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"Easy.." Dr. Brackett said. "Here," he said.
"Follow that  I.T. with this saline flush. His
lungs will absorb it better osmotically."
And he handed DeSoto a 5cc saline syringe.

Roy followed up. Mike immediately reconnected
the ambu and forced O2 flow deep into
Marco's lungs to make sure the serum reached
as many spaces as possible inside his pulmonary
tree. Then he slowed and lessened, backing
off once more into a normal vent rate for a
light, but firm ambu maintain.

"Now, we wait.." Dr. Brackett said.

Somehow, the black night blanketing the shattered
firehouse seemed a little less oppressive to
everybody surrounding Marco's bed, than it had
just minutes before.


Just as the new sun was rising over the
refinery,Marco Lopez responded to epinephrine and
soon began to gasp actively, fighting his airway.

Cap thought. "Anyone's guess whose smile's
bigger.. Way to pull it off, Marco..!" he said
rubbing his shoulder affectionately.

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His last sentence was drowned out by
everyone's cheers.

In the mean time, Dr. Brackett and
Brice concentrated on getting Marco
extubated. Kel shouted.
"Marco!.. on the count of three, I want
you to exhale as hard as you can. Don't
swallow. I know the tube's uncomfortable,
but we had to wait until you were ready
to go solo. Ready?  One, Two..Three.."

Lopez let out a gushing liquidy breath
and Brice removed the EOA quickly,
by deflating its gastric bulb with a
2 syringe and drawing it out with a
fast careful pull to not snag the tender
structures in Marco's throat.

Roy had a suctioning probe set and
soon, he was coughing only
sporadically as his weakened muscles
decided they could learn how to
breathe again. Stoker helped him on
the demand valve enough to keep Lopez mostly
awake to work out fluid and blood still
interfering with good air draw.

Marco's hands finally pushed away the
resuscitator a few minutes later.
His eyes fluttered open, squinting in
the bright sunlight through the holes in
the station roof. "Hey, gang. Mama here
yet? "he whispered. "She'd better have
brought breakfast, I think...I think I'm..
getting hungry...Maybe,, maybe even
for some b- bacon...Any left?"

At his feet, Bonnie barked, and reared up on
her haunches with her terra cotta bowl
balanced daintily in her mouth.


Three hours later, Marco was stable
enough to be flown out by air.

Johnny leaped out of the helicopter
with a dirt eating grin on his face
when Marco's mom flooded his face
with kisses for saving her son's life,
promising a whole year's worth
of Monday morning burritos..

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"It's the least I can do for the amigos
of my Precious Hijo.."
Rosa Marie Lopez said.

"Hey! I heard that mama.." Marco's
voice hollered out before the copter's
chopper doors closed him off.
"Wait on that regime til I'm back at
the stationhouse working..! I don't
want the guys to eat them all before
I get back there."

"Silly boy.." Marco's mom chuckled
in a deep warm voice filled with a spanish
flavor. "He still thinks Mrs Bandido and I
cook on a limited budget. Just wait until
I tell him we won de big California lottery, eh?
Same day as the quake.."


At Rampart, days later..
Johnny and Roy were telling the rapt
Dr. Early and Dixie McCall all about their
three day, earthquake survival story.

"Yeah.. when I woke up, I had a rod
sticking out of my left hand.
This long.." he said to Dix, enjoying
the willies he was driving out of her.

"Johnny. Cut it out.. Don't you know I'm
squeamish?" she giggled.

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"You are?" Roy asked., blinking in surprise.

Dr. Early mumbled. "Yep. Why do you think she's
at the front desk of Emergency so much?
Haven't any of you noticed she only goes into
those treatment rooms of people who aren't
gushing blood all over the floor?"

Dix smacked Joe good on the arm
for letting out her very very old secret.

"Dixxxxx..." Johnny egged, teasing her.

"Shhhh, if Kel ever found out. I'd be mortified.."
Dixie said.

"Who'd be mortified?" Dr. Brackett said, just
leaving an elevator from an upper floor.

"uh, nuthin.." Gage said. "She was actually
saying.. "Morton confided".. Yeah, that's it.
Morton confided that he can only sing in the
shower. So that's why he got drunk and
sang to us all on the guitar under the sprinkler
like he did. He's got a great"

"Soaking wet you mean.." Kel said, ruefully shaking
his head. "I almost had to give him some Narcan
to sober him up..." he joked.

Gage waxed serious.. "Wow, you doctors and
nurses really throw a wild party. I even think Cap's
wife blushed at a few of those dance moves of
yours, Morton. Where'd ya learn em? Maybe I could know.. use a couple of them going out
on dates and stuff.. Maybe I can finally snag
a nurse who'll take me for who I really am, know
what I mean? "

Their happy chitchat made the trip up to visit
Marco in his hospital room, bright.

And Lopez was very very glad to see them all
to hear about the huge Rampart to Fire Department
wingding he had missed that weekend.


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"And so there you have it boys and girls.." Johnny
said, "A dozen tons of red steel and chrome
with enough hose power to snuff out a whole three
story house fire in just under an hour.." he said to his
very attentive Groverland Middle school tour children
dramatically. He made them jump by hitting the air horn,
in its richest full brassy tone."Heheh.." he laughed.
And they soon laughed along with him.
"Glad to see you all back at the station..
Quite a different place than when you last left
it a month ago, isn't it?"

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A blond boy with glasses pushed forward.
"Can I see the radio mike room again?"

Johnny jumped down from top of the
engine roof and waved Stoker out
of the cab where he had been operating
lights and firing off that blast cue for
Gage. "Oh, hey Robbie.." Johnny said,
kneeling by the child's side. "I've been
wanting to see you."

"You have?"

"Yeah.." Johnny said. "I just wanted to
thank you for doing what you did the
day of the earthquake. You..probably
saved all our lives.." he said, poking the
boy in his nose. Robbie giggled.

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