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 No Sooner Said
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           Page Two

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From: Patti or Jeff or Cassidy <>
Date: Wed Jun 28, 2006 4:33 am
Subject: One Tracked Mind..

At Rampart, the red light went on over the glass enclosed base
station next to Dixie McCall's desk. The head nurse set aside
her chart filing and made her way into the room, turning on
the recording reels. "Unit calling in, please repeat.." she
said on reflex.

Nothing came over the air, just the sound of wind blowing.

"This is Rampart Base on the air. Go ahead with your
transmission please.." she tried again.

Dixie frowned when she thought she heard a faint scuffling
and some very quiet strangled gagging.

Startled, she automatically snatched up the red phone over
the radio that gave her an instant open tie with the county's
fire department dispatch. "L.A. County, this is Miss McCall at
Rampart General Hospital. I've an incoming call from a
paramedic unit that's just been initiated. I've a confirmed
open comm but no one's talking. Sounds like they've got some
real trouble. Could you run a trace?... Yes, I'll keep their radio
frequency open. All right, I'll be standing by.." she replied to L.A.
"I'm turning our FD scanner on right now."


Chet opened his eyes to the sound of cool hissing. He reached
up muzzily and found a heavily flowing oxygen mask parked
cock-eyed over his chin. He remembered that moments ago, he
had spat out something hooked over his tongue.

Rolling over dizzily, he spotted an oropharyngeal tube lying in the
dirt next to him. ::That oral was mine? What the h*ll happened to me?::
he thought with a heavy confusion. Groaning, he looked up from
where he propped belly down on his elbows and spotted Roy and
Johnny lying in a heap on either side of him. Stoker was out, too,
twisted haphazardly around his legs. "Guys?! Can you hear me?!"

Kelly's knee plished against a used ambu bag assembly as he
untangled himself from his unconscious crewmates and got
up onto his hands. Instinct made Chet pull his plastic oxygen mask
back over his nose and mouth, hastily pressing it down to gain more
protection. ::They're all skin flushed. And the white vapor hanging over
us is new..:: his mind screamed at him. Sucking in frightened gasps,
Kelly looked quickly at his surroundings for a better solution to
safeguard himself from a suddenly gone-hostile breathing environment.

He found it.

Struggling, Chet groped for the air bottle's mask lying near Mike's
reddened hand and he put it on himself as fast as he could. Dragging
the tank near, he hurriedly felt the carotids and breathing attempts
of all three firemen lying near him.

Unlike the others, Gage wasn't even trying to cough through his
fast, very shallow respirations.

In pain from a tremendous headache, Kelly set the oxygen mask that
he had found being used on himself over Johnny's face and cranked
up the flow to try and boost the paramedic's far weaker vital signs.

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Satisfied that Mike, Roy and Johnny were stable for the moment, Chet
got onto his feet in a hunt for Marco and Cap and for more air bottles
to fit into place for his downed coworkers.

Weakness kept Chet from standing and he was forced to drag his air
supply's tank weight behind his crawling feet by its straps.

A little clarity allowed a gasping Kelly to hit the distress button on
his bottle's PASS device as he made his way towards the parked,
light flashing Ward engine.   Its piercing audible wail comforted him
as it told the others that he was coming.

As Kelly drew closer to the road, he could hear L.A.'s hail, for his station's
reply, repeat itself continuously. ::They know. Oh, Thank G*d.:: he thought
as he slowly dragged closer to the truck. ::But it won't hurt to tell them
to hurry their *sses a little faster.:: Chet  thought. He reached a trembling
glove into his pocket and hit the emergency squelch tone on his handy
talkie until it began sounding out triple whistles over a live channel.

All radio chatter coming from the engine ceased as the main frequency
was instantly priority cleared by all units working around the county to
await a further explanation or reply. Kelly kept crawling with the HT
tethered around a wrist as he spoke, his thumb pressing down over
the talk button. "Mayday... *gasp* L.A.,..Engine 51.. Mayday..." he gasped
desperately. "Environmental ex--exposure.. Unknown vap-- vapor..
From the mine..." he yelled through his face plate.

##Engine 51, how many?## returned L.A.

"Six..... Code..I." sighed Chet, dropping his head. "All above ground..
*cough* by the eng--..."  A spasm silenced him instantly.

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Kelly found he was no longer able to talk, gagging in agony at the fire
in his lungs. :: Is this methane on top of the CO? Somewhere, that perpetual
coal fire's broken through to the surface in a new place close by.::

##Engine 51. Do you read? Engine 51. Respond by HT distress toggle if you
can't speak. ## L.A. ordered. ##Hazmat and two alarms have been notified.
Their ETA is at a maximum of three minutes out....
Engine 51, do you read?##

Chet ignored the voice, his vision tunneling tightly when he spotted Marco
and Cap lying face down in the dirt beneath open cab and equipment doors.
Lopez already had an air bottle working for him to the point of half-conscious
coughing, so Chet crawled past him and got to Hank's limp body.

Flipping Cap over, Chet tilted Hank's head back adequately while he sagged
over him. A resting forehead on Stanley's chest confirmed a slow rise and fall
of continued air movement by feel to Chet without his ever having to open his
eyes as fatigue began rolling in waves over him from trying even a half upright
crouch against the pull of gravity.

With a jerk, Kelly got away from the impending blackout by hastily flopping
back onto his stomach. Chet got Cap into a flowing air bottle mask as fast
as he could manage after the hypoxia stars had left his eyes. Then, with an effort,
he finished what Hank had started by completing the long trip back to the rescue
squad with three new air bottles in tow for Stoker, DeSoto and Gage.

The last of these were fitted to them successfully when Chet's gas
sickened condition swept him once more into unconsciousness.


The Hazmat Incident Commander studied the mine company's
landscape from a distance. He had made sure that all of his
crews were carefully upwind of Station 51's location.

"Have you spotted them all lieutenant?" he asked his safety officer.

"Yes sir. It seems they had time to get into their air bottles before blacking out."
replied the fully hazmat suited firefighter. "But we can't tell their statuses, those
vapors are too dense."

"Easy son, we'll get to them just as soon as we can. You know I'm not
risking any more men down there until we know what the situation is fully.
Tell the Operations Officer to set up for Level Two Haz Mat. Showers
and full respiratory suit precautions. I'm not convinced the mechanical
sniffers were accurate on those methane and carbon monoxide readings.
There may be another gas working down there that we haven't detected
yet." said the IC scoping his binoculars once more over all the vomit stains.

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"I'll get everyone started.." said the Safety Officer. "Whatever those fumes are,
they weren't fast acting enough to prevent those paramedics from reviving
someone during the early minute intervals. We spotted a bag valve mask
lying next to them and a resuscitator supply fitted with a nonrebreather, turned
on, by a used oral airway."

"Maybe that was the fireman who eventually called out the mayday.
Have you found him yet?"

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"Yeah, he's the fourth casualty you're seeing lying by the paramedics
with the HT around his arm. His jacket says his name is Kelly."

"Keep having our people trying to contact him through his talkie. He
may still be responsive somewhat despite being unable to move." said
the fireman in charge. "Once I'm convinced things are safe enough through
which to enter, we'll stokes them all out to Decontamination."

Soon, the IC was joined by Battalion One and all factors were worked out
and decided upon in a course of action.

Six minutes after the Hazmat response arrived, suited crews entered
the Hot Zone to rescue and decontaminate Station 51's fallen firefighters.

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It was several hours later in ICU at Rampart Hospital.

Station 51's crew had all been admitted to the same open nursing station
in six different cubicals of vacuum controlled isolation rooms arranged in
such a way where they could all see and hear each other.

Chet smiled a few seconds after his eyes reopened around his oxygen mask.
::We're safe now, partially because of me. Gage is never gonna live this down
once he finds out what went on after I woke up out there.:: he thought in wonder.

He caught one young isolation suited nurse newly studying him from her
place in front of the vital signs monitors wired to all of them at the nurses desk.
"Yes, folks. Chet Kelly probably has single handedly saved the lives of his entire
station crew today. And all in one shot, too." he mumbled happily to himself.
"Johnny Gage, you are gonna eat your heart out big time once you find
that that fact's the absolute truth."

His iso room door opened just then, and Chet soon found himself face
to face with a hazmat suited Dixie McCall and Doctor Brackett.

Chet opened up his mouth and started speaking hoarsely...

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From: Patti or Jeff or Cassidy <>
Date: Wed Jun 28, 2006 9:31 pm
Subject: Full Circle------

"Doc,...h-how are they?" Kelly whispered.

"They're all fine. Johnny was touch and go with
a bit of acute respiratory distress syndrome but that proved
just temporary." replied Kel. "He only entered into
crisis because his blood carboxyhemoglobin levels were
near forty percent. Anyone would pant a little with that
kind of PO2 shortage. The hazmat triage paramedic said your
treating him probably made all the difference in the world, Chet.
You bought him more voluntary breathing time than he
normally would have had following that kind of carbon
monoxide exposure."

"Then that's all it was that got us? Carbon m-monoxide?"
Chet blinked in confusion. He didn't even wince when
Dixie drew out a followup arterial blood gas from his arm.

"And methane. No special decontamination was needed
in the end. Just a lot of O2 and a little Amyl nitrite to get
rid of the cyanide traces built up in your systems from
the fresh coal smoke blowing in from the road. That's what
saved all of you from serious cases of atelectasis. The
medication was injected at the scene until your I.V.s could be
established to prevent bronchial cast formation caused by
protein rich fluids potentially washing into your airways.

"Now with Gage, we had to blow off all of his CO a little more rapidly.
He's just finished a twenty three minute session in a hyperbaric chamber
to speed up its half life decay inside of his bloodstream.
His PO2 levels are finally out of the eighties." Kel shared.
"You yourself only have fifteen minutes or so before you're
cured of your carbon monoxide poisoning. It exists in the body
for only seventy five minutes or so on one hundred percent oxygen."

Chet looked at him skeptically, still feeling the effects of
smoke inhalation deep in his chest.

"It's true.." soothed Dixie. "The worst is over for you and the
rest of the gang. They're all resting. See?" she said, throwing
a hand about the ward.

"Then what are you two still doing inside of those funky space suits."
Chet asked. "What aren't you telling me?"

Brackett and Dixie exchanged looks of amusement. "We found
that Marco's infected with a particularly virulent pathogen."
said Kel.

"What's he got?" Chet asked with worry.

Dixie tried to hide her grin. "He's got the chicken pox. Only he
hasn't erupted out into the weepy lesion stage yet."

"He's got the chicken pox?!" Kelly frowned, still not believing.

Brackett nodded. "Yep. Its antigen came out clear as a bell
in his blood work. We had to isolate each of you into separate
self contained cubicles until we learned your exact histories with
the disease. You're the last one to awaken to tell us yours. Have
you had em?"

"No. Can't say I've had the pleasure." he grumbled miserably.
Chet sighed softly when he felt Dixie place a comforting hand on
the side of his cheek to ease the not so happy news and he closed
his eyes wearily.

"As I thought." Brackett said. "Well then, it looks like all six of you have
earned a protracted stay at Rampart until the pox runs past the
highly infectious stage."

"You're kidding. You mean nobody on my shift's had them before?"
Chet said with surprise.

"Nope." said Dixie. "Not even Roy with his two school aged kids."

"What about our folks at home? How are they gonna cope?"

Kel met his eyes evenly. "Do you really want to subject your
friends and family to the chicken pox like this? It's the best part
of summer right now. Not too cool. Not too hot.." he tried reasonably.

Chet quieted down. Just a little.
"Cap's gonna hate this. He's probably already his own worst enemy
for missing the escalated coal fire conditions under us."

"Not his fault.." said Dixie. "I spoke with your Battalion Chief to
get what kind of gases he thought you fellas were dealing with
in the triage area. Apparently, secondary fire crews found a
very recent surface soil failure above a very large, new,
burning vein of coal. A hundred foot section of the road upwind of
your rescue site gave way just when you went down into the shaft
and caused a silent steam explosion, releasing years worth of trapped
gases. No one could have foreseen that happening. Not even your
captain." said McCall with conviction.

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"So, in spite of wanting suddenly to be put in a zoo for my future
spots, how am I doing right now?" Kelly asked, sitting up a little
higher in the bed.

"You're going to be perfectly fine. Your chest roentgenograms were
negative. Your kidney functions are showing normal. Your EKG
shows absolutely no signs of secondary smoke inhalation related
cardiac ischemia.  All we have left to do is assist in displacing the
elevated level of carbon monoxide from your blood's hemogoblin."
Kel said, raising both eyebrows thoughtfully.

"And how are you going to handle that?" Chet asked, his leariness
of hospitals and doctors showing almost as strongly as Hank Stanley's

"Me? I don't personally have to do anything more.You're doing all
the work fixing yourself just by breathing in the humidified oxygen
flowing through that face mask of yours." Brackett smiled. "Try
and get some sleep. It'll speed up your detoxification. I'll have
Dixie go on rounds to tell the others that you're finally back in
the land of the living."

"Appreciate it, doc." Chet folded his hands behind his head. "Oh,
and Dixie?"

"Yeah?" asked McCall, turning at the door in her iso suit.

"Could you deliver a message to Marco Lopez for me?"

"Sure. What do you want me to tell him, Chet?"

"Tell him to watch his back when this pox thing's finally over.
Looks like the Phantom's gonna be real busy paying him back
for a week's time spent in the hospital.." Kelly gestured
empathetically with his non I.V.'ed arm.

Dixie just rolled her eyes before she left the room on Brackett's heels.


It was Day Two at Rampart in the Isolation Ward.

By then, Chet Kelly felt that he knew every irritating mannerism
his coworkers possessed, and then some, by the time lunch
finally rolled around.

Captain Stanley, in the cubicle to his left, took his tray from
the dietary aide and smiled sweetly at her. "Thanks for the food,
miss." And he cracked the lid open, trying not to make a face.
"Smells wonderful."

"Cap,." grumbled Marco, trying to take a nap in his sheets, with
his back to the others, said. "Don't you know it's wrong to tell
a fib? You're lying now. I can tell."

Cap huffed and slammed the aluminum lid back down over
his plate of turkey and reconstituted mash potatoes. "Oh,
really? What if I meant it in spite of things?"

"Impossible, Cap. You're not the contradicting type. You
can get real mean, but you definitely never get deceitful.
Ever." said Gage around his oxygen cannula.

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"This coming from a man with two prongs shoved up his nose.."
Chet gestured.

"Shut up already, Chet." roared Johnny. "We've heard enough
of your Freudian observations to last a lifetime."

"And whose lives did I save last week?"

The rest of the gang fell silent.

"That's right. I saved all your hides. Least you can do is allow
me an ear or two whenever I got something to say for at least
a little while." Chet said with some sting.

Gage met Chet's gaze eye to eye. "Since when have you got
anything worthwhile to say to us anyway?" Johnny told him


"So that's how it happened.." said Roy, as he and his partner
waited for the rescue call to finish airing through the overhead
speaker. "You offended Chet in his highest charitable
benefactor mode when we all were quarantined at Rampart last
week. Johnny, I think remembering what you did then's keeping
Chet from speaking to you any today.."

"You think so?" Johnny asked, parking his helmet back onto his
head as Roy reactivated the squad's lights.

"Yeah, I probably know so." Roy returned, equally firm.

"Well, good. I think I'm actually enjoying the peace and quiet for
once." Johnny said empathetically with anger.

"You sure could have fooled me. Just a minute ago you were
really fretting about what hidden shinanigans he might be up to."
Roy exacerbated.

"Things change. I change. Especially when Chet does."
Johnny said with heat. "Now are we gonna roll on this call
or am I gonna have to get out and push the squad all the way
there?" he said holding out the piece of paper containing the
address he had written down to his glaring partner.

"I'm going. I'm going. We gotta wait a tad for the slower engine,
remember? Now hush and let me drive this thing without you doing
it from the perverbial back seat." Roy fired right back.

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L.A. unexpectedly cancelled their response. ##L.A., Station 51. Return.##

In the Ward, Marco grumbled. "Aw.. there's goes another chance to burn
off the rest of my scabs with some real fire heat. That's not fair at all."

"I got some calamine lotion with your name on it.." said Roy, holding up
the bottle out his driver window.

"You know I hate the smell of that stuff, Roy. Thanks but no thanks.
Epsom salts and another serious bath'll do me just fine."

"No baths while on duty, Lopez. You'll lag behind changing back into your
uniform because you'll be too wet to be speedy enough." Cap told him
with a firm jerk of his thumb.

The others chuckled as they peeled off their jackets and helmets to
return to the kitchen and the rec room to resume downtime activities.

Gage grinned. "You can always elicit Boot's help with your itching.
He loves to lick people when they don't want him to."

"You keep him away from me, Johnny. He must have pulled a dozen
sneak attacks on me last night as it was. I didn't get any sleeping
done at all for keeping up my guard." Lopez complained.

"Maybe a little sleep deprivation'll de-sensitize your skin a little more,
Marco." Cap grinned, offering up a bright side.

Gage and Roy laughed as Marco glared at them all while trying not
to scratch at his withering pox marks. Lopez grumpily snatched
the topical's bottle out of Roy's idle hand and he immediately
peeled off his uniform shirt down to his white tank top to dab some
on liberally with the flat of several fingers using the squad's side

"Any words of wisdom from the wise on this subject matter?"
Gage asked Kelly directly, with a smile.

"Why should I have anything better to offer him, Gage? I'm not
the paramedic here." and he stormed off, dragging Boot after
him by the collar so he wouldn't leap up and lick off the medication
Marco was slathering onto his skin.

"Wow, what a grouch.." Johnny hissed to the rest of them in a
subdued voice.

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"Yeah, well at least Chet's talking to ya again." Stoker remarked.

"You call that talking? I liked him better when he was staying mute."
Johnny told him no nonsense.


It was the middle of the night when the next response toned
all of them out of a sound sleep.

From: "Mark Panitz" <>
Date:  Wed Jun 28, 2006 9:41 pm
Subject:  Service Dog Rescue

The tones sang out. ##Squad 51, we've got a 911 call with a dog barking.
3560 Riverside Drive. Cross street Hollywood Blvd. Enhanced 911 shows a
person with a service dog at that address.## said L.A.

Roy and John got into the squad and responded.

John said. "I wonder who called us?"

"Who? The person or the dog?" Roy replied.

"I'll bet the dog made that call.." John said.

"We'll soon find out." replied Roy as they pulled away.

From: Patti or Jeff or Cassidy <>
Date: Thu Jun 29, 2006 8:35 am
Subject: Man's Best Friend..  

"You know, Roy? I don't think I like this new experimental
phone system they're working on. It may be great keeping
an open line whenever someone's incapacitated and not
able to talk.. But at the onset, there's not enough information
given to any crew who's supposed to be getting there. I
mean, dog barking.. assistance dog. It could be anything
going on at that house." Gage grumbled while he and
Roy tightened their helmets under their chins a little more.
"Me? I'd rather know what I got coming.. Be it a man down,
child trapped, or a house fire..... ya know?"

Roy smiled. "Everything the fire department does is for
a good reason, Johnny. I've been with working for them
long enough to know that usually when Headquarters springs
a new idea like this 911 thing, it's usually revolutionary in
nature and awkward only temporarily. That network's probably
gonna save a lot of lives."

"Just three little numbers.. What's to keep your kid from dialing
those up whenever he feels like it?" Johnny mused.

"The chief says there's an operator on the other end who'll call
right back to see if there's truly an emergency at the incoming
call address that covers that."

"Still wastes valuable time if you ask me. A neighborhood watch
gives better info on what's happening with someone better than
an electronic phone system. I mean, what difference does it make
whether or not we know a person's got a help dog with em or not?
That only means they're physically handicapped in some way.
Either being blind, or deaf, or with challenged mobility.. That's
something a paramedic can learn getting face to face with a patient... about two seconds.." Gage insisted.

"Try not to fuss about it too much, Johnny. People like you are a
little slow warming to anything new, but once you've been convinced
that an idea or new technology works, you settle down and decide that
you feel comfortable with it." DeSoto told him.

"With this idea though?...Not in a million years. There's been too many
bugs with the 911 Sifter. And what does enhanced mean anyway? That
things sound louder?" Gage's face was dubious.

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"No, it means that L.A. can track a phone's location on a map and
discover where it's at when a caller can't talk themselves. All a victim
has to do is kick a phone off the hook and leave it there after dialing
out." Roy told him.

"You sure know a lot about this funky new system, don't ya?"

"Sure I do. I'm a paramedic trainer, remember? Gotta keep up with
the latest for all those trainees we get coming through.." Roy grinned
cheekily. "I'd be happy to show you all the paperwork on it..."
he offered.

"No thanks. I'm a staunch supporter of the eyes and ears first theory.
Just like Cap. I don't wanna know about the 911 system, not until it's
been ratified into our county's fire department policies, and only
when I've been officially ordered to learn about it." Gage told him firmly.

"Suit yourself. It's always a good thing to keep current...Remember how
surprised you were when Cap dragged out that life net to catch us
when that apartment building was threatening to flash?" Roy asked

"Yeah. What about it?"

"You didn't even know it existed until Cap had that other company
drag it out to use for us. And that was OLD technology.." DeSoto

"So? Do I look like I suffered for not knowing about it?" Gage snapped.

"Well, no. Not exactly. But it's always a good thing to be prepared.."
Roy told him.

"I'm not a boy scout.." Gage grumbled. "Turn a right turn. Here."

Roy never lost his smile as he rounded a bend onto Riverside

Johnny's face completely washed into a hard line. "And there's
yet another 911 bug biting us in the *ss again right now, Roy. Get a
load of that situation.." he said angrily.

A house was engulfed in flames down the block and its address
matched the one on their notes. And an assistance dog was
waiting for them, seated nervously in its harness on the lawn,
torn between training to stay until help arrived and running
back into the house after his companion. All Johnny had to
see was its fidgety behavior to know that the house wasn't
the slightest bit empty of human life.

Roy pulled up a hundred feet and upwind of the dwelling while
Johnny got on the squad radio. "L.A., Squad 51. Respond two pumper
companies to our address! We've a fully involved single story wooden
house structure on fire with a possible victim or victims inside. Their
exact number is unknown."

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 No Sooner Said
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