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   California Dreamin'
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Page Four

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From: Patti or Jeff or Cassidy <>
Date: Thu Jun 8, 2006 3:09 am
Subject: That Small Town Charm..

That was once they got over the fact that Avalon's hospital only
had twelve patient beds.

Dr. William Greene nodded at his head nurse. "Jo,..I'm ordering
up these lab studies on Mr. Lopez :  A CBC with manual differential
and peripheral blood smear, a prothrombin time and activated
partial thromboplastin time, along with a fibrinogen and split products
test. Get a type and cross and blood chemistries, including electrolytes,
BUN, creatinine. We'll need to get a urinalysis to check for myoglobinuria
and an arterial blood gas determination since he's feeling some
systemic symptoms. Besides that leg, please order up a baseline chest
radiograph, I found some mild P.E. Oh, and a plain radiograph to rule
out any retained fangs."

"I'll get right on it. And I'll be right back with all of you boys." said the
silver haired round nurse named Jo Swett as she picked up a phone to
call the hospital's on duty pink lady to handle getting the needed
specimen samples Bill had ordered.

Roy and Johnny's eyebrows went up completely when she recited
Greene's verbatim word for word to her staffer without scribbling
down a single note.

"How'd you do that?" Gage sputtered when she was through.
He immediately checked himself in embarrassment at being so
blunt. "I mean,.. remember what he ordered so well."

Jo smiled. "I've been doing this a long time. Since 1966, Mr. Gage.
And in the early days, we didn't have computers and even now we
don't have student nurses to transcribe any orders down as they're
given. It's just me to make due."

Roy turned back to Dr. Greene who was washing his hands clean
in a sink behind his nurse. "So how's he doing, doc? The rest of the
fellas over there and I really want to know." he said throwing
a hand at the others seated in a small waiting area. He watched
as the doctor peered around the x-ray machine getting wheeled
in for Marco's use.

Greene grabbed up a blue surgical towel to dry off. "Well, the
guilty culprit who bit your friend has definitely been identified as
a Pacific rattler. And we all know that in 80% of cases, their bites
are usually dry and harmless. I ordered those tests just as a

That got Chet's attention from the chair he sat in nearby.
"You mean, he's not gonna need any antivenin? What about
all that swelling and the fever he had going last night?"

"That was poison oak exposure and what I think is a simple
fibula fracture working." said the doctor. "Those were purely
reflex immunological responses. Nothing else."

Kelly went limp against the medical desk in obvious relief.

"That's great." said Captain Stanley. "So how long
will Marco have to stay here? You see, we're on vacation

Bill smiled, looking fatherly. "Captain, all of my patients with
the exception of a rare winter local or two, are tourists like yourself.
I assure you Mr. Lopez will be tied up only long enough to be fitted
for a walking cast and an application of hydrocortisone for his rash.
His vital signs are very normal now."

"Really?" asked Stoker.

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Bill nodded. "I'll get right back to you folks as soon as
I get a little repair work done. Up there.." he said pointing
to the ceiling.

Johnny's eyebrows went up.

Greene explained. "The city wanted someone doctoring
on the island, if a tile breaks on the roof, who would be up
there in his boots, hammering. I have many different hats.
I'm Avalon Municipal's CEO, doctor, city official and
general handyman. Nine years ago, my wife Trish and I
had our belongings hauled here on a barge when I took
this job. And since then, I've never looked back to the mainland.
I love it here.  We have our usual small town challenges.
Avalon has 4,200 permanent residents, all of whom pick up their mail
at a central post office and go days without milk or
bread whenever storms prevent shipments from the mainland.
And I usually take my house calls on a golf cart as I'm the only full
time physician on staff."

Roy and Johnny blinked skeptically.

"Don't worry." he told the two paramedics."When it's gets busy,
we have four temporary physicians, who rotate in from the mainland
every five,six, or seven days. Usually, that's not necessary though
since we at the hospital average only about two patients a day."

Cap gaped. "Why that's hardly enough to cover your
overhead costs." he exclaimed in surprise.

Greene nodded, taking up a coffee pot and holding it
out for the others in invitation. Only Chet accepted a cup.
"I have a 10-by-10-foot office at the far end of the hospital with
one administrative assistant helping me manage things. Last
year, we had more than $2 million dollars worth of services
that had gone uncollected."

"Why's that?" Roy asked.

"The city runs all potential critical patients to the mainland, once
they've been stabilized here, by helicopter. Trip takes
about thirty minutes. And the ruling about state sales taxes
being 30% higher on the island only puts a dent into
our budget deficit because in the winter, our population dwindles
down to just a few, like any other tourist town along the coastline,
and their potential revenue leaves with them. But we're making
good headway." Greene said. "We've just about gotten through
a huge pile of old bills that had been sitting on the office floor for
the past six months.'' he winked. "Excuse me. But a storm's
coming. I've that roof to see to next. Ask Jo for absolutely anything
you need, and it'll be done." he winked. "I'll catch up
more with you when I get back."

The gang waved and then got a hold of their mutual collective
head shakes of wonder and amazement.

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Chet leaned into the counter and sagged almost
nose to nose with their nurse. "So, Ms. Swett, how did such
an attractive nurse like you get to end up here? The Coast
Guard pilot seemed to know a lot about you and a mutual friend
of ours."

"Oh, you mean Dixie? How's she doing? It's been a few months
since we've exchanged letters." answered Jo, not buying one
minute of Chet's Don Juan-ing bull.

"She's fine. She's fine. Still at it at the front desk of the
emergency room." Gage told her empathetically. "But
how come she's never mentioned ya to us?"

"Maybe that's because we get along so famously. Dixie usually
only grouses about people who've irked her in some way
to her friends."

Roy started grinning. "Dr. Morton, Dr. Brackett.. that high
powered administrator upstairs...." he listed off. "That's true."

Jo laughed and took a deep breath. "Actually Mr. Kelly,
I saw a want ad that changed my life. What I was doing
with Dixie in pediatrics at Rampart wasn't what I wanted to do."
she said. "I grew up in Boston, so the idea of moving to an island
was interesting. Here I can provide in-home care to a variety of
patients, and I simply love the night shift. I figure I am the only nurse
in the whole United States who works all by herself at night.
I get up in daylight for emergencies, like yours today."

"Is Avalon Municipal a full service hospital?" asked DeSoto.

"Oh, sure. We can do tonsillectomies, hernia repairs,
hysterectomies and gall bladder surgeries, minor trauma
repair. The surgeons fly in from St. Mary's and bring their own
anesthesiologists. Usually the local doctor, Bill Greene, is the
assistant." she said proudly with amusement.
"And when we're having a baby, I like to go around
to the other patients and I ask them, 'Are you going to need anything,
we're going to have a baby now.' And once the baby's born
I love taking the infant on rounds to meet the other patients while
the mother's recovering."

Johnny chuckled. "Do you get many emergency cases in any
given year."

"Oh, yes.." said Jo empathetically. "Especially in the summer.
Like now. Recently we've had a lot of cases like Mr. Lopez's."

"Really.." said Hank. "I thought our man's rescue was highly unusual."

Jo shrugged. "People seem to fall prey to the James Bond syndrome
when they get here; what else can I say? Everybody gets the feeling
that they're invincible while they're diving or flying Catalina. I've never
understood that effect. But I appreciate that it pays my salary." she
laughed. "The pace is slow, with the upgrades in my training and visiting
patients, I'll admit. But there's a certain charm here that I've since fallen
in love with. I didn't learn how to do an IV until 1970, but now I've lifeguard
paramedics to rely on.  I enjoy what I do I've no plans to retire anytime
soon for there's a record I want to hold first - Oldest Working Nurse in

"So, are you gonna make it?" Chet quipped daringly.

Hank smacked his arm, right on the sunburned spots.

"Oww!" Chet protested.

Jo only smiled, used to firefighters' antics. "There are one or two who
are older," she said. "I just hope they retire before I do."

Mike Stoker had wandered over to the baby window, noticing a
single infant sleeping in an incubator, on an ekg machine.
It was only then that the others noticed a sound monitor turned on
at Jo's desk near her hand. A contented coo issued from it.

Curious, the gang joined him to see the baby.

"Aww, she's cute. Where's her mother?" Stoker asked Jo, who
had followed them over.

"She doesn't have one." said Jo simply.

The look on the gang's faces registered incomprehension.

"Baby Jane was left at our fire department steps about a day
after she was born." Jo told them quietly.

Chet soured. "But who could just up and leave a newborn like
that. That's...that's...insane..!" he finally said.  

"Not really. Ever heard of the Safe Surrender law just passed
this year in the state of California?" Swett said.

The gang shook their heads no.

"The City of Avalon is ready to accept unwanted newborns and get
them into safe hands. No questions asked. If the mother does the right
thing and gets her baby to a designated safe surrender location within
72 hours of birth, there will be no shame, no blame, no names and there
will be no prosecution. The Avalon Fire Department is a vital link in
a strategy to create a countywide safety net of Safe Surrender locations
so underpriviledged babies won't ever have to suffer their parents
socio-economically suppressed lifestyles."

Roy was the only one who understood those ramifications. "There is
a need for it. I'm glad such a law exist now, for sometimes, Johnny
and I treat those kids and babies. And everytime, we've felt
helpless that there wasn't anything further we could do for the mother
after she signed off on our run sheet simply because she knew
she couldn't ever pay our ambulance costs."

The gang spent a warm few minutes playing with the soon
to be named baby girl until Marco was declared ready for visiting.

A half hour had gone by with everybody eating breakfast spread
out over Marco's bed inside of his curtain cubicle, when Bill
returned with his results.

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"Marco.." said Dr. Greene. "You're fine. Your bloodwork's peachy
king and your cast, perfect. But I wouldn't recommend you fellas
returning to your campsite just yet. There's a storm approaching.
I'm offering my house to all of you for sheltering while I'm working
here tonight. Jo and I might get a few emergency cases coming from
the water. Tourist boat outfitters always get a little stupid in
squalls like this.  And it looks like this one's going extratropical."

"Oh, no.." said Hank. "You mean like the Columbus Day storm
of 1962 that started as Hurricaine Freida?"

"I'm afraid so."

Stanley stepped forward and briskly shook Bill's hand.
"Doc, I appreciate it. We'll definitely take you up on
that offer. But now we've got to go. We've family out flying
at the airport."

"Who?" asked Jo.

DeSoto frowned. "My father and son. Let's hope they both don't think
that they can outfly it like James Bond."  


The gang was halfway to the tiny terminal tower on the mountain
when the rain began. Doctor Green suddenly came over their
hand held VHF radio.. ##The storm's definitely going to hit
Avalon. The fire department advises no travel.##

"We'll be careful.." Cap promised him.

Roy studied the sky that was still half clear from where he
sat in the shuttle. "Where are they? How could they miss
seeing a cloud that big?"

"I don't know the answer to that, Roy. But I promise you, we'll
find out once we get there, one way or the other.." said Hank.

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From: Patti or Jeff or Cassidy <>
Date: Thu Jun 8, 2006 1:39 pm
Subject: Final Scene: Storms and Waters...

"Twice in one day? You're starting to make my boys smile, Captain
Stanley.." said Chief Hoefs as he climbed down off of his station's
fire truck as it arrived to the tarmack at the Airport In The Sky.

Hank shrugged. "What's sharing little business between firemen, eh?"
he joked. But then his face transmuted into intense worry.

Mike Stoker offered the chief an update.
"Sir, Chris DeSoto's been talking to us over the plane's radio."

"How far are out are they?" Hoefs asked seriously.

Roy added more.
"My father's really got his hands full with just flying so that's
why my son's been the one doing all the radio contact.
Chris says they're about five miles to the west, northwest,
flying through an active thunderhead. They've lost power due
to a lightning strike and they've two failed engines."

"Do they still have fine control?" asked Hoefs.

"Their wing and tail flap hydraulics are all still reactive." DeSoto

Hank shouted over the powerful, wind gusting rainfall
that was turning Catalina gray and frightening around them.
"LAX says that they're in a good power-off glide back to the island.
They were following the shortest route from Long Beach while
over water, to see Land's End which Chris said was mapped
in a flight plan of twenty two nautical miles."

Steve thought hard, trying to remember some facts about flying small aircraft.
"The midway point of that route would be 11 NM. If your pilot remembered to
check the performance chart for your airplane and see which altitude gave
him a power-off gliding distance of 11 NM or greater, they should make back
here, ok. "

"That's if they remembered to factor in the headwind component." said

"Boy are we lucky they filed a flight plan with a request for VFR flight
following." said Roy. "LAX got their distress call right away and put
them on immediate priority."

"Where are they showing up on the mainland radar?" Hoefs asked.

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Roy shrugged his shoulders."I can't recall all the jargon, but
a minute ago, Chris said he could see the lights of Two Harbors
at the isthmus."

"Then they're eight minutes out, tops. We'll be ready. Best
of luck, Hank." Hoefs said, crossing the fingers on his fire gloves.
"Here's to talking them down successfully." said the yellow and tan
outfitted fireman.

"Piece of cake." said Hank with very sound, positive feeling while
he gave his counterpart a resounding thumbs up. "See you when
they touch down."

Steven Hoefs jogged away and began barking orders to his men to
string hoses from a ground hydrant located near the airport building,
mated to a small foam unit. Soon, a thick blanket of suppressant lay
in a slurry across many dozens of feet along the terminal end of the
high altitude scrubland runway.

Luckily, the rising storm winds didn't blow any of it away.

Then the Avalon firecrew set about laying two rows of cherry flares to
illuminate the full length and stretched outline of the rocky runway.
They were so bright, that the even the storm fierce night lit up
in a brillant red glow from their multiple burning brands.

Johnny Gage had borrowed county turnout from Station 55 as had
the rest of them, and he used a brainstormed idea of climbing the back
of a nearby parked airplane to gain a better vantage point of the odd
downsloping runway 22 through his binoculars. He shouted down to
the others. "I don't see them yet, Cap. Chris's turned on the cabin
lights so we can spot them a little better."

"Keep looking." said Stanley. "Give us the play by play, Johnny, over
your radio so Roy'll know what to tell them as help while they're
attempting to land. Some of their cockpit instruments may have been
knocked out, too, and nonfunctional!"

##Dad, I'm scared.## boomed out Chris's voice over the fire engine
speaker that Hoefs had tandem tuned into the plane's radio frequency
and put out over the loud speaker so that all of his men could hear
the plane.

Roy held up his plastic coated VHF Radio set to Unicom's frequency
that was connecting all of them to Ian DeSoto's cockpit. "Chris, we're all
right here with ya. And yes, the fire department's all set up and waiting for
both of ya to stick the best possible landing you can." encouraged DeSoto,
who tried very hard to not to let his voice tighten with emotion to where it
would be audible to his son.

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##Is the storm growing worse?##

"Yeah, Chris. I'm afraid it''s pretty bad fairly close to us
to the east because we're so high up on top of the mountain." Johnny
said in his own handheld receiver.

##Dad,.. I think grandpa's not telling me something. I think he's been hurt
by a panel overload and isn't telling me.## said the teenager. ## I think I
see a burn on his palm that wasn't there before we took off.##

"How's his consciousness level?" asked Roy, biting his lip.
::If Ian blacks out..:: he quailed.

##He's still talking, but we're wavering all over the place. And he's
sweating. Kinda pale.##

"Hang on, Chris. We're gonna come up with a backup plan for you.."
s0aid Roy. "You just try to keep Grandpa focused, all right?"

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Then he, Cap, Stoker and Avalon's fire chief fell into hurried discussion
about other options for landing. Roy signaled up to Johnny with
his arms outstretched like wings and waggled them into firm stillness
like he was steadying himself.

Johnny got that idea right away.
Gage spoke up. "Listen, Chris.. can you at least take over the
plane's leveling handles? You're almost scot free. Ian can
probably still do the rest of the hard parts."

##I....can...## grunted Ian DeSoto through the radio. ##Not much to me....## gasped his strained voice.

Chris's voice came back on. ##Grandpa's showing me how
to steady the wings, Dad. I think I can do this...## he said excitedly.

"I know you can, son." said Roy empathetically, letting the rain wash
away a tear of fright.

Johnny began signalling away from his radio mic. "I see em! But
there's a problem.. They're approaching us going the wrong way
in relation to the runway. About two miles out."

The Chief issued another fast set of orders. "Boys, lay the other
end in foam. Fast as you can. Their pilot's probably reversed his
landing to try and handle all this fouling weather to get the best
advantage. Move!" he said crisply.

The fire truck crew hastened to carry them out. Soon, the second
location for foamed countermeasures was ready with yet another
team of firefighters held at hose charged readiness.

At the same time, Johnny yelled again. "I lost sight of the plane.
A cloud bank's rolled in! I'll try to find em again."

Hoefs smiled under his water cascading helmet. "Your father's
a smart man, DeSoto. He's getting the airport cliff's wind shear
quirk out of the way first. Don't worry about medical gear for him.
We've plenty for you and your partner to use."

Roy kept running cardiac anomaly scenarios through his head
despite the Chief's kind reassurances.

##I see you!## said Chris suddenly as the stricken, silent plane
burst through a black fold in the storming clouds with a crack
of thunder, illuminated by lightning flash.

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"I've a positive visual! They're right on track!" Gage said at the
same time.

"Thank G*d they've run the gauntlet over that cliff ok.." sighed
Roy. Then he picked up his radio. "How are the two of you doing,
Chris? Talk to me.."

There was no reply.

"Chris?!" Roy said sharply. "Can you hear me?"

He received nothing but static over the radio. Frustrated,
Roy let the radio fall away from his mouth. With nothing else
possible for him to do, Roy felt his eyes glue to the storm
silhouetted outline of white aircraft that Johnny was pointing to
that was careening in jerks as it came down out of the sky.

All the fireman froze in place as the next few seconds determined
the make or break of imminent disaster.

The little cessna's wheels touched down dead center of the
cherry flares and absolutely parallel with their glowing white
smoke sputtering rows.

Roy, Johnny, Cap and the others began cheering as they leaped
onto Avalon's fire engine to rush down the runway after them.

A minute later, the cessna was dead stopped and safe.

Roy climbed onto the little plane's wing and pulled the door
open. Chris had had the foresight to start Ian on the aircraft's
tiny oxygen supply in a first aid attempt. "How's he doing?"

Chris answered. "He was just awake and talking
to me, Dad, I don't understand it."

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"Dad?" asked Roy, "Can you hear me?" he shouted frantically
as he scrambled on board. He dug a grip around Ian's neck
feeling for a carotid. "Can you breathe all right?"

The older man didn't move..

But then, Ian nodded, and took another solid deep breath under
the oxygen's flowing face mask. And for show, he moved all of
his arms and legs normally.

DeSoto sighed in relief when his fingers found a very regular
and uncomplicated heartbeat down to the wrist. "No kerauno- or
respiratory paralysis is present. Not even slightly, Johnny. Let's get
him outta here and into the ambulance." he sighed in relief. Then he
looked over at his son proudly. "You did a good job, Chris. A very
good job."

"I didn't do anything, Dad. Grandpa did all the work. I just helped
him out a little bit with all the levelling."

"Yeah, well that little bit saved you both. I'm proud of ya. We all
are. Come on out of there so Johnny can get to work starting
Dad's I.V. here. I've got someone I'd like you to meet outside."

"Who is he, Dad?" Chris wondered.

"Just think of him as Captain Stanley's island counterpart." he
grinned. "Only a rank up. We owe him a very large favor for
being here for us today. Twice, for that matter." he admitted.

"Why twice, Dad? And where's Marco? I don't see him anywhere
out there."

"Well, Chris. That's a very long story. It just so happens those
two facts are concurrent. I'll tell you once we're all warm, dry
and comfortable at our new host, Dr. Greene's house."


Hank Stanley came over just then, grinning. "Hey Roy, would
you take a look at that? Guess what kind of ambulance they
sent up here to meet us.."

"What is it?" asked DeSoto, opening up his father's shirt collar
a little wider as he peered out through the rain showered windshield.

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"It's a 1959 ...Catalina..." Stanley elaborated.

"Well, I'll be." chuckled DeSoto, laughing out loud.


The storm raged through most of the night, pounding Avalon Harbor
and doing its best to damage infrastructure. But no more crises
developed. The weather warnings put out by the county had done
their job of keeping all of Catalina Island's tourists and locals safe.

Chet came out of the bedroom of Dr. Greene's cliffside house
and marvelled at the view glowing in a brilliant sunny dawn
splendor just beyond the glass panes framing the many windowed
living room space. "Wow, this is the life. No wonder Bill bought
land way up here. He's got this place laid out like a mountainside
ski chalet. Although it would've completed the illusion
if we had some serious snowing going on." Kelly sighed, putting
his hands on his hips.

"That storm we didn't sleep through last night was more than
enough for me, Chet. You can keep your snow." said Roy as he
rebound his father's electrical burn. "How's that, not too tight?"

"It's fine, son. And yes, my headache's gone, too." said Ian, still loafing in
an opulent leather recliner. "Once you two annoying paramedics
decide you're done fussing with Marco and I, go out and have a little
fun, huh?"

"Who's fussing?" said Johnny as he finished pulling a blood pressure
cuff of Marco's arm. "We're only following Bill's orders to make
sure you two relax enough to start healing properly." Gage said

Ian ignored him. "And take Chris with you. Show him a good time for me.
I gotta find some way to thank him for saving me."

"Oh, Grandpa.." exclaimed Chris in his warm teenaged baritone.

Lopez jumped on the bandwagon.
"Yeah, guys. We'll both manage. Can't say we're not in the lap of luxury
here in the house. Wide screen TV, a wet bar, a jacuzzi..."

"Not in that cast.." Gage shook a finger at him.

"Johnny, I was only kidding about the whirlpool. I do know better."
Marco frowned, taking another sip of his iced tea. "And if
we get tired we can always go out onto the deck and nap in the sun."

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Roy and Johnny looked around their rich, airy surroundings
skeptically, but finally, in the end, they relented. "Fair enough.
Ok, we'll go." said Cap for the rest of them.

"Take plenty of pictures for us. Then we'll have something to
look at for this day we're missing..." said Marco empathetically
as the guys and Chris trudged out the door with full sets of
waving hands.

"We will.." they said.

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The gang was settled happily. They were enjoying a
beach picnic at Parsons Landing while they lazily watched a scuba
boat conducting its tourist pair through a diving experience
just past the surfline.

Chet's sunburn had reached the peeling stage and he absently
scratched while he munched away on five legs of Stoker's fried
chicken. "Umm, Mike. Excellent as usual.... Say, guys, maybe we
should make him cook chicken on a BBQ outside when we get home
when it's his turn to cook again back at the station.
Maybe we'll be able recreate today's dream feast if we do that."

"Not in a million years.." said Stoker. "I hate getting smoke in my
eyes without a good reason for it."

"Spoken like a true veteran firefighter.." chuckled Cap.

Roy smiled. "So, Chet, what's on the agenda for today? We've
already tried hang gliding.. What's next?"

"Surfing lessons.."

"Surfing lessons? Are you out of your everloving mind?!" roared
Hank. "There's still massive storm surge out there. You like
the idea of drowning in it?"

"No one's gonna drown, Cap. Johnny and I just wanna park on
our stomachs on top of our boards and--"

"Gage, didn't encourage him on this, did you?" Stanley asked,
redirecting his instant ire.

"Uh,..." Johnny stopped chewing his potato salad.

Chris began to giggle, pointing at Gage from where he
said on their medical bag.

Kelly thrust Johnny out further along the limb.
"He sure did. You see, Gage thought it would be less risky for
us to swim today than to try flying anything after the experiences
we've had to live through during the last two days." said Chet.

"Thanks a lot.." hissed Johnny through his teeth at Chet.

Kelly ignored him and took another sip of Diet Rite.

"Nope. I forbid it." Hank said evenly.

"You can't do that to us, Cap.. we're on vacation.." Gage protested.
"We're not at the station for you to have the power to order
us around."

"I'm not doing any forbidding because of how we usually work
together while on the time clock. I'm putting my foot down because
the two of you forgot something very fundamental about our
outing today."

"Oh, yeah?" Johnny asked, still a little stung. "And what's that?"

Both Roy and Cap said the same thing at the same time.
"A permit. "

Chet and Johnny both looked at each other wanly.

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  © All coming diving photos by Joseph Dougherty, MD/  

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Roy elaborated. "You need one to enter the water for any
kind of ocean activity here. It's in the park rules. See?"
he said handing over a pamphlet. "Just read here by
the number six."

Gage snatched it out of his hands, reading fast in irritation,
with an equally miffed Chet, reading over his shoulder.
In a few seconds, Johnny balled up and threw the park
guidelines away over his head in disgust.

"No littering's allowed either.." said Hank matter of fact,
with a neutral grin, pointing absently at the wad spinning
in the sand in the wind.

Chet pinned the pale yellow paper down onto the sand
with a newly flaking bare foot before an arriving
gust could blow it away, and just glowered.


Deep under the water, a diving instructor was doing a head
count of his two tourist students while they explored a thick
kelp forest that was rising up from the rocky floor thirty feet
below. Their flipper strokes were lazy.  
:: All normal. These two catch on fast.:: he thought. ::Ahhh,
so it's gonna be easy fee earning today. Cool..::

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He had just looked at his watch to time their remaining
regulator air when the man of the couple suddenly fell
motionless to the bottom. ::Oh, sh*t..:: thought the instructor
and he dove down to where the woman was panicking
below as she gestured at her arms and legs still husband.

The instructor pulled the woman away from the man's
face plate after making sure she had her own air still safely
in her own mouth. He peered at the man's face through his
mask. His eyes were open and dulled in a thousand-yards
stare. ::He's out...::

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The instructor dropped the man's weight belt completely
off and then the woman's and his own as he grabbed the
unconscious husband around the chest for an emergency
ascent to the surface. As he kicked himself and his victim
upward, he kept looking down to make sure that the woman
was following them. ::We'll make it fine here without a
decompression stop. We've only been down ten minutes.::

What he didn't know what that the couple had been diving
the morning before with another dive company at depths
below sixty feet. Unbeknownst to him, serious problems for
them were already starting.

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He got to the surface, tore off the husband's mask, and listened
at his nose and mouth for any signs of breathing. He found none.
Immediately, he began mouth to mouth on the man as he
swam him rapidly into the shore.

The wife's head broke the surface a few breaths later
and she began to scream, not for her drowned husband, but
for the sudden cramps which were knotting up all of her limbs
at the major joints. The instructor grabbed her by the hair with
his other hand and began shouting for help at the people he
saw lounging on the beach..


Chris looked up at a sudden shouting from the water.

Other people in black wets suits and other private
diving parties had heard it, too, for they began running as
fast as they could for the foaming surfline. "Dad! Those
three out there are in trouble!" he said pointing out to sea.

"Grab the medical bag, Chris. Bring it with you.." said DeSoto,
leaping to his feet.

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Johnny started to say something, too. "Cap--"

"I know.. Call for help, then grab both oxygen cylinders from
the golf cart. Just get going!" he said, sending Chet along with

Just ahead, they could see a dive instructor dragging a man,
divested of his scuba gear, through the violent surf while
keeping up his steady artificial respiration.

The worst victim's color now, was turning blue.

Gage and Chet ran for him first while a civilian diver from the beach met
up with the struggling second woman fighting the waves a little distance
away from the others. He picked her up and carried her into shore by piggy

She went limp in relief as he got hold of her.

"I got her head."said Roy, reaching him. "Let's get her laid out
flat on the sand. Raise her feet up as soon as you can."

"Are you a doctor?" asked the woman's rescuer.

"No. We're all firemen. Myself and my partner over there
are paramedics. We can treat them until help arrives using our
emergency medical kits." DeSoto said, helping the man get her
out of the water.

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The instructor collapsed in exhaustion onto the beach, but waved
Chet away briskly when he saw that Kelly had started over to his side.
"Just help the diver guy. I'm...ok." he gasped.

Kelly rejoined Johnny over the unconscious man's body. Gage looked
up at him. "He's got no pulse either. Start on him first, Chet. Chris's coming
with an oxygen tank." he said, unzipping the husband's wetsuit to
locate a fast compression landmark. He began some solid CPR.

Kelly stayed on the diver's mouth to mouth, pausing only to drain seawater
out of the man's nose when whenever it welled up and out of him. Chet noticed
that it was laced with bright blood and pink foam. "He's lung injured, Johnny. If
it's barotrauma or just water inundation, I can't tell."

"Doesn't matter. Just .....keep going. That's not going his only......
problem here." he grunted as he worked. "We've got to.....assume he's
developed....the bends... I think his wife... has, too." he said, looking up
at Roy where he and Hank knelt in the sand.

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He saw that DeSoto had raised the woman's feet up high on his medical
pack despite her difficult breathing. ::He's trying to keep nitrogen bubbles
from traveling up into her brain or heart.:: he thought. Then Johnny
couldn't afford to consider the other things any more while he concentrated
on keeping the stricken diver under his hands circulation viable long enough
for the coming slim chance that a lifeguard's defibrillator might shock
him back to life.

Dimly, he was aware of Cap relaying to a Baywatch crew and the Coast
Guard, their camping coordinates using VHF Channel 16 over their
ever present hand held radio. ::We're getting into a habit here with
calling out for help all the time on vacation now, aren't we?:: his mind
thought ironically.


Roy was smiling at the woman while Cap gently dissuaded her from
pulling off her flowing oxygen mask. "Maam, we're working on your
friend now. He's out of the water. I need you to answer a
few questions for me while I check you out here to determine
your true condition. I'm Roy, a paramedic with the county, and this
is my fire station's captain, Hank Stanley. Can you tell me who you
and your friend are at all?" he asked her.

The frightened woman yelled out a reply. "God I hurt!.. Make it stop.

"Easy. Just try to relax. Help's on the way, ma'am." Stanley told her
while he quickly dug a hole for her head so that it would tip
backwards a bit into the sand so that she could breathe a little
better. "There. It'll be easier now. Try to answer Roy again. He
needs to know how you're doing, ms., in order to treat you using
the best way possible."

The woman began trembling under their hands, but she started
talking to them a few seconds later. "My's Callie Johnson.
That's ...*gasp* Scott,,...we're m - married.." she
got out.

"Ok, good, Callie." said Roy, taking her pulse and respiration count.
When he was through, he asked, "Mrs. Johnson. Can you tell me
where you are?"

"B--beach. I'm at the..beach." she cried.

"That's right. And what day is it?" Cap asked her, helping
Roy with gathering details while the paramedic took a fast
set of bilateral BPs.


"Do you remember anything about the dive you were just
doing?" Hank asked her.

The woman's face frowned, the left side of her mouth sagging
a bit, as some new confusion set in. "I was....diving?" she asked
through the oxygen mask.

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The diving instructor, DeSoto and Cap all exchanged glances with
each other. The woman had a definite neurological deficit building

Roy pulled the stethoscope out of his ears.
"Ok. Now I want you to follow my finger with your eyes, Callie.
Don't move your head. Do you understand?" asked Roy.
Then aside he said. "Cap, put down the time and these
BP readings on paper. 110/70 on the left side and 90/50
on the right." he told Hank.

The instructor, watching both groups working nearby, startled.
"She's stroking out?"

"Perhaps not.." said Roy. "It's too soon to tell yet. These signs
just might be temporary effects. How deep were you?"

"Twenty five, maybe thirty feet.." replied the dive instructor.
"I never take new divers any deeper than that. The risks are
high enough as they are."

Roy learned Callie tracked visually just fine, without any indication
of doll's sign. "Can you hear these sounds equally?" he said,
snapping his fingers first over her left ear and then over her right.

"Y--yes.." she gasped, breathing hard. Callie's skin was pale
and slightly blue in the fingernails despite the pure oxygen
upon which she was hyperventilating.

Hank covered her with a thick layer of beach towels for warmth.

DeSoto reached out for Chris's necklace. It was a vial
of cologne he knew his son was fond of using. He
uncorked it. "Callie, what's this smell?" he asked,
moving her oxygen mask away long enough to wave
the necklace's vial under her nose.

Callie couldn't answer him and she shook her head.
"I.....I.....I don't know.." she cried. "How's Scott? I..
I can't see him from here!"

They didn't tell her about him.

DeSoto continued his fine neuro exam. It would save a lot
of time at the hyperbaric decompression center, he
knew, if this was already completed and out of the way.
"Smile for me, Callie, then stick out your tongue."

Callie couldn't on the left side. And her tongue deviated
to the right side corner of her mouth when she thought
that it was sticking out straight.

"That was just a check on certain cranial nerves.
Now, I'm gripping both of your hands." said Roy gently.
"Are you left or right handed?"

"Right.." gasped Callie.

"Ok, so you'll be stronger on that side." Cap continued.
"Squeeze Roy's hands, Callie. Squeeze both of them at
the same time. Hard as you can."

Callie was about the same in both grips.

Stanley and Roy tested Callie's body for sensations
and ability all the way down to her toes.

They looked at shoulder shrugging, how she could
push up or down against pressure put to all of her limbs,
whether or not she could bend her knees or move them

Then they swept her skin, testing sharp and dull responses
on it using a ball point pen. She did fine there, discerning

But Callie's Babinski's response was positive, her toes curled
upward when Roy stroked both feet from heel to toe along
the bottoms of the young woman's feet.

They found that Callie could not distinguish between hot or
cold when they ran either an ice cube or a sun-hot rock along
her skin anywhere above the waist on her left side. Nor could
she successfully touch her left index finger to her nose on
command. Her hand kept arching and going wide, only to hit
the sand next to her head.

"Ok, we've found the data we need to know about." said
Roy after those few minutes. "I've written everything down
for the doctor. He'll be better qualified in psychometric
medicine than I, Cap." he said to Cap while both firefighters
monitored the stressed and fleeing reactions coming and
going on Callie's wind drying face.

Chris was right there, too, holding her good hand to comfort
her, while he kept tabs on what was left of the oxygen tank's
compressed liters as they flowed out to her through their
high flow mask. "These men are really good at what they do,
Callie.." he soothed. "I should know. My dad's the
best paramedic in the county.  Soon, you'll have answers
for everything that's happening once the doctor begins to
treat you and your husband."

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Roy smiled when he saw his son using a few fingers
to brush away some of the woman's fear with soft gentle
strokes to her sandy hair.


Soon, transportation came. It was Baywatch Isthmus, arriving
by boat after it was decided that even a helicopter flight's low
altitude would further complicate both victims' already
bends-aggravated conditions.

During the whole forty five minute trip to the USC Catalina
Hyperbaric Chamber, the thirty two foot lifeguard
boat's Cummings diesel engines, were pushed to their fastest
speeds in excess of 30 knots in an attempt to cut down
the Golden Hour that they all knew was playing out.

They reached the west end of the island right at
noon and were met by a crowd of chamber volunteers
who were on call there twenty four hours a day, seven days
a week for just this sort of diver emergency.

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The male diver was whisked away into the first blue painted
chamber while his cardiopulmonary resuscitation was
continued aggressively. Johnny agreed to join Leo Fishman,
the Baywatch paramedic, in recompressing the man for this
new attempt to save him. Gage knew that sometimes, on
occasion, a diver in full arrest could, upon reaching a critical
pressure in the chamber, regain a pulse. He had seen it
happen before during other decompression accident sessions
in his past.

He was banking on that possible effect for the wife's sake.

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Callie on the other hand was being told what to expect
before she was loaded up into her own chamber for treatment.

The dive center's doctor explained everything to Callie
while the tank was prepared to receive her and the second
Baywatch paramedic who would be helping Roy monitor her
condition during those hours.
"For your treatment, Mrs. Johnson, this chamber will be compressed
by sealing its doors and pumping in high-pressure air.
You'll keep breathing in this pure oxygen as we go along.
The combination of high pressure and increased oxygen levels
will cure you if the hypoxia you've been suffering hasn't been
too severe. These two states will reduce the size of the nitrogen
bubbles you're feeling in your arms and legs and they'll
go a long way towards restoring the circulation to the affected
areas of your body. Any and all excess nitrogen will be completely
flushed out of your system.

"You'll be placed inside the chamber in a few minutes, accompanied by these
two men who're trained in hyperbaric first aid.  I'll be present throughout the
entire treatment, standing just outside, and I'll be watching you through
the window. If you need me, I can enter the chamber via the entry
lock if you have any questions or concerns at any time.

"You'll be brought to the equivalent depth of your dive, Callie, where you'll
continue to breathe 100 % oxygen through your mask. Short breaks in the
oxygen treatment, where you will breathe the compressed air within the chamber,
are included in this treatment to minimise the risk of what we call
oxygen toxicity, getting too much oxygen in your blood because
of the saturation levels we'll be reaching. The initial treatment lasts
approximately 4 hours 45 minutes.

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"If no, or only partial improvement is observed in your symptoms then the
initial treatment can be extended in time until an improvement is seen.

"If you show signs of deterioration at any point during the initial treatment
then the chamber operators will change to a different recompression table.  
The length of this recompression treatment can vary, but typically lasts
between 48 to 72 hours.

"If your symptoms get more advanced and/or resume to deteriorate, or if the
record of your diving incident shows that you had severe depth concerns,
we'll then fill the chamber with a 50:50 Heliox mixture and starting recompressing
you at a depth of 30m until you return to a neurological state as near normal
as possible. Are you ready?" concluded the kind faced doctor.

""  Callie paused and took her instructor's hand. "Thank you
for saving me and Scotty. I'm..I'm sorry we screwed up.." she sobbed.

"You didn't. Not from what I saw." said the diver instructor, waiting nearby.
"Sometimes these things just happen, Mrs. Johnson. And I'll do
everything in my power to be sure that no mistakes or errors
were made by anyone concerning your husband's diving gear."

"Ok..It's...*gasp* ok.." Callie sighed, closing her eyes.

Then the injured female diver's care took precedence over
everything else.

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Jo Swett and Dr. William Greene popped the champagne cork

The portly nurse poured out nine glasses of the bubbly she
had bought at the island market and gave one each to
the Station 51 gang, themselves, and the last to Chris DeSoto.
Ian declined her invitation, telling the hospital nurse that he wanted
to sit out alcohol for the evening so he wouldn't fall asleep
on them and miss something truly fun.

"Here's to your absolutely stellar double save, gentlemen." Jo
crowed. "Dr. Greene and I are stretching legal confidences a
little when we say this, but Mr. and Mrs. Johnson are doing fine
tonight and resting comfortably. In a few weeks time, both of
them'll be able to continue their vacation where they left off.
At the beach.."

"Here! Here!" cried all the firemen.  

Chris looked stunned at the drink in his hand, but then he
caught his father's wink.

"Just a sip." Roy said. "Because it's such a special occasion.
Then give it to Marco. His leg's itching him tonight."

"Ok.. Down the hatch.." said Chris, holding the glass over
his mouth as if he was going to pour the whole thing into
his gullet. But then he desisted, taking only a small taste.
"Thanks, dad." he said, handing the rest of it to a scratching,
grimacing Lopez.

Chet was grimacing, too, for a different reason. "D*mned sunburn.
I forgot how clear the air gets over the island." he said, trying
to reach an itch on his back with a few fingernails.

"I told you to use sunscreen, Chet, but you wouldn't listen to me."
said Roy, grinning.

"No, but I am using Marco's calamine lotion now..." Chet retorted.

"You are?" said Lopez, setting down his empty glass onto
a tabletop. "Chet, that salve's supposed to be just for me.
What am I going to do when it runs out?"

"Use these..." said Bill Greene, handing over a case of new bottles
over to Marco from where it had been sitting behind the couch out
of sight.

"Gee. Thanks, doc. What do I owe you?"

"Nothing. The city's decided to pick up all of your medical bills,
Marco. Let's just say for services rendered in the line of off-duty
duty performed by the rest of these fine fellows in your group." he

"No kidding..." said Cap, brightening up from his place
on a deck chair near them. The Casino Ballroom was lit
up like a jewel on Avalon's coastline behind him.

"I'm not. " said Bill. "Steve Hoefs lined up getting funds to cover
them all at City Hall. He did that, in fact, as soon as he heard
about those two divers you guys helped rescue through Baywatch's
watch commander."

"Tell him thanks, doc, from all of us." Lopez said, deeply moved.

"I think he already knows, Marco. He already knows. Firefighters
do read each other's minds sometimes, don't they?" smiled Jo
in amusement.


Episode Thirty Three

California Dreamin'

Emergency Theater Live

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We hope you've enjoyed
California Dreamin'
as much as we've enjoyed producing it for you. Please click the Coast Guard clipper below to view this 33rd episode's End Credits. :)
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   California Dreamin'
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