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      Page Five

Kelly rolled his eyes ruefully so the boy could
see him in the flashlight. "Aren't we all? Must've
eaten a pound of mud crawling around in here."

"I ate two pounds.." Marco croaked from where
he sat propped up in the darkness.

Chris laughed and winced when his father's laugh
jostled his jammed knee.  Then the sodden boy
said. "Hey.. Before the mud slid on top of us,
I only remember my left leg being held. Why
does my right knee feel heavy?"

Kelly aimed the flashlight under the seat beyond
Chris muddy jeans and a few seconds later, dragged
out the handy talkie. "Will miracles never cease.
Detello, you keep right on complaining ,...cause it
makes whoever you got looking after ya work that
much harder."

"I don't like to press my luck." the big man
grumbled. "Especially with that.."

Gage and Roy both made a grab for the
talkie after Chet got most of the mud off of
its controls but Detello was faster than
both of them.

He snatched the HT to his mouth. "Engine
51 this is Triage Ten, over.."

The HT came alive in excited voice.
##That you Detello? Hang on, we're
calling a cutting crew in right now. Cover
your victims against the sparks.##
Captain Stanley said.  ##We start dismantling
in two minutes.##

"10-4." Detello grinned. "Standing by. We're all
a bit slimy, but ok. Marco took in some mud
but he's stable with only minor complications.
And get a doctor on the phone. We've just one
survivor in need of an IV authorization.."

##Understood. I'll have Stoker raise Rampart.
Engine 51, out.##


Outside the crushed bus, Cap didn't even wait
for the bulldozer to leave the area before he waved
his men in with the extrication equipment.
"Ok, Move it in there.. Easy. That top chassis's
bound to be weak from the mudslide, so go
slow. Cut three quarters around only, we'll peel
it back and get them out through the roof.
I'm afraid opening the emergency hatch now will
only collapse the rest of the bus on top of them."

The men working at Cap's side nodded.

Cap shouted. "Ok.. cutting now..!!" he shouted.


Inside, all five firemen and Roy's son winced
when the bright fountain of tangerine sparks  
from a roaring K-12 bit through the steel shell
of the bus above them. They winced when real
sunlight sent shafts of brilliant daylight into their

"Oh, man.. Now I know how miners feel when
they've been in a cave in and we dig them out."
Kelly complained.

Roy covered Chris's face and his own with
his own helmet as the firemen outside cut
a hole into the bus. "It's a sight better than
watching that flashlight die out, don't you

Detello flicked the coat over Marco's face
and mask and hunched down himself after
coating his own shoulders with wet mud to
keep his shirt from catching fire. "A whole LOT
better." he admonished Kelly.
    His voice was a little strained from his
eagerness to win freedom for his companions.
He began fussing with the cutaway section even
before the man above was finished excising
the flap. He had it accordianed out of the
way in seconds. "All right, give me the K-12
on the double. I've a trapped medic and boy
down here.."

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Cap peered into the hole from where
he knelt on top of the bus. "They hurt bad?"

Roy squinted in the bright swath of sunlight
that shafted down onto his face. He peeked
around a protective arm as he spoke before
Detello did. "Nah, Cap." Roy said from
where he lay in the ooze. "We're just leg pinned.
Got that authorization from Rampart yet?"

Stoker said. "Here.. Morton wants to talk to
you.." and he lowered the phone receiver dangling
on its cord down to Roy so the biophone antennae
would stay in the open air so it wouldn't lose
telemetry with the doctor's base station.

Morton was succinct and to the point.
"DeSoto. Start a large bore normal saline,
500 CC's and run wide open. Give me
a vitals set when you can on the child. How's
Marco? Stoker couldn't tell me much."

Roy glanced over at Marco and Gage, who
was hovering over him, and said. "He was
submersed underneath the mud for about
two minutes. He was out until we got
some of the sludge out of his throat and
got him on simple masked 02. He's only
a little groggy."

"And chilled. His shivering's stopped."
Gage added.

"And mildly hypothermic Rampart.." Roy
told Mike.

"10-4, 51. Continue both victims on 02
and immobilize the child as a precaution
when you get him out of there. That
bleeder may indicate fractures we don't know
about in that effected leg." Morton told Roy.

"Understood. Large bore NS, wide. O2 and
treat for shock. Long board immobilization
for Chris.."

Morton at the base station, frowned.
"51, Could you repeat that? Did you say
a victim's name at that last part?"

Gage took the phone from Roy when
DeSoto tried to reach for the IV box.
Kelly took the kit quickly out of his hands

Chet admonished him. "Now Roy, you
know Johnny's gotta be the one to
directly treat your son. Fire department
policy. Just lie back and don't move while
Detello makes that last slice by your leg
with the saw...."

Gage said. "Uh,10-4, Rampart. He did.
Chris, the boy, is Roy's son..."


Nurse McCall, having just walked into the
glass cubicle, gasped at that last admission.
"What?!" Dixie exclaimed, She gripped
Dr. Morton's shoulder.

Morton shushed her with a motion as he listened
to what Gage confirmed. He covered the receiver
with a palm and sighed. "Oh, boy. How the h*ll
did DeSoto get inside that bus anyway. I thought
firefighters weren't allowed to treat family members
as a standard working policy.."

"They're not.." Dixie said. "Maybe their circumstances
left them no choice in the matter.." Her curiosity got
the better of herself and she asked. "What are his
vitals signs? His trauma bad?"

Morton answered. "Don't know. They're still
extricating both him, Roy and Marco, a fellow
engine crew man, who almost drown.
It's a school bus in a mudslide.."

Dixie winced in sympathy and bit her lip.
"Roy must be frantic with worry being with
him like that."

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"Gage won't let him get into any medical hot
water and something tells me that their captain
won't let him do that either.." Morton said.
He lifted his hand off the receiver in a quick
motion. "Contact me in route of any consciousness
level changes and I want a set of vitals on Marco
and Chris the moment they're en route.."

"10-4, doc.." Gage said and he waved to Stoker
to hand over hand the phone cord back up again
out of sight through the hole. "Thanks Stoker..
Hand down the first stokes. We'll get Marco outta
here first.."

"I don't need a stretcher, Gage, I can--"

"...Relax and enjoy the ride, Lopez. And that's
an order." Cap interrupted. "You're a victim until
Rampart clears you, is that understood?"

"Perfectly.." Lopez sighed, then he coughed when
some lingering mud from his sinuses tried to trickle
back into his throat. He lifted his mask off only long
enough to spit the grit aside and out of his mouth.

It wasn't long before Gage and Detello had Lopez
bundled up in yellow plastic insulating sheets and
had him ready to be hoisted out of the bus.
Marco's face showed his uneagerness to be
stretchered out, but he cooperated.  He snuck in a move
dettaching his own 02 tubing so Chris wouldn't lose
his 02 bottle.

Gage did a double take at that, frowning, but he saw
Stoker immediately compensate for his respiratory care
once they had Marco level with the portable 02 from
the engine. Lopez did him one better by strapping
the mask to his own face so Mike was freed up
to help get Roy and his son out.

Cap had the rest of Station Ten carry Marco out of
the deep, treacherous mud slide to a wheeled
ambulance gurney already waiting for him on the firm
highway beyond. He crouched by Marco's side as
the Mayfair attendants covered him up snugly in
the beige blankets. "'Don't need a lift out', he says."
Cap muttered. "You're colder than an ice cube there

Marco didn't deign to reply as the head of the stretcher
was raised to make him more comfortable. "It's just
from the wet, Cap. I'm not injured."

"Hmmph.. I'll believe that once Gage gets a look at ya
to be sure. Hang tight." And he ruffled Marco's caked
hair with a glove.

Captain Stanley returned to the bus just as Roy's
boy was lifted out, complete with the IV Gage
had begun. He could see a red sodden stain through
the sheeting on the boy's left thigh and he saw
Detello start to take the boy's shoe off to check
for a foot pulse.

"Ok. I've got a good one here. He's ok to move."
Detello said.

He watched the boy get lowered onto the next gurney
wheeled over to them before he reached down
to grab and haul both Kelly and Gage out of the
bus with both hands at the same time.
Cap's eyebrows lifted in amazement at that.
"What a Sampson type." he said softly.

Chet hopped down, eyes tearing from the bright sun.
"He was Atlas earlier Cap. Kept the roof from caving in on
us until you guys manage to shovel the worst of the muck
off the bus.."  He padded off with his shoes slurping liquidly
but he turned, adding. "But really he's
a real bonafide Angel.."

It was Cap's turn to frown in confusion.
Then he shouted after his departing mud covered
man. "Were you guys short on air in there or

But Chet was already out of earshot  as
he asked Stoker to hose down his shoes and outer
wear "really good".

When they were out, Detello subtly shook his
head to the other firemen surrounding him, that
there were no other children still alive inside.

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Gage took full advantage of Roy still waiting to be
cut free to take a closer look at Chris. He kept
expression off his face when he saw the extent
of the laceration on the boy's thigh. He knew at
least, that it would require plastic surgery to fully
mend it after the deep gash was thoroughly
cleaned of mud and sand and allowed to drain
open for a few days.  

But he smiled when the boy's BP was only
slightly below normal. "There.. That's not
too bad." he grinned down at the boy,
adjusting the cannula's prongs into the right
place inside his nose. "Strong as all get out.
You're not even moderately shocky."

"Dad made me rest a bit while we were in
there. I think I slept once." Chris admitted.

"He sure did..." Roy said, jumping down
from the bus with the ground crew firemen's help.
One of them tossed DeSoto the IV box
afterwards. " For about half an hour there."

Roy fussed with Chris's blankets until Johnny
slapped his hands away. "I got him, I got him,
Why don't you go check on Marco in the rig?
We'll meet you in there as soon as I relay
his vitals to Morton."

DeSoto reluctantly retreated.

Cap gave Gage a subtle thumbs up for
finding an excuse to separate Roy from
Chris. But a further significant glint in Cap's
eye made Johnny say, "He's fine Cap.
Nothing major's been damaged here."

"That's means good news, son.." Cap said,
patting Chris on the shoulder.

"I know. I could tell because my leg didn't
squirt out at all when I first did it, trying to
reach Carrie.."

At the name, and another exchange of looks
from Stoker, Cap learned the little girl hadn't
survived the trip to the hospital despite her
successful revival, so he had plenty of warning
time before Chris's next question.

"How's Carrie?"the blond boy asked.

Johnny said. "Let's concentrate on getting you
squared away first, ok? Does your head hurt at
all? No?.... Just that knee.. ok.. now Cap
and I are going to immobilize that leg in a splint
just to keep it from jostling around.. ok?"

Chris nodded.

Once that was done, Chris, Johnny, the engine's
02 tank and the gear were all loaded up in the rig
waiting with Marco and Roy.  

 Click the Resuscitator to go to Page Six :)

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