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 The Other Side
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Page Two

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Roy asked the next question that had crossed everybody's mind.
"Yeah, I guess." he muttered, scratching his head. "But what exactly,
does it do?"

Charlie glanced towards Chet knowingly, pointing askance at DeSoto.
"Is he for real?"

Kelly milked his new fan club's loyalty to the max. "Yep. And yeah, I
gotta work with him every day. This, my fine Irish friend, is a hose
hook." he told Roy simply.

"A whaa?" sputtered Gage.

Charlie turned to Mike Stoker, the station's quiet engineer. "Don't you
get tired of getting knocked in the shins by charging and bucking hoses
while you're working the panel all the time?" he pegged.

Stoker was frank. "Sometimes. Usually, I just stand on them when that

Chet pressed his ante'. "Well, how about just....moving them out of
your way.." he said, demonstrating with his new tool's single gaffer's
hook at the end of its post and handle. He neatly spaghetti looped
several coils around a seated, puzzled Boot parked in the middle of
a tangled pile of limp hose, like a serpent handler using a snake hook.

Now the light bulbs flashed in the others' heads, but no one became
as tickled as Charlie. "Chet." he said, reaching into his back pocket
around the greasy rag he always carried there. "I want in. And I've
got some investment pals I trust with my life savings. Anything up
front financially you need to start promoting this hook thing throughout
the department, just give me a call." he winked, happy that someone
was finally showing themselves to be even slightly mechanically
inclined. He handed Kelly a white dog eared business card that was
heavily stained with oily fingerprints.

"Thanks, Charlie." said Chet. "I think I will. And if you come with me,
I'll show you how it was made. I've already started welding a second
one out in the back yard."

The two curly haired firemen left then, arms over shoulders to
discuss their up and coming contest bid to L.A.Co. Headquarters,
leaving the others behind to pick up their slack jaws that were still
hanging down in utter disbelief.

Then the tones went off...

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From: "Erin James"  <>
Subject: Flying Off The 405
Date: Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:01 pm

A-shift bolted for the bay along with Charlie. Suddenly a voice, unknown
to the guys, broke through the speaker. ##Station 51.  Respond to a reported
traffic collision on the 405 just east of exit 10. That's the 405 just
east of exit 10. Time out : 1400.## Charlie watched as the guys sprinted for
the trucks sans Hank, who headed for the radio.

Hank wrote the information down and quickly picked up the radio, "Station 51,
10-4. KMG 365." He spun and handed the slip to Roy. Then sprinted for the

Within forty-five seconds the trucks were gone, with lights and sirens blaring.

Stunned, Charlie watched as the station emptied. Then he thought, ::I have never
seen these guys in action and they are supposed to be some of the best in the
county, let me go watch. Maybe I can help.:: Charlie bolted out the back door of
the station for his red departmental truck.

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Since the accident wasn't very far from the station, A-shift arrived on scene in
two minutes flat. What greeted them was a bit of a surprise. It looked like a
minor fender bender between two cars with a third having stopped to help.


Mike and Roy brought the engine to a stop as close as they safely could,
to the fender bender, and both trucks emptied. Having heard the
approaching help, a man crawled out of one of the banged up cars.
Everybody was shocked to see it was their district's station dispatcher,
Sam Lanier. Sam yelled, "Guys, we have one pinned and two uninjured.
I stopped to help out."

A-shift nodded in acknowledgement. Hank ordered, "Chet, Marco, check
both cars for any fire hazards. Roy, Johnny, help Sam here. Yell if you need

A chorus of "Right, Cap"'s were heard as the guys got to work. As they
pulled their gear out, Johnny commented, "People are driving like maniacs

"I know what you mean, Junior." said DeSoto.

Suddenly Mike yelled, "WATCH OUT!!!!! Sam, MOVE NOWWWWW!!!"

Startled, everybody heeded Mike's words and quickly moved to the side of
the road.

They watched in horror as a speeding pickup lost control in the center, hit the
ditch, flipped four times in the air and then came to rest on its roof on the other
side of the guardrail.

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Charlie pulled up behind the engine just as the truck finished its last flip and
thought, ::Holy C--:: Then he rushed out, running along the grassy margin
toward the others.

Hank looked up, "Stoker!?" he shouted, starting a head count.

Stunned at what he had seen, Mike replied, "I'm okay."

"Lopez, Kelly?!" Hank continued.

Both yelled, "Good to go."

"Gage, Desoto?!"

Both yelled back, "We're fine."

Hank yelled, "Sam!"

Sam yelled back, "I'm okay!"

Once he was satisfied the crew and Sam were accounted for, Hank got
back to the wreck. ::It's going to be an ugly job. This is a twisted mess!::
Cap was the ranking person on scene so he was now the Incident

Charlie ran up, "Hank, can I help?"

Hank replied, "Go block traffic, I don't care how. Just do it!"

"You got it."

Charlie took off.

Hank barked, "Roy, go check on Sam and see what he has. Chet, go with him.
Johnny, Marco, check on the other driver over there. I'll get us more hands out
here on the fly."

The group broke up, HT's in hand. Hank picked up his HT, "L.A., Station 51."

##Go ahead, 51.##

"L.A., respond a battalion chief for incident command along with an additional
squad, three ambulances, and the police for traffic control code 3 to our location.
We have just had another vehicle involved in a new rollover accident."

##10-4, 51.##

Hank jammed the HT back into his pocket. A quick look back at Mike, revealed the
engineer was ready and waiting for anything that might happen as a safety lookout.

Just beyond Mike, Charlie had pulled his fire department mechanic's
truck sideways across the road to block traffic.


Roy and Chet sprinted for Sam and Chet quickly started to check the
scene for fire danger.

Sam said, "Hey, Roy."

"Hey, Sam. I was wondering where you were this morning." DeSoto said quickly.

"Ran home to get some extra clothes because we're down two dispatchers.
I was on my way back when the wreck happened. This is Nick. His leg is pinned
under the dash. He's been conscious the whole time. Everybody in the second
car is okay. They're just waiting on the cops for a report." Lanier shared.

Roy nodded. "I'll have Cap look in on those guys myself in a minute just to be
sure. Okay, thanks Sam. Hey, can you..."

"What do you need?" Sam anticipated.

"Handle the biophone for us?" DeSoto asked, glad Sam had
that skill to the max.

"You got it."


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Sam crawled out and Roy replaced him in the car. "Hi Nick, my name is Roy."

Nick grimaced, "Hi Roy. C-Can you get me out of here?"

"We're going to work on that now. Can you feel your legs?"

"Yeah." Nick gasped in pain and then said, "The one that's stuck is broke but
I can still feel it."

"All right hang in there. Soon some firemen and I we'll get you out of here."

Chet peeked back in, "We're clear, Roy. What else do you need?"

"The jaws, splints, 02, blankets, drug box and a BP kit. Sam is going to do our
relay with Rampart."

"Allll rright.." Kelly celebrated, recognizing Sam happily. Sam and Chet took
off to get the requested supplies. They were back in less than a minute.

Roy said, "Give me the oxygen and a blanket first to cover Nick with."

Chet handed Roy the requested items.

In pain, Nick asked, "Wha-what's all that stuff for?" he said, seeing an air
pump and metal bars and straps.

Roy responded as he adjusted the mask's flow rate, "The oxygen's to help you
calm your breathing down. The blanket is to cover you so no glass or anything
gets on you while we're getting ya outta here and this contraption is an air splint
with a supporting exterior frame."  

Nick nodded, in too much pain to speak. Roy made quick work of the mask and
blanket and then crawled out to help Chet with the jaws once he was sure there
was still a good enough pulse maintaining in Nick's effected leg.

Sam set up the biophone, ready to do whatever else, too, that was needed
to help.

With a little nudge from the jaws, Roy and Chet were able to pry the front
of Nick's car dash off of his legs. Nick screamed at first, as the pressure
was released.

As soon as the car dash was pulled away Roy jumped back in. "Chet, give me
that lower leg air splint. Sam, lay a second blanket down on the ground."
Sam accomplished that and Chet handed Roy the requested splint.

Nick had passed out from the pain and Kelly immediately took over Nick's
head to guard and open his airway.

Before Roy splinted his leg he took a quick set of vitals and muttered,
"Lowish but all things considering, not too bad. BP's already rebounding."

With practiced hands, Roy quickly and carefully splinted Nick's leg. Ever so gently,
they turned Nick and brought him out of the car once a C- collar and short board
had been applied. Chet helped him lay Nick on Sam's blanket on top of a
long board and together, they fully secured his C-spine to both.

Roy said, "Chet, watch him closely. If anything at all changes or if
he wakes back up, let me know. Check his tactile vitals again in two minutes
and radio them to me, too."

"You got it. But good news. Help's just arrived. Squad 45, and three ambulances."

"Sweet. I'll have 45's take this guy then." he said as he watched Chet maintain
a jaw lift on Nick carefully.

The team of paramedics arrived with their gear and knelt.

DeSoto eyed them up.
"Stan, he's a simple fracture left leg. Passed out two ago. Vitals are
120 regular, 99 palp BP and 16 shallow. He's under deep enough to need
Chet's help here on his head. I haven't done a solid survey yet. I'm going to
go check on Johnny's rollover."

"Okay." he said. Then he and his partner got to work.

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Roy took off across the now quiet stretch of highway at a dead sprint.
He readied himself for the worst after having seen the Ford flip and tumble
through the air like it had been shot out of a cannon.  Marco looked up as
Roy approached. "I was just about to call you. You're not gonna believe
this one at all. That guy's the luckiest son of a--  If he doesn't go to church,
he's gonna probably start going now.."

"Why would he?"

"Take a look on the other side of the truck." Lopez grinned.

Roy did and he immediately balked, locking his legs for slip safety.

They were on a tiny cliffside shelf...the only one surrounded by
a vast yawning void that fell into a gorge a long, long, long way down.
He said quickly, "Thanks pal. Holy cow."

Marco moved and Roy replaced him inside the driver's door.
Johnny looked up. Roy asked, "What do we have? We're not gonna
slide even though we're kissing the edge like this."

Johnny said with relaxed humor, "Mr. Craig Scott, our stunt man, is
DUI. He's complaining of neck, back, and leg pain plus he's got a
possible minor head injury. I want to get a strip on him to check his
heart after that impact just to clarify his bilateral regular radials.
He's got a smallish light bruise over the sternum that's getting darker."

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"Sounds good." Roy peeked out, "Marco, radio Chet, have him send
Sam over with the biophone. Then can you go grab out another long
board, collar, blankets and the drug and splint boxes which are over by
Chet? Set everything but the scope, collar and board up on the road.
The ground might be too soft to treat him for long in here without risk of

"You got it." Marco took off. Roy turned his attention back inside the
mangled remains of the pickup.

The drunk asked, "Who's--?"

Johnny introduced Roy, "Craig, this is Roy. The other paramedic I was
telling you about."

Craig said, "Oh, Hi Roy."

"Hi, Craig." DeSoto said, checking his radial pulse to note what
Johnny had found there.

Marco returned with Sam in tow. Marco leaned in the car. "Good news.
More help's just arrived. The cops."

Roy and Johnny both let out a sigh of relief. Roy said, "Awesome.  
Have them check out the folks in the first car to be sure they're still
saying they're not injured."

"You got it." Marco took off once again.

Roy wrote some notes down for Sam. "Sam, call Rampart and read this

"No problem." Sam picked up the biophone receiver as Roy crawled
back into the cab. DeSoto looked around a little closer and realized that
Craig was not pinned.

Johnny nodded in agreement and said, "I want to get him boarded and
out of here before we do any secondary exam." he fretted, turning on
the EKG monitor that was resting near Craig's side."I don't even want to
think of what else this truck can do."

"You're not alone in feeling that way. And I think Craig agrees with us
wholeheartedly now. He's just seen where we're perched." DeSoto joked.

Sam watched in awe as Roy and Johnny carefully prepped Craig to move
without letting their dizzying position on the height effect them. Craig stank to
high heaven of booze as they and the other firefighters brought him out of the

More hands arrived as Chet and Marco came over with Hank not far behind.
Johnny had Craig's head so he immediately took command. "Cap, grab the
scope and the 02. Chet, Marco, let's get our friend up to some real terra
firma and concrete. I've had enough of this mountain goat act." Three heads
nodded in acknowledgement. Sam was spellbound as he watched from his
crouch on the road while the guys quickly brought Craig up with lines attached
to his long board.


Once the group was back on solid ground, they quickly set Craig down. Roy
cut open Craig's pants as Chet and Marco readied the needed splints. Craig
had a myriad of obvious injuries and probably a few hidden ones, too.

Hank radioed for one of the ambulance crews to meet them at their location.
Johnny focused on keeping Craig's c-spine straight as he manipulated him,
searching for fractures.

The oxygen woke Craig up even more, well enough for him to slur out,
"Hey man, those're my new pants."

Roy kept his voice even, "Would you rather lose your pants and let us treat
your injuries? Or keep your pants and risk your health?"

Craig went dutifully quiet.

Roy handed Sam more notes which Lanier relayed as Roy readied the
expected I.V.

Sure enough, a frazzled sounding Mike Morton returned on air, ##51, give
him an I.V. Normal Saline TKO with these vitals. Splint any obvious breaks,
maintain spinal precautions and get him in here sooner than now!##

::Geesh.. I wonder what's got him so worked up.:: Gage thought
as he overheard the emotion in Mike's voice.

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Roy and Johnny both nodded to Sam to acknowledge the instructions.

Sam said, "10-4, Rampart. 51 out."

Sam hung up the biophone. Mere minutes later, Craig was packaged and
ready to go. Just as the guys finished, the ambulance team arrived. Sam
stayed out of the way as Craig was transferred to the stretcher. Gage got
into the Mayfair and accepted the oxygen tank and Tetronix monitor from
Hank. Johnny quickly spoke, "Roy, I'll go in with him. We're getting to be
real buddies now."

Roy grinned, "All right, I'll have the squad there in a bit as soon as we get
cleaned up. I wanna check with those people in the first car for their
information and refusal of treatment forms."

"..'kay." said Gage. The guys loaded Craig into the ambulance. Once Johnny
was seated and belted into the captain's chair, Roy slammed the doors
shut and slapped them twice.

The ambulance took off.


Stunned, Sam finally spoke. "Wow. That was real work." he told
the firefighters as they sprayed down the pavement for gas and oil leaks
and rewrapped the rappeling ropes they had used.

The guys smiled.

Roy said, "Now you know what life is like on the other side of the mic."

Sam smiled, "It's interesting to say the least."

Lanier decided to stay longer and help Roy and the others clean up.

Roy asked, "Cap, how's Charlie? I saw him shaking as I was running
between victims."

"Mike checked on him. He's okay. A bit stunned emotionally from that near
miss. He left a minute ago. Somebody else needed him across county.
And get this, he wants us to call him and let him know how everybody is

"Really? Wow. Okay." DeSoto gaped.

Sam asked as the crew crossed back over the highway toward the squad,
"Can you call me, too? I'm on duty the rest of the night and my curiosity on
their outcome'll only grow."

Roy smiled, "You bet." Roy sobered, "Sam, thank you for your help. We
definitely needed it. You haven't forgotten any of your firefighter training."

Sam blushed slightly as Roy loaded the gear back into the squad. Chet
had broke away to take care of the abandoned jaws.

Sam said, "You're welcome, Roy. Just glad I was there."

"So were we." Chet grinned.

Hank smiled, "Sam, do you want me to write you a note so your
supervisor knows where you've been?"

Sam chuckled, "No thanks Hank. He heard every word of my transmissions
into Rampart. We monitor those. He already knows where I am."

"Handy. Okay. Thanks again."

"You're welcome guys. You boys stay safe."

Marco smiled, "Always. Have a good night at work."

Sam smiled, "I hope so."

"We'll be seeing you?" Cap asked Lanier after the post rescue work was

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Lanier grinned like a cat. "No, you'll be hearing me."
And then he winked and walked away, whistling, as
he returned back to his yellow Volkswagon Beetle.

Roy left in the squad not long after and headed for Rampart.

Nearly an hour after the initial call went out, the rest of
the engine crew finally headed back to the station.

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From: patti keiper <>
Date: Wed Feb 6, 2008 2:37 am
Subject: Get A Little Of That Human Touch..

Dr. Morton let go of the biophone receiver's button hastily
and snatched at the chart that Dixie just had delivered stat
to the paramedic alcove station. "Give me that, Dixie. I'll let
you know the minute I know what's going on."

"Mike, what's happening up there? Nobody's telling me anything."
McCall demanded, finally letting go of Sharon Walter's medical

"That's because nobody knows yet."

Both doctor and nurse startled when a sudden
Code Blue was called to the same general floor on which the
staff emergency was unfolding.

##Code Blue. Code Blue. Room 302. Dr. Morton, report
immediately to Room 302.## said the hospital operator overhead.

"I'm gone, lady!" Mike complained to the air. "I should have seen this
coming. Sharon's been sick all week and I didn't approach her about
it. Not even once, Dix. I'll let you know as soon as I get the basics."
he said, yanking open the base station's glass door.

"But.." Dixie sputtered. "That might be my nurse in trouble up there."

"Stay with the radio. You're in charge of Squad 45's follow-through from
51's car case! I'll call you using the red phone.." he said, pointing
derisively to the one on the wall above the paramedic intercom.

He tried to run when the radio called him back. It was an unfamiliar
voice reporting paramedic findings.

Morton grumbled, "Answer that for me." he snapped at Dixie, now
very worried about the time that was slipping away when he
should have already been upstairs. He hastily read core details
from the inside of Sharon's chart.

"Unit calling in, please repeat." Dixie said swiftly, taking over
the receiver.

##Rampart, this is KMG 941 L.A. on behalf of Squad 51. We've
a second male victim of a single car rollover.##

Morton continued to talk into McCall's ear. "If it's not critical, handle it
yourself and tell Joe to skip coming to this one so he can respond
to my floor emergency, too. Who's attending up there?"

"Kel is.. er.. he was. I thought he was sleeping on break. Up there's
his usual hiding spot." Dixie blurted out.

"My bunkroom?"


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"I've always wondered who wrinkles up the bottom bed." Morton

"So lucky he was close at hand for this code call." Dixie snorted
and then she answered the caller. "Go ahead, 941 L.A., your
recording's enabled."

Morton abbreviated the process on deciding if he could leave.
He thumbed the toggle. "Sam, does he need a chopper to lift
him out?"

##Negative. He's conscious with holding vitals. He's ETOH,
and very relaxed. No obvious heavy trauma past two ankles.##  
said Lanier reading the notes Roy had handed to him.

Dixie nodded her head. "Ethanol intoxication. I got this.
You're covered. Go." she told Mike, giving him and the chart
both a healthy shove out of the communications cubicle.

Morton took off for the elevators, fighting his fears and doubts the
whole way up to the third floor. He used his staff's magnetic badge
to swipe the elevator reader into priority mode. "Medical emergency.
Take the next one." He told an orderly returning an orthopedic patient
to her room.


Sounds of active talking, wailing alarms and a flurry of activity
around a bed in the effected room gave Dr. Morton the first clue
on how severe the situation really was. "Is she viable?"

Kel answered from where he was listening over Sharon's opened
uniform shirt. "Yes. I toned a blue because her rate's highly irregular."

"She's still unconscious. Cooling measures?" asked Morton as he
began a full head to toe on Sharon as the orderlies and Nurse
Carol Evans cut away her restrictive clothing down to the skin.

"Already on the way." Kel replied, testing deep tendon reflexes in
her legs. They were twitching slightly. And so were her arms.
He looked up. "Carol, get a catheter in. We'll need a urine
sample to screen for any active pathogens. A U/A, U/C..."

"Kel, she's been sick." Morton said, interrupting, pausing in
his check of Sharon's oral airway under the oxygen mask.

"How so?" Kel asked, looking up from the EKG strip he was reading.

"Sore throat. Joint aches. For the past week at least." Morton said
self consciously. "I noticed but I didn't pursue it."

Dr. Brackett grimaced at the oversight of Mike's about a staff member.
"Too late now. Any throat culture's bound to come up negative."

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"Draw a full blood series?" Mike suggested.

"Yeah, go ahead and get six tubes. Standard everything." Brackett

Morton stepped over to the prep tray and got the supplies he
needed. A sharp smacking he gave her arm to raise a vein
started bringing Walters around. She moaned incoherently.

Deftly, Kel pulled out the oropharyngeal before the young nurse
could vomit on a gag reflex. "Sharon?.. Can you hear me yet? It's
Doctor Brackett."

Walter's head and face shivered and her eyes began to roll. She answered
with sounds but no words came out. Her struggles became stronger
as she began to thrash arms and legs in an activity that wasn't a seizure.
It was something else. Two orderlies grabbed her wrists and ankles to
keep her from bumping them on the bed railings.

"Tie her down. Lamb's wool restraints." Morton told them.

"Sedate her a bit, Mike. This isn't a normal way of coming back to
consciousness at all." Brackett conferred.

Morton reached over to the crash cart and soon, he established a fast
saline lock. A minute later, he delivered a dose of light diazepam to
calm the worst of the young woman's tremors down.

"That did it. What's her breathing rate now?" Kel asked.

"Ten, and not as deep." Carol replied.

"Good. She's stabilizing. Now all we have to do is--"
His voice seem to agitate Sharon, even more than the ice a nurse
began to lay about her sweating body to curb the fever, did.
"Get Dixie up here. Stat!" Brackett said to the others. "Maybe she
can get through to her better than I can. We're gonna need a
solid history."

"I'll take these to the lab." said Morton, finishing up what had
been interrupted.

"Get Joe in here, too. She's still got arrythmias in Lead II. I'm
gonna need his consult on this eventually. Sooner is better
than later."

"I'll call him before I go." said Morton, moving to the phone
on the wall.

"Take this along, too, doctor." said Evans, handing off a culture
cup she had drawn from Sharon's newly established bladder
catheter. "It's a sterile catch."

Mike held out his tray for it, then he left rapidly for the basement
with Sharon's line of still very hot samples.


Dixie flew into the room. "How is she?"

"Semi conscious and febrile." Kel told her immediately.
"Out of immediate danger."

"You may be a doctor, but there is more than one kind of
danger going on here." McCall scoffed protectively as she
donned a pair of gloves and began soothing Sharon's restless
movements with a cool hand on her forehead.

"What?" Kel blinked, distracted, taking a blood pressure reading.

"Never mind. Uh, can all of you leave for a few minutes? Carol and I
will watch her until Joe gets here for his turn at a once over. I
think I can get the information you need out of her better that way."

Remembering suddenly about the crush Sharon once had on him,
Brackett nodded minisculely, and retreated dutifully, taking the male
orderlies with him.

The door closed. And Carol took a chair over by the heart monitor
to run another strip or two.

Dixie sighed, finally smiling down at Sharon. "Men." she began.

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"Are they gone?" Walters whispered in a chilled and shaking shiver.

McCall immediately drew up a sheet that covered Sharon up to
the chin. "Yes. For now. What's the problem, love? Was it having
them taking care of you?"

Walter's didn't answer, but tears suddenly leaked out of both eyes,
causing her usually beautiful mascara and peachy rosy blush, to run
in hideous streaks.

McCall wiped these away with a gloved finger. "Hey... It's okay.
There's nothing to be embarrassed about at all."

"But they saw me..." Sharon minced and she began to cry softly,
still half scared of the tiny remaining jumps her arms and legs were
drumming on the bed that she couldn't control. "I can't help think
what he thought. What all of them thought about my--" she broke off,
completely frightened and self conscious.

McCall met her young charge's eyes evenly, and adjusted some
twisted soaked hair away from the elastic strap on her O2 mask
gently. "Sharon, Kel's just a doctor. He's not thinking anything that way.
As for Mike, for him, any patient's just a puzzle that needs to be solved.
Nudity to them is nothing at all, believe me. It's nothing to you anymore
when you take care of others, right?"

"That's right." she said only half certainly. Her youth was showing strongly.

Dixie smiled, seeing the teenager that Sharon still was behind her eyes.
"Well, they've been in this healthcare business far longer than either one of us.
So everything like that has become old hat to them. Ages ago." Dixie soothed,
keeping an eye on the EKG monitor when it sped up a little as Sharon
fretted. "For example, do you see me as being scarred for life?"

"I don't get it.." Sharon gasped, trying to get comfortable with
the tube draining her bladder free. "I gotta p**." she said bluntly,
still slightly shocked about her illness.

"No you don't. You remember what you lecture to your patients? That's
just a ghost sensation. It'll pass. Now getting back to the subject.
What you don't get, is what happened to me once when I was in your

Sharon tried to frown.

Dixie leaned forward, close in to Sharon's ear, and elaborated.
"I've been seen in the buff by a whole firehouse of men and that
hasn't effected our friendship any, one iota."

Walter's mouth framed into a surprised 'oh.' "What happened?" she
squeaked, wheezing a little as her illness fought her.

"Trauma assessment. I had a car roll on top of me. Enough to flatten my
head a little. I woke up in an ambulance to brand spanking new paramedic
Johnny Gage, blushing brighter than a cherry, with his hands on my
totally bare ribcage, checking me out for fractures."

"How'd you get over that?" Walters whispered, horrified.

"I cracked a joke. I said. Either propose to me or tell me where I'm broken,
before I deck ya." Dixie chuckled, trying to get Sharon to smile.

Sharon curled up weakily. "I'm not in a joking mood. How can I be?
Something's horribly wrong. I can feel it."

"It's nothing we can't fix. They left you alone with me, didn't they? It can't
be too bad or they'd still be hovering around us like a pack of bees." Dixie
shared. "Now tell me your symptoms. I was sent for to glean out all your
deepest darkest secrets, don't you know?"

Coughing wetly, and grimacing at the irregularly bleeping heart monitor,
Sharon told her everything.

When Dixie had finished taking down her notes, she added, "All right if
I check you out myself? It's been ten minutes. There may have been
some changes they need to know about."

Sharon lowered the sheet and Dixie got to work. She found small bumps
on Sharon's knees and elbows, just under the skin and fresh signs of
fluid buildup in her legs which was causing Sharon's ankles to swell.
"Do any of these hurt?" she asked, pressing on the lumps.

"No. Should they?"

"No. Definitely not. How's your chest?" McCall stated.

"It hurts." Sharon gasped.

"Trouble breathing?"

"Not really. I'm just really, really tired." she sighed softly, closing her eyes.

"All right. Now that's a consciousness level alteration. I'm bringing them back in,
okay? But with one change.."

"What's that?" Sharon asked quietly, beginning to drift, despite her limb

"This." And Dixie placed two towels around Sharon's private areas discreetly
enough, so none would get in the way of any another checkup when Dr. Early
finally came by for an official visit.

"....t-thank you, dixie...." Walters murmured, falling into unnatural drugged sleep.
She gripped Dixie's fingers gratefully.

"Anytime." McCall answered, still holding her sick and youngest nurse's
hand while she squeezed it right back.

Sharon finally smiled the tiniest of smiles, when she found that she was no
longer scared.

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From: patti keiper <>
Date: Wed Feb 6, 2008 1:40 pm
Subject: Caretaker Personified

Sharon took a deep breath, and woke up.  She saw
that she was in a patient room. 302 was dry markered
on the status board on the wall at the foot of her bed.
She was confused, and so she hit the patient call
button wired on the cord tied to the bed railing.

Dr. Early entered the room with her patient chart.
Immediately, he began to smile. "Morning."

"Doctor? I'm so sorry. I--"

"Shh.. You're supposed to be resting, Miss Walters.
Doctor's orders." he teased.

"Isn't this my day to work swing shift on the floor?"

"Not any more, it isn't. You've some healing to do first."
he grinned. Ceremoniously, he set the chart he was carrying
down onto her ample covers and opened it for her, facing
the pages so they were turned for her right side up.

"Oh, I can't read that." she gasped self consciously.
"Only doctors are supposed to--"

"Well, why not? It's your patient chart, so go on ahead.
Don't you want to know what happened to you yesterday?"

"I guess."

"Anything you don't understand, we can go over together."
said Joe kindly.

Sharon blinked, still doe eyed and uncertain. "Is it bad,
Dr. Early?" she said, without really looking at what her
eyes were targetting amid all of the mumbo jumbo of
doctor speak. "I know my heart's still off quite a bit."
she said. "I've been watching the monitor."

"You're on penicillin for that cardiac inflammation.
We're guessing you've come down with a first attack of
rheumatic fever."

"I've what?" she asked, her eyes getting large with surprise.

"Your symptoms fit the profile. You've antibodies for
group A streptococcal pharyngitis in your blood, and those
muscle movements we've tamed down is a classic case
of chorea."

"Am I contagious? Oh my G*d. Dixie was here. And Kel, Carol
and Mac and Stan the orderlies..."

"Easy there. Settle down before you get tachycardic again for
no good reason." he laughed. "You aren't infectious now.
Not in the slightest. You were when you had strep, but last night
and today is all just an autoimmune response of your own body
still setting up to attack the strep infection you once had. The fever
isn't real. It's a farce. Your T-cells are targetting the joints,
heart and we think, your brain. That's why you're so sleepy

Sharon looked numb, so Joe went on, reassuring her.

Early moved closer, "May I sit down?" he said, gesturing to the

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"Certainly. I...sorry. Umm. This is really a shocker. I mean. I'm
healthy. Or at least, I thought I was." she frowned, reaching for
a kleenix sitting on the patient table near her bed.

Joe sat down on the bed and took her other hand affectionately.
"You will be in about two to twelve weeks, when the prednisone
we're giving you reduces the swelling in your heart. The I.V. antibiotics
are already well on the way of convincing your body that you're
no longer infused with bacteria."

Sharon started tearing up. "But doesn't rheumatic fever damage
people's hearts?" she said, frightened. "I took care of Missus
Miller last month going in for surgery," she sniffed. "..and that's
what she said happened to her when she was a little girl."

"Sharon.. she was going in for mitral repairs. Only in some
cases does rheumatic fever damage heart valves. And even if
scarring occurs, it may take ten to thirty years for symptoms of
valve problems to show. On the off chance they do, we can replace
anything going bad then, with surgery, to an almost complete
recovery." Joe shared.

"I still don't feel so well." she moped. "I think I overheard Dr. Morton
saying that I was incurable..."

"But fully treatable. We're prescribing bed rest and a return to
normal activities gradually. A liquid or soft diet for now that's
low salt so we don't exacerbate your carditis while you're staying
here..." he ticked off on his fingers. "Drugs to reduce inflammation,
reduce fluid buildup, and others to control those leg and arm movements."

Sharon grinned. "I think with these, I make a pretty good disco dancer.
Wanna stand me up to see how I groove?" she joked.

Joe laughed lightly. "Those spasms'll fade in a week or so. They've
already gone away enough for us to not have to restrain you any longer."

Walter's dark brown eyes met his, trying to be brave, but failing.
"When am I going to be discharged? I... Doctor, money's tight right now.
I just changed apartments. And-- I'm wondering if my nursing career's
ending before it's even begun." she began to sob openly again.

Joe smiled, not looking away. "Hey.. If I know Dixie, she'll force the hospital
administrators to wait for your graduation, so even after you've been evaluated by
specialists on a possible outcome with your heart, nobody can terminate your
position because you're gonna be on solidly approved LOA. I'll sign the
papers myself."

"Oh, Thank you, doctor, thank you so much.." she smiled, brimming with tears.

"Also, the nurses, and all of us, have already collected a pool of cash to last you
until you're back on your feet again. Think of it as a trust fund. We all love the work
you're doing here at the hospital. None of us wants you to leave. Ever, if we can
help it."

Sharon started crying again, this time tears of joy and gratitude. And she held out
her shaking arms to Joe who took her into a warm hug of encouragement just
as tight as the one she gave him. Sharon was utterly speechless, but nothing
further needed to be said at all as spears of pure sunlight began flooding the
room through the window, filling the air with rainbows around them.

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Subject: Hippy Crack Anyone??
From: patti keiper (
Sent: Wed 2/06/08 7:24 PM

Dr. Brackett clutched his shock blanket protectively
to his sleepy chest as he sought another napping
place. ::No sense going back to the resident's nook
now. Everybody's found out that I like to go there to
unwind a little on all my breaks. D*mn. Where's a spot
not even Dixie can figure out this time?:: he thought

Out loud, Kel continued a stream of epitaphs. "So
much for getting some shut eye in between triple
shifts. Last night was a real winner. Being interrupted
by young kid nurses who can't take care of themselves
well enough to stay healthy. D*mm*t. But I'm glad she's
all right. It was worth losing a little sleep to take care of her
sudden prob---... ah ha..!"

Peeking around secretly, Kel eyeballed up and down
the ground floor hallway before he put his hand on
the doorknob of a mop broom closet next to the
main surgical store on 1East.

Entering quickly, Kel cleared off half an empty shelf
of paper towel packs and made a comfortable bed
for himself using rows of their soft bulk as an
impromptu mattress.  Grumpily, he tore off his pager
and tossed it crankily over his shoulder. It landed,
still powered on, into the janitor's hand sink with a clatter.

He kicked the door shut with a happy flourish and doused the
lightbulb with a quick unscrewing motion of fast fingers,
until it winked out into complete and total darkness.

Sighing, Brackett stretched out blissfully, knowing that he
had a full half hour before he began his 'next day' oncall.

Kel fell asleep in seconds, his arm cast over
his eyes.

Silence reigned over the little used hallway. It was
Sunday, and there was no regular surgeries scheduled
except for any emergency case that happened to come
in by paramedic intercept.


Several long minutes later, a light trembler shook
the building. Power wasn't interrupted so Rampart's
staff just noted that the fire department scanner was
turned on and then they went about their business as the
Richter scale didn't even crank out an alert at all, falling
far below the standard earthquake strength of one.

But in the boiler room, two workers began to talk.

"Yeah,.." said Scotty, the old Irishman.
"The existing hospital complex suffered moderate
damage in the Northridge earthquake of 1964 which damaged our
interior mainframe. We needed a citation to get all our repairs done.
I remember being on that team. What was funny was this. Because
several hospitals were severely damaged during that quake and injured
people had to be transported long distances for emergency care, the
state of California passed SB1953, an amendment to an older law
requiring all hospitals to move their acute care and intensive care
units into earthquake-safe buildings by 1973."

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"Did we pass muster?" asked his younger coworker, dressed in
a neat denim work shirt.

"Finally. Took a lot of work. Tell you what? Why don't you make
a sweep of all critical rooms and make sure all the fuse boxes
and other infrastructure systems are still reading on the true.

"Sure. What floors first?"

"All of them, boy. You never can be too careful."


Deep in the substrata around Rampart, the tiles in
Anesthesia Store on 1East cracked under pressure.

The spreading fissure in the wall grew, spewing dust
and dirt plumes until it reached a pipe intersecting it,
between two monstrous gas tanks, labelled N2O.

The light tremor in the ground receded back into stillness,
but not before it sheared off the metal valve connecting
this gas's delivery system to the surgical suites next door.

A plume of freezing, sinking invisible gas began spurting
out of the main cylinder juncture at high speed and soon
its writhing layer began to displace all the air in the room
with its purified substance. The level of foreign mist
in the room began to rise, and it started to spread laterally,
through the ventilation system, to everywhere on the ground
floor of Rampart.

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Kel coughed, almost choking, and that aroused him.  He
didn't know the reason why right away, for after he had taken
several deep breaths of air when he felt a light tingling that made
him feel as if he were twisting or spinning. "Whaatt?"

His disorientation increased rapidly, and pulsing sounds,
along with an odd sense of continual deja vu waves, increased,
wrapping over one another. "Oww.." Then, as he opened his eyes,
Kel had a chaotic view of corsicating color in bright neon tunnel

"Ah!!" He nap jerked, as the urge to breathe again suddenly
bit down. Dr. Brackett struck his head on the top shelf above
him instantly and that, knocked him out the rest of the way.

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From: Erin James <>
Subject: Bugged
Date: Wed Feb 6, 2008 7:55 pm

Joe smiled at Sharon who was growing more tired. "Sharon,
you get some rest now, you hear. I'm going to go check on your
cardiac test results and then I will check on you later."

Sharon said sleepily, "Okay, Doctor Early. Thanks for everything."

"You're welcome. Ring one of the nurses if you need anything."

"I will."

Joe left as Sharon nodded off. He quickly made his way to the lab.

The normally unshakable doctor was having a hard time with this case.
The staff was pretty much one big family. They all looked out for one
another. Joe had seen Sharon from the time when she was just a student
and it wasn't easy to see her in her present condition. Joe thought,
::I hope we can get this thing under control and get her back on her
feet. She was a bit wet behind the ears when she first started here,
but she's blossomed into one heck of a nurse. I hope we can save
her career.::

Joe made it to the hot lab in record time. There were two lab techs
and a young intern in the lab. One of the techs looked up as Joe
walked in. Surprised, he said, "Hi Joe, what can I do for you?"

"Hi Tom, I was wondering if you had Sharon Walters' test results

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"Actually, I do. Right here."

The tech handed Joe the results. Joe read them over quickly and
half frowned, "Well, the only good news is we caught it before it
did permanent damage. At least, I got what I came down here
for. We can rule out purulent pericarditis with Neisseria." :: Now
the question is how do we handle what's already been done?::
he wondered.


Joe never got the answer to his question. His thoughts were cut off
when a piercing alarm rang out. "What the--?"

Tom spoke quickly, staring at a sudden flashing light glowing brilliantly
on his panel. "Doctor Early, we have to leave NOW! The main room's
infectious seal has been broken. We're all at risk of exposure to
who knows what."

Joe was stunned. As they all broke for the door, the young intern, who
was the second to the last to leave, didn't watch where he was going.
He flattened Early unknowingly with the closing door in his blind panic.

Joe was knocked silly and he barely had enough wits to
brace himself for the impact. His last waking thought was,
::D*mn this hurts.::

With that, Joe let the black out take over as his head hit the
cold floor of the lab with a solid clunk which completed his
trip into oblivion.


A few minutes after Joe hit the floor, he slowly came around.

He was disoriented at first, as to where he was. Once he heard
the dull tone of the emergency alarm going off, it came back
to him. ::I need to get into some kind of mask. Good grief, how
long have I been out?!::

Joe checked and made sure he could move his arms. They had
taken the brunt of his fall and then he blinked a few times to
clear the fog in his mind. Once Early had his faculties back,
he slowly got to his feet. Joe made sure he gained his
balance before attempting to move. ::D*mn! Gonna need to
get my noggin looked at. I think I may have scrambled
something up there. But clean air first.::

Joe looked around and spotted his destination, the
emergency air bottle storage. As quick as he could, he
made tracks to the locker. He was relieved to find a
HEPA mask in amongst the other gear and he quickly put
it on. Then he slowly made his way over towards a phone.

He took one last look in the lab and thought,
::Wonder what the heck caused this mess?::  

Panic set in when he realized how quiet the floor was.
::I've got to make sure everybody else's okay.::

Joe got over to a nearby stool and immediately
vetoed using the emergency stairs. The risk of
exposure now was probably too high for him
to actually leave the hot room. Joe turned and
reached for the phone receiver on the desk in front
of him. The single phone immediately blossomed
into two, and then doubled again.  ::Calling for
help with a bad headache like this SHOULD be fun.:: Joe
thought sarcastically. ::NOT!:: He began to sweat
when the mask suddenly started to seem to make it
hard for him to breathe. He resisted pulling it off.

Joe started to grope for one of the phones again when the
world around him started spinning like a top. He slouched
against the wall, willing the dizzy spell to go away. It wouldn't.
::Ah, man not again:: Joe thought. He had no choice but
to let the black out take over a second time.

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 The Other Side
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