*Attention*- The following casualties are all CGI generated images.
Chief Rorchek's eyes couldn't hide the flash of anxiety in them when|
he saw who it was that sought
him out. "Boys, about Chris?" he
Roy set him at ease. "Sir, he's alive. And his pressure's
far off normal as far as we can tell. His capillary refill's around
two seconds. He's
not in bad shock."
Joe sighed in tremendous relief, folding his arms across his chest
let go of his tight fingers hold on his HT. "Injuries?" he asked
"Too soon to tell.
His location has a lot of tricky debris piles. We
don't want to make things worse by causing any settling."
"That's fine, that's good." Joe said happily. "Don't rush a single step."
Then his emotions got
the best of him and he started tearing up
as killer stress just melted away. "Thanks, boys." he sniffed.
Roy and Johnny just smiled respectfully, giving him a little privacy by
I'll ....take a break and go call my wife and tell her the good news.
the chief said. "Hank, you're
"Gladly, sir." Stanley nodded.
John was still smiling, looking around at a
landscape that was blissfully
just black and white without the orange of flame when he spied Mike
getting wheeled by on a stretcher. "Mike?" he blurted, his grin falling away.
Johnny's forward rush with a hand on Gage's chest. "Let
him sleep. He's fine."
Roy asked. "What
"He saved a little girl." Stanley beamed. "But I'll let him tell that tale later."
"And all that blood?" Gage asked, getting mad that Cap was ordering him
away from a wounded friend.
"Just some needed stitches. No surgery." Hank said. "Now go paramedic
our top priority. Chris
Rorchek needs the two of you more than he does."
Reluctantly, not taking their eyes off of their I.V. trailing engineer, Roy|
and Johnny mainly groped
for a new set of air bottles by feel alone
before they obeyed the order to jog back inside.
interior was very black and growing wet from cold air condensation
as they made their way back to
the activity in the clean room. The
lieutenant in charge of rescue there told them to come back in
to treat their victim, when an arm would be freed, and to stop bugging them
Properly chided, DeSoto and Gage listened to a nagging curiosity about
that had nearly killed them all. So they crawled and slid, and
crouch stepped over to the massive
crater where the fuel fire rupture
began. The earth there was still steaming, hot and dry. But the
rust and black
stained dirt didn't burn their boot soles as they stepped around the gas
men quickly sawing off and capping the ragged ends of the aviation
a fire department light tower snicked on overhead and illuminated
the lunar like landscape. Roy and
Johnny just gaped. The hole they were
standing in was about the size of a parking lot and the gas
men, were like
ants inside the massive blast funnel the explosions had left behind.
they quickly returned back to the rescue scene.
arm never looked so good to Johnny as Chris's did when the arff
stepped aside to let them in. "Roy?"
"Here." said DeSoto, tossing him an I.V. infusion kit. "I'll get a BP
next. I can feel a brachial
Gage sighed and felt like he had dodged a bullet. "Then his profusion's
"Looks like it. And nobody's seen any blood pools forming
underneath him. That's a
nice sign of things to come. Glad of it."
DeSoto replied. Then he started blinking as he tore off
strips of I.V.
tape. "Speaking of our happiness, we forgot something in all the
"What?" Gage said, kind of grumpy at being distracted from his work
of reaching around sharp pieces
of metal and incumbering pipework
to find a listening spot for his sound probe an arff had lent him
could do better than just guess at a respiration rate.
"We forgot to get that clean agent
"Oh." Gage said, still concentrating. "Chet can get that. Can't you, Chet?"
"Sure." he said, lifting a radio to his lips. "HT-51-A clean room to IC1."
##Go ahead, HT-51.##
Rorchek said with energy, still buoyed by his
"What's the stuff Chris got into?"
##That? Oh, Joanne asked about it for you. It's 3M Novec 1230. It's
an inert carbon-based chemical
that's absolutely safe for property, people,
and the environment. It'll only exist outside those
pressurized tanks for
five days. Then it decays to just nitrogen and oxygen.##
"Huh. To regular
air?" Marco mused. "Boy, do I gotta read about this stuff."
But Johnny wasn't paying Lopez any
attention. "Kelly, would you jus--!"
Gage snatched away the radio from Kelly in irritation. "...ask
the right questions?!"
he said with clenched teeth.
"I'm not a paramedic." Chet shrugged, not
Roy just smiled and dialed up the normal saline solution I.V., amused and
out of it.
"No, but I wish someday that you'd at least try to be." Johnny said.
a challenge?" Kelly asked, open mouthed.
"No, a hypothetical." Gage replied emphatically to erase
any ideas of grandeur
in him before they could become rooted. Then he thumbed the mic. "Chief,
physical aspirant qualities. Any chance of drowning in the stuff?"
##None whatsoever. It looks
like water, but doesnít cause the damage normally
associated with water because it contains no moisture.
When it hits lung tissue,
it'll just evaporate. Its danger lies only in the air it displaces while
that's mainly why I was so worried earlier on during the rescue.##
Johnny said, setting down the radio. Then he picked it up again
as an afterthought. "Oh, by the way
tell the doc his vitals signs are: BP.." and he
held out his radio to Roy.
"94 over 70." DeSoto
And then Johnny pulled the radio back to his mouth. "Pulse 56, respirations
seem to be eight but deep. We've yet to uncover his head."
##Sounds like he's sleeping.## They
heard Joanne intone over the speaker.
"Being stuck in this claustrophobic room's a good reason
to take a nap!"
Chet said loudly.
Marco smacked him.
##What?## Joe said. ##That was
funny. And I'm grateful for all you're doing
for him. Ted out here's chaffing at the bit to get his
hands on Chris but both
he and I know the regulations against family treating family. Isn't that right,
Chet bit his lip, choking down laughter.
An arff interrupted him. "We got it, fellas!"
said Al Martelli.
A careful circle of firefighters slowly tipped the K-12 flower petalled
tank off of two large pieces of pipework that had boxed in Chris's
face. The mask of his scba, was
shattered, and intact, but it was lying
near his shoulder, askew.
"Oh, h-hang on a second,
chief. He's free." Gage said, thunking down
the HT onto the damp floor in his eagerness to get right
in there up close
Roy DeSoto lightly rubbed a few knuckles into Chris's breast
"Chris? Come on, wake up. Can you hear me?" he asked, nodding to
an arff to keep Rorchek's
head still in careful C-spine immobility.
All the firefighters in the room could almost hear the
bated breaths of
those listening in all over the airport through the radio. Even those working
the morgue fell silent.
For a few seconds, nothing happened. Then Chris's face screwed up in|
vague discomfort and he tried
to speak. "Ugh.. is it out yet?" he croaked
with a dry throat.
Everyone cheered at the top
of their lungs as Chris's caked eyes slowly
cracked open. Then he raised his I.V. free arm up and
reached out a hand
for someone's radio. He said just four words. "Hi, dad. What's shaking?"
any more. You slept right through it, son. Congratulations on
kicking a big dent into that huge behemoth
of a fire. It made all the difference
in the world in the end. How're you feeling?##
to be alive. Tell Hallie she owes me one big time."
Roy watched as Ted and Johnny helped irrigate a fair sized burn on
Chris's right leg while he
lay on a burn pack. He himself was getting his
wrist burn attended to by Dr. Brackett who showed as
much skill at
painless salving and dressing as he always did.
Joe had relented and let his
youngest son fuss over his oldest now
that the critical phase of care giving was over.
Gage had to take a little break from his official duties when
an estatically tearful Hallie gave him
a great big hug of gratitude
complete with a soggy wet, hard peck on the cheek once he had
out of his contaminated uniform and into Red Cross donated ski wear.
Chris's face had started to bleed from unseen small cuts in the cold,|
but he asked that the EMTs
steering his stretcher stop a moment so
he could speak with his rescuers. "You know, I really appreciate
everything that you guys did in there for me. I can't say I would've
done the same thing. That
room's my new nemesis." he joked, belying
the healthy frown that sprouted on his bruised face.
Captain Stanley chuckled. "I'm just sorry it took a disaster to pull
us all together into a really
"That would have happened anyway, sir." he said. "Firefighters are
"Anytime, man. Anytime.." Kelly said, taking Chris's offered hand.
as one of his attendents fitted him with precautionary
oxygen, "So, where's my girl, huh?" he asked.
Hallie Green looked, for a moment, surprised.
But then, Chris picked up his head and looked
beyond his blanketed
Sophie the fire dog, was waiting patiently in the snow a short distance
away, eagering awaiting one single command.
"Come here, girl." Chris said.
cry of happiness as she sprang to his side, was joyous.
Together, Sophie and Chris wheeled off for a nearby warmed ambulance|
and where Joanne Almstedt, with
her full array of gear, was waiting for them.
"Who's hungry?" Gage asked, when somebody's stomach
Everyone's hands went up.
Hallie got over her conundrum misunderstanding
when Joe Rorchek
stepped over to her side. "You haven't been forgotten. He knows
you would have
worked yourself ragged before you let anything bad
happen to him. I know my son. And.. I know that
he's secretly devoted
to you." said Joe.
The elder Rorchek held up a
hand to shush her before she said something that
she regretted. "Here, let me prove it." he said,
handing her an object. It was
undefinable, melted and gray.
"What's this?" she said, taking
it with barely veiled dislike.
"Well," said Joe. "When Chris realized that you weren't in the
when he woke up, he felt you were being...oh,... a little negligent."
fell wide open. "Chief! I was unconscious, and and.. and I
was being treated on your orders. And Dr.
Brackett's.. Why I..."
Joe dropped the punning punchline. "Hallie.. He wanted me to give you the
Next to him, Chet's eyes glazed over in sheer admiration. "Now that...
is what I call..
the mother of all jokes."
Captain Stanley could only nod, yes.
Kelly smirked. "Bet that's
"No bet." said Hank.
was a little bit warmer that same night at the airport fire station.
Everybody was feeling different
levels of energy compared to everyone else
over the dinner table. But as expected, all the food plates
had been scraped
clean. Sophie, would have to do without.
Captain Stanley was well groomed,
not at all interested in the local paper,
and analytical. "Well, I gotta tell ya. Things could have
been a whole lot
Dr. Brackett piped up. "How do you figure? I'd say a sixty eight percent
fatality rate is rather high for an incident involving an entire airport population,
Joanne Almstedt pursed her lips around a hot mug of tea. "Can't judge
against anything, Kel." she mused."So many factors came
into play all at once that was...absolutely
lethal from the first second.
A crashed Concorde travelling three hundred twelve miles an hour....
A ruptured fuel line the size and diameter of a sports car..."
Cap was bleak. "Fifty percent fire
"That's worse than a forest fire." Roy said, shocked.
"Yeah, and only nine percent
foam. Even with all of our fire trucks pumping
it out all at once." Stoker added.
me." Stanley sulked vaguely. "I'm still thinking about that
middle airplane. What could we have done
differently? What would have
been faster? So many people....just died." he whispered.
big, Hank." Joe told him. "Bigger than all of us. I'm not going to say
the cliche but it's true. We're
not gods. We can't control the weather."
"At least, not yet." said Kelly.
Nearby, a visiting R.N. Park Ranger Terri Blake and Morgan Wainwright
nursed like cappacinos.
Blake's face became rosy as she tried to find the good in all the bad.
"So, who did survive
"Yeah, how about that boy we worked on, doc." Gage asked Dr. Brackett.
looked up from glass of ice water and lime. "What boy?"
Johnny looked a little incredulous, surprised.
"That cardiac arrest case
that Cap, and I and Roy and Al and Ted worked after we dug him out of
luggage conveyer belt."
"I'm sorry, Johnny. At the time, I had three arrest cases being called
by radio. I just don't remember the details."
"Or an outcome?" Al asked, almost disgusted,
deeply effected. "Doc,
that kid was special! I could feel it!" he insisted, angry.
him, Rags Harris chilled him out by gripping his arm. "Easy, Martelli.
He's our guest."
immediately apologized. "I'm sorry, Dr. Brackett. I -- It's just that
I... really wanted to know how
things turned out for Danny. You know what
Minisculely, Kel shook his head again that
he didn't remember a Danny.
Terri Blake timidly asked. "Who's Danny? Someone from the incident?"
Al just closed his eyes.
Roy took in a deep breath as they all became very very thoughtful.
"You know, it's hard sometimes. Somebody asks if a boy made it.
Honestly, Terri, we truly... donít
remember. Often we never can learn
how things turn out in the end. After we left the patient in the
unless a family member contacts us to thank us for our help, we never..
know... what becomes
of the patient. And if they donít make it, well, then
we read about it in the obits just like everyone
else. It feels like... turning the
TV off... fifteen minutes before the show is over."
It was morning,... of the second day.
Sophie the dog yawned in shy playful nervousness as she
bowed before the closed bunk room wing of the fire station.
Hallie eyed up Chris outside,
as they left for a run to the coffee shop
for some refreshments.
"For six?" Green said, stopping
Chris before he got out the keys to
"Well, yeah. They're all still sleeping, aren't
they? I mean, who are
we to kick out our foster folk when there's really nothing much for
do at the airport except babysit a bunch of new construction
workers, hammering away."
said Green, parking a butt cheek against his Mustang, GTE
"Hey, I just polished
"Polished what?" Hallie asked, still thinking.
"Uhhhh.. never mind." Chris said.
Green sighed. "You know. You're right. It's gonna take what? Six
months to almost a year to rebuild
"At least." Rorchek said empathetically.
Hallie looked suddenly worried.
"Does that mean we're out of a job?"
Chris's happy mood about the beautiful day, evaporated.
Inside the absolutely quiet and pitch black
sleeping wing, somebody's watch, was ticking.
The gang of 51's was rising out of long period of slumber
bordering on unconsciousness.
spoke up sleepily. "Five bucks if you find that
noise and kill it..." he mumbled from underneath his
"Not even for two hundred!" said Cap. "Ignore it like you
ignore me about how many
times you suffer KP duty in
a row each week, back at home." Hank hissed, rolling
back over to
bury himself yet in another blanket.
"Cap," Marco said in a singsong protest. "That's not true."
The sounds of sheets irritating rustling, punctuated the silence.
"Well you never complain.."
"Should I?" Lopez asked.
"Yes!" Kelly barked.
Sophie agreed with him vocally, instantly,
with a single bark back.
Sighing, still troubled
by his experience, Mike Stoker sat up
softly in his bed, just to think. But he couldn't think.
There was something other than the watch, making noise.
"Hey, guys? What is that? Their plumbing?"
Chet sat up, too, sleepily scratching his head. He peered
about with sensitive
eyes that reacted even with the lack of
any light in the room. He looked right, seeing nothing out
Then he looked left.
"Hey..." he said. "Johnny's bed hasn't been slept in.
made up." he yawned.
Lopez answered. "That's because he and that saucy redhead
were up all night talking."
"Oh, yeah? Where are they? They weren't downstairs when I
down earlier for a snack." Cap mumbled.
"I know where they are, guys." Roy said.
I'm stymied here." Kelly whined.
DeSoto just sighed. "In Confession."
. There ." Roy said, pointing to Joe's private bunk room.
"That's what they call it. A place where
they talk when the office
seems a little too intimidating for disciplinary actions. Al told me
it last night. Or was that yesterday?"
Muffled disturbances and high and low pitched
could be heard, becoming louder and louder.
Marco started snickering and the others chimed in.
All except Chet.
"Boy, sounds like they're having fun.." Cap yawned, bored.
a real party.." Roy agreed, rolling back over to sleep.
"That's no party." said Stoker, smiling.
"It's not?" Kelly asked.
"NoOOOoo." said Cap. "G*d, are you dense."
Kelly was not enjoying
being sleepy and grumpy.
"Well, how am I supposed to know what that is?
Sounds like war going
"Ah, Chet." Roy just nodded knowingly, as he smirked and re-rested
his head back down
onto an elbow. "I'll think just leave that little
mystery, up to your overactive imagination."
Beyond the strictly confidential fire house door, buried in soft pillows,
in the buff,...with no blankets,
Morgan and Johnny were the very picture,
Movie One, The Fire Within
Episode Fifty Two
Click the blowing leaves |
to go to this 52nd ETL episode's end credits... :)