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   What's  A  Dedicated Captain  Like  You  Doing..
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         Page Three
Note: Music soundtrack is high quality and slow loading in some cases. Patience. :)

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"Lean on me Kel, we'll get you over to a chair and then I'll tell

"O-okay." he gasped, still heavily fatigued and ringing with sweat.

Kel was careful at first not to put his full weight on Dixie.

Dixie said, "Kel, I can handle you. Lean on me. I don't want you
doing anything above the absolute minimum until I figure out
what's off on you. You're as red as all get out. And hot."

Dixie braced herself as Kel put his full weight on her.

"I can tell you that.." he moaned. Slowly, she helped him over
to the closest chair. Kel yelped when his head shot another stab
of pain through his temples and eyes. He whisper-talked as he said,
"Ooo, the mother of all migranes, Dix. Real bad this time."

"You don't get those, Kel. This is not the first time?
Now you're worrying me. You can't even sit up straight. I want
you to get on the floor right now before you pass out. Something's
definitely not right physically here, I agree."  She was shocked even
further when he didn't protest the idea. "I'll use a couch cushion to
raise your head up. Come on."

Dixie carefully helped Kel to the floor, onto his back.
Natural reaction had Dixie loosening his tie so he
could still breathe as he tried to get through his pain. Dixie spoke
soothingly, "Hang on, Kel, I'm gonna get us help."

In pain, Kel's voice cracked, "Don't go far. I've got something..
*ah* I've got ...s-something important I just gotta say to you.."

A worried knot caught in Dixie's throat, "I'm not going anywhere, Kel,
you've got my full attention now, d*mn it all. Just lie still."

Thankful she had trousers on, Dixie kneeled at Kel's head as he
closed his eyes. She reached up and grabbed the phone off of
her desk. She had two quick phone calls to make. As she picked
up the receiver to dial the first, she thought, ::I hope they're still here.
I heard them on the base station scanner coming in with a mock
patient, probably as an excuse to come in and see us all again
for once.::

Dixie's hands shook slightly as she held the mouth piece and
dialed. Thankfully, her call was answered in two rings. She
almost cried when she heard, ##Treatment Five, Captain DeSoto

Dixie fought to stay professional, "Roy, it's Dixie. Listen!
I need medical help in Admin Office 103. NOW!"

Roy could tell something was seriously wrong. ##What
exactly's going on?##

"Kel just came in looking like something the cat dragged in.
He says his head hurts and he almost fell over when I
tried to get him to sit down. He's on the floor now for
safety. Conscious and alert. I'm going to call Emergency
next but I know they won't be as fast responding as--"

The former full time paramedic kicked in in Roy. ##Dix, you
know this as well as we do. Don't move him. Is his head up
so his pressure's not aggravated?##


##All right, we'll be there in two with our gear and trainees.
Get a gurney and orderlies to your floor. We'll take care of the
rest.## Roy said.

"Okay." McCall sighed fast, and scared.


Roy hung up with Dixie. As Dixie called the emergency department
for an M.D. stat upstairs, Roy turned to Johnny. "We have to go. All
of us. We've an in-house emergency!"

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Johnny heard the urgency in his former partner's voice and the
paramedic of old in him, kicked in. "What do we need?"

"Long board, collar,..." Roy began listing off.  "..defib, EKG..
for non-trauma related head pain. Severe."

One of their paramedic trainees added more.. "and a blanket

"And the resuscitator and suction." said the other.

"Good." said Roy. "You two are definitely coming with us. This is
the real deal."

One of the certification students asked, "Do you need even more hands?"

"Nah, we're enough. A couple of orderlies are on the way." DeSoto replied.

Johnny and Roy grabbed their equipment and bolted. Johnny asked,

"Dix's new office. The one we've heard about. In 103. It's Kel who's down."

Johnny paled as he and Roy kicked into high gear. Years removed
from the last time they had officially been partners, the duo
still knew how to play an ace game. They led their stunned
pair of paramedic students up the stairs, taking them two at a time.

Behind them, the manikin lay abandoned on the table.


They arrived at Dixie's office even before the orderlies with the
bed. Dixie looked up when she heard the stampede of feet. "He's
a little worse. It's hard for him to talk now." Dixie turned back to Kel
who was once again trying not to scream out in pain. "It's okay,
Kel, help's here."

The look in Kel's eyes asked, as he frowned, nonverbally.::Who is it?::

Johnny and Roy spoke up, solving the riddle. "Easy doc, remember us?
We'll get you downstairs soon."

Kel's short rapid breathing relaxed slightly when he heard the sound of old
friends' voices. "Can't.. Don't know what's.. wrong fellas past working too
much." he grunted.

"Your pulse's bounding, doc. Do you have a history of high blood pressure?"
asked Roy.

The look on Kel's face told him no, with a little shock at DeSoto's first guess.

Roy and Johnny opened all the equipment. Johnny barked, "Johnson, lock
your hands on his head and DON'T move them."

"Cerebral aneurysm?" whisper guessed the second of the students who was
back turned away from Kel's view, at Gage.

"No." Johnny said. "His pupils are equal. See? And dilated. Get
a pressure from both arms and start him on some O2, high flow."

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The stunned student quickly followed directions. A commotion began
as McCall rose to her feet suddenly.

Kel mumbled, "Don't leave, Dix." he said from under the mask.
His trembling hand jerked and knocked a small ornate box that
was hinged and velvet lined in blue, out from one of his pockets.

Dixie's voice cracked, "I'm not. I'm just checking for the orderlies."
she told him without looking back. "Who're running slow as usual."
she growled, walking swiftly away across the room.

The fallen box caught Johnny's eye, who recognized it for what it was.
Brackett groaned softly at him. "Don't let her see it." he hissed.
Gage quickly hid it under Brackett's loosened shirt material.

Smiling despite the situation, Roy spoke reassuringly, "Easy doc,
we'll make sure she doesn't get away that easily." he said, glancing
up at the door McCall had flung wide open to admit the arriving
hospital workers. "Now we're gonna get you onto this board.
Let us do all the work. Don't move."

Kel took a quick breath knowing full well it was going to hurt
his head even more. "Yeah, ..the standard. I might be prestr-" he

Gage cut off his words with a hiss. "Shh.. Stay quiet! You
already know why."

Roy was on Kel's left, Johnny behind him. DeSoto said,
"Your call, Johnson. You have control of him."

"Go." said the student. Carefully, the trio turned Kel on to his
side and the doctor yelled as they completed the roll onto
the board that Johnny had pre-positioned.

Johnny and Roy had to swallow hard when they saw an odd flush
of color and new pain on Kel's familiar face. ::When had he gone all
hair grayed as Joe Early?:: they each wondered. They quickly secured
him to the board. Kel yelped as his head was returned in a lift to a
level higher than his twitching feet.

Johnny spoke calmly as he reset the flow rate for the
oxygen to the top percentage. "Sorry about that, doc. We'll get you taken
care of." Johnny finger looped at Roy to let him know the stepped up
care. Roy gingerly set an EKG monitor near Brackett's head. "Strip's
next, doc. Johnson, open his shirt a little at the neck. Dixie, is a doctor
on the way?"

She nodded. "Somebody is. I heard people down the hall
hollering about it just a second ago."

At the same time, Gage nodded at Johnson. "What'd you get for
comparison BP's?"

"198 over 110 left. 200/102 right." replied the medic.

"Hypertension? He must have a spike going on.. Or something similar."
Roy decided. He leaned down to Kel and asked him direct questions.
"Doc, your eyes. How's your vision? Is your sight normal?
Any deviations in your peripherals?"

Brackett just moaned, still fully awake but lost in agony. DeSoto saw
that Kel didn't even want to blink once his eyelids parted. But his eyes
met Roy's easily.

"That's all right. I'll take that as a no. Just try to relax." DeSoto said.
"Nickels,.. do a Cincinnati Scale on him. You remember the
checks on that? We're looking for anything abnormal."

"Yeah, I do." the second student replied. And the firefighter got on it

Gage patched Kel in using both his wrists and his offside ankle on
limb leads for speed. "Sinus Tach. No elevations." he read off the screen.

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"I'll get a serum glucose." offered Johnson, holding up a glucometer.

"Yep. That's right. Look for that. He may be high there. And for a cause
different than a possible TIA crisis or arterial defect like we're all thinking."

"Probable, Gage. Any one of them. Maybe even.. DKA.." grunted Brackett.

"Shut up." Johnny said. "Be a patient for once, doc. You're not a doctor
now. You're the body on the carpeting we're all working on."

Johnny looked over at a very shaken Dixie who had returned to
start Kel's sixteen gauge saline I.V. for them. He saw
that she had a death grip on Kel's hand with her free one
even as she held up the fluid bag set to keep open with the other.
"Dix? What can you tell us on a history?"

Dixie's voice cracked slightly. "Sorry guys. I just...can't
think right now.. I.." Dixie's voice dropped off.

Roy spoke gently as he took Dixie's free hand, "It's okay, Dix.
He can tell us after the attending knocks out some of this pain
and pressure once we're down in a care room."

As one, the firemen picked Kel up, board and all and moved him to
the waiting stretcher. Johnny laid the oxygen between his legs
as Roy raised the bed rails to protect Brackett. The motion
didn't even make Kel cry out.

The next whole conversation was at such a soft level, that only
the two who spoke next, could hear any of it.

Johnny commented, "See? We're gentle but quick." Gage told Kel.
"Keep squeezing Dixie's hand on the way down, all right? I can tell
she wants you to."

"The feeling's mutual nowdays, hose jockey.." he hissed as Johnny
bent low to listen to his lungs for a second with a stethoscope.

"Your secret's safe. So's this." he said, pressing on the hidden ring box
at Kel's hip. "Want us there when you pop the q--"

"No!.. Ahhhhh." he grimaced, almost bouncing off the board. "This
is between me... and her.. Got it?"

Gage covered up his amused verbal jab with a hold on Kel's shoulder.
beginning to speak loudly again. "Yeah, I know it's frustrating. Just lie
still." he joked lightly. "You're keeping stable from what we can see here."
he said, poking the EKG monitor. "Good deal." he coughed, covering up
the moment neatly.

The students and the orderlies took off. Suddenly, not aware of what
had happened, Dixie struggled to get to her feet. Johnny's voice went soft,
"Easy, Dix." In one motion, Johnny had Dixie in his arms long enough
to set her onto her tingling legs. Roy followed the gurney out of the

Gage and McCall made good time and caught the same elevator Kel
was on.


The elevator ride was tense and silent; the students too cowed
by the realism of the call to speak, and Roy and Johnny for being
completely focused on their patient while they took continual vital
signs and other level of consciousness checks.

"I'm finding nothing obvious." said Nickels of his neurological exam.

"All right." said Roy.

"Sugar's 80." reported Johnson.

At that finding, Brackett groaned in relief. ::I'm not diabetic.:: he thought.

As soon as the doors on the elevator opened, they quickly emptied
the transfer car.

Roy yelled out, "Sharon, get Joe and Mike down here right away!
It's Dr. Brackett. Sky rocketting B.P."

Head Nurse Sharon Walters was stunned when she saw who the incoming
patient was. "Put him in Four." she said. Roy and Johnny nodded. Without
breaking fast stride, they all went straight into the treatment room through the
double doors.

Sharon realized the faster she got help the better, so she bypassed the
pager system and picked up the phone to make the announcement herself.
"Doctors Joe Early and Mike Morton, Report to Emergency. STAT! Doctors
Joe Early and Mike Morton, Report to Emergency. STAT!" After making the
the call, she too, headed for the treatment room.

Sharon was met by Roy, Johnny, the two orderlies, Dixie, and an extremely
trussed up Kel. The paramedic students stayed to the back of the treatment
room, still new enough to not want to get in the way.

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From: Erin James (
Subject: Old Familar Places?
Sent: Wed 4/02/08 3:40 PM

Kel asked through his oxygen mask, "Who?"

Sharon answered, "Relax, Dr. Brackett, it's Sharon. Joe and
Mike are on their way now."

Roy said, "Get him undressed and covered, Johnny. Sharon,
let's get another set of vitals." Carefully, Roy and Johnny
prepped Kel, cutting away his shirt, underclothes and trousers,
and replacing them with a loose, untied gown which they draped
on backwards over him and the long board.

Sharon got the requested vitals. "198/150, 120 bounding, 22 labored."

Johnny turned to Dixie, "You okay, Dix?"

Dixie's voice was emotionally shaky at best, "Yeah, Johnny...
I'm okay."

Johnny was about to call Dixie's bluff when Joe and Mike burst
through the door. "What happened?" gruffed Mike, instantly moving
to Kel's head.

Joe and Mike were both stunned to see who the patient was. The
fact that Johnny and Roy were also in the room, looking
professionally dead pan and tight, added to their shock.

Joe asked, "Did he black out?"

Roy shook his head. "No. Pupils are equal." he said, handing over
his note pad to Early. "There's some head pain though. Enough to
keep him from talking to us a bit."

Dixie answered with more, her voice now strictly professional. "Kel
stopped by my office and was red as a cherry. He said he had a
migraine, and he doesn't get them. When I went to sit him in the
chair, he said it hurt his head too bad, so I lowered him to the floor.
Once he was there, I called Roy and Johnny for backup because
they are faster than our orderlies.They were here running a dummy

Roy picked up, "We went up to Dixie's office with gear and some of
the cadets from the academy. An NS line's TKO. O2 fifteen liters.
These spinal precautions are for our initial suspicion of a potential
for cerebral injury because..."

Johnny anxiously finished, interrupting. "...Doc, we took his BP and
we found he's in a hypertensive crisis. Might be a bad one." The
seriousness of Johnny's words was not lost on anyone in the room.

Joe barked, "Mike, draw blood work. I want electrolytes, BUN, and
creatinine levels to evaluate for renal impairment. Also, a CBC and
smear to exclude microangiopathic anemia."

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Mike quickly set to work as he said, "You got it, Joe."

Joe continued, "Sharon, get x-ray down here STAT. I want a full chest
and skull series."

Sharon grabbed the phone across the room as she said, "Yes, doctor."

Joe looked over at Johnny, "Johnny, anchor a foley. We're gonna
need a urinalysis."

Kel was partially aware and groaned at Joe's order.

Joe looked up sympathetically at his friend, "Sorry, Kel. Sedation's
gotta wait until we know what we're dealing with."

Kel mumbled, "I know. Better be ..quick..." he winced as his head

Johnny nodded, understanding. He got out a foley pack from the back
cupboard and started the procedure deftly.

Mike finished the blood work, "DeSoto, who's your fastest student?"

Roy thought for less then a second and replied, "Firefighter Johnson."

The student in question stepped up. Mike turned to him, "Take this to
the lab. Our orders are rolled around the tube set with the list of what's
needed on them. Tell them to get back immediately with results."

Johnson quickly said, "Yes, sir." Armed with his samples, the
student quietly sprinted out of the treatment room.

Kel mumbled, "Dix, ..where..?"

Dixie gently grasped Kel's hand. "Right here, I haven't gone
anywhere. You just try to relax. I'm staying.." she growled quietly.

Kel mumbled, "For the d-duration?"

Dixie turned so she could look Kel straight in the eye as she squeezed
his hand just a bit harder. "Now you listen here Kel Brackett, I am
not going to leave your side unless Joe and Mike order me to. And even
then I won't do it without a fight." Dixie's voice softened as she
felt Kel relax. She leaned into his ear and whispered. "Don't you know
I love you too much to go anywhere? Just lay back and rest. I'm right
here, the guys are here, and you're in the best doctor hands possible."

Kel settled down and whispered, "I lov--" he grimaced in pain when
his head caused another spasm.

Dixie smiled, "Shhh... I love you, too."

The arrival of X-ray cut off of any more interaction between the ER's
past chief physician and head nurse. Gage was also done
inserting the foley. "Bladder's full. No blockage." he reported to Early,
peeling off his gloves. "I've drained it into the bag."

Joe nodded and looked at Mike to get his attention on new orders.
"Mike, I need a dipstick UA to detect hematuria or proteinuria. And a
microscopic to detect RBCs or RBC casts."

Mike said, "You got it. I'll personally take a sterile to the lab while
x-ray is here."

Joe said, "Okay... Kel, how's your breathing feel?" he said, listening
to Kel's lungs.

Sweating, Brackett struggled to reply.
"Not ...tight. It's...just reflexive. Pain's ten out of t--*ahh!*.."

"All right. Easy." Early soothed. "We'll keep your head up.
If you're really as clear of pulmonary edema as you sound, I'll
give you some Procardia sublingually, ten milligrams to start."  

Kel gasped, panting in agreement, staying still.

Morton turned to Sharon as she returned from using the in-house
phone connecting to the lab. "Switch out that Saline for Ringer's in
case this is a precursor TIA."

"Right away, doctor." Walters acknowledged.

Joe turned to the x-ray techs. "I want a chest x-ray and a full skull
series STAT!"

One of the x-ray techs quickly said, "Yes, sir."

Dixie kissed Kel's hand as she said, "We have to step out for a few
minutes, but as soon as this is over, we'll be back."

Kel closed his eyes tightly as he gave in to pain once again.

Roy left quickly in front of Dixie. Johnny was behind her as the group
left the treatment room. They both knew Dixie was actually hiding her
fear to keep Kel calm.

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Once kicked out of the treatment room, Morton split away
fast for the lab.

Joe turned to the others, "Let's go to the lounge and wait for X-ray."

But truth be told, nobody wanted to move. However, they all knew
they needed a minute to regroup emotionally.

Reluctantly Dixie said, "Okay, Joe." as she glanced back nervously
at the door closing behind them.

One of the waiting paramedic students spoke up, "Captain Gage?
I'll come get you as soon as X-ray is done, sir." said Nickels. "I'll
stay out here beside the door."

Johnny turned back to the student, "Thank you." He noted privately
that the students were just as worried as the rest of them were.
::Maybe he can see that we're all old colleagues. We're certainly
not reining in our personal feelings on the matter.:: he thought.

Sharon was the last one into the lounge and she closed the door.  

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It was only then, surrounded by her closest friends, that Dixie let
her emotions crack.

She shook and the tears fell as Johnny and Roy held her shoulders
and both hands as she sat down into a chair.

Joe bit back his own fears and spoke calmly, "It's okay Dixie, he's
going to turn out lucky. His EKG's stable, his CNS's still normal,
and his lungs are cooperating by staying clear."

Dixie trembled as she spoke, "It's not fair, I should have seen the
signs. I've tried for years to get him to slow down." she sobbed.

Johnny said, "Dix, we all did that. The good news is we caught
this new development today and we're treating it fast. He's always
been in the best hands possible. Especially for someone who has
a tendency to hide symptoms."

Joe added, "He'll get the top vascular specialist. I'll
personally see to that."

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Dixie slowly calmed down, "Th-thanks, guys."

The group answered as one, "You're welcome."

The room went quiet as everyone privately dealt
with unspoken emotions silently.

Just as Dixie had stopped shaking and had become
fully calmed down, there was a knock at the door.

Roy quickly spoke, "Come in..."

The door opened and revealed Paramedic Student Nickels.
"Cap, they're done. Doctor Morton and Cadet Johnson are
back from the lab and are in the treatment room with Doctor

Roy spoke, "Thank you."

Joe spoke up, "Let's go. I want to get Kel out of danger as
soon as possible."

Nickels held the door open for the group as they left the lounge.


Seconds later, the group was back in the treatment
room. Morton looked up. "Films are clear. I gave him the
oral. BP's dropping tactilely. Still no signs of
myocardial ischemia or left ventricular hypertrophy on EKG.
I've followed up with intravenous nitroprusside and labetalol
because Kel's still not bradycardic. And yes, I read your orders
to not let his BP drop beyond a twenty percent reduction."

"Good. Last thing we need is organ perfusion problems on top
of everything else." said Joe. "Sharon, turn his O2 to P.E.E.P.
I want to normalize his respirations."

Kel who had regained a bit of strength in his voice asked, "Who's
back?" he panted, opening stress swollen eyes.

Joe answered, "All of us, Kel."

Johnson spoke, "Doctor Early, we have the lab blood results."
Morton added, "And the urinalyses.." he said handing both
computer printout slips he gathered up from the firefighter.

Joe said, "Terrific. Let me see them." The requested lab reports
were handed over. Joe continued, "Roy, get me another set
of vitals. Make sure you take the BP in both arms."

Roy took the BP cuff and stethoscope that Sharon offered him
as he said, "Yep."

While Roy took another set of vitals, Joe looked over Kel's
test results and grimaced. The news was not unexpected, but
still wasn't good.

Joe's uncharacteristic quietness alerted Kel, even in the
condition he was in, that something was far from right.

Kel asked, "What's the damage, Joe? Don't sugar coat it."

Joe replied, "You know I won't do that, Kel. Let me get your
updated numbers triangulated, then I'll explain."

Kel let out a frustrated sigh. He knew Joe was only doing his
job, but he couldn't shake the feeling that the news was going
to be ugly. "Okay."

Joe looked up. Roy answered his unasked question, "BP in both
arms is down, but still hypertensive at 160/120. Respirations
are slightly labored at 30. Eyes are beginning to show unequal
pupils now, but they're still reactive."

"That's got to be post HTN." Early double checked Kel's eyes
with his penlight. He found the presence of new retinal hemorrhages
and some thick exudate with papilledema. "No gross bleeding
though." He straightened up. "Kel, how's your pain now?"

"An eight..." he groaned.

Joe grimaced, the marginal vitals added to some already ugly
news. He decided he couldn't put it off any longer. "Kel, do you want
the good news first or the reason you're going to be staying in
ICU for at least the rest of the day next?"

Slightly agitated Kel replied, "Might as well start with the
good, hopefully it involves getting me off this d*mn board."

Everybody in the room bit back a chuckle.

Joe said, "Actually, yes it does. Your head films are negative so
we can get you off the board. There are no signs of an active
CVA occurring. None at all. We'll double check your reflexes in
a bit to confirm that once you've been freed off c-spine."

Dixie spoke up, "Thank G*d." She thought ::Well, that's one
point in his favor.::

Roy winked at Brackett and looked over at Johnny,
"What do you say, Captain Junior? Wanna get the good doc
off of the board here?"

Johnny replied, "You know it."

Johnson asked, "Need us?"

Roy replied, "Yeah, grab the board as we roll him."

Johnson nodded acquiescence. "Captain..."

Once the trio was in position, Johnny undid the straps.
"Ready on your count, partner." he sighed at Roy, taking
Brackett's ribs and hips in a grip through the sheets.

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Roy nodded. Without a word, they carefully rolled Kel onto his
side on the head raised gurney.

Once he was tipped up, Johnson removed the board and called
out, "It's clear."

Johnny and Roy rolled Kel back on to his back without disturbing his
tubes and lines and lastly, they removed the cervical collar he had
been wearing.

Morton, who had quietly watched Brackett's EKG for adverse changes,
commented, "Nothing stays the same, even after all these years, does
it, boys?"

Roy and Johnny sighed and they both answered at the same time,
"No it doesn't, Doc."

Kel piped up, "I'd never want it to. So I'm sick. Big hairy deal."

Dixie added, "Shhh!"

Kel tried to laugh as he focused on Joe. "All right, Joe, no
mincemeat, d*mn it! What's the real damage?"

Nobody was surprised by Kel's attitude. In fact everybody
but Johnson, expected it. The young firefighter still looked

Joe took a deep breath and dove in head first. "Kel, bluntly put,
you've had a massive hypertensive crisis of ..unknown.. etiology.
We need to get this and its cause under control STAT or you're
gonna be in even more serious trouble later on."

"What are you thinking?" Brackett gasped, suddenly
holding very still on the bed.

"Could be anything, Kel. You know that as well as I.
Renal parenchymal disease, tubulointerstitial nephritis,
Cushing syndrome, tyramine-containing food, or even
coarctation of the aorta." Early ticked off on his fingers.

"...which a vascular specialist can determine, if
it's there." Brackett sighed in worry.

"Precisely." Early admitted. "We've a long road to go
yet to find out how to manage your new condition."

Morton jumped in. "But we can do the standard for

Joe turned to Morton, "Lets get him started on further
I.V. treatment. I want to get his BP down even more,
but we can't do it fast."

Morton nodded. "Okay, what do you want to use?"

Joe replied, "Start a second IV. We'll infuse one with
nitroglycerin and the other with intravenous furosemide. Mike,
call upstairs to the ICU to alert them that we're coming."

"Lasix's my ticket for the one day in ICU?" Kel guessed.

"Yep." Early told him.

"Sensible. I still might stroke out." Brackett admitted weakily.

"Oh, Kel. Think positive." Dixie chided. "I can't do it
for the both of us. I'm the worst basket case right now."

"I was kidding, Dix." Brackett half groaned.

Roy asked Early, "Doc, you want both in one arm?"

Joe answered, "No, it'll be harder to monitor drips that way."

Johnny had already pulled the drugs. He turned to Kel.
"Doc, you have a preference where?"

Kel replied, "Right hand. Not antecubital. Let the new
guy start it." he said of Johnson. "I wanna see him work."

Roy smiled and indulged him.

Morton hung up the phone. "ICU's waiting for him."

Joe said, "Good to hear."

"Not good to hear." said Kel. "I know the nurses who're
up there." he quipped unhappily.

Dixie added, "Hush. I'll be one of them. Let's go."

Brackett smiled slightly. "Yes, ma'am."

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Johnny unfolded the IV pole on Kel's gurney and carefully
hung both IVs after they had been injected and double
checked for open flow rates.

Brackett began to shiver and Dixie quickly covered him
up in another shock sheet. "Easy. That's your lucky sign.
Your hypertension's over if you're feeling all this cold air

"Pain's almost gone." Brackett sighed as he slipped into

Joe spoke quickly, "Let's go. Sharon, go catch the
elevator and stop it."

Sharon was already three-quarters of the way out
of the door, "Yes, doctor." her voice floated back.

Johnson held the door open as Kel was wheeled out
between Roy and Johnny, in their grip. Joe and Mike
followed closely behind with the portable crash cart
and his chart.

And as she promised, Dixie did not leave Kel's side.

Kel slowly relaxed out of the picture. His tension
was still there due to the seriousness of his condition,
but it was mixed with relief that part of the problem
had been found. His loss of consciousness was
welcomed by his doctors and his paramedics who
turned him onto his side for ease of airway care.


Fifteen minutes later, Joe, Mike, Roy and Johnny
left Dixie at Kel's bedside in the ICU.

Joe turned to the former paramedic partners,
"I know it's been years boys, but you still have it."

Morton added, "Thanks for all the help with Kel. I'm
sure he'll be thanking you, too, once he's feeling
better. And soon." he promised.

"Thanks, that reassurance means a lot to us."
Roy and Johnny both said, "You're welcome, docs."

Mike and Joe left to tend to Kel once more.

Subject:The Mortal Vein
From: patti keiper (
Sent: Wed 4/02/08 10:29 PM

The doors closed on the critical care room where Dr. Brackett
lay quietly sedated.

DeSoto and Gage made their way down the busy corridor
and automatically stopped at their usual drinking fountain
to wet their mouths that had parched with worry for Kel.

"Wow." said Johnny., leaning against the wall. "When did we
get so old?"

"How do you mean?" asked Roy, watching his past partner
turned fire captain grooming his hair in the reflection of the
fountain's splash chrome. He was subconsciously searching
for gray strands there.

"I...he.. The doc's changed so much." Johnny agonized, agape.

Roy smiled gently. "We're all mortal, Johnny. We change a little bit
every day. And as much as I know you really want it to, it
never stops."

Johnny studied his training ground dusted shoes and stuck his
hands into his pockets. "I don't know why I hate change. I just do."
he murmured, smiling crookedly. "Seeing Dr. Brackett in there,
looking a whole lot like Joe Early's twin brother.." he said, circling
a few fingers over his head over his wind disarrayed curls. "It
almost threw me for a loop, man."

Roy nodded in understanding.

"...But he's a happy man, Roy." Gage sighed finally, incredulous.

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"Oh? How can you tell?" DeSoto asked, angling his head.

"He's got that secret of his going on." Johnny snorted. "I'm almost

Roy laughed outright when Johnny went on.

"...I had a crush on Dixie once. Like you wouldn't believe. But I never
let on." Gage continued.

DeSoto grinned. "I knew."

Johnny's face fell. "You did?"

"Yep." said Roy. "It was your ears that gave you away. They flushed
bright red as I recall for a whole month there whenever Dixie's voice
came over the biophone..." he admitted, rubbing his nose in amusement.

Gage made a face.

"Don't worry about it." Roy said, throwing a hand out in dismissal. "That
can still be your own little privately dead secret."

Johnny relaxed.

Roy re-hefted up the critical care gear box that he was still carrying.
"Come on, Captain Junior. Let's go grab a bite to eat. I wanna see if
the coconut pie's still as bad as I remember it."
Together, the two headed away from Emergency for the cafeteria.
"We can resupply and pick up our two scene oggling cadets when
we're through."

"Sounds good." said Johnny.

"You're kidding me, right?" Roy said, his mouth flopping open.

"I meant the plan, Captain Pally," Gage clarified. "..not the pie."
he chuckled, as he picked up the oxygen apparatus that had been
his to haul in. "I'm buying..  I'm finally rich enough for once."

Roy cracked up and shook his head ruefully.

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From: patti keiper <>
Date: Sat Apr 12, 2008 12:32 am
Subject: Here's To Hounds, Hats and Happy Times..

Roy and Johnny couldn't suppress a smile of
nostalgia as they parked their borrowed red Battalion
car in the side lot next to the gas pump of Station
51. Eagerly, Johnson and Nickels made for the back
yard after spotting a few of their firefighter colleagues
up on the tower, hanging hose. "Thanks, Captains,
for taking us here for lunch. Now we can pick some
brains about the upcoming paramedic exam." Johnson
said for Nickles.

Half heartedly, Captain Gage looked over their heads, trying
to eyeball who still consisted of 51's crew where they were
barely visible up over the roof as they worked, through
the tall, breeze tossing torrey pine tree. "Yeah, sure. No
problem. We have to meet up with Captain Stanley anyway
for the latest headquarters meeting minutes. It was his turn
to take notes for the month. And nice work at the hospital
earlier. You guys kept perfect, cool heads. That's what's

"Like real pros.." Captain DeSoto added.

The two beamed sheepishly. Johnny barely noticed the two
young firemen as they took off down the driveway alongside the

Roy began smiling. "Think he still remembers us?" he teased.

"Hank? Yeah." Gage scoffed, amused. "How can he forget us?
We were his very first paramedic team. And hopefully, not the
worst one he's had so far to date."

"No risk of that. We were good enough to get promoted, weren't

"I guess. But I still kinda wonder how we rank up, ya know?"

Roy just sighed. "Okay, let's go ask him then. Just to appease
that worry streak you've still got going on."

"I'm not worrying. I'm just--"

"...making mountains out of moleholes. As usual. Don't fret about
it any. That's one of the personality traits that probably endears ya
to your men the most." DeSoto said, punching the code combo that
opened the outer door leading into Cap's office from the sidewalk.

Hank wasn't at his desk. Gage flipped up his watch hand. "Oh. It's
noon." he said, reading the time myopically. "He's probably pulling
kitchen detail."

"He's got us to thank for that." Roy chuckled. "Remember?"

"Yeah, it was after we saved him from his quarry mine fall the week
Chief McConnike died. I'll never forget the look on his face as
he was repairing Melton's burned hat on the kitchen table.."
Gage admitted. "I wonder what made him so thoughtful that

"Only Hank knows for sure." Roy told him. "Come on, let's
surprise the guys and set the table for everybody. If
they're hanging hose, they haven't had the time to do it

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"You're right about that. But I still wonder what really happened
back then that changed him so much that day. It was like
Stanley had become a different man." As they walked through the
firefighter empty vehicle bay, Johnny's memory expanded into
another daydream of the past as he ran his hand along the sleek
side of their old rescue squad, parked in its usual place...

From : "Patti Keiper" <>
Subject : Recovering the Past..
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2003 23:30:14 +0000

(From Episode Six, The Golden Horn)

Hank Stanley adjusted his sling around his
loose fitting nautical ivory carnigan and he
sighed deeply, ...just before he rang the
McConnike household doorbell.

The white lacy curtain on the other side
of the pane of glass shifted briefly, as
the slight form of Gail McConnike checked to
see who had come calling so early in the morning.
She was still tired from days of crying since
the funeral. But Gail instantly changed her
outward demeanor when she saw who it was
who'd come calling. "Hank.. you've been
discharged from the hospital so soon?"

Hank Stanley pulled the bundle of white roses
with a gold enveloped sympathy card nestled
inside of them, from behind his back. "I...sort
of made a pest of myself, Gail. You see.. I...
had to come here. Sort of knew I....needed to
be here, now.. For you and your daughter."

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Gail accepted the perfumey blooms, taking
comfort in their heady, water coaxed aroma.
"Thank you, Hank. Won't you come in?"

Cap nodded self consciously and he
only sat himself down on the flower patterned
couch when she insisted that he do so.
"So how are you holding up..?" he asked
without preamble. "I...sort of feel compelled
to ask you that. Stop me if I'm too personal
here. I- I--I don't want to overstep my bounds."

Gail's freckled face finally beamed inside a
frame of silver white and black curls. "Now
that's Melton rubbing off on you again. Right
to the core, Hank Adams Stanley. And you know it.
When you're in this house I expect you to be yourself
and yourself only. Is that clear?" she smiled slightly.

"Yes, maam.." Cap said, falling into a moment of
remembering the Chief's last words spoken to him
that day on the shoreline. He wasn't even sure that
it really happened. Days later, as he lay healing in his
hospital bed, he decided that how he had come to
experience them didn't matter. What was important
was realizing the profound effect that the Chief was still
having on both their lives. Cap tentatively reached out
and took Gail's hand in warm, close friendship.
"Hard to break a habit engrained in my very fiber.
Melton is still very much in my thoughts. There
isn't a day that passes when I don't think of him."

"Join the club.." Gail said gently. "Would you like
a drink? Coffee? Tea?"

"No, no thanks. I'm fine. I'm just about ready to
stop by the stationhouse and let the guys know
how I'm faring. They invited me to breakfast to
celebrate my breaking out of Rampart."

Gail laughed gently. "No doubt it's Marco's mom's
tamales again.." she guessed.

"How'd you know..?"

"It's Wednesday. Melton always used to bother
you men on A shift each month on surprise inspection
just so he could have an excuse to eat those wonderful
tamales with you."

Cap's eyes smiled and he folded his good hand onto
his lap.

"So how are YOU doing? That broken arm hurt much?" Gail
McConnike asked of Cap's sling, misguessing what it was for.

"I just had some surgery to repair an artery that's all.
I didn't break anything. It doesn't hurt much anymore.
Brackett's a wonderful vascular surgeon. I-I...I am
healing just fine. " Cap looked down and his eyes
fell on the coffee table to the maroon photo album
that lay there of Melton McConnike. It was opened, ironically
to the days when Cap was a new firefighter under him.

On the second page, there was an unexpected shot
from the day Cap first became Captain of Station 51. From
the first moments in fact, when he had fired off his first
surprise dress inspection on his new crew at 51 just to
stretch his newly appointed rank's muscle. It surprised
Hank that the photo was even there. He hadn't remembered
there even being a photographer present on that day.

But then again, six years of similar inspections and
years of runs made it difficult for recalling any great detail
of his first day as "Cap". Hank remembered feeling far
too nervous to remember much of anything.
Seeing his own men, younger, and very sharp in their
dress uniforms, gave Hank courage to return the question
back at Gail. "So, how are you healing, Gail? It can't
be easy for you to adjust at all. Again, stop me if I'm
being too personal, please.." he insisted.

Gail noticed the picture that Cap's eyes were focused
on and she slowly drew it out of the album so Cap
could take a better look at it. "Here.." she said, after
a slight hesitation. "Then keep it. It's a gift.."

"No, no, no.. I - I couldn't take this. It belonged to
the Chief.. I..."

"Hank. It's yours now. Melton frequently sent photographers
out to the stations where his first old crew each promoted
into in order to hand those images back out to them during
a special occasion, or other moving moment such as.."
and her voice broke off..

Hank finished her thought for her. "...such as during
a fireman's funeral.."

Gail smiled slightly. "Only with your station, Hank, he never
ever got a chance to. You were too d*mned good at
keeping all your men's rears intact.." she joked.
"Melton loved that about you. One of the only captains
to never lose a man."

"Careful, Gail, you might jinx me.."

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"Rubbish.. Superstition is for fools..."

"And firehouse captains.." Hank quipped, waiting for
Gail to gather herself to answer his question.

"True.." she admitted. Then her eyes grew bright with
a sadness that only hinted the depth of her grief that was
still very much a part of her existence." I'm taking
it one day at a time." she sighed. "Friends make my
days bearable. They bring food, flowers.." she laughed,
indicating the vase that Cap had brought to her.
"But the nights are the worse. I can...almost.....feel
him in bed beside me sometimes. " she confessed.

Cap just nodded. But then he leaned forward,
taking Gail's hand once more in comfort.
"This is going to sound crazy, but I had a chance
to ...feel ...him around me, too. I can't explain it, Gail.
And I'm not even going to try. All that kept running
through my mind while I lay there in deep shock on
that shoreline, was how much the Chief loved you
and how much he wanted you to be all right with
his going..."

Gail's eyes filled and she firmly placed her
other hand on Hank's and squeezed. "That's
a two way street, Hank. You see, a few days
before the accident, Melton wanted me to call you
about a gift he wanted to bring you in July
for the next annual fireman's picnic.."


"Wait right here.." And Gail swept out
of the sunny Victorian parlor into the
den Cap could just barely see. She returned with
a box that seemed to be stuffed with
shredded white tissue paper.  Gail took the
picture of Cap's first official inspection from
his hand and replaced it with her gift.

"What's this?"

Gail's face grinned. "Open it and see.
This is part two to go along with your
debut captain's photo."

Hank swallowed and opened the box.

The white delicate tissue paper fell
away to reveal an old fireman's dress
hat. It had a charred brown edged hole crowning
where its headpiece frame cloth had
been burned away and the metal worked
captain's rank front emblem was still
holding its shape where the stretched cloth
used to be.

Captain Stanley gasped when he realized
what it was.. "He saved this?"

"Of course he did. It was the first time a
junior man ever held him accountable for
questionable behavior and Melton always
said that it was an extremely valuable lesson
he learned that day." her voice adopted a
McConnike sounding timbre. "Never wound
a newbie in an inspection line no matter
how tempting a joke might be. Or it'll come
back to bite you.." she concluded. "He saved
that as a reminder of you. Your revenge taken
by burning this had a profound effect on Melton.
He never tired of watching your career grow or
watching you develop the skills and integrity
that a true captain of the line only rarely gains.
He was so proud of you, Hank."

Cap's eyes filled likewise and he gently touched
an ashen edge of the hole in McConnike's old
cap's hat. "I never knew.."

"And I never knew how dedicated you were
to him, until the day you had that courier
come to my house with his white helmet for the
funeral with a letter from both you and Ben.
I was deeply touched to learn that both of you
were adamantly refusing the department's move
to promote one of you to the Chief's spot,
in his honor.."

"It's the least we could have done. The way
they fill a gap's sometimes heartlessly swift."

"Well, that helmet's back in service now.
I called Ben Stone myself and asked him to accept
the post. He's been training for it all this
week while you were still in the hospital. I--I hope
I made the right decision in my recommendation
to the Department heads. I know how much you
would miss your men if I had urged you to take it.
You would have done it in a heartbeat out of loyalty
to me and Melton, without regard for your own
wants and desires."

"Gail.. That's not true.."

"In a pig's eye, Hank. Look, you're not even meeting
ME in the eye so I know you're lying.." she smirked.
"I've had the time I needed, Hank. It's ok for someone
else to carry on the job Melton loved so much. I'm
ready to see the Chief's spot pass on to the next man
believe me. I wouldn't have sent the helmet back
if I hadn't thought so."

"You sure you didn't do that out of some quirky
loyalty you might have to all of us captains
that Chief McConnike has trained?"

"Well, maybe just a little.." Gail admitted at last,
smoothing down her paisley china blue apron.

Hank smiled, gently putting away the ancient
hat back into its box along with the photo Gail
had given him. "Then loyalty must be an infection
that knows no bounds for we are both afflicted with
it most grieviously. And for that matter, so was Melton.
For it is because of him that we're both now sitting
here talking about the future."

"A future that I thought I would never be able
to face. Yet,  now I am.." Gail said, her face
dawning with sudden comprehension.

"I'm very glad to hear that. To a degree that
you couldn't even possibly imagine."
Cap replied softly. He slowly caressed the
hat box under his hand, marveling in the soothing
feel its surface had on his skin and his soul.


The sun was so far set that Mike Stoker had
already taken in the station flags. Cap
had not moved from his space at the kitchen

In front of him was a bolt of white cotton cloth,
fabric glue and a stretching frame.

Roy, Johnny, Chet, Marco and Mike all watched
with fascination as Cap completed his restoration
of the famous burned McConnikee hat. No one was
brave enough to ask how Cap had come by it again
after so many years. But finally, Chet came
out with it.

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"So why'd ya do it?"

The room fell silent, even the sounds of four pairs
of lungs suddenly stopping their breathing in shock
at Kelly's bold bravado.

"Huh?" Hank grunted as he carefully painted gold
leafing over the captain's rank crest on the newly
restored hat's metal working, distracted. Then
the question finally sank in. "Oh,.. uh, well. Let
me set this brush down first. Let's see. The reason
why.. Hmmmmm."

"Cap.." Gage complained.

"Oh, ok. ok. This is how it was. Well, you know
how you and Kelly got into that game one year with the
waterbombs in the whole Phantom fiasco?"

"Yeah.." Kelly said, swallowing nervously at
finally being on the verge of getting the answer
every man in the department wanted to know about
Hank Stanley.

"Well, the Chief and I got into it in the same
way.. Only we used firecrackers instead of water.."

Roy started to snicker.. "Y-You planted a firecracker
in his hat?"

Cap grinned guiltily, blowing softly on his careful
painting, so the 24 carat gold guilding would dry
with a rich shine. "Yeah, won that oneupmanship
AND the running bet that HQ heads had riding on us.
Believe me, it was worth every hour I spent cleaning
the latrine with a toothbrush."

"So that's why you never give yourself that chore
to do. You hate it so much because it reminds
you of this burned hat.." Kelly said, putting two
and two together.

"Not anymore. In fact, as soon as I get my arm
healed and get back on the duty rosters, I'll pull
the can detail first day, like it SHOULD rotate
through. There'll be no more of my pulling rank
around here inside the station. Things are gonna
be fair and square from now on."

"Hey hey hey..." John and the guys celebrated.

"Does that mean when I pull a prank on Gage in
the future, that you won't be threatening me
with a hose tower detail?"

"That standing order penalty doesn't count, Kelly.
The tower's outside the station. I said I'd be
fair about what goes on in HERE."

"Oh.." said the gang, severely disappointed.

Upon hearing that, Chet, Roy and Johnny fell
into age old grimaces of frustration, in three
familiar poses of see no, hear no, speak no

Cap never saw their dismay. He was too
busy repairing the symbol that used to be
a source of pain that was now his
ultimate destiny.


The next day, a tall figure in a dress suit
fireman's outfit left his car inside the rural
Burbank cemetery whose address a new widow
had shared with him. It was approaching sunset.

Cap Stanley walked respectfully to a recently groomed
grave and his understanding eyes fell on the name
carved there on the rosy marble. He traced
the name's lettering with a finger from his good hand
and briefly rested on the still sun warmed stone,
relishing the heat radiating there. "Chief.. I'm sorry I
wasn't there when you were laid to rest here that day.
But I sure know that you were there for me that afternoon
in the quarry. I can never repay the debt I owe
you for making me fight to live."

He sighed and smiled and then he said.
"I hope this makes up for it at least a little bit."

Cap brought out the chief's old cap's hat, now
appearing like new, untarnished and crisp.
::It's been restored with the love only two firefighters
can share.:: Stanley wondered as he held it close.

Hank hung it on the flower holder attached to the
stone marker and touched it one final time. As an
afterthought, Cap left behind another gift for the
man still looming so large in his life; his own
double bugle dress rank pin of captain.

The dimming sun glinted once on the insignia
and it sparkled like the purest gold into
his eyes as his fingers set it on the top of
McConnike's snow white and black dress hat.
"Here's to that big alarm call in the sky, Chief.
Hope you're there commanding the scene first
at every one of them. And if you meet up with
any other of the boys who didn't make it,
tell them I'm thinking of them, too.....
This is Station 51, KMG 365. Over and out."

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  Click the gang watching
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  What's  A  Dedicated Captain  Like  You  Doing..
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