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   A Day In The Life
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Page Ten

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Johnny grinned crookedly, still coming down from being very relieved about
Dixie's rapid recovery. "I've got her on a Ringer's, wide open, to replenish that lost
blood volume. The coroner didn't object."  Johnny reported.

"Mine's on a D5/NormalSaline, as a precautionary." DeSoto said.

"Same here." said Brice about Miss Burns. "Made sense, since everyone
who's a patient is either a minor surgery candidate or suffering from nausea.
Food, for them, is out, so a little glucose is definitely in."

Right then, their HT crackled along with Vince's. ##905 on emergency police
band for Officer Howard.## came Les Taylor's voice.

Vince lifted his handy talkie. "Go ahead."

##We're on the freeway headed for Mt. Sinai Hospital. There are four ambulances
there, off loading, according to their E.R.'s head nurse.  We'll let you know when
we've snagged one to come back with us to the mall.##

"I'll let them know." Howard promised.

Johnny held up his hand.
"Vince, we don't actually need a Mayfair. We've got all the medical resources we
need right here. We brought them with us. I'm sure those animal control officers
mean well, but my Rover'll work just fine getting these guys to the hospital." Johnny
said. "The sooner the better. All we have to do is improvise a couple of stretchers."

Marco Lopez and the engineer volunteered securing an escape route.
"We'll climb up to an upper story in the mall and take a look around out the window
to see if things to the south are still safe."

"Here. Take my radio." Vince offered. "I'm not going anywhere. You people are my
current call."

"Thanks." said the engineer.

"I'll go with you." offered Brice. "I could use the exercise to get warmer."

Donning their rain gear, the three firefighters left the surgical bay slowly, carefully
feeling the way underfoot  in the rising mud, step by step, to keep safe.

Brice, Lopez and Stoker returned a short minute later, their faces paling at
what they had seen out the windows.

The first thing they heard as they hurried back into their refuge, was Nurse
Walters arguing with the room at large.

"What are we still doing inside of this heavily damaged building? I thought that kind
of search and rescue option was seriously frowned upon in official fire department
rules and regs." Sharon spat, angry at their lack of common sense.

Before Gage could explain the medical reason why, the floor beneath their feet
suddenly began shuddering, its layer of thick mud quivering like shaking jello.

Brice decided that the best way to break very bad news was to share it quickly.
"Feel that, Sharon? That's not your ordinary, garden variety, every day earthquake.  
Guys, we're in serious trouble. This whole hillside has decided to take the entire mall,
and all of us, for a little ride down into the canyon." Brice told her.  "We just found out
that the whole block is moving on top of a giant river of mud."

"Well that sure solves the ambulance or Rover debate. We sure as hell can't
go outside any more." Roy nodded empathetically.

"So glad I parked on top of the ridge." Johnny said in relief. "The surrounding parking
lot's probably been smothered and ground underneath the foundation by now."

"Yep." said Marco. "We didn't recognize anything familar out there. Everything with
asphalt's gone."

"And so's the county meat wagon." Sam said as he began to glare at Quincy.

"Oops. Sorry, Sam. I'm not a firefighter.  I can't plan ahead like they do. I've tried."

"So where's the safest place going to be?" Roy asked. "All the main support beams
holding up each mall level are most likely going to fail eventually."

"Right here, gentlemen." Vince told them.  "From what I remember, the vet hospital
wasn't part of the original mall design. It was a separate building that was tacked on
at one end of it, as an after thought, to upgrade the city plan in later years.  There are
no sky lights or elevator shafts to weaken our infrastructure. It's all solid concrete,
like a bunker."

"So we're lucky again." said Quincy. "But trapped. Like fishermen on an ice floe."

"But gentlemen, my secretary's arm can't wait. The swelling in that limb is
getting worse by the hour." Coolidge argued.

"It is a bad break." Quincy agreed. "One that will need surgery A.S.A.P. or she'll
lose the hand."

Medical frustration and a little fear started a verbal free for all.

"How about a chopper? Can't they pick us up, one by one.. from a....a balcony
or something?"  Sharon wondered.

"They're all grounded." Stoker told him. "They can't fly in storm conditions like this."

"Maybe after the storm's over." Sharon said, still off on her own line of thought.

"Maybe we can hike out somehow." Quincy offered.

"We can't go on the roof now. Not without getting fried by all that lightning." Roy said.

Craig was thoughtful and he agreed with DeSoto mentally. ::This is truly bad. This
might be an ARKstorm like the news said. I can't remember the last time I've ever
seen constant lightning like this lasting more than twelve hours in the same day. ::  

Brice pitched his voice a little louder, more insistent. "Guys,... we have to think
long term.  This rain is not going to end in an hour or two. It's going to last more
like weeks. I just remembered some history." Brice shared. "In January 1862, for
thirty days and thirty nights, rain fell in unending torrents. Rivers of water ten feet deep
flowed through the streets of Sacramento, and 29.28 inches of rain had fallen on San
Francisco. The mining town of Sonora just east of here received 8.5 feet of rain over
a 2-month period. The resulting floods inundated the Central Valley with a lake 300
miles long and 20 miles wide. And part of the shoreline of that, was in the very same
canyon that's right below us."

"Precisely where we're heading.." Johnny groused, rubbing his face wearily. "Just
wonderful." he said sarcastically.

Marco piped up. "Listen guys, we're firemen, we fight fire. How the hell are the five
of us going to fight a flood of mud a whole valley wide?"

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"We don't." Roy answered.

Johnny shot to his feet from the stool he had been sitting on.
"Right. It's time to add our S.O.S. to the big pile of others." Gage frowned, lifting up
one of the HTs lined up along the table. "This sliding thing has up'd the ante, so I'm
going to pull out the a-brother-needs-help-now card."

Marco chuckled. "Neither Cap nor the chiefs are gonna yell at us for doing this. We're
officially off duty on medical leave, yeah, but this is a biblical sized natural disaster,
not a house fire. This could have happened to one of our own private homes anyway,
by a look of the size of it."

Johnny switched from police to fire department frequencies. "Break. Break. Break. HT
51 to L.A."

## Go ahead, 51.## came Sam Lanier's voice. Its tone was curious, but calm.
It was a very welcome sound to hear. One that generated a feeling of hope in spades.

"L.A., myself and nine other souls, including four other firefighters, are at the Five Points
Plaza in Realto. I'm reporting that we are a physical danger risk. The whole mountainside
has given way to a mudslide and our entire city block has been dislodged from
its bedrock and is moving downhill towards the canyon. We've four casualties,
all stable. We're safe for the moment but are in jeopardy and need immediate
evacuation. Can you assist?"

##Stand by, 51. Referring your status to multiple incident commanders in your area.##

Sharon was puzzled. "Well what does that mean?" she asked.

Brice started smiling, really big. "That means that very soon, every firefighter known to man
is going to be sent or will show up here on their own, even if they're wearing pajamas, to try
and save us."


It was Quincy's turn at a shift to monitor Dixie, when she awakened.

"So this is the latest fashion in cadaver wear. Should have been a nice shade of yellow.
Cheerier." she gasped through her oxygen mask.

"Guys." the coroner alerted. "She's conscious."

Getting to their feet, the others quickly circled Dixie's table, offering encouragement.
Even Boot joined in, leaping onto a counter top, so he could see her better.

"Hey.. " Roy celebrated. "How are you doing?"

"I almost earned a halo today, huh?" McCall whispered, about the CPR bruise she
started investigating on her chest with both hands.

"Not quite. All of us aren't through with you yet. Sharon said she doesn't want to
take over and be head nurse at Rampart." Gage quipped.

"Liar." Walters joked, taking Dixie's hand.

Dixie began to laugh but it soon turned into a very real and ugly grimace of shock.
"Am I paralyzed?" she asked. "I can't move my legs."

Horror washed through every single one of them.


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From: patti keiper (  
Subject: Secondary Effects..
Sent: Wed 5/08/13 11:50 PM

Unzipping the body bag down to Dixie's thick blankets, Roy uncovered
both legs.  They were trembling and goose fleshed, as if the nurse was
cold. DeSoto felt her skin. "Your skin's warm enough. Can you feel this?"
he asked, pulling out a pair of bandage shears from a nearby kit. He ran the
tips of their blunt ends up the sole of one of her feet from heel to toes.

Dixie let out the breath she was holding with carefully controlled
disappointment. "No. Not even a little bit."  she croaked. Then she
started looking around the room, still startled and getting her bearings.
"W-What happened to me?"

"A mudslide threw you into a cabinet, we think.." replied Quincy. "..right
before it buried you up to the ears. We had to work fast to get you out
of it for ventilating." he admitted.  "Do you feel any pain at all
in your lower back?" he fretted.

"None. Not even a little bit. Am I hurt anywhere else?" she asked, with the
first frightened tears beginning to leak out of the corners of her eyes
from her growing sense of vulnerability. "There's got to be a good reason
why I can't feel anything..*sniff* Even I know that."

The heart monitor began to sound out a tachycardia threshold warning
with Dixie's rising anxiety level.

Johnny quickly slapped off the audible to end the distraction. "Shh, stay
calm, Dixie. Breathe nice and slow. The oxygen's going to help."

"Oh, Dixie.." Sharon whispered. "Don't be afraid." she said, her lip
quivering as she failed to hide her own fear. "We'll figure this out."

Sam Fujiyama had a chin in his hand and a thoughtful finger over his
mouth as he thought hard about something. "Miss McCall what exactly do
you remember happening before you woke up just now?"

Dixie coughed and struggled to concentrate. "Uh..I remember the storm.
A ...loud clap of thunder.. uh..  Boot really yelped and started scrambling
to hide.  I think I started to crouch down to reassure him a bit when things
went black."

Quincy's eyes suddenly lit up with energy. "Miss McCall, exactly
where were you standing? This may be an important clue."

"I was ... uh,... over there by the--" she said, pointing. "Oh, the window's
gone?!" she said with surprise, noticing all the structural damage surrounding
her for the first time.

"Half the mall, is, too." Johnny interrupted. "Look, Dixie. Never mind about
that for now. Just try to focus on the question." he said, frustrated. "We have
to figure out how why your legs are numb here."

It was Mike Stoker who spotted it. "Hey, guys.. Look at the TV set. The screen's
glass has turned brown and its cabinet's been partially melted."

"We had a fire?" Marco asked, smelling the air. "I don't smell any smoke."

"! Not a fire." Quincy said, leaping to his feet. "Lightning!" he said in
excited discovery. "It all makes sense now. Both her sudden cardiac arrest for
no apparent reason at all and her initial poor breathing attempts. Now these
unexplained muscle tremors. Initially we thought her ongoing dypsnea was
because she was getting crushed by all of that mud! But that wasn't the real
cause at all.  It was because her muscles were still seizing from left over,

Sam was still putting pieces together. "Electrical shock which had come down
through the rain, through a mudslide shattering window, down the antennae wire,
and out the boob tube."

"Right into Dixie."
Quincy snapped his fingers with the diagnosis. "Keraunoparalysis. It's the only
thing that makes any sense here, fellas. That mud's far too soft to have caused
any spinal damage, even if she was flung into it from across the room."

"If so, then there'd be spidering." Brice added.

"Yes." Quincy agreed.

On a thought, Roy took out a gauze pad and soaked it with his water bottle. He
used it and began cleaning off the large patch of dried blood around Dixie's
clamped off leg wound to expose the skin underneath.  Seconds later, he found
the telltale markings.

Thin, faintly red and feathery. Like a fern.  "There they are. Lichtenberg figures.
They've already mostly faded away." he said, tracing across a few of them with
his fingers.

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"So I was zapped both by G*d and a defibrillator today. Is my hair curly?" Dixie
tried to joke. But the others were too busy feeling relieved to notice. But she
was smiling big, under her O2 mask, right along with the rest of them.  ::I'm
only going to be crippled for a couple of hours until my nerves sort themselves
out.:: she thought, suddenly very groggy. ::When I can wiggle my toes, I promise
I'll celebrate with a very large, hot, cup of c--.::

Sharon covered Dixie up again for comfort and watched as her exhausted boss
fell quickly asleep. Slowly, the EKG monitor settled into a normal resting pace.

On the other side of the room, still taking a ventilator shift on the ambu bag
for the sedated secretary, Marco glanced up at Roy, as he bagged the
woman's oxygen in and out.  "Is Dixie going to be okay? I thought she was
awake for moment there."

"Yeah, she will be. And she was. She just scared us for a moment with
secondary complications that're gonna be only temporary." DeSoto said.  
"Speaking of which, are you noticing any on our patient here?"

"She's fine. She's not popping around her ET or trying to gag. And her pulse's still
the same steady rate she had when you guys first intubated her." he reported.
Then he leaned forward without missing a beat on the hand squeezing breath
deliveries to whisper confidentially in Roy's ear. "Was this really the best thing to
do for her?" he asked, shrugged a shoulder down at Miss Burns.

"Yes, it was absolutely the right decision, Marco." Roy told him as he double checked
the status of her breathing tube with a stethoscope. "You see, she wasn't handling
the idea of being injured very well. Even with just that broken arm. Some people can't
deal with blood or bumps and bruises on themselves without freaking out. They're
born high strung. What we call nervous types. She happens to be one of those. If we
hadn't have done anything, she would have eventually worked herself into a deeper
shock and into life threatening trouble if we hadn't detached her mind from the rest
of her."

Lopez rubbed some dried mud off of his nose that had been itching him.
"I guess I'm not used to the finer points of aggressive emergency treatment yet.
It didn't seem like her broken arm was enough to warrant full life support like this."
Lopez shared, his face half worried, half thoughtful.

Roy guessed that Marco's empathy was a little on overdrive, a souvenir from
their nightmare hostage situation from the day before. He kept his face gentle.
"Let me let you in on a little secret." Then it was Roy's turn to lean in to Marco's ear.
"Everything a paramedic does is life support. It's just a matter of how much and to what
degree until a doctor or a surgeon at a hospital can take over to permanently fix all of
the problems." Then he looked at his watch and turned to inject another dose of
Fentanyl to the secretary's I.V. a few seconds early. "Hang tight. Stoker will be over
to relieve you at this in five minutes." he said as he stood back up again. "Then
you'll be able to shake some of those cramps out of your fingers. Try using both
hands bagging, it's easier for long term resuscitating."

"Okay." Marco said on auto pilot. He was still looking and feeling very responsible for
his patient's well being, so Roy gave him an encouraging pat on a shoulder before
he moved on to check up on the veterinarian's progress.

Craig Brice sat down next to Johnny Gage at the radio table. "So. This is new. " he
shrugged, about the mud jello quivering floor as they were carried inch by inch
downstream by the massive mud river writhing beneath the foundation. "What do
you think our chances for survival are?"

Johnny had the decency to be honest.
"I haven't a clue. Aren't you the usual walking book of statistics and procedures?" he
teased with a grin, as he double checked the volume remaining on the spare oxygen
tanks lying on the table in front of them.

Craig pulled a blanket around himself to keep a little warmer. The circles under his
eyes were a little darker, but the vitality he had was still unwavering. "I can't say I've ever
gone down a hill using a building as a sled. So I can't even begin to guess on those odds."

"Ah, now that's the gist of this, Brice. That's a paramedic skill you seriously need to work

"Oh? And exactly what skill am I lacking?" he grinned, accepting the challenge by casually
lacing his fingers onto the table top. It felt good reviving some friendly rivalry.

"Guessing on things. I've been trying to tell you that for years." Gage said.

Craig rubbed his red eyes wearily with a few knuckles as he picked at some pack
food. "I've always thought that being accurate, using known facts, was more important
than theories."

"Oh, they are. But just look at us. Here. Right now. Brice, we don't have any facts.
Just what we can see and hear and feel with our five senses.  It's kind of invigorating,
you know what I mean?" he said, taking in a huge cleansing breath.

Brice squinted at him like he had sprung a third eyeball.  "You're still feeling the
effects of post traumatic stress disorder.  Come on, Mr. Gage. Euphoria in
the face of mortal danger? We might all die." he said empathetically. "And all of this
doesn't bother you?"

"Yeah, it does. It does. But in this case, we won't see it coming if death comes. It's nothing
like having a loaded gun pointed at you. That's liberating." he said with fierce passion. "I'm
feeling quite alive and that may just be enough to save my butt, or my ability to save
somebody else's, on some life or death snap decision later on."  he pointed out, still
smiling.  Then he noticed Brice's face. "Don't worry about the logic of it, Brice. You'll
never figure it out until you've lived through exactly the same thing we did." concluded
Johnny as he methodically grabbed out a peanut from Craig's snack pouch to munch on.

Mike Stoker was busy improving a trio of stretchers made from unassembled animal
crates and cages.  "Hey, Doc." he called out.

"Yeah?" Barney Coolidge replied, opening his eyes from the light doze he had
slipped into.

"Can I use your block and tackle and the chains from your livestock Hoyer lift
to make a few stokes web slings? I think we could use it to get out of here."
said the engineer.

"Be my guest. I really don't think I'll be saving anything from the office once
Mother Nature gets through with it. I'll be happy enough with just my skin thank
you very much." the vet replied.


"Oh, and Boot's." he added, welcoming the dog into his lap as the shaggy mutt
began to wash some blood flakes off of his face with a busy tongue. "It's hard
to believe this dog's really not a bitch."

"A what?" Sharon Walters exclaimed from her seat by Dixie's table.

"A female dog." Barney shrugged scientifically. "He treats people as if they're
his puppies."

Roy started laughing. "Yep. You should see him as a tracker for search and
rescue calls. Cap's taken advantage of that female quality more than once."

"Speaking of Cap..." said the engineer as he tinkered, "I wonder how he's
doing? I can't help thinking about what he might do once he finds out about
our situation here."

Gage scoffed in non-surprise. "Don't even think about it. We already know what
he'll do."
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At Rampart, out in the hallway, Hank was pacing, and livid. "I can't even keep my
eyes off of them for one G*d d*mned day." Cap fumed.

"Hush, Hank." Emily gestured, embarrassed for the scene her husband was making.
"You know, sometimes I think you're a mother to them more than I am to our own
children." she giggled, placing her hand on his chest to feel its vital warmth.

"Is that such a bad thing?" he said affectionately, pulling her to him and into
a snug bear hug.

"Only if yelling about it truly makes you angry." she replied. "There is a difference."

"I? Yell?" he smiled, fully knowing that he did so, quite frequently.

"Mmm hmm." she grinned up at him in their embrace. "When you don't get your way,
when you want your way, when you can't solve a way..."

On that last one, Cap opened his mouth in mock amusement. "I do not."

"Sure you do. Just ask your family of firemen." she teased.

Hank's face fell then, right into a very rare emotion for him, one of doubt.
"That's if I get a chance to see them again before something b--"

"Shhh, now that's no kind of talk to come out of the premier fire captain of the line.
One of Station 51's few... The proud...  A- shift!" she mocked with amused heroism
and a mock muscle curl.

It was Hank's turn to be embarrassed. "Shh. Are we loud? Yes, I think we're being
loud." he said, as he hustled her into Chet's room that they had been standing in
front of while they talked.

"Kelly!"   he snapped.

"Cap, I--" Chet simpered.

"Can it! What I think doesn't matter. It's what you do that counts in every way possible
if we're going to bail out their idiotic butts. The twits.."  he growled.   Hank snatched up
the ham radio from a shelf that was not in the very center of Chet's bed tray
stand where it should have been and turned it back on to full volume so he could
hear everything that was transpiring on the Citizen's band. "I'm just as mad as
you are that I can't use fire department radio traffic channels, but that's not going
to stop us one iota."

Chet's head did a double take. "It's not?" he blurted out before he could stop himself.

"Nope. Get your clothes on. You're sneaking out of here to our car in five minutes."

"What?! Uh, I mean, yes, sir, Cap. Glad to. A wild herd of horses couldn't keep me

"As if we didn't have enough already." Hank mumbled, about rules and regulations
and mandatory medical leave stipulations following crisis incidents.

Chet's sister was grinning from ear to ear. "Oh, sir. Thank you for letting him be
the juvenile delinquent he always is. You won't regret it."

"Huh? Oh. It's just part of a firemen's creed.  I'd take a nut from the nuthouse
if it meant more hands and manpower on this job."

"The doctors and nurses here might call in the security guard." Chet warned.

"They can hang it!" Cap said, slapping down an early discharge risk waiver.
"Scribble away. Then finish getting your clothes on. Oh, and steal a few patient
gowns. We may be needing those."

"Perish the thought." Emily chided him, wide eyed.

"It's for disguise, Em. I can use Chet's bruises to get through restricted areas. Okay,
Chet. From the beginning. What have I been missing and what do you know so far?"  
Stanley ordered. "Ah, ah, ah. Don't stop. Keep changing." Then he turned to Chet's
sister. "And you, keep packing." And back to Chet. "Then tell me on the way. We're
headed out to the I.C. covering them." he promised.

Chet Kelly hurried even more. "What snapped you out of your funk, Cap? It's like
you're a different man this morning."

"It's the idea of getting back to work, Kelly. That's always been the only thing that can
heal us when we're down. A certain baby we both know reminded me of that just
when I had nearly forgotten the obvious, following a nasty dream."

Emily was curious. "A moral to the story?"

"Yes, and from now on, I think I'll avoid BBQs, love." Cap said about his dream.

"Don't we always?" Chet  misunderstood, thinking of what firefighters make
as a top goal to do while fighting fires. "Come on, let's get going, Cap. I
can't stand being kept separated from them any more."
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From:  patti keiper (
Subject: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing..
Sent: Thu 5/09/13 9:23 AM

Dr. Brackett burst into the doctor's lounge, mildly surprising Dr. Morton as
he grabbed the rare break in spite of the heightened disaster status
that was making Rampart Hospital hustle.  "Mike, there you are! I've been
looking all over for you."

"There is such a thing called an intercom page. Are you afraid of the operator's
sullen mood this morning? If so, I understand your reluctance. She nearly bit my
head off over the phone a while ago when I-"

"There more emergency patients to see." Brackett told him.

"I'll get right on it." And he started to rise in his seat, still chewing the single bite
of his sandwich that he had managed so far. "And by the way, have you heard
about Dixie? They found her injured at the vet's. She's stable now. But she's still
inaccessible and trapped on a--"

"Whoa, Mike. Wait a minute." Kel said, his face suddenly filled with concern.
He reached out and grabbed touch his arm in support. "Are you feeling okay?
You know, t-they were right, you do look kind of peaked. You look like you have a
fever. One that's pretty high." he emphasized, reaching out a back of his hand
to feel Morton's forehead. "I think you should get out of here and go home
before you get any of our patients sick." Kel said, snatching up Mike's white coat
that he had taken off and hung up so he could go shower after lunch. "I'll
just keep hold of this until you get back."

"What? Kel, I'm fine. Are you off your rocker? Did you hear anything I said to you
just now?!" he asked with incredulity.

"I .... know I agree that you're not in any condition to work at the hospital
this morning because you're in no condition to be here." he emphasized significantly
with a very leading subtle, head tilt that meant he was hinting something he couldn't
talk about.

It was Morton's turn to tilt his own head in puzzlement at his boss. Then the
light dawned and his face grew dead pan serious. Then he flipped his back to
the security lens in the ceiling so his face couldn't be seen. "Do you mean to say
that you managed not to authorize one of us to go out in the field to attend victims
in a triage around the hospital administrators?"

Kel Brackett blinked once, without changing his feigned professional look of
medical concern for the security camera's benefit. "You're sick. I just noticed.
You're my attending resident, aren't you? You have to do everything I say.
Especially when I tell you that Chet Kelly is out there waiting for you to give
you a ride to your destination safely so you can get some time to re-cov-er."
he hinted again, strongly, about whom he actually wanted recovered A.S.A.P.

"Right." Mike almost grinned gratefully, but quickly he faked a cough and put
on a green looking face in practice for the tapes that an administrator would probably
be reviewing later for Brackett's disciplinary meeting. "See me out, staggering to the
parking lot?"  he said, heading for the door.

"This way, doctor." Dr. Brackett said, taking his arm as part of the act. "Here, let me
help you walk." The door swung shut behind the two doctors in cahoots. Snick!


Chet Kelly felt a strong tug as something strong ripped away the package of
patient gowns that he had been concealing under his arm as he started to
get into Cap's family car out in the pickup lane.

"You are so busted, young man." said Dr. Morton, holding the bundle of hospital
clothes to his chest.

"No he's not." countered Cap, rising out of the driver's seat into which he had been
half way seated. "He's out legally."

"Here are the carbons." Emily insisted, holding them out.

"Relax, guys. I'm on your side." Morton grinned. "Kelly, these'll work far better for a
disguise if I'm part of the accessories, don't you think?" he said, pushing the gowns
back into Chet's arms. "Welcome to my emergency hospital evacuation vehicle.
Here, Mr. Stanley. Put this permit on your dash. It'll move mountains for us."

"Ooo, please. Not that analogy." Hank grimaced.

"Sorry." Mike shrugged.

Chet opened the rear door and said. "Move over, sis. This man's coming with us."


Joe Early and Kel Brackett were already deep into the care of a triage patient in
the E.R.  

"Did he get sprung?" Joe asked, keeping his voice low.

Brackett admired his handywork without looking at Early as he put in a few more
stitches to a chest wound. "A bit under the table, but yes."

"Ouch. That D.A.'s gonna hurt." Joe said, holding one of the stitches down with
a sterile gloved finger so Kel could tie a knot in it with his suture holder and needle.

"Oh, well. Such is life. She's more important to me than any untarnished career
record than I can ever hope for. Thanks for covering for me so I could get to
Mike." Brackett sighed, unrepentant.

"What are friends for? Somebody's got to snip through the red tape around
here." he said, cutting off Brackett's thread neatly with a pair of sterile scissors.
"All of us are in enough of a strangle hold as it is with this ARKstorm thing going
on. I just hope the hit you're going to take pays dividends."

"Oh, it will. Mike's quite the bull dog. He'll get to her." Kel breathed with confidence.


Dr. Morton's naval lieutenant days were paying off at the emergency cordon along
the service road leading to Realto's mall area. "Listen to me, officer. I deviated
off my route because this man needs care now. It can't wait. All our ambulances
are tied up. He's got a lung wound that's barely sealed. I just noticed it's bleeding
again and we don't have time to make it to our new hospital. Do you want to be
responsible if he dies because we were held up at a yellow zone check point?!"

To emphasize that point, Cap slapped an H.T. radio he had with him, that Emily had
stuck in her purse, across his chest with its police band volume turned up loudly.
"They're waiting for us. The surgery tent in triage's all set." he said.

"Thanks for the update, Hank. Well, what's it going to be, mister?" barked Dr.
Morton in his best irritated tone, completely devoid of bedside manner.

Chet chose that moment to moan and dribble a little bit of left over bloody spit
from where he was slumped, head bend backwards.

"Please! He's dying!" Chet's sister wailed.

The officer made a disgusted face, backed away, and waved to his men to
move the striped barriers so Cap's car could get by and through to the official
disaster area and triage.

"Let's move out!" Mike shouted, pretending to hold Chet's head in a secure
airway move, with a hand under his chin.

Hank peeled rubber and the car shot past the barricade. Soon, it was deep under
the cover of the rain.

Once hidden from view, the five began laughing uncontrollably as they
parked in with other cars and stand by emergency vehicles.

"G*d, I can't believe that worked." Morton chuckled. Then he turned to Chet,
handing him a kleenix with which to wipe his mouth. "How the h*ll did you manage
to cough up blood? I thought Kel said you were pulmonary fit."

"I am. I bit my cheek to get that. Ow.." Kelly grimaced, feeling it with his tongue.

"Here's an ice pack." Mike said as he rummaged around Cap's first aid satchel.
"So who first, captain? The head of triage or the head of incident command?"

"We already know Dixie hasn't been rescued yet so the triage stop is out. You're
going to see the man in white himself since I can't. He's the one who will have the
most updated information about Five Points and its victim statuses. I'll fill you
in on the lingo and what to say and ask so he'll take you for being credible
enough to waste his valuable time." Cap promised.

"What can we do in the meantime?" said Emily for herself, Chet, and his sister.

"Roam around the green area of Triage. See if you can get other details about
what's happening, find out how and when a rescue on the mall is going to occur.
Firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics are your best choices with whom to talk."
Hank shared. "Stay clear of any fire captains. Especially you, Chet. You're bound
to be recognized as still being on the injured list and unauthorized on scene." Cap

"Well what about you?" Chet asked. "They know you directly."

"Me? Oh, I'm just the guy hanging around the communications tent with my
radio geek H.T. in hand. See? Don't I make a handsome enough resident fire
buff?" he said, quickly tying a red bandana around his head.

"You're quite the hippy." Emily said, kissing his cheek.

"Okay, everybody out!" Cap replied. "Meet back at the car in half an hour with
everything you've found."

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Dixie woke up, choking, unable to breathe.

The feeling of suffocation had returned mercilessly. She moaned, trying
to gasp in air, but she couldn't.

"Johnny? You guys. Come over, here. Quickly! Something's changed." Sharon
warned the others. "And it's bad." She said, tipping Dixie's head back to help
her open her throat.

"...ugh..ugh...." McCall snored ineffectively, her breath only hissing out of her

Roy, Quincy and Gage rushed over to her side.

Quincy felt around her voice box with his hands while Roy listened to her
chest with a stethoscope. "It's not an obstruction, there's no tension here."

"No, it's not." DeSoto replied. "She's wide open. She's just not breathing."

Johnny snatched off Dixie's oxygen mask and replaced it with a working
ambu bag. "Dixie. Don't fight it. I'm giving you oxygen manually."

Dixie felt the cool breath go into her twitching lungs and her hands stopped
crawling on the table.  But she blacked out at the next cramp.

The cardiac monitor began to show artifact even though the rhythm hadn't

The coroner felt a little lower down to her abdomen. "Spasming. It's her

"Left over from the lightning?" Sharon squeaked in fear.

"Yes." Quincy said.  "A muscle relaxant's needed." he said.

"Diazepam?" Roy offered.

"Ten mil. Make it I.V. push instead of I.M. It'll take effect more rapidly that
way." the coroner agreed. Then he turned to Johnny. "How does she feel lung

"Tight. But both lungs are still inflating okay." Gage replied, gingerly squeezing
the bag.

"That's a false sign. Watch her color for your perfusion determination. Bronchial
spasming will prevent oxygen from reaching her blood until the medication
starts to take effect. If she goes cyanotic, hyperventilate." he shared.  "If she
keeps on occluding like this, we'll try a bronchiodilator through a nebulizer."

"Right." Roy acknowledged. He began to set up Albuterol, too.

Brice tapped one of Dixie's eyelids to make sure she was still out before he
placed an oral airway over her tongue. Then he assisted Johnny and provided
suction when it was needed in between delivered breaths.  

Soon, both medications were in. But the tension remained.

"What now?" Sharon asked.

"Now? We wait." Quincy replied. "And we begin to hope and pray the
interventions work before she suffers fatal cardiovascular collapse."

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From: patti keiper (  
Subject: Taking Toll...
Sent: Fri 5/10/13 12:28 AM

Sharon Walters wilted onto a box that was still above the level of the mud and
finally gave into tears. The men in the room gave her some privacy by pretending
not to notice what she was doing. She sobbed silently until a warm weight on
her lap made her look down. It was Boot. Whining in distress, he curled about
himself in her lap and quickly into a miserable little ball as he laid his head down
on top of her mud encrusted hands. He was breathing harshly in his anxiety about
the hurt people surrounding him who didn't seem to be getting any better.

"Oh, Boot." she whispered. "This has been one h*ll of a day, hasn't it? I'm so
with you. I just can't take it anymore." she sniffed, falling to pieces helplessly as
she stroked his limp tail.

Johnny Gage wasn't one to ignore someone else's pain. He passed off Dixie's
breathing care onto Vince and joined Sharon on her private box. He noodled in
behind her skillfully and wrapped his dirty arms around both her stomach and Boot
without saying a word. Then he kissed her once on top of her head and leaning
his chin there protectively with closed eyes, he let them both cry.


Slam! went the last of Cap's car doors as the five of them met secretly under cover.

"Time to compare notes. Can anybody trump my finding out that all U.S.A.R.
personnel are unavailable to assist with the Five Points incident?" Hank began.

"I can." said Emily. "A paramedic said he spoke to a pair of animal control officers
who had been in the vet hospital before it was torn off the mountain.  They had the
unit call sign, 905 Wild. Does that ring a bell?"

"Oh, yes. It sure does. These two first met Johnny and Roy when they snuck a goat
into Rampart for a little open heart surgery. I had to run interference for the chiefs
once the hospital administrators caught wind of that little stunt the next day. Believe
me, I wasn't happy." Hank recalled.

"Where are they now?" Dr. Morton asked. "Maybe we can pick their brains in reverse
and get the I.C.'s mindset on all of this and save ourselves a whole lot of trouble."

"In the canteen." Chet replied. "They figured that telling Command what they
already knew and experienced might help bring about a decent rescue plan.
They sure weren't pleased to hear that there was no way back for them. I didn't
stay long because I didn't want to get found out."

"Don't worry. I'll be your shield." Mike promised. "Let's go."

Soon, the five of them had grabbed food trays and nonchalantly took places surrounding
Les and Dave, who were so tired where they sat dozing on chins and elbows, that it
took a fairly loud throat clearing cough from Hank, to get their attention.

"Hiya fellas. You don't know me, but you were with my men at the vet's. I'd sure appreciate
it if you could share a few things about how they're doing. I've been worried sick."
Cap said honestly.

Dave didn't even blink at the shocking red bandana tied around Cap's head. "Hello,
Mr. Stanley. No need to hide. Everybody knows you guys are here. And they don't care."
Then he pointed to the news camera crew aimed in their direction who was also beaming
a signal onto a TV set that the publicity officer had up and running. Below the live feed
was a caption, 'Captain of the famous Station 51 Hostage Crisis At Five Points I.C.' "

The five of them gaped in shock and immediate embarrassment. Only Emily saw the
humor in it and her laughter soon rang out. Cap reached up to pull off his disguise.

Les started chuckling. "Oh, no. Sir, please. Leave it on. It's amusing all the laid up
first responders.  The I.C. here said it was helping immensely with morale across
the entire county, watching you slink around, trying to hide, while going after tidbits."

"I hate technology." Cap murmured.

"No, you don't." Kelly countered. "Tell the truth now. Engine 51 is true posh."

Dave grinned. "Ah, there's nothing like the speed of the press for sharing news.
You should have gone to them first to get all of your information."

Cap glowered and waved an impatient hand. "Can you tell us what we want to know?"

"Dixie suffered cardiac arrest but was converted successfully." Les reported.

"What was the cause of it?" Morton asked, his mouth agape.

"We don't know. We left for help before they had it figured out." Taylor replied.
"She did have a fairly bad cut on her leg. Mr. DeSoto said that she had lost
a lot of blood. And some kind of surgical tool was being used to stop the bleeding."

"Those kinds of arrests are easy to turn around once you replace a little fluid
volume." Morton shared, letting in some relief and confidence into his tone of voice.

"I sure hope so. She didn't look good at all even after she regained a heartbeat
and breathing." Les said. "Her eyes still looked kind of empty."

That shut Morton up into silence as he shouldered the burden of the news that he
would have to tell Kel Brackett. ::Brain damage?:: he wondered to himself.

But the others didn't catch that observation. They were talking animatedly about
options and possibilities when it came to a game plan to get the Five Points trapped
victims to safety.

Mike Morton excused himself to go to the communications tent to make his first
initial radio report to Dr. Brackett through the county fire department dispatcher.

##Rampart Hospital. This is Dr. Brackett.## came Kel's voice through a radio
that an emergency crew had lent out to him.

"Kel, I'm afraid it may not be good news." he reported about Miss McCall.

##What?!  I thought they had her taken care of.  What have you heard about
her condition?##

"Lethargy, a confirmed thousand yards stare, pallor." the resident admitted.
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##That could be just shock.  Not mortal or dire signs.##

Morton didn't say anything. But then he rekindled the hope Kel had for Dixie's
outcome. "The person who was there was a layman. What does he know?"

##That's the spirit. I'll be right here in the E.R., Mike. Contact me anytime.
Even if it's during emergency surgery. I want regular reports from you. ##

"You'll get them. I promise. Listen, Kel. I've got to go. I'm getting the cut throat
sign from the communications officer. He's got other calls piling up."

##Remember what I said, Mike. When you see her, tell Dixie I love her.
Rampart, out.## Kel replied.

Feeling ambivalent, Mike returned to the others.

"How did it go?" Emily asked him.

"For Kel, he was the raging optimist. I'm afraid I wasn't." Dr. Morton admitted.

"Not hard to understand, doc." said Chet. "Everyone knows your reputation."

Chet's sister whacked him one.

Chet reconsidered. "Oh. Sorry." then he turned back to fiddling with their radio

"The truth never hurts me, Kelly." Morton said on deaf ears.

Hank wasn't even tracking the Dixie talk. He was deep into plying Dave Gordon
about the chief's thinking and future actions.

Gordon was a wealth of information on that. "He was pretty steamed that all of his
fire department birds were grounded. So he's made some phone calls out of state to
get additional help."

"Do you know to whom he called?" Cap wondered.

"Not a clue. He used the term, "Other agency."  Dave replied.

"Well, that doesn't help any. That's a general term used in report writing that
could mean anything. EMS, Fire, Police, The Army, The National Guard.." Cap
listed off on his fingers in frustration.

"ABC.."  Chet added.

"What?" Hank blinked.

Kelly just smiled. "We can always make a trade with that television journalist film
crew.  Say, exclusive interviews with us for an illegal covert eye-reporter mission
to the vet hosp-"

"No." Cap glared. "We will not endanger the public. We will not take advantage
of stupid."

"Just a thought." Kelly shrugged.

"It's highly attractive, I know, but...." Cap's eyes drifted off. "" he said
with finality.

"Bummer." said Chet's sister. "They just might have pulled it off, too."

Cap made a face at her for tempting him greatly.


It was almost noon, and Patty Burns had long since been extubated.

Barney Coolidge was there with Brice when she calmly woke up from
her medicated stupor.  Barney held out his hands protectively to her when
she automatically tried to sit up. "Whoa.. whoa whoa. No need to answer
the phone. We're closed." he joked.

Craig Brice studied his patient's face closely as he took a pulse at her wrist.
"How are you feeling?"

"B-Better." she croaked. "So my arm's really broken?" she asked, peering
at it sticking out of its splint and sling.

"Does that bother you still?" Brice tested.

"Not really. I still feel kind of ....far away."

"That's okay for now. And I suspect you're thinking that, too, Miss Burns."

She nodded yes.  Then she started slowly looking around. "What happened
to us?"

Barney replied cheerfully. "Mudslide, my dear.  California's brand of Mother
Nature at her best. Looks like we get to pick out some new curtains for a
replacement clinic somewhere else next month."

"Oh, that's nice." Patty said vaguely.
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Brice smiled, sharing an amused look with Barney. "She can be alone now.
We'll keep that O2 on for just a bit longer until she's all there."

The vet nodded his head.

Roy DeSoto was helping Mike Stoker and Marco Lopez find a stable way
out through an exterior wall that overlooked their moving mudflow.  It
ended up being a shattered bay window to the right of where the main
entrance to the vet hospital used to be.

"Will those stokes fit through there?" DeSoto asked the engineer, pointing.

"Yeah, I think so. We can use that support beam for a pulley point." he
agreed, banging on it with a broken pipe to test its strength of attachment
to the rest of the building.

Lopez began to use a mop bucket as a battering ram to smash away
remnants of the glass still around the window to get rid of any remaining
splinters and shards.  

He started to step out onto the apparent sidewalk when Roy pulled him
back in. He pointed down. Marco looked and saw mud oozing up
through the cracks in the walkway like lava.

"That only looks solid. It could give way."

"You're right. Thanks, Roy." Marco said, looking pale.


The three firemen headed back inside to go tell the others about the egress.

It was Sam's turn to be Dixie's lungs for the hour. Her color had improved to
fair but her consciousness level was diminishing into what they all feared was
a growing coma.  Her gag reflex was completely absent and her pupils were
beginning to become sluggish to light.

"Isn't that the medication?" Vince asked Johnny when he checked her eyes out
once again for signs of awareness.

"It could be, but it's also very unlikely. Valium metabolized is burned off pretty
fast. Her condition is probably all neurological deficit now."

"I'm sorry." Howard apologized.

Gage sighed tiredly. "We're not giving up hope yet. Lightning victims
usually make a rapid recovery if they survive the first 24 hours. Dixie's only
in the fifth hour since getting struck. Arc shocking takes a while to dissipate.
There are metabolic changes that have to be countered, burns still have
to come out, along with cardiac irregularities like the one that made her arrest

"Quincy called it a PVC." the police officer remembered.

"Yeah. That's the heart getting mad. Mad enough to quit as we paramedics like
to say."

"She didn't throw many."

"Let's hope those are over.  Her next hurdle will be the reaction of her heart
itself to getting jolted by electricity. For that's like a crush injury. There's a....
protein that shows up in the blood whenever the heart suffers oxygen deprivation.
This Bywaters' syndrome can shut down your kidneys in a couple of hours once
it begins if it doesn't get treated with dialysis right away." Gage shared tiredly.
"That could be why she's in a comatose sink now."

Vince suddenly looked up, his face looking drawn and thoughtful.
"You know, I don't think I want to hear any more about complications. I'm going
to try to get a radio signal out again. It looks like the rain's starting to let up a bit."
Howard said, leaving his chair.

Sharon Walters had fallen asleep on top of her box refuge and so had Boot,
who was now nestled in her arms inside of a warm blanket. In their dreams,
they had managed to find escape from reality.

But then reality began to bite down. Hard.

The gentle shuddering and flowing they all were growing used to suddenly
turned into tremendous jolts as the concrete and wood flooring beneath
their feet began to strike submerged cars passing underneath it from the
parking lot.  It was the ugly sound of stone on steel.

Boom! Boom!... Thudddd.  *Squuuuuueaakkk kk kk*

"Everybody hang tight!"  Stoker yelled.

And then the roof came down.
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From: patti keiper (  
Subject: Over The Waves
Sent: Fri 5/10/13 11:31 AM

In the canteen tent, Chet finally heard a voice that he had been seeking
by scanning different bands on the H.T.  

##...fficer Vince Howard. Can anybody hear me?##

He almost dropped the radio. "Cap! It's Vince! Listen..."

##...*pop* ...collapsed roof.  I can't find the oth-- *static*---##

"Give it here. That's on police band?" he asked.

Kelly nodded, passing off the handy talkie to Cap.

Cap spoke. "Vince, Hank Stanley. Whatever you do, keep transmitting.
We'll be able to triangulate your position that way!"  he shot to his feet
and all but ran to the Communications tent with the others close behind.

Hank rushed up to the radio operator in charge. "I got them on Police
band. Can you boost this signal?" he said, slapping the radio into
the man's hand.

"This is police band?" asked the head radio officer.

"Yes!" Chet said.  

The man read the dial Kelly had chosen and then picked up the global
intercom microphone. "Break. Break. Break. Victim contact. All responders
tune your bricks to Police 2 to assist their repeater positioning. I repeat switch
to Police 2 to aid our finding their coordinates. Maintain radio silence."

Soon, the hum of matched channels filled the area with a low squelching
whine that soon faded away as adjustments were made.

Vince's voice was magnified throughout Incident Command and bounced
eerily around the tents and emergency vehicles on standby.
## ..rain has stopped. *crackle*... in critical condition. The building foundation
is rafting into the canyon at about a foot every thirty seconds...##

Then the fire department Incident Commander's voice broke in on top of his.
##This is I.C.1 to Deputy Howard. We copy you and have obtained your position.
Your current situation is understood. Can you respond victim numbers?##

The news crew's excited chatter prompted a bunch of firefighters to hiss at
them so everyone could hear.

##.. Copy th--  Ten...  and a dog... *Bark!*..##

The whole tent erupted in cheers. Even before all the fervor died away,
truly effective rescue work was already underway.
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Johnny Gage awoke to almost pure darkness. He rolled off of his back
on the muddy floor and sat up. Then full awareness returned. "Oh, no. Dixie!"
he shouted. "Dixie?" His hand struck the edge of the homemade stokes that
Mike had made for her with a painful bang.  He swiftly felt up her body to
her head and chest area and stopped.

She was breathing.  

::Oh, thank G*d.::  he thought, sagging over her in relief.

Johnny made sure her oral airway was still in place, before he began shouting
for the others.  He was dimly aware that above his head, the false ceiling that
had given way had tented bizarrely into a upside down V around the surgical bay
room, filling the space with thick plaster dust. "Everybody! *cough* Sound off!"

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Soon, one by one, the others replied and finally Brice. "I'm here. And Miss Burns."

Marco's voice added more. "But Boot's missing."

"So's Vince." said Stoker. "I think he was outside with the radio."

"Okay, uh.. We'll worry about them later." Johnny said, dragging Dixie's stokes behind
him as they all gathered into a circle small enough so all of their flashlights lit
their faces. Everybody was the same color.  Shiny mud brown.

"How's Dixie?" Roy asked, pulling an oxygen cylinder and the demand valve into their
midst so they could take turns taking in clean breaths off of it.

"Alive. Her respirations are back." Johnny replied, keep a hand on her carotid pulse.
He took his turn to suck in some oxygen as the tank was passed around.

"About time." Sam Fujiyama coughed. His planted flashlight lit up his face eerily.
"I'm positive that I pumped in all the air of California into her. That's enough."
he said, showing them his badly cramp twisted fingers.

Quincy groaned painfully as he finished wrapping a bandage around his own arm.
"Oo, that smarts." he muttered.

"Quincy?" Sam startled when he noticed.

"It's nothing. An ugly abrasion. So what's next, fellas?" the coroner asked.

"We get out of here. All this dust can't be good for us." Roy replied. "Come on.
It's this way. Somebody help Patty and Barney into their stokes. They're coming
with us. Johnny?"


"Are you okay? For a while there you weren't answering us." DeSoto asked.

"I was disoriented for a few seconds. But I feel fine. Nothing hurts." he gasped.
"I'm just a little filthier, that's all." he said, climbing on his hands and knees
through the glop.

The others commiserated with coughs and nods of sympathy.

They finally climbed out through the open window and into thick fog that covered
them like a net. They set their three stokes down onto the thicker porch concrete
slab where Vince was standing with his radio.

Boot greeted them happily, visiting each of the injured in turn with nose
nudges and tail wags.

The cloud light was gray and almost impenetrable. And blessedly rainless.

Vince smiled. "I got through. They're coming." he reported. "Is everybody
all right? I figured things were fine when I heard folks taking a fast head count."

"Everybody's still here." said Brice.

Sharon Walters was the last to leave the shattered vet hospital. She squinted in the
cool, diffuse light, then sat cross legged on top of the collapsed roof's shingles
next to Dixie to place her back on an oxygen mask.  She wasn't saying much.

Gage joined her to make sure Dixie was still maintaining. "I know how you feel,
Sharon. Shell shocked, a little numb, a little mad at the world. Because that's
how I felt yesterday when that pitch black gun muzzle was aiming at my face
for six hours straight. We'll get through this. We're not dead yet. But now it's time
for me to hold you up." he said softly, taking her into a gentle hug of comfort.
Sharon's tears were dried up, but not her brand new fountain of fear. Not yet.
She accepted his embrace with detached, pain dulled, eyes.

Then the coroner spotted something coming out of the charcoal sky.

Pendulous, reverse tear dropped figures were drifting downwards in formation.
"Well I'll be damned."  Quincy said, chuckling.

"They sent in smoke jumpers." marveled Roy.

"Why not? Planes fly even through hurricanes." Brice smiled.
Then he stood and started waving their rescuers in.

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   Click the Mayfair to
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   A Day In The Life
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