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       Suffocation at a Snail's Pace
                      Page Two

              by Stephanie White

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"What the hell do you mean there's nothing I can do?"
Roy's slightly-out-of-breath-but-definitely-pissed-off-voice
came over the line.

"I'm sorry, Roy," Brackett said. "Without equipment, there's
nothing I can tell you to do. As long as mouth-to-mouth is
getting at least some air through to him, you really just
have to either find the key or wait for other help to arrive."

"Doc…I can't just do nothing! Stoker, you've got to blow
harder…you've gotta really force the air in…Doc, please!
There's gotta be something you can tell me to do! He's

"I really am sorry, Roy. In this situation with no equipment,
there is NOTHING I can tell you to do. Just because it's
Johnny doesn't mean there's something special that can
be done. I know it's hard, but you just have to hang in
there and wait for the other squad."

Brackett winced at the sound of Roy violently hanging
up the phone.



Chet scrambled over every flat space he could find looking
for the key to the squad. On tables, under furniture, in the
squad, on the squad, in the engine, on the engine, under
the engine, etc…no place went unsearched. The stocky
firefighter heard Roy on the phone and realized that if
he didn't find the key soon, Johnny would die.

"It's not my fault Johnny's allergic to snails! I didn't know
that! I bet he didn't know it either," Chet talked to himself,
trying to find a reason not to blame himself. As logical
as all the points he made were, he couldn't do it.

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Captain Stanley watched the little drama unfolding in
front of him. He felt completely helpless. Here was one
of his best paramedics dying in his station on his watch
and there was little or nothing he could do about it. He
was about to ask if there was anything else he could do
(fully expecting the answer to be 'no'), when he heard
what sounded like a chainsaw buzzing in the engine bay.

"Kelly, what in GOD'S NAME do you think you're doing?"
Stanley screamed over the noise as he ran out to see
Chet about to cut into the squad with the K-12.

"Johnny's dying, the other squad's not here yet and I can't
find the key! You got a better idea?" Chet yelled back.

Stanley scrubbed his hand over his eyes. He thought he
heard the word 'tracheotomy' come from the break room.

"At least get some goggles from the engine first," he said
with a long-suffering sigh. "Don't know how I'm gonna
explain this one to the Chief," he added under his breath.

Within seconds, Chet was back at the squad; K-12 in hand,
goggles on eyes. Stanley shut his eyes tight as the
over-sized blade moved steadily towards the pristine
paint job of Squad 51.

Sparks flew as Chet made the first incision. He was about to
take another pass when Stanley heard sirens outside.

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"CHET!" he yelled over the echoing buzz of the K-12. "THE

"WHAT?" Chet yelled as he looked to where Stanley was
pointing. "Oh."

He shut off the K-12 with only a slight sigh of regret. While
he was extremely glad Johnny would be getting prompt
care, he was mildly disappointed by the fact that he
wouldn't get to destroy anything after all.


"Bout time you got here!" Captain Stanley grumbled as the
medics of Squad 23 barrelled into the room. "Roy, get
out of the way and let these guys work."

"Cap, I wanna help," Roy said between breaths.

"Roy, you're about to pass out. Stand up, breathe and let
these guys do it!"

Roy quickly, if not reluctantly abandoned his friend's care and
stood up…only to sway briefly before falling back into the
nearest chair.

"Roy? You okay, man?" Marco asked anxiously.

Roy took a deep breath before he answered. "Yeah, I'm okay.
Just a little lightheaded, that's all. Just need to get my breath

"You sure?"

Roy nodded and focused his attention on the possible death
of his best friend.

"Rampart, this is Squad 23," Dwyer spoke into the biophone.
"We have a 30 year old male who is not breathing. Apparent
allergic reaction. Vitals are: pulse 120 and thready, bp 90/76,
rescue breathing is being performed."

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"Squad 23, start bilateral saline I.V.s," Brackett's strong voice
answered them. "Insert one amp epinephrine in one and 150
mg antihistamine in the other. Insert esophageal airway and
administer oxygen at 15 liters per minute. Transport as soon
as possible."

Dwyer repeated the instructions back to Rampart and then
moved to help his partner follow them.

"Damn!" Bellingham swore as the esophageal airway refused
to fit past the swelling in Johnny's throat. "Get me a smaller

Finally, after three tries, they managed to get an airway
established. Granted, it was a much smaller one than a
man his size needed, but it was better than a tracheotomy.

"Rampart, ambulance is on the scene. ETA 8 minutes."

"Roger that 23."

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The code-I located at Station 51 was enough to take the
squad out of service. It was NOT, however, enough to take
the whole station out. Okay, by all rights, it should have.
But they were toned out before it occurred to Captain Stanley
that maybe his men weren't in the right frame of mind for this.
If it hadn't been a 4-alarm fire, he would've passed on it
entirely. As it was, he swore a blue streak as the engine
followed the ambulance for about three blocks before it
had to turn towards the fire.


Roy was still sitting where Dixie had parked him over an
hour before with a cup of coffee when Dr. Brackett walked
into the waiting room. He looked up when he heard the
door open and leapt to his feet as soon as he saw who
it was.

"Doc? How's he doing?"

"He'll be okay, Roy," Brackett said with a sigh and slight
smile. "Once the drugs got into his system, his throat opened
enough for a decent-sized airway. He's breathing on his
own now and they're just getting him settled in a room."

"Is he awake?"

"Not yet, but that's to be expected after all he's been
through. He'll probably be out another couple of hours
or so. And even then, it'll probably be a couple of days
before he's his energetic old self again."

A sudden, dreadful thought struck Roy. He looked at
Brackett with fearful eyes.

"What about the lack of oxygen? Could there be...I mean
could he have..." He was reluctant to say the words.

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"Brain damage?" Brackett, being a doctor, could say it.
"You started rescue breathing for him almost immediately
and since you were able actually get air through to him,
it shouldn't be an issue. Of course, we won't know until
he wakes up, but I think he'll come through this unscathed."

Roy breathed a sigh of relief. "When can I see him?"

"They should have him settled any time now. But what I
want to know is how in the hell the squad got locked up
to the point you couldn't open it?"

Roy chuckled as he moved to warm up his now cold
coffee. He topped off his cup and poured one for Brackett.

"That's a long story, Doc. Got time?"

"Wouldn't miss it," Brackett said with a smile as he
accepted the mug from Roy.


Roy was on his way out when the men of Station 51
finally managed to get to Rampart.

"Roy? How is he?" Chet asked anxiously.

"He's gonna be fine," Roy said with a smile. "He's
sleeping now. Doc says they'll probably keep him
overnight for observation and he'll be out for a few
more days after that."

"That's certainly good news," Stanley said. "Roy? You
need a ride back to the station?"

"Yeah, thanks," Roy smiled. "Are you guys gonna go
up to see him?"

"We came straight from the scene," Stanley explained.
"It's late, we're worn out and he probably needs his rest.
If he's sleeping and he's fine, we'll just see him when
he gets out tomorrow."

"Uh, Cap?" Chet spoke up. "You mind if I go up for a

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"Kelly, I don't think..." Stanley trailed off as he saw the
look on Chet's face. "Okay, we'll be waiting."

Chet smiled gratefully as he moved towards the


Chet moved carefully into the room, afraid of waking his
friend. He stood there silently for a few minutes, watching
Johnny sleep. After satisfying himself that Johnny was
fine, he turned to leave.

"Chet?" a soft voice reached his ears. "That you?"

"Sorry, Johnny," Chet answered. "Didn't mean to wake
you. Just wanted to make sure you were okay...that I
hadn't killed you or anything."

"Yeah, I'm fine," Johnny said. "I'm a little hoarse, but I
think that's from the tube they shoved down my throat."

"Look, I just wanted to say I'm really sorry 'bout the
whole snails thing. I should've told you what they were
to begin with. I thought I was playing this great practical
joke and I nearly kill you. If you never want to speak to
me again, I'll understand."

"Chet, you didn't know I was allergic to snails," Johnny
said as he moved to a more comfortable position. "Hell,
I didn't know I was allergic to snails. Yeah, if you had told
me what they were, I probably wouldn't have eaten them,
but you didn't shove them down my throat either. I ain't
mad at you. I know it was an accident. I forgive you.

"Okay," Chet answered gratefully. "I was afraid you'd hate
me for almost killing you."

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"Nah," Johnny said good-naturedly. "For some of those
water balloons, maybe. But not for not knowing I was
allergic to snails. If it makes you feel any better, they were
kinda good. You could be a decent cook if you put your
mind to it."

Chet chuckled, "Yeah, I can just see it. I retire from the fire
department and head to my new career. 'Would you like
fries with that?'"

Johnny laughed and then yawned. "We okay now?"

"Yeah," Chet smiled. "Thanks pal."

"S'alright. Now get outta here, I'm gonna get some


It was morning by the time the weary crew of Station 51
returned to their place of origin. Most of B-shift had already
arrived. As they walked back from the engine to the dorm,
they saw Craig Brice standing by the damaged
compartment on the squad. He turned to look at Roy
with a puzzled expression.

"DeSoto? What happened to the squad?"

Chet advanced on Brice with a stormy look on his face.

"I put it on Roy's pillow in the dorm," Brice answered with
a puzzled look. "Why should you care where it is, Kelly?"

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Chet had Brice pinned against the squad before he
deigned to answer. "Why couldn't you put it where it could
be found easily? You nearly KILLED Johnny!"

"CHET!" Roy grabbed the stocky firefighter and pulled him off
the confused paramedic. "Relax! It's not worth it! Come on,
let him go."

"But…he…but, Johnny…he…" Chet pulled against Roy for
a minute before relaxing and looking at the rest of his shift.

"It's alright, Chet," Captain Stanley. "Brice, in my office.
You too, Roy."

With a wary look at Chet and the rest of the men in the room,
Brice headed into the Captain's office, followed by Roy.
Stanley gave Chet an encouraging look before following
his men into the small room off the engine bay.


When he got into his office, he saw something he never
thought he would - Roy had Craig Brice pinned against
the wall.

"You couldn't have left me a NOTE telling me where you put
the key? Dammit, Johnny almost died because we couldn't
get into the squad!"

"What are you talking about?" Brice was truly baffled by this

"DESOTO!" Stanley pulled his paramedic off the smaller
man. "Let me deal with this! If you can't behave yourself,
maybe you better wait outside with the other men."

Roy took a deep breath and sat down in the chair next
to the desk. "I'm fine, Cap. I'm fine."

"Fine," Stanley said as he ran a hand through his hair.
"Brice, IS there a reason you didn't leave a note telling
Roy where to find the key?"

"I thought he would find it easily enough. I didn't think
I'd need a note."

"Well, it didn't occur to you that it was entirely possible
that Roy wouldn't go to the dorms until lights out?"

"Well, there was a huge mess on the table at the time
and I feared the key would get lost."

Stanley scrubbed his face with both hands and looked
at Brice and then Roy and then back to Brice.

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"Consider yourself reprimanded," Stanley said. "Next
time, leave a note or something."

"Yes, Captain Stanley. Now, could you please tell me

"What is it Brice?"

"What DID happen to Gage?"

"Roy, why don't you go get changed and go home. You
look like you're ready to drop."

With one last, withering glare at Brice, Roy headed out
of the office.


The next afternoon, Johnny was pacing around his hospital
room when a wheelchair rolled in pulling Roy DeSoto.

"Hey, Partner! Ready to go home?"

"After a stay in this place, when am I NOT ready to go

"So, your chariot awaits! Have a seat and we can blow
this pop stand."

"What happened at the station? Anyone get in trouble
for this?"

Roy shrugged. "Brice got a verbal reprimand for not
letting anyone know where he put the key, Cap got a
verbal reprimand for letting Chet cut up the squad and
Chet got a good teasing from the rest of the guys for
panicking into going for the K-12 in the first place."

"He didn't get in trouble?"

"He got a verbal reprimand from the Chief for losing
his head, but not really."

"So, verbal reprimands all around then? You get one
for anything too?"

Roy looked sheepish. "I kinda tried to beat up Brice
for not letting anyone know where he left the key."

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"You WHAT?" Johnny turned in the chair to look at his
partner. "You…Mr. Mild-Mannered…Mr.
Can't-We-Settle-This-Without-A-Fight tried to beat
someone up?"

"Well…" Roy blushed.

"That's my boy!" Johnny grinned. "Now, take me home!"

"Whatever you want, Junior," Roy said with a sigh as
he pushed Johnny through the halls of the hospital
towards the parking lot.


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