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        En Route
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From:   patti k (
Sent:   Mon 10/18/10 3:37 AM
Subject:  Green, Yellow, Red.

USAR Air landed on the helipad where Dr. Morton was waiting
for the first of the bridge victims to arrive. "Fantastic." he commented.
"Somebody actually survived it." he remarked, gripping the gurney
along with an EMT so it didn't blow away from them on its wheels in
the powerful rotorblade winds. Mike threw up an exaggerated shrug
to the pilot in front of the black, white and yellow craft from the County.

The busy fireman finally threw up four fingers.

"Four victims? Even better." Mike waved back, flashing an okay gesture
over the din of the prop noise.  His jaw hit the ground though, when he
saw that his victims included Paramedic Brice and two CHiPs officers.
The dark haired one was relaying messages to the police dispatcher
on a borrowed handy talkie from one of the flight crew. The blond one,
was keeping a patient ventilated by bag valve mask. Morton could see
that he was from the military underneath all the straps and blanketing
nestled around a spinal board and head block.

"Brice?" Morton prompted.

"Thirty nine year old male. He's a cervical spine. He's been developing
finger paresthesia in the fourth and fifth bilaterally and some moderate
diaphragmatic paralysis. He's been conscious the whole time. I..had to
start this NS I.V. without orders."

"You're forgiven." Morton sighed easily. "We're not operating under
normal protocols. Haven't been for hours."

An EMT took over aiding the man's breathing from Officer Baker.

"Hi." Morton said in a test as he examined the man's eyes.

The military man offered up a wave.

"Relax and don't move your head. This is a drop off point. You're
back in Triage." the doctor shared.

"Home sweet...." the Guardsman tried to joke, but ran out of air.

"Up his O2 vents a little." Dr. Morton told the EMT.

Craig and Jon Baker rattled off vital signs as firefighters on the chopper
helped them load his board and stokes onto the gurney. A second EMT,
who ran up to join them, began a new set of vital signs.

"Mechanism of injury?" snapped Mike briskly.

Baker answered Morton's question. "A vertical fall of forty feet while
inside a vehicle. We were on the balls of our feet, squatting on the front
seats. We landed sideways." he said, shifting the in-use oxygen tank from
the stokes to beneath the patient gurney.
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"What kind of vehicle?"

"An ambulance."

"That's got good suspension. The jolt of impact should have been softened
a great deal, even if landing on concrete."

"It...was." offered the Guardsman around a bagged breath. "I...was
just holding my head wrong when we.....hit."

Morton began his cursory exam of the man's head and neck.
"Probably there is an impingement of your ulnar nerve due to
segmental compression of the spinal cord in your neck. Brice, he's
positive for Horner's."

"What's that?" asked the bagging Mayfair EMT assigned to the

"It's a constricted pupil on the ipsilateral side, a loss of sympathetic
innervation to the eye, caused by damage to the sympathetic trunk
in the neck." Brice told the attendant, removing the I.V. bag from
underneath the Guardsman's shoulder. He held onto it, hanging
the solution over the gurney to speed up its flow.

"Doc, I...didn't hit my head, ..or neck." the Corpsman gasped.

"Shush. Save your breath and take it from the bag, Corpsman." Morton
said crisply. "You've got some blood oxygenating catch-up to do."

Craig reported more. "He's got a tear around T-1, but it's muscle.
And a possible disc misalignment with swelling at the base
of the skull above C-3 around C-1. I didn't feel any obvious cervical
fracture. He was walking and climbing around with us, pain free, at first."

Mike checked for that carefully, by feeling around with his gloves. Then
he nodded. "That explains a lot." said Morton as they all hurried away from
the chopper. He glanced down at his patient. "Your diaphragm is supplied
by the phrenic nerve that is formed in the neck from the spinal nerves, C3,
4 and 5. Corpsman, your slow onset of breathing difficulty is a good sign.
Phrenic nerve paresis like this is not usually clinically significant. I wouldn't
be surprised if we found just a case of cervical spondylotic myelopathy with
bilateral phrenic paresis on X-ray. That clears up on its own with bed rest
and anti-inflammatories."

"Need anything else from us, doc?" Brice asked when they reached
the first Triage assessment pair of personnel working with Dixie.

"Yes." he replied to Craig. Then he held up a single index finger and
put him on hold. Morton eyed up Dixie. "C3 compression, non-fracture.
He'll need partial manual ventilation for now and while he transports."

McCall nodded to her pair of EMTs. "He's a red tag. Reassess him
and get him on the next ride out." she told them.

A fire department paramedic took over for Craig by taking the
Guardsman's I.V. bag from his hand.

Morton eyeballed Ponch, Jon and Brice. "Now, back to answering your
question. Brice, Poncherello, Baker, you're my patients until I say

"But.." began Craig.

"Doc, we feel fi--" Ponch said for both Baker and himself.

Mike interrupted him. "All three of you were in a vehicle accident
resulting in a spinal trauma and none of you has had time yet to have
yourselves examined for problems. I can see all your bruises from
here! You dig?" he pegged angrily.

"Absolutely. Y-You're right, doctor." Craig finally admitted.

"D*mned straight. Tag yourselves green and sit over there." he ordered.
"Eat, drink and get warm. One of us will be right with you." he said, pointing
out to where Brackett and Early were making fast rounds among the yellow tags.
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Morton jogged away to the helipad to report back to his Triage assigned
location there.

Dixie watched her people work inside of the crowded green tag tent
full of the walking wounded. When she was out of earshot of the neck injured
Corpsman being treated outside, she spoke. "That went well." she smirked
at Brice and the others about battling Morton's authority.

"Duty calls." Ponch shrugged. "We had to try. Half the state's underwater."

"Just the beaches and low lying communities." McCall shared. "This
town's the only one so badly hit according to the news chopper pilots.
Craig? Get off of your feet, too. You look exhausted." Dixie chided.

Brice grunted and gingerly lowered himself onto a chair as he started filling out
their green tags. "Where's DeSoto? I don't see him."

"He's at the bridge." Dixie smiled craftily. "I had power enough to do it so I put
him there. Bellingham, too." she said fiercely, her worry for Johnny very evident.
She began opening up a cooler to give them all sandwiches and water bottles
to fulfill Morton's doctor's orders on them.

"I'm not hungry." Frank said, refusing the food even as he took the water.

"Ponch?" asked Jon Baker.

"What?!" Ponch asked in irritation, rubbing his sore spots.

"That definitely does not sound like him." said Baker to Dixie.

McCall's eyebrows went up. "Got banged up a lot more than you let on, did
you? Why do guys always have to be so macho?" she commented dryly. She
began to take his blood pressure from equipment laid out nearby. "No wonder
you all die off so soon."

Brice kept on eating like a wolf. "His left foot punched through
a window and he was face slammed into a wall that he didn't catch
with his hands."

"Traitor.." Frank grumbled, sipping on his water unenthusiastically.

"Ponch, you forgot to fasten your seat belt?!" Jon asked, getting

Brice stayed out of it, knowing the value of tough love.

Dixie looked up from her reading. "90 over 58. Pulse's 100."

"What? No way!" Ponch protested.

"The numbers don't lie." she told him. "Here. Take it again if you
doubt me." she said, tossing the neatly rewrapped cuff set into his
lap. She tore off his green tag to a yellow one, with relish. "Move
up a row of chairs. You've just graduated to the next higher grade
of Triage."

The other green tag victims around them applauded and cheered,
whistling a hearty congratulations, after having heard the whole

Ponch scowled at them and stiffly moved next to a leg splinted
woman. He started fumbling with a blanket that Baker suddenly
dropped on top of his head.

"Use it." Jon snapped. "And keep hydrating."

"Keep an eye out. He's trouble." Dixie smiled at Jon, jerking a thumb
at Ponch.

"Don't I know it." Baker grumbled, eating quickly and fussing with
Ponch's blanket wrap job.

Dixie hurried back out to the main Triage area for the next flight
coming in.
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From: patti k (
Sent: Wed 10/20/10 11:57 AM
Subject: Repercussions

Dixie McCall kept on moving through the rows of victims in Triage
outside of the college's athletic building. Whenever one of her team
encountered a yellow or green tag, she had them moved or escorted
into the gym with the others to get out of the chilly air outside. She kept
a steady stream of rescue personnel clearing stretchers from the field
to make room for new ones.

Stanley Dubois was just starting a rotation near Dixie, along with two
other Mayfair EMTs that Dixie had run into earlier at Rampart a few
days ago; Liz Stanton and Kate Brown; the very loud pair of
mock drill verbal fighters from the nurse's lounge.

McCall saw that Stan was holding up well under the stress of
so much exposure to blood, injuries and frequent death. The eye glassed
blond haired young man was a rock, always moving carefully, performing
only enough assessment steps needed to determine a triage tag
classification in any one victim. Kate Brown, was another story. Dixie
saw Liz patiently going over this patient or that patient with her a few
times and quietly explaining findings to a nervously burbling Kate before
authorizing out a color. They seemed to be a good EMT team pair up. ::A
lot like how Roy and Johnny were as paramedics when they were first
starting out.:: Dixie thought. She looked up and whistled. Dubois lifted his
head and then joined her at her side. "Stan, I have some news and I want
you to tell the others in the company because they're going to hear about
it eventually, okay?"

"Sure, Miss McCall." he replied, grabbing a new stack of Triage
tags and another handful of examination gloves from a box in between
the victim rows.  He stuffed them into the back of his pant's pockets.

"Two of our people have been effected by that last tsunami. One
didn't make it." McCall said, squinting in the bright, cold sunlight.

"Who?" Stan asked, surprised. "I thought we were all on safe ground."

Dixie shook her head. "That second wave caught us all by surprise. Stan,
it's Mel Turner. He was found near the washed away bridge. They...still
haven't recovered him yet from the beach." She said, bending over a pair
of stokes stretchers laid out on the grass.

"But he was with Johnny Gage, Rosalie Arnold and a Guardsman,..
in Mayfair Three." Stan figured out.

"Good memory." Dixie said morosely, tagging a woman black when she
felt no pulse remaining in her neck.

Dubois kept working swiftly, noticing Dixie's dead victim, but hiding it well.
"I'm good with facts, Miss McCall. I glanced at our personnel assignments
chart before I came out here. Uh,..what about the others with Turner?" he
asked, sucking in his breath carefully. He absently shushed a moaning green
tagged child near them with a soft touch of comfort to her head.

McCall gave the child a blown up glove balloon.
"They haven't been found yet. They are assumed to be trapped by debris.
The Battalion Incident Commander's just authorized an urban search and rescue
team to sweep the collapse for survivors. They'll try to look for our people,
too, if they can." Dixie said, writing the change of status that she had found
with the woman onto her chart.

Dubois' calm, neutral expression changed and he finally looked down at his
gloved and sweat wrinkled hands. "What can we do, Dixie? Anything?" he
asked about Mayfair Company, finally moving over to the next untagged
patient in his row. This was another child who was crying, cradling a bloody
arm, with no parents in sight. Dubois quickly wrapped the laceration and
did a quick exam on the boy, finding nothing life threatening. He tagged the
child yellow.
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"I've sent Roy DeSoto to the bridge. He'll be our eyes and ears." Dixie said,
working alongside of him at the same pace in her own row. "I...just didn't
want you or the other EMTs to learn about Mel, Rosalie, and Johnny through
rumors and gossip. That's no way to find out about hard news."

"I appreciate it, Ma'am. I'll tell them." Stan promised, bending over to smile
at a barely conscious teenager with two broken legs. "Hi there. I'm an EMT.
I've come to check you out. What's your name?" he asked.

The young man didn't reply from where he lay in his stokes.

"That's okay. I can find out what else is wrong with you without any answers.
Try to relax, you're safe now." he told the man. "The worst is over."

McCall recovered some emotional balance at the sound of Dubois' voice. She
crouched by an older, sea soaked man. This time, she found a heartbeat.
She slipped an oral airway into his mouth and quickly swept him from
head to toe, looking for blood. He was uninjured, but unconscious. A gurgle
told her why. "A near drowning.." she realized. She tagged him red, for his
gasps were becoming rapid as his lungs compensated for pulmonary edema.

She stepped to another victim's head and started learning all over again about
another medical condition.


Nearby, Liz Stanton had completed triage tagging a line of patients a few
rows down from Dixie. She jogged over to speak with her while she scooped
up more first aid supplies from the pile of boxes some National Guardsmen
had left for them. "I  know everything." she told Dixie. "I can read lips. I've
decided not to tell Kate just yet. She's still jumpy and on edge. Any more
stress and she'll buckle emotionally to the point of not being able to help out
until she re-equalizes."

"Is she the only one handling Triage badly?" Dixie asked about the new Mayfair

"Yes." replied Stanton. "But I've found she calms down a little once she's
actually physically treating someone."

"That's a good reaction to have working inside of something this big." Dixie
replied, about the tidal waves and their MCI triage numbers.

"Yeah...I know that. Dixie, I.... actually came over to see how you were doing."
Liz confessed.

McCall met her eyes with her own, extremely tired ones.
"I'm okay, Liz. But honestly, I think I'm suddenly realizing just how close I am to
the people I work with every day. All the paramedics, EMTs.. I can't believe how
I ever took them for granted so casually in the past."

"Familiarity is easy to dismiss." Stanton said, cocking her head thoughtfully.
Liz smiled as she peeled off some bloody gloves into a red plastic biohazard
bag. She reached for a pair of new ones. "How long have you known Johnny
Gage?" Stanton asked."You two squabble like a pair of really good friends."

Dixie's choked down a bark of laughter.
"Seven years. Eight, if you count his paramedic class that I helped precept. I was
with them at their first mass casualty incident on the night paramedics were
finally given the legal authority to start treating patients without a nurse being present.
They saved a man's life with a defibrillator, inside of a mud collapsing tun--."
Dixie broke off, uncomfortable with parallel circumstances.

"A bridge is a different place, Dixie. It has far more air pockets and open spaces
in a collapse than mud has." Stanton pointed out encouragingly.

"I hope you're right, Liz. I sure hope you're right." Dixie said, her eyes tearing up
suddenly, shockingly.

Liz's mouth opened, round. "Oh, heyyy.. Shhhhh...Dixie. It's okay."
Stanton took her into a gentle hug. "Come here. Shh."

McCall clung to her gratefully, finally letting worry and stress escape from every
pore. "Oh, Johnny Gage,..." she sobbed. " be safe. You hear me?" McCall
whispered to the wind. Then she just closed her heavily streaming eyes and buried
her face in Liz's soft, supporting shoulder.

"They'll find him, Dixie." Liz promised. "They won't give up, until they do."

Up in the sky, a wheeling, confused seagull cried defiantly.
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Far across the field, Kel saw Dixie as she crumbled into the arms of her coworker.
That got him mad. And determined. He lifted his HT radio. "Triage M.D. to USAR One.
Do you copy?"

##M.D., this is USAR One, Captain Cooper.## replied Captain Robert Cooper.

"Captain, this is Dr. Brackett. You may not be aware yet of the new equipment
changes inside of Mayfair Company. Each ambulance is now equipped with
a biophone similar to all the fire department rescue squads'. Is there any way
the Navy can drop a buoy into the bay by helicopter to re-establish lost radio
communications? That might speed up your search and rescue process on
the missing Mayfair greatly."

##Thanks for the heads up, doctor. I'll..pass that along, a.s.a.p. USAR One,

Smiling, Kel looked up again to see Liz wiping away the tears from Dixie's face.
::I'm helping you, hon.:: he thought to McCall. ::Now we'll just find him a little

Early looked up from his current patient. "Kel, that was a sheer stroke of genius."

Brackett nodded. "Very nearly not. I remembered the Mayfair biocoms just now."


"A few days ago, I answered an EMT who was calling me, using one, during a
mock exercise, "treating" Gage. It had a different channel signature." Brackett
replied. "Let's hope the Navy isn't too overwhelmed and can still get on the ball."

"The Navy doesn't skimp on new ideas. Especially ones from other rescue
personnel. They'll get things up and running before sundown I'd bet." Early
grinned happily. "If Johnny's with it, he'll remember the new biophone, too."

"I sure hope so." Kel said. "For their sakes. All day is an awfully long time to
be trapped when you're injured and possibly running out of air."

"Kel." Joe called out softly.


"Be a raging optimist. Just this once." Dr. Early said, raising his eyebrows
with conviction.

"I'll try to be. But I tell you, Joe, today is making that very difficult to do."
Brackett grumbled.  But he nodded in satisfaction when he saw Dixie McCall
finally return back to work alongside of her new EMTs.


Robert clicked off his handy talkie that had connected him to the Navy
ships arriving out in the bay. He had learned two things. No more tidal
waves were expected and that a communications buoy launch was already
underway. He could not wait to start trying to hail Mayfair Three when the
Navymen's preparations were complete.

Robert Cooper dragged out his unit's mascot from his shirt pocket. It was a
battered, heavily worn toy German Shepherd, wearing an army green blanket
halter vest emblazoned with a fading painted red cross. It was a Cooper family
heirloom, passed down through generations of combat medics and firefighters
since World War Two. He set it up onto a rock near their rescue trucks where the
others could see it as they hustled back and forth. Cooper jammed a small American
flag on a stick into a crevasse next to the toy. Then he saluted both passionately.
The other men knew that the plastic dog and flag would not be retrieved from their
anchored places until every last victim, no matter how long it took, had been found.  
Whenever they passed the dog's rock, they either patted its head or kissed his wind
waving flag.. for luck.

"All right. Let's get cracking. We've got a whole fallen bridge to scope out. I've
already called in search dogs to assist.  They are coming in from Santa Rosa
County's Sheriff's Department with a few of their deputies. And they are well
trained. They will be allowed free range once they get here. Watch for a change
in their silent search behavior. They will begin to bark when they detect a live
victim." Robert said over a loud speaker.

"Yes, sir." replied the USAR team.
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Robert turned to Bob and Roy. "I'm giving you an hour to look for your Mayfair.
You will stop if any of the rest of us finds a bridge victim who needs paramedic
treatment before we fly them out of here."

"Understood." they replied.

"Use flares and hand signals to keep in touch until that Navy buoy's running hot."
Cooper added. "Once it is, I'll notify you on your HTs. Oh, and one more thing.
A doctor just called and he told me the ambulance has its own biocom equipment."

"That it does." Roy remembered happily. "I'll be sure to give them a hearty ring."
he said, hanging onto the side chrome bar of Squad 51.

"You do that. Keep me posted." Captain Cooper said. Then he jogged away.

Roy DeSoto turned to Bob Bellingham as they both hurried into full life belts
and lines, matching what they saw the USAR teams doing with gear of their
own. "Grab two hundred footers for now?"

"And a stokes. We can use it to haul all the medical gear with us over
the rubble. That'll be our mobile supply base." Bob suggested.

"Works for me. Let's go." said Roy, eyeing up the place where he
saw EMT Mel Turner lying tarped covered on the beach. "I'm guessing Mayfair
Three's got to be at least a hundred yards from the body. There wasn't enough
time for Mel to run away any faster with the speed of that wave coming in."

"Didn't the tidal wave carry him in farther after he was killed?" Bellingham

"No. See all the short cliffs ringing the beach? They're acting like a barricade,
keeping any and all bridge debris confined to the sand." DeSoto reasoned.

"Let's hope you're right."

"I've got to be."
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From:   patti k (
Subject:  Up and Down...
Sent: Sat 10/23/10 10:37 AM

Bellingham's eye fell on the expanse of space over the water where
the bridge used to be. "Just how many cars do you think were on the
tollway when the wave hit? That span over the bay was three quarters
of a mile long."

Roy raised his helmeted head, considering the question.
"Not too many. If we've learned anything about living where we do, it's
how to flee during a disaster. My guess is that regular folks were keeping
clear of the ocean after that first wave hit in its surprise wake up call. The
only ones who were out here for the second, were emergency services."
DeSoto replied. "And...I don't think anyone could have predicted how big
that subsequent one was going to be." he swallowed sadly. "Ready?"
he asked, checking and rechecking his confined space gear.

"Yeah. I think I've been ready since all the dogs started barking." Bob
said, suddenly realizing that it was actually true.

"Let's hope they start barking again down there over somebody they
find they still alive." Roy hoped.

"When will Santa Rosa actually get here?" Bellingham asked about the
search dog teams.

"In about ten minutes. The National Guard is flying the deputies and their
dogs to us." Roy replied. "I just heard." he said, jerking his gloved thumb
over a shoulder.

Bellingham cocked his head at the sound of a scanner somebody had
on in an opened rescue trailer. The dispatcher's trained, calm voice was
calling out agency after agency to the areas of inundation up and
down the California coast: Engine Companies, Aerial Ladder Truck
Companies, Paramedic Squads, Lifeguard Ground Rescue Units,
Baywatch boats, Swiftwater Rescue Teams, bulldozers and heavy
equipment, Brush Fire Patrols, inflatable rescue boats teams, National
Park Camp Crews, Hazmat Units, Mobile Lighting Units, Mobile Air
Units and U.S. Navy Hovercraft units and then finally, FEMA's
Command And Control Taskforce. ::It's really bad if the government
overseer's being called in as an emergency service, too.::  he thought
privately. He tried not to think about how many thousands of people
had already perished. He stopped listening after the tidal surge totals
being reported reached insane heights that boggled the mind; thirty
eight, forty, forty five feet.. by trained spotters.  

A whistle bleated a signal, one long blast followed by a short one, once.
It broke Bob out of his mental whirlpool. He knew what the signal meant.
::Resume Operations? Finally...:: he thought with relief.

A crunch of glass on concrete made him lift his head in the sharp
oil smoke tinged breeze. Bellingham nodded at his crewmate.

Roy already had one leg thrown over a guard rail, in a slow, active
pursuit of the orange clad USAR search team of six, going with them. It
would be USAR's job to test structures and identify survivable voids
underneath what was left of the bridge's collapsed rubble above the water
line. They would make sure those spaces had safe, existing atmospheres,
free of hazards, in which to work. Navy divers would search for victims
inside of accessible cars only when the receding tidal wave currents died
off.  "DeSoto entering hot zone." he radioed to the Safety Officer on the

##DeSoto. Acknowledged entry. 15: 06.## said their sentry, watching them
through binoculars.

A cloud passed overhead and startled Bellingham. The sun disappeared,
leaving behind a dull gray morass over the depressing wreckage surrounding
him. Brown tidal mist still hung in the air like a sludge. ::This is H*ll on Earth.
I know it.:: thought Bob. ::High time for us to be angels for somebody.
G*d, I hope it's soon.:: Calculations of the tonnage per square foot
of falling rebar and steel beams under the effects of gravity made his mouth
dry. ::I wish I didn't know so much about the dangers out here.::
All around him, the creak of settling metal and concrete raised gooseflesh
on his skin. He made triple sure that nothing structurally weak was hanging
nearby or over his helmeted head.

Bellingham began concentrating on the ground immediately underneath
where his next bootstep would land. "Bellingham entering hot zone."
he transmitted.

##Bellingham. Acknowledged entry. 15: 07, mark. Good luck, 51.##
replied the USAR man.

That brought tears to Bob's eyes. He took a deep breath above that first
foot of violated concrete, and then he began carefully working with
his long search probe.

Ahead of him, Roy was also measuring the earth in inches, his boots
balancing only on safe broken road slabs like glue. He was doing
the same kind of searching. "Johnny, we're coming." DeSoto whispered.
"For once, I want to hear the sound of you complaining about everything."

USAR began shouting, calling for any victims trapped to respond
in any way possible, over a megaphone. The two Station 51 paramedics
knew the voices would not stop until a replyback sound of metal on
rock or a verbal moan, was discovered.

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Up at the USAR base of operations, Chet was beside himself with pacing.
"Cap, do we have to take what Cooper said as a direct order?" The curly
haired fireman had his helmet off, scratching dust and grit that was caked
into his hair nervously, with a glove.

Hank's grim face did not change where he stooped over a topographical map
of the bridge's original, prefall orientation and the bay's physical depths
and contours. "I'm afraid we do. He's right you know. On every count. We
aren't trained for specialized collapse rescue work. When was the last
time you remember crawling into a hole after a victim, Kelly? Answer
me that." he gruffed.

Chet didn't reply.

"See? It was always Gage and DeSoto gaining that kind of experience.
We were just support crew." Cap told him. "So now we are again. No
shame in that. What we're doing is still very important."

Stoker jogged away from the Ward. "Cap, she's all set." he said of hoselines
laid out and charged. "Hazmat's gonna use our tank for any victim decontamination
washdowns if they're needed."

"Do you have a third out for any developing car fires?" Cap asked him.

"Yes. An inch and a half on a wye from the hydrant. It's still got pressure." Mike

"Good man. Get back to the cliff and keep an eye on our two." Hank ordered.

Stoker all too willing, ran.

"Cap, can I--?"

"The answer's no, Chet. You're not going down there, even as a spotter. And
I don't think Cooper will take kindly to us unauthorized, climbing anywhere near
that pile! Just be happy we're here at all."

Marco came running back from a USAR tender squad. "I've got all our medical
gear piled up with theirs including three stokes stretchers. I've marked our
stuff with a lumber crayon and scene tape so they'll get back to us later."

Hank grunted in appreciation.
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Kelly was getting anxious past the physical. "Cap, I wanna do something. I can't
just sit here and--"

Hank cut off his protest in mid sentence.
"Get on the squad's biophone. Set it to universal receive. Then start listening
to all of its channels real hard, pal. Gage might be calling us even now. The Navy
boys just dropped their buoy..." he said, squinting out to sea at the cutter anchored
there. The hoisted flag of white and red going up on deck, was unmistakable.

"Best news I've heard all day." Kelly said, booking fast for Squad 51.

The reassuring crackle of naval and boat radio traffic out at sea returned
to the Ward's broad band radio speakers soon after.  Hank smiled. "Thank
you, Corps of Engineers. I think I love you." He lifted his HT and hailed
Bob and Roy. "Engine 51 to HTs 51. My communications out over the
water have been re-established. Maintain an open channel with me."

##10-4.## the two paramedics replied.

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Rosalie opened her eyes. Sleep had caught her unawares. She gasped
but then relaxed at the reassuring sight of Johnny stretched out onto
the rider bench, napping fitfully. The EKG monitor's audio on her heartbeat
was calm and regular, softly toning normalcy. Arnold tried to stifle a gag
when a wave of slight decay wafted to her from the front of the ambulance.
She fought and won the battle over sympathetic nausea. She coughed,
pulling off her oxygen mask.

Gage immediately sat up. "How are you feeling?" he asked, moving to
her wrist for a subconscious skin and pulse check in the dim battery

"Better." she croaked. "I think we've got to move now, Johnny. His
body's beginning to smell." she said, covering her nose.

Johnny turned off her oxygen's port at the wall.
"We will. I've found a safe, dry place outside. The ceiling's a little low.
But the void the ambulance is trapped in is big. Maybe fifty by a hundred feet.
I think two bridge towers came down and tented above us like a steeple.
We're still on the roadway at mile marker point five. I found its sign a few
hours ago."

"A few hours ago? What...time is it now?" she asked, reaching for a glass
of water and a straw from the table counter next to the stretcher. "Why did
you let me sleep so long?"

He ignored her last question.
"It's the start of the night. Seven thirty by my watch." he said, checking
her I.V.'s slowing drip.

Arnold got excited.
"They'll have light towers running by now! Did you see anything out there?"
Arnold said, shifting a spent ice pack that had been resting over the bruise
on her chest to the floor. She switched it out for a new one that Johnny
handed to her.

"Not a flicker. We must be under a pancake of debris that's pretty thick."

"But where's all our air flow coming from?" she asked, rewrapping up in
her blankets warmly.

"I haven't figured that out yet. Maybe if you're feeling up to it, I can
D/C your fluid line and we can go exploring together a little. It's not
like we have anything else better to do." he shrugged. "But first I want
to listen to your heart to see how it's doing." he said, snatching for a

"Why? Something wrong with it?" she grinned. "If it's beating fast, it's
because I'm falling in love with you, Johnny Gage."

He just smirked. "No, it.. I.. just didn't do it earlier. I like to be thorough.
And for your information, the feeling's mutual."

"Mutual what? Munchausen's syndromes? I'll say we're sick, Johnny
boy. Sick in love. Face it." she teased. "My much fussed over
myocardial tissue is doing just fine, Mr. Paramedic. " she said, smiling
happily, her stretching fingers arching gracefully as she worked the kinks
out of her sore muscles. She gently plucked the stethoscope from around
his neck and tossed it back onto the rider bench. Then she kissed his
cheek gratefully. "Really.." she said.

Gage couldn't help but be infected by her enthusiasm. He straightened
up, blushing. "Okay. Uh,..I'm reassured? How about getting some warmer
clothes on, we'll go spelunking."

"I'm game. I think I know where some extra flashlights are."

But Johnny wasn't listening to her. He was fussing with her intravenous
saline bag. "Hmm, this thing's just about dry." he said, defting ripping out
her I.V. catheter and replacing it with a tape pressed two by two gauze
square a second later. She didn't even have time to yelp. "Hold onto this
for a minute or two." he ordered.

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"Ow?" she peeped, mock wounded, staring at him with a half grin.

Johnny pursed his lips in mild annoyance.
"Oh, that didn't hurt. Knowing you, it itched a little. Rosalie, think about it.
We have to find a way out of this rat trap before high tide."

Rosalie's face quickly turned serious. "Did we fall that far down into
the bay?"

"I don't know. We won't know the answer to that one until our feet start
to get wet." he replied honestly. "I'll get us packed. The sooner we
leave, the better."

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From: patti k (
Sent:   Mon 10/25/10 1:33 AM
Subject:   Rats In A Maze..

Johnny helped Rosalie step down from the back door of the ambulance.
"Zip up your jacket. You were almost dead five hours ago." he chided,
handing off a flashlight so she could see where to place her feet.

"Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." Arnold chuckled.
"I'm fine, Johnny. I'm actually still roasting. You had the heat cranked up
full blast over my stretcher all day." she complained, leaving her white
EMT uniform jacket unfastened.

"You needed it." he shrugged, flashing his light's beam around to reorient
himself to their surroundings outside of the ambulance in the damp darkness.

"Not anymore. I'm really glad I'm out in the fresh, cooler air." she sighed.

"Yeah? Well, actually, the freshest we have is still in there. I've decided to
drain the master oxygen cylinder out." he said, jerking a finger at the
shadowed ambulance behind them.

"You left it on?" Rosalie asked, wondering about the wisdom of doing that.

"Yeah. A slow leak. If USAR sniffs around for gas traces, they'll find the
higher oxygen levels down here and know they've hit somewhere near the
ambulance and maybe they'll think possible survivors. I spray painted an
arrow on the door with the universal orange showing the direction we're
going to be headed into just in case they break through after we're gone."

Rosalie saw the symbol on the side of the door he had made
which included their initials, the oxygen tank hazard and the one dead/one
injured/two survivors count and the time they left the Mayfair's
shelter. "I sure hope you turned the main battery switch off."

"Yes. The Mayfair's powered down. Nothing's going to catch on fire. We may
need to come back for some more things later." Gage said as he picked his
way carefully past twisted rebar and tilted asphalt around the rear bumper of
the ambulance. He yanked open a tall side compartment door on the Mayfair
and retrieved two halves of a scoop stretcher. "Well, all right! The second
good thing to finally go our way."

"What was the first thing?" she joked.
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"You. Deciding to breathe again." he said archly.

Rosalie snorted low in her throat at his comment, dismissing it as banal.

Johnny laid the aluminum halves of the scoop on the rocks at his feet.
"We can use this to pull our food and supplies along with us."

Arnold shivered when she saw the rumpled sheets on the cot where she had
lain, fighting for her life. There was still a dried blood stain where her I.V. had
been started on her arm. Mad at her reaction, she kicked the base bed lever
bar once until the head of the stretcher popped down to flat level. Then she
unlocked its wheels and shoved it out of her sight into the darkness, and away
from their scavenging areas with a hefty push. It clattered towards the front of
the cab noisily. "Stupid thing!" she hissed. "What should we grab out?"
she asked, aiming her flashlight around the dark interior of the ambulance.

Behind her, Johnny grinned and pretended he didn't notice her little fit.
"What we know. Say... medical gear enough for an unknown house call." he
suggested, reaching into the ambulance to retrieve portable gear. "The
trauma and I.V. bags, the ekg monitor, the defib, a small O2 tank, splints,

"You're expecting to run into other victims." Rosalie guessed. She knelt down
and began to screw together the cylindrical nuts that assembled the scoop
stretcher into a whole piece. Then she dusted off her hands and put on some
heavy work gloves.

Johnny paused in his packing to start to knot together a rope drag harness.
"Yes. I can't believe we're the only ones to survive the bridge collapse.
Just look at all the open spaces down here.  Oh, and just to tell ya, before you
start poking around, everywhere's pretty much not safe. From what I could
see of it." he grumbled. "Sharp pieces of metal, loose concrete, broken glass,
spilled gasoline, oil,...splintered wood.." he ticked off on his fingers.

"Splintered wood? From what? I thought the highway bridge was all steel, wire
and concr--." she broke off. Her flashlight found one such jagged point,
a few inches from her left eye. She froze in place and cautiously started to
scope out new looming obstacles that were surrounding her. "An ouch up
here." she warned.

"I already know about that one. The wood's from all the boats and docks the
waves pulverized on the way in." came Johnny's voice from the pool of light
illuminating the loaded scoop stretcher as he pulled his own pair of work
gloves on.  "I'm finding us both a pair of safety goggles."

"I keep forgetting the power of moving water." Rosalie whispered.
Then Arnold smelled something strong that was unmistakable. "Gage, I don't
want to find anybody with a halo here. I'll just.. handle any breathing ones
if that's okay with you."

"Sorry. I forgot to tell you. There's somebody else DOA nearby. Another
soldier in a half submerged SUV. That odor's bowel."

Rosalie gagged, but then remembered her training to breathe through her
mouth. It was several long moments before she opened her eyes again.

Gage asked a question at her extended silence. "You okay?"

"Yep. Reality just sunk in a little too much there." Rosalie squeaked. "This
whole life after near death thing is a really heavy trip just by itself." she clarified.
"I don't need to deal with facing every gory detail of the big disaster, too."
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Simulated death.

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Johnny studied her face in his flashlight's glow. "Hey.. We're gonna get out
of here. That's a fact." he promised. "I'll go first. All you've got to do is follow
me. We've got to crawl into this one hole here to the left to head into the
direction the air flow's coming from. Ah, I found them! Here. Put these safety
goggles on and watch your head." he said getting down onto his hands and
knees after slinging the rope harness tied to their equipment drag over a
shoulder and across his chest. The light aluminum stretcher began to grind
easily over the rubble and the sound of it echoed up high into an unseen
yawning pitch black space above them. "And Rosalie, before you decide to turn
superchick, I'm the only one who's gonna be dragging our stuff around, no ifs,
ands, or buts about it."  Johnny said no nonsense as he moved forward
cautiously. She could see that his goggles were already steaming up from
exertion as he looked around for the safest way to crawl through.

A sense of the ridiculous struck Arnold crazily.
"Hmphh. Not much of a woman's libber, are you?" Rosalie argued, stashing the
flashlight in her pocket while she ducked down to crawl in after the laden
scoop stretcher being dragged behind Johnny.

"Huh? Did you say something?" Gage asked, turning around to face her, aiming
his torch's beam her way.

Rosalie froze like a deer in headlights, half embarrassed.
"Nothing much." she smirked. "I.. mumble odd things when I'm stressed." she
shrugged, blowing through pursed lips.

"So do I." Johnny grinned, turning back around and heading into the jagged hole
head first. "Careful now." he warned. Then he dramatically mock feigned getting
his hand impaled on a wire that he was actually holding in between his fingers,
making Rosalie laugh enough to forget her growing fears for a while.


It was ten minutes later when they sensed a large space opening up just
ahead of them. Their flashlights could no longer make out any details along
the vertical sides of their chaotic, broken path inside of the hole. Both Rosalie
and Johnny began to smell blood. And sweat.

"Hey!" Johnny yelled. "Can anybody hear me?" He picked up a broken piece
of pipe and whacked it on a stable steel girder next to him. *Bang!.. Ring.
Bang!.. RiiIINNGggg.....* it echoed. "Make a noise!" he shouted.

A soft muffled cry of a female voice bounced off of the rocks. Then it quit.

"Did you hear that?" Johnny asked as Rosalie rose up onto her feet beside

"Somebody's still alive!" Rosalie celebrated.

Sobs whispered in the silence, echoing and ghostly, almost like a dream.
But the smell of injury remained, solidly grounding the hope of a nearby victim.

"I can't tell where they're coming from." Johnny whirled. He shouted again and
signaled with the pipe.

The ragged voice didn't return a second time.

"Right. She was near enough to hear. Start a search pattern, but keep within
sight of each other's flashlights. We can leave 2 x 2 gauze squares behind
us in a trail as we go. If we get separated, back track immediately until you
return to the scoop, then wait there. We'll meet up, then try again to find her."
he said. "Don't do anything stupid."
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"Ditto, mister man." said Rosalie, reaching into the trauma bag for her own box
of pads. She one upped him by grabbing airway gear and more dressings before
heading off cautiously, following the warm circle of her flashlight beam.

Johnny's circle of light drifted smaller and smaller to her right in an increasingly large
but still buried tunnel like space. The ceiling was a massive jumble of green steel
tower beams and tangled wire rope that was slanting lower and lower to the
rocky floor of the fractured roadway. Then came the sound of flowing
water. ::Uh oh.:: He got down onto his hands and knees and began crawling
again.  A rock gave way under a hand and it suddenly fell downwards and
landed with a splash. Gage gasped and aimed his light in that direction.

He discovered a huge hole in the pavement in front of him where the midnight
black ocean was upwelling into their tunnel. It was the source of the sharp air flow
that they had detected near the Mayfair.  He swiftly turned and chose a new
direction, shouting. "Rosalie! Watch the asphalt roadway! There are breaches
leading to open water. It's a long way down!"

A crash of falling rubble startled him. Arnold's light disappeared. "Rosalie?!"

"Uh,, I found one." came her calm reply. "You can't see me because some dust
rose up. *cough cough*. I'm heading back to the scoop. I don't feel safe going
this way and besides that, I lost the smell of blood."

"So did I. Meet you there." Johnny puffed, worked up.

Over the reassuring pile of medical gear, Rosalie and Johnny took a break to
drink some water from their bottles, leaning into the packs heavily. They cleaned
off the grit on their goggles. "Dust masks from now on?" she asked.

"Yeah. That' a really good idea. *cough*" Gage agreed. "I didn't think there'd
be as much as there is."

Rosalie drained her bottle off. "Okay..let's go."

Gage nodded and they followed their first trail of 2 x 2's to a half way point. Then
they split off into two directions around a large chunk of concrete and steel.

Arnold began shouting. "Light! I'm seeing light!"

Johnny quickly ran along her trail and met up with Arnold where she was
sprawled in front of a low hole. The smell of blood grew stronger. He
looked down the hole and spotted a figure in silhouette. It was sitting up.
And it was female. "Hey! We're coming! Don't move." he ordered. Then
he grabbed Arnold's arm. "We're going back for the scoop and gear.
She's conscious. She can wait."


"We can help her better if we're fully equipped. We don't know how many people
are down there with her." Johnny reasoned.

Rosalie sighed and then together they both hurried back the way they had

Five minutes later, they were back at the new hole. The figure was still there.

Gage cautiously tested walls, floor and ceiling for stability using a long rod that
he had found before he went inside.

The light's glow was coming from the sky in the center of a broken off bridge
caisson tower many storeys above their heads. Rosalie and Johnny found
themselves at the base of it, looking up.

The woman they sought was in a niche, staring up at the light, with her
mangled legs stretched out before her like noodles. She was from the military
and had tourniqueted herself around both legs around her thighs using whatever
she had found with her; her belt and cloth from a ripped off sleeve.

"Oh my G*d." Arnold said and she immediately put on gloves to check the
effectiveness of the bleeding controls in place. "These are holding, Johnny.
She's got double comminuted femurs, both open." Arnold reported, slicing
away the woman's pants legs with her EMT shears.

"Okay, check her next for other wounds and stop any bad bleeding. Ma'am..
Hey, we're here to help you." Gage said, grasping the sides of her head
carefully to support her in her shocked state. "Can you hear me?"

At his touch, the woman sobbed and wilted limply backwards against
his chest in a kind of weak dull relief. "..You're finally here.." she
whispered, a cold sheen of perspiration coating her pale features. "Get
them out of there. The sea's rising..." she sighed, trembling. Her finger
pointed to a slab of concrete laying angled, newly fallen, directly in front
of her. It was blocking the way into a new tunnel that was angled downwards
towards the water that Rosalie and Johnny had just fled.

"Who? Who's down there?" Johnny asked.

"A van." she cried. "With a whole family in it." she sobbed.
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