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 Too Close To Home
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Page Four

"L.A., We have a fully involved two story structure fire. Roll
an additional unit to the scene. Advise the Power company
to terminate power to both 65th Avenue and Montezuma

##10-4, 51.##

L.A.'s backup call echoed in between the houses all the way
down the block. A four tone sounded over the PA system.

Station 38 got called out.

"Mike, Roy!! Cover that shed!!"

Roy was whipping on his over coat when a Chrysler station
wagon thunked over a curb across the street.
It was Roy's wife. The overcoat dropped.

Joanne DeSoto rushed out of the car. "Oh my god, Roy!"
she ran to him. Roy's son, Michael, followed.

Roy tried to reassure his family, "It's all right honey. You've
got the kids."

Numbed, Joanne only sobbed. Then,

"Daddy?" Michael called out.

"Yes, Michael.." Roy answered his eleven year old son.

"Jesse didn't go to the store with us today. She stayed
back to eat lunch over at Carrie's house."


Joanne started nervously. She put a hand to her mouth.
"Roy, where is she?"

He whirled to the house.

"Roy!!!" A man's voice. It was Vince. He was hustling
Carrie ahead of him, holding her arm. "Go on, Carrie.
Tell the fireman what you told me!"

She started bawling.

Cap ran to the little girl. "Listen, honey.. We're not angry.
We just need to know where Jessica went when the fire

Carrie wouldn't look at Cap, even when he hefted her up
in his arms.

Furious, Roy looked at her, "Forget about the lying! Please,
tell us!!"

She was crying weakly now, "I didn't mean to start it.. The
match fell..and  and..."

"Where?!!" Vince demanded.

Carrie jumped, She blurted in a rush, "She went to get kitty out!!"

Joanne screamed, "Jesse! My baby..!" She fainted. Roy automatically
caught her and eased her to the ground. He made a small noise of
pain in the back of his throat, checking her.
"She's all right... Vince!!! Stay with her!"  

Vince nodded, taking Carrie from the captain's grasp.

Standing, Roy faced the house. Cap knew what Roy was going to do.
"No!! DeSoto!!"  He missed catching him.
Roy ran, fast. Johnny noticed him, "Hey.. Where are you going? Wait a

"Jesse's in there!"

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"I've got to get her out! Jessica!!
Johnny lunged and he and Roy grappled, "Are you crazy, man. You need a
mask in there.. An over coat..!"

"Let-- me-- GO!!!" Roy heaved away, breaking free of Johnny's hold doing his
best racquetball court spin. He ran.
Johnny stumbled.
Roy disappeared into the smoke.
Johnny ran towards the house. "Roy?!!"

Cap shouted aloud, "Gage!  No! Get a mask and belt on.. Moreno,
with him!!"



Marco and Mike helped Gage and Moreno put on their apparatus,
tying lifelines to them. Johnny and Joachim tested their mask's
seal patency. Someone tossed Roy's overcoat to them. Johnny
snatched it. Marco drenched the two with a fanning inch and
a half as they entered the house. Greasy black smoke billowed
out into the yard. The heat was oppressive. It pushed out
in palpable waves.

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On the street, Mike sat by Joanne's head. Vince crouched
nearby. "Mrs. DeSoto?"
Lying there, she moaned.

Cap flew to the cab. "L.A., we've one or more victims
at the scene. Respond with an additional rescue squad
and ambulance."

##10- 4, 51.##

Cap shielded his eyes against the inferno, "Come on!" he

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Johnny stumbled over the front door landing.  He couldn't see.
"Roy?"                 "Jesse!"
    "Where are you?!"

The din of the flames was maddening.


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In the kitchen, Roy was blinded. Even on hands and knees, he choked.

He crawled further along, heading towards a certain corner.
   "Jessica! Can you hear me?"

His hands struck a hard object. Pieces flew into his face. The litterbox!!
It would be here that Jessica would try to aim for first. "Jesse!"

He groped, and found a soft body.  Soft fur. The kitten, it was dead.


Johnny gasped. Behind him, Moreno had reached the limit of his hose's
length. He tapped the back of Gage's jacket. Gage turned. Moreno
made a cut throat gesture.Johnny shouted through his face plate.
"All right.. Cover me!! Grab my lifeline. Give me a lot of slack. I'm
going on ahead!"

Moreno shut off his useless hose He grabbed onto Johnny's rope.
"Ok, go!!"

There was very little flame. The smoke was ink in the air. Johnny
could feel the fire's heat seeping through the floor boards beneath
his feet.   "Roy?"   "Jesse!"


Roy reeled, dropping the kitten. He was suddenly dizzy. A hallway
opened to his right. "Jesse!"

The darkness ate up the sound. Then, ''Daddy?!" It was clear,
unmistakable. Roy choked violently. It was getting very hard
to breathe. He hugged the floor. "Jessica?! Where are you?"

No answer. "Jessica!"

"I'm coming!"

Roy's mind raced. He needed help. Part of the ceiling creaked
above him. He faced the kitchen again."Johnny I found her!!
She's in h--"

A collapsing timber smashed into his face just then. Roy
tumbled bonelessly.


Johnny froze in midstep. He thought he heard Roy to his left.
"Roy? Where are you?"    He got down onto his hands and
knees, sweeping the hot carpeting. "Roy??"

He rammed a shoulder painfully into a frame of a door. His
hand sank into tile. The kitchen!  "Roy!!" He didn't hear anything
except the popping of the flames.

Johnny advanced, running a glove over his visor to clear away
a film of soot. He saw a dark
form. He reached. Whatever it was pushed and slid away from
him when his glove hit it.
"Aghh!"  He looked. It was a dead animal, a young cat.
"Roy!! Can you hear me!"

Johnny was near exhaustion. He rested, sucking in huge lungfuls.
How long had he been inside? Two minutes? Ten?  He sank
down to his belly and peered down a hallway. Some fallen
debris blocked his line of sight. He shoved it away. Then he
saw blue on the rust tiles in the smoke. A shirt?!
"Roy!!" He scrambled on all fours. It was him. Pulling off a
glove, Johnny felt for a carotid. "You better have one."

It was there. And moist breath flowed across his knuckles. Johnny looked up.. "Jessica?!"

The sound fled. Flames crackled, growing louder.

SNAP!!!!  A rumble grew.

The ceiling started raining shards. Johnny threw the coat over
Roy and stretched out over him. He froze, breathing in tight
painful gasps. The vibrations ebbed as quickly as it had come.
Johnny moved.
He jerked twice on his lifeline and began lugging Roy backwards
by the arms.

Moreno met Johnny at the entrance into the kitchen. The heat grew
intolerable. He helped Johnny hoist Roy onto one shoulder in
a fireman's carry and picked up his hose. A cooling spray steamed
off their overcoats and hissed onto the floor. "Let's go!" Johnny cried.
"I got him!"

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Slowly, they inched their way to the outside.
Finally, Johnny burst out of the smoke with his burden and into
sunlight. Mike and Marco dropped their line to aid him.

"He's breathing!" Johnny shouted "Take him!"  They did.

Johnny ran back into the flames.


The overcoat slipped off onto the lawn and halfway to
the street. Roy's shirt was only blackened and not burning.
Cap had seen them coming. Already, he had set up the O2
and had spread out a foil blanket on the grass. They laid
Roy on it, wiping away soot and cinders from his nose
and mouth.

Joanne ran from her place on the curb to him. "Roy!"

Moreno hurried back to his place on the front door. He
began to spray it down, watching for signs of Johnny
re- emerging with the girl.

Mike placed the respirator mask over Roy's face and
began to demand feed him pure oxygen. Marco
rechecked for a heartbeat.

"Roy..." Joanne knelt down and began to shake her
husband. "Roy... Where's Jessica?"

Cap pulled her away, "Johnny's getting her out right
now! You've got to believe me.."

Joanne sagged in his grip and sobbed weakly. Cap let
her go. She sat where she was and reached out, calling
to her husband. "Roy...?"  Marco held a four by four
over the gash on Roy's forehead.  "Roy!" she cried.

"Joanne.." Cap said, "He'll be all right. He just got
knocked out, that's all. We're just aiding his breathing
with the demand valve until he wakes up. He's ok."

She wept, lowering her head. Marco touched her arm.
She looked at him. "Do you want to help?" he asked her.
Joanne nodded.

"Here, hold this dressing tight, but don't get into Mike's
way. O.K."


Marco moved over. She took over applying pressure to
the head cut. Mike glanced at her, "You're sure
you're ok? " he asked again, carefully
holding Roy's head back while he delivered the O2.

"Yes, I am. I just want my Jesse."
She started weeping.

Marco sprinted back to support Moreno at the main


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Inside, Johnny crawled quickly back to the litter box. He went
into the hallway beyond it. "Jesse!"

Five doors displayed themselves.He kicked in the first one.
It was the bathroom. "Jessica?!"

No answer.

Randomly, he passed by three doors tried the one on the end.
It banged open revealing a child's room. Dolls!
"Jesse! Can you hear me?!!"


Muffled. It came from the closet. Johnny whirled and tried the doors.
They were locked. "Jessica !  It's Uncle Johnny ! Get up! Open
the doors."   Gage took off his mask and unbuttoned his overcoat.
The door cracked open a little bit. Johnny kicked it ajar. Jesse
coughed. She was on her hands and knees. "Mommy! I
want my mommy!!" She stumbled..

Johnny caught her, "I got ya..." He wrapped her with him, inside
of his overcoat. He stood, carrying her. "Here. Put this on
your face..." He gave her his mask. She held it.
"Breathe in!"

Johnny put his helmet back on.  He found the path leading to the outside.
He tugged on his line, coughing.

The ceiling spat sections free around them. John choked, running,
covering the girl's head with an arm.

They got out of the house..


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Moreno and Marco rose to help. "She's all right.. I got her.."
He waved them away.  The two fireman remained behind.

Johnny sat Jesse down over by the silver blanket. She ran to her
mom. Joanne enveloped her inside a big hug. "Jessica..My
girl. Mommy's so happy to see you!"

"Mommy, the kitty's dead.." she trilled.
Then Joanne simply cried over her.


Johnny shed all of his apparatus. "Mike?"

"He's coming around."

Roy half moaned, half out. He didn't cough.

Gage looked at the little girl and turned her face
in his hand. Her skin was very dirty, but not burned. Her
crying attested to clear lungs. She was stable.

"Cap! Could you get the biophone and set it up?"

"Sure thing, pal."

Sirens wailed and engine 38 skidded in front of the house.
More hoses were stretched. Vince helped Cap carry over
the other gear.

A new voice cried out; a child's. "Mom?"
Joanne turned. Michael peered fearfully out from around
the corner of the engine. "Michael!!" Joanne held out
her arms to her son.
The boy hesitated when he saw his father lying so still.
Joanne understood at once. "It's all right. They're taking
good care of him. Daddy's going to be ok." she reached
out again.  Michael ran to her, crying. Joanne hugged
both of her children tightly to her.


Johnny didn't notice them. He got out his penlight and checked
out Roy's eyes. "Roy? Can you hear me?" Roy remained unmoving.
"He's out again."  
Johnny glanced at Mike, "Is he pulling any air at all?"

"About one every three."
Gage nodded, taking a BP. "Marco, could you get his actual
respiration rate and his pulse?"


Johnny pulled off his stethoscope and slid it around his neck. He picked
up the bio-phone. "Rampart, this is squad 51, do you read?"

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Dr. Early clicked on, "Go ahead, 51."

"Rampart, I've two victims of a wooden structure fire. Victim one's
an unconscious Code I, Victim's two's a little child. She's about
five or six year's of age. Conscious and alert....."

At the hospital, Dix bit her lip.."A code I?  A downed fireman!"
Early frowned.
"51, Go ahead on victim #1."

"Rampart, ah, Victim one's Roy DeSoto. He's unconscious due to a blow
to the head. He's also suffering from moderate smoke inhalation. He's
got a weak breathing response.. We're giving him fifteen liters of O2
via positive pressure/ assisting. He has responded somewhat to
ventilations. There's a large hematoma and laceration on his forehead.
Pupils are equal and reactive."

##51, What are his vitals?##

Johnny looked to his notepad, reading what both he and Marco had written
down. "Vitals are " BP 100/74, Pulse 94, Respirations unassisted are at
6 per minute. Request permission to start an IV."

##Go ahead, 51. Start an IV of 500 ml D5W TKO. Give him   .5
1/10,000 mg epinephrine IV push. Let's see if he'll take an interest
in breathing on his own.##

"Ten four, Rampart, Victim Two appears to be very frightened but not
at all shocky. No burns are evident. Do you want a set of vitals?"

##51, How's she perfusing?##

Gage looked down at Jesse who was still gripping her mom tightly in an
embrace. "She's crying strongly, without coughing, Rampart, without

##51, Supervise Victim two for any changes in respiratory status and
use 4 liters of O2 when necessary. I want a new set of vitals on
Victim One in five minutes. Transport both victims as soon as possible.##

"10-4, Rampart. IV. D5W TKO with .5 1/10,000 mg epinephrine IV Push,
Victim one. Supervise pulmonary status, use four liters O2  on symptoms,
Victim two. Vitals to follow."

##Standing by, 51##

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Johnny tore open an IV package and box of tubing. He strung it and got
a line in and running. He handed the bag to Vince.

He drew out an epinephrine syringe. He looked to Mike. "Watch his pulse
when this goes in."

Stoker nodded.

Gage injected the drug slowly into the IV port. A minute passed.

Mike spoke up, "I'm getting some arrythmias."

Johnny checked Roy's carotid.  "He's fine. A few odd beats with epi's

Roy started coughing. Mike removed the mask.

Joanne reached out. "Roy?!" Her husband relaxed again and became
still. Mike replaced the mask.

She looked up, worried, at Gage. Johnny noticed her concern. He shrugged,
"He's thinking about it.."

Joanne gave  teary smile and a small laugh. She wiped away her running

Roy began breathing regularly.


Johnny felt a tug on his sleeve. It was Jessica. "What's wrong honey?"

"My throat hurts and my mouth is all dry.."

Gage noticed the child's breaths had become a shade shallower
and labored. "Trouble getting air?"

"Umm hmm.."

"OK. I'm going to give you some oxygen through a tube in your nose.
It will get rid of that stuffiness you're feeling, all right?"

Jesse nodded.

Johnny adjusted a nasal cannula around her head and brushed some
hair out of her eyes.

"Will this make me all better?"

"Sure will. Now you go sit down by your mother, ok?" He poked her
in the nose.. She giggled and nestled back into her mother's arms.

The radio crackled.  ##51, what's the status on Victim #1?##

Johnny picked up the receiver. "Rampart, Victim One's still unconsc--"

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Roy sat involuntarily, sitting bolt upright, upsetting Mike's hands with the O2
mask. "Jesse!!"

Johnny and Cap flew at him, trying to restrain him before the IV was torn
loose. "Roy... Roy...!" Johnny yelled. "You're out and on the street. Take
it easy.. Jessica's right here!!"

Roy struggled, still muzzy.


Early was frantic, "51, do you read? Over?" It went ignored.

Johnny Gage and the others  really had their hands full. "Roy! You'll tear out
your IV! For Pete's sake... Do you want to scare her?"

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The wild look on Roy's eyes faded and he slumped back down. Mike
caught his head, so he wouldn't bang it on the ground. Roy's breath
caught, he choked hard.. "Wha??" He voice cracked. Then he turned
his head and saw his daughter in front of him. "Jesse?"

She ran to him.

Johnny rocked back on his heels running a hand through his hair, "It's
about time you woke up.."

Joanne chortled.

Johnny angled an ear, he heard jarbles or something by his
knees. "Ooops.!" He snatched up the landline "Ah, Rampart,
Victim One's now breathing on his own. C-Color's returning
rapidly. He moves about voluntarily without any signs of

"I'll say..." Cap said rubbing out a bruise he got in
Roy's struggle to consciousness.

Gage started to laugh and he couldn't stop.

The landline to Rampart was strangely silent through
the open line.

Then Dix's and Joe's laughter joined in.




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 Too Close To Home
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