cope with it, right? Death
Johnny answered truthfully.
"I'd probably throw up." Stan admitted.
the first or second time. But then sheer embarassment
kicks in and you learn to save face before
any conscious patient
by holding it in." Roy shared. "Happened to me."
"And me." Gage said,
"And me." said CHiP Jon Baker. "Messed up my boots."
Stan finally smiled a little.
"I hope I'm cracked up to do this kind of
stuff. Been dreaming about it all my life." he admitted.
"Only experience will tell, Mr. Dubois." said Gage, straightening up|
from tucking in a blanket around
their latest unconscious patient.
"Whoa.." he said, shaking his head.
"Mr. Gage. Sit down."
Stan ordered. "Something's not right with
you. You're blue."
"Huh?" Johnny mumbled.
Jon Baker pushed him down onto the bumper of a fire truck.
"Mr. Gage, you're blacking out."
we need some oxygen over here on the double!" EMT Dubois
hollered. A passing firefighter hastened
to comply. Craig Brice came
running. Soon, Johnny was breathing pure O2 by Stan's hand
awareness slowly came back.
"So what's the matter with you?" Roy said, smiling as he knelt before
Johnny. Brice was dishing out ice chips to cool Gage down a little
by rubbing them over his forehead
and the back of his neck.
Gage shook his head again. "I guess I must have gotten a lungful or
two of that burning fuel." He finally reached up to hold the oxygen mask
Stan was offering over his
DeSoto lifted his head. "Good call, Stan. Altered level. He'll be fine.
with the O2."
"You mean, he's gonna be all right?" Stan quavered. "He scared the snot
"There'll be others." Johnny quipped, sucking in another huge mouthful of
"Yeah. Get used to it." said Roy and Johnny and Jon at the same time.
Ponch was sitting on a guardrail, catching his breath after
having lugged the heavy air bottle set
over to Bellingham's car vigil.
"Man." he said, looking at Cap. "And this a normal run for a typical
"Only one of many." Hank shared honestly and forthright. "Our average
is twelve a shift."
Poncherello's mouth flopped clean open.
From: patti k (firstname.lastname@example.org)
9/11/10 2:43 AM
Subject: Crisis Intervention...
"So, what's the verdict?" Roy asked Johnny
as he reappeared out
of a treatment room at Rampart. "Respiratory? Or Psychogenic?"
a face as he continued buttoning up his white Mayfair
uniform over his T-shirt. "Very funny. My blood's
breakdown by-products so it was definitely a little atmospheric
on, a genuine lack of oxygen."
"Lucky wind gust, huh?" Roy wondered.
"You mean unlucky."
Johnny grinned, lopsidedly. "That unconscious
woman we brought in had signs of the same thing. That's
we had to bag her a bit in transit despite the lack of any other problems."
what did lead to poor oxygen gas levels away from the fire?"
DeSoto asked. "Did you ever find out?"
"Cap called the chief for me once he heard I was going in for odd
ball breathing symptoms. A powerful
dessicant loaded on the truck
burning up in the tunnel was the cause of it all. Battalion thinks when
the wind died, pockets of airlessness began drifting around triage.
I was why we were moved back half
a mile and the neighborhood
evacuated. The chemical reaction was odorless, colorless, ground
and completely inflammable. What we saw burning in there
was all fuel from the gas tank."
that truck on an illegal ship route?" he asked, wheeling the
oxygen Gage had used on the way in behind
him as they walked
in the hallway.
Johnny shook his head.
"Oh, he was legal all right,
completely Caltrans compliant. The shipper
just didn't count on a crash happening in a tunnel that
could get hot
enough to break those specially sealed, vacuum locked cylinders." Johnny
"The stuff's not poisonous. Just very reactant once leaked
out uncontrolled into the open."
think that chemical gas would have snuffed the flames out if it
was eating up all the oxygen."
"Not in the chimney effect going on through that tunnel. The wind
too strong through there while the fire was burning to allow
for it to work like that."
just glad you and that woman are all right. Any passing symptoms?"
"I've got a raging
thirst. Does that count?" he poked Roy in the chest,
"You didn't need an I.V."
DeSoto chuckled. "Your crisis period was too
"That's okay. Just let me suck down the
entire Rio Grande here. My
tongue's still parched." Gage said, leaning down to do his best to drain
the water fountain's pipes dry.
"Did Morton grant you sick leave?"|
"Nope. EMT Dubois fixed my problem immediately when he gave
that pure oxygen. I'm good to go."
"Lucky again." Roy smirked.
"How so? Past the
obvious." he wondered, waggling his hand.
"You got out of the inventory scrod seat at Mayfair."
"Say, yeah.." Johnny grinned. "I'm bucking a million!" he said happily.
"Who's rich?" asked
Sharon Walters as she walked near them.
Roy and Johnny did a double take at her nursing whites
head nurse pins. "Wow, Sharon. Congrats!" they both said.
"Thanks. I've only got a
minute to visit. I'm expected back at the desk."
Gage's face fell into seriousness. "Nobody's
rich. Not firefighters, nor
paramedics, or seasonal EMT instructors." he replied, jerking a finger
at both himself and Roy for each point made.
"Become a nurse." Sharon shrugged reasonably.
"What? Me? Wear a striped paper hat?" Johnny kidded with her.
"No, silly." she giggled. "Guys
wear lapel pins and a white blazer jacket."
"Give me a white lab coat and it's a deal." he grinned.
"That'll cost you." she said, pretending to consider it.
"How much?" Gage asked, playing along.
"Twelve years more of school and about thirty thousand dollars."
"Oooo." Roy grimaced.
Gage tsked in his throat. "Too steep for my blood."
"Now that it's oxygenated again."
she said, tapping his chart that she
was carrying in her grip.
"Am I free to go? I was getting
bored in there."
"Did Dr. Morton look bored after he took a look at you?" Sharon countered.
"Uh, yeah. Now that I think about it." Gage confessed.
"Then you're fine. Here's your release
papers. Sign there." she said,
handing him sheets and her pen and pointing at a line at the bottom.
care Mayfair renders is free to all employees." Walters said.
"Really? I didn't know
that." Gage celebrated.
Sharon just harrumphed in her throat. "Get out of my E.R. We're busy."
She snatched back the papers, leaving him his yellow carbon copy.
"Yes, ma'am." said Johnny,
saluting her gladly.
Sharon winked, wrinkled her nose in amusement, and abandoned them
DeSoto and Gage turned and started walking into the new skyway leading
back to Mayfair's garage
"You finally got it right that time." DeSoto mentioned, pantomiming
Johnny's crisp salute.
"Don't be a critic. Come on, let's go debrief all the EMTs who were with
us at the freeway fire."
Roy the paramedic followed up, peering at Gage's post care notes that
Morton had scribbled there.
"I promise I'll feed you food and get you
plenty of caffeine."
Johnny looked at him with distaste.
"I'll take the chow, but you can keep that coffee to yourself. After being on
all that pure 02 for
half an hour, I'm still wired." Gage complained.
"I can tell. You're still floating." DeSoto teased.
"Got a match?"
On their return,
Dixie was nowhere in sight. But the sound of her voice was
very evident from where she was buried
in phone calls. She perched one
receiver on her shoulder long enough to wave at them jauntily from
before losing herself once more in business chatter.
A platter of fresh deli submarine
sandwiches lay piled in the middle of a rec
table, but most of the EMTs weren't eating. They were
not watching the news,
pretending to be involved in a baseball game on T.V. instead, that nobody was
actually registering. Roy recognized the thousand yard stares instantly. He
took up the remote and
dialed the loud volume down to a muted quiet.
Everybody looked at him dully.
the guy in the tunnel? You're thinking about him?" he asked them,
the biker type, Mel. "How do you guys handle that kind of
horror every day?" he asked.
you all wondering the same thing?" DeSoto asked the group.
They all nodded.
Roy, tossing the remote onto one of the couches. "That's a normal
asked Stan, interrupting.
Mel shifted uncomfortably in his easy chair. "Taking a shower. She's
get that smell out of her hair." Mel replied.
The silence in the room dropped into
heaviness and the mood remained grim.
Roy got up in front of them, picked up the platter of untouched
food and began
offering it to each of his charges, one by one. "Take one up, right now, and eat."
he said. "That's an order. No doubt all your metabolisms are shot from adrenaline
overload and made
worse from a little hypoglycemia." he shared. "It's noon, folks,
seven hours since we had that pizza.
Didn't anybody notice the time?" Desoto chose
the biggest sub and started chowing down.
they each chose a sandwich to hold and followed his example. A few of
them even started chewing hungrily.
"Thought so. Grab two if you need it. Don't choke." he tried to joke.
No one laughed.
A door banged open and EMT Arnold came into the room in
a fresh uniform, towelling off her hair.
Roy saw her. "Miss Arnold." he prompted.
"Hmm?" she replied, accepting a sandwich from the plate
he held out.
"Have a seat. We're going to be debriefing today's call next."
her head, one cheek big with food. "Oh, I don't need one. It's not
the first time I've smelled bacon."
Stan dropped his sandwich, turning promptly green and covered his mouth,
"Rosalie!" Dixie's voice admonished as she came out of the office to confront|
her directly. "You will
hold at least some modicum of professionalism when
you are in that uniform. What you say when you
are off duty and no longer
around your coworkers, is your own business." she said firmly, almost cold.
Rosalie hung her head, completely lacking any belligerence. "I'm sorry all. I
have a tendency
to use disassociation to cope with any nasty. Forgive me
my mouth." Then she looked up at Dixie. "Ma'am,
my comment was in the
realm of a write up, for a disciplinary action if you'd like."
softened and smiled kindly."Not today. Make amends with everyone
here, and I promise I'll forget about
it." Then she left.
Roy kept on eating methodically throughout the entire exchange until it was
over. Then he spoke. "Being crude can be a coping mechanism. But it's not
very effective. I've
tried it. I mean, how can it be? Death is ugly. It's never
pretty when it finally comes. But remember
this, if you decide to remember
just one thing that I share with you about this job. Anyone who's
no longer feeling pain. That task, is then left to the rest of us to face either
as a pair, or as a group. We see it in the form of violent death, or
in panicking, grief stricken
family members, or sometimes in the worse
way possible. When someone you know gets killed on the
job right in
front of you. It's gonna happen. At least once in your lifetime EMS career."
finally set aside his empty plate and leaned on the table in front of
couches."So what do you do?
Hold it all in so it can wear at you day by day?
Do you escape in glasses of beer, liquor or wine?
Or do you seek an instant
chemical fix in a prescription to.. calm down your nerves?" DeSoto
in a deep breath and let it out. "There's no easy answer. My only advice
to you is to find a cope
system that works for you naturally, not artificially,
with addiction." He pulled out a single business
card and tacked it up right
in the middle of the brand new cork bulletin board next to the county
"This is the critical incident stress management crisis hotline phone number.
You can call
anytime, day or night, to talk to someone."
"A shrink?" Mel asked with distaste.
DeSoto admitted. "But usually it's someone else in the field
who's been there, available on the line,
just so you can talk it out. And if
necessary, you'll be told how to fill out the forms in order to
take a break
from the job for a while until you feel ready to cope with it again." he shared.
no shame in ending pain, right? Well, how about if it's your own
pain? Don't be afraid to open up
and get it all out. Cause if you don't, it's
gonna kill ya, one way or another."
been listening quietly from the doorway. "I've manned those
crisis phones myself, offering an ear,...sometimes,
a shoulder.. When you
think about it, emergency medicine on the street is a front line of battle,
exactly like that of any war. The only difference is, nobody's trying to kill
you. You're out there
trying to prevent chance and circumstances from
trying to kill somebody else. But all the heavy stresses
you feel are
identical to that of any soldier in the line of fire. Never forget that."
every EMT's eyes evenly. "Let's talk about today, shall we?
Together. We have no one else who will
understand what we experience
right in front of us, except ourselves. Now, who's first?"
Nobody moved an inch, even the chewing stopped. But then someone|
spoke up. "Me." said Mel. "Because
I'm hurting right now. Real bad."
"Okay." said Gage. "Now everybody else, please, just listen.
can share whatever pain you've got afterwards. Because I've found out
that once it's
out in the open, you can finally begin to heal. We'll all have
a turn at this debrief. And again at
the next one, for any call you feel we
need to discuss, is that a deal?"
All heads nodded slowly.
"Everybody talks. Even Roy and I." said Johnny. "Because today, something
happened that was real
bad. Even to us long time career firefighter
"What?" asked Rosalie, stunned.
"We almost missed finding somebody this afternoon in that fire. And I don't know
what we would
have done with ourselves if he had died as a result." Gage
admitted, remembering what Bellingham had
shared with him to use as
a red flag story for their debrief.
"That's bad." Arnold whispered.
"C-Can we discuss it?" she offered timidly.
"Yes." replied Roy.
From: patti k (email@example.com)
The Food Fix..
Sent: Thu 9/16/10 5:14 AM
In Mayfair's manager's office, the evening sun was
just setting through the windows.
Dixie was humming happily, while she whittled away at her pile
of paperwork. The
phones were blissfully quiet now. ::Guess it must be people's dinner time.:: she
chuckled mentally. Snatching a Hersey's bar out of one drawer and the next packet
foldout bill from
her in-basket, Dixie started reading. She pursed her lips in
familiarity. It was for a patient she
knew from the day before, Ryan Diaz, the six
year old who had experimentally eaten iron tablets who
was brought back from the brink
by Roy and Johnny's fast actions. She whistled softly when the dollar
registered. "That can't be right." she scowled. Then her eyes found the Battalion
code marked on the upper right hand corner. "Ah, that's better. Tax payer
emergency chopper evacuation
clause. No charge." She grabbed a rubber stamper
and gladly plastered VOID all over the invoice addressed
to that house.
She was halfway through her candy when the phone rang once. She picked it up.
hi, Kel. Yeah, they're back. Johnny's fine. He's eating like a mad thing so he
can't be too laid up
after his suffocation spell. You need me to take a message? I
can tell. You only call me now when
it's about business for Roy or Johnny. Do you
want me to go get one of them? No? All right. I'm set.
Go." she said, poising a
pencil in between her delicate fingernails over a notepad. But Dixie never
writing a single letter and the pencil dropped loosely from her grip and rolled unnoticed
from her folder onto the floor. "Uh, yeah, I'll tell them. Sure. No problem. Get unbusy,
said. "I love you, too, Kel. See you tonight. Bye." Their phone disconnected.
went from sweet to vile in her mouth and her happy day fled in an instant.
McCall picked up the ambulance
bill she had been working on and studied it without
seeing the voided figures. Only one face stayed
in her mind. That of a little red headed
boy on a respirator who hadn't survived his ordeal.
She heard the laughter coming from the crew rec room outside and wasn't comforted
by the fact that
she would shatter their precious bonding time in a minute or so. ::Roy's
the best one.:: she decided
with a thought. ::I can share what I know without saying a
word. He's older.:: McCall decided. So
she got up from her chair and stood in the
window overlooking the ambulance bay until DeSoto spotted
her softly spread hand
on the glass. He paused only briefly in his easy banter with an EMT when it
whose bill she was crumpling in her other hand. The red void stamp marks were
He nodded once in acknowledgement before bolstering a false smile
back onto his face for everyone
"I hate this aspect of the job." Dixie mumbled as she returned to her desk. "Why
spread the good news about our patients instead of just all the losses to the supervisors?"
::The HIPAA Privacy Rule.:: her brain taunted. ::Only the direct caregivers need to know.::
loud, Dixie mumbled. "We debrief the bad calls, yeah. But I'm gonna implement
pep rallies for all
the successes, starting right now." she snatched up a chalk stick from
her catch-all on the desk and
hurried out into the rec room.
"Hey, all. We're keeping an unofficial score board." she announced.
She drew a tally box
in one corner and an exaggerated thumbs up symbol next to it. "Check here for
denied count. I'll be adding to it every day." she smiled, quickly marking off ticks. "That's
four of five transports. Also, I'm counting Paramedic Gage's trip in today." she teased.
to his bad luck gene." Dixie winked. "Nice work, Dubois. Keep it up and you'll
out-EMT our two paramedics
before you know it."
The room of Mayfair employees crowed and applauded. Including Johnny, who
mock, under a seige of light hearted cat calls for his benefit. Stan grinned from ear to
enjoying the moment showered onto him by all of his coworkers.
Johnny quietly made his way over to his partner's side. "Only four? Who'd we lose?" he|
voice seriously pitched for Roy's ears only.
"Ryan." DeSoto said, studying his feet and picking
an invisible piece of lint off of his
"D*mn." Gage said, lowering his head. "I thought
we were right on time."
"You know iron poisoning's funny like that. Never count all your eggs
until they're in the
"Iron tablets are nasty eggs." Johnny spat. "They don't play
fair." he said, crossing his
arms in an uncomfortable fidget. He finally put them back by his side
when he couldn't
figure out what to do with them.
"Children will always be curious. Even after
we're old and gray." Roy smiled.
"I don't like breaking our lucky streak with peds calls. That's
the first one we've
lost in six years." Johnny sighed softly.
"We'll save the next one." Roy
vowed, his eyes distant and shining fiercely.
"You got that right. H*ll with it. Come on, let's
eat. I'm getting hungry again." Gage
groused, eager to flee his emotional fallout.
him happily, snapping into motion. "Dibs on the last turkey sub." DeSoto
said, rushing ahead of his
quick partner. "You've had at least three all to yourself."
"I'm wounded. I need that." Johnny
said, licking his lips watching while Roy chowed
down his favorite food target type for the day.
"I cured you, boss." Stan chided, leaning into them over the food platter. "That is a
and you know it."
"Says who?" Gage countered at Stan. "My muscles are still sore."
do that. Doesn't mean you're still deficient." said Arnold, amused at the
food battle going on. "I
read that it's all just phantom pain."
Dixie chortled. "With Johnny, everything's a pain some
"Hey.." Gage protested.
"What's the matter, Johnny?" Roy asked, chipmunk cheeked.
"I thought you liked
getting beautiful women to pay attention to you."
Rosalie and Dixie both
blew kisses at DeSoto in gratitude.
Johnny just sputtered. "I do. I do. I-- "
very food possessive, right?" McCall teased.
"Like every other hot blooded firefighter I know.
We need a ton of calories."
"You're not fire fighting today." Rosalie jabbed.
"Not for the rest of the summer.
So what's your excuse now, boss?"
"I-- I-- oh, never mind."
Gage grumbled. "Roy, I hope you choke on that sandwich."
"Won't happen. I'm surrounded by EMTs."
DeSoto said, flopping down on
the couch to turn on the TV set. "Hey everyone, Adam 12's on."
and happy exclamations filled the air as the others, including Dixie,
sat down in clumps on the couches
to pay proper homage.
They were still rapt when Jon Baker and Francis Poncherello entered the room.|
Somebody told him.
Frank made a face. "Ah, that's just another cop show."
he said, scoffing. "Boring.."
Mel chuckled. "That's only because you are a cop. To us, it's totally
Baker smiled, making a mild face of disgust. "Enjoy. Any food left?"
pointed to the sandwich table without any eyes leaving the TV
"Thanks." said Jon. He
turned to Ponch. "Dibs on the last beef one."
And the race began.
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