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        En Route
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From:    patti k (
Sent: Mon 12/06/10 1:49 PM
Subject:    Price..

Brice called out to the USAR lieutenant by the second unconscious woman.
"What are you finding?" he asked as he cut away the clothes on the first to
see how the metal rod had impaled her body.

"Fractures in the left upper arm with gross deformation, abdomen's distended
and hard in all quadrants."

"Is she child bearing age?" Craig wondered.

"Uh, yeah."

"Then go ahead and listen for a second heartbeat. If there isn't one there then
it's major trauma causing that swollen belly instead of pregnancy. If you hear
one, roll her in line onto her left side to improve circulation to the fetus. Look
for external bleeding everywhere and get her on some high flow oxygen." Brice

"Yes, sir."

DeSoto worked fast on his own man, the diabetic. He was obtaining finger stick
blood onto a test strip. The reader beeped and a numeral popped up. "He's at

"Is that bad?" asked the firefighter with him providing airway support.

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"It can be, but not right away. That high level is why his skin's hot, dry and red
with that deep, rapid breathing. His body's trying to compensate for his high
blood sugar. Craig, I'm injecting a maximum dosage of insulin here. He's uninjured."
Roy said out loud. "He'll have a good chance waking up then out of this near coma."

"What's his pressure?" Craig wondered about the man.

"200 systolic. But his heart's handling it okay. Blood pressure's still equal in both
arms." Roy told him.

"So no stroke or aneurysm problems yet." Craig speculated.

"Right. How's the girl over there?" DeSoto countered, noting the rod running
through her. "It's not pulsating from what I can see."

"She's staying lucky, DeSoto. Pulse, pressure, and respirations are all normal.
I wouldn't be surprised if this metal strip missed everything vital. Her color's good
and she's getting somewhat reactive to pain already on the O2." Brice shared.

"Psychosomatic L.O.C.?" Roy asked.

"That'd be my guess. It sure isn't dehydration keeping her blacked out. Her skin
still has good turgor."

"Maybe Chloe was bringing her water when she needed it." Roy said.
He looked over at Brice as USAR team members deftly cut the rod about a foot
above the wound. "Did it penetrate all of the way through her?"

Brice dug a hole in the soil underneath the woman and shoved a flat handed glove
cautiously under her back, checking. "Yes." he said.

"Okay, this is the game plan." Roy said to USAR's waiting men. "It's going to be
this man first, then the woman with the broken arm followed by the last girl with
that impalement for our chopper evacuation order."

"But--" sputtered one fireman, pointing at the rod sticking out of their last patient.

Roy smiled at him reassuringly. "She's really doing okay in spite of how it looks.
It's acting only like a little bit larger than normal needle stick for all the harm it's
doing to her. See?" he said, turning Brice's EKG monitor around so the man could
see its calm, regular sinus rhythm. "It looks worse than it is. She's out because
she probably thought a worst case scenario for herself and fainted on us here." he

Brice took charge at the second woman's side once he discovered that the first
wasn't hemorrhaging much from around the rod. "Did you find one?"

"Yeah. There's a baby in there." the firefighter remarked.

"What else?" Brice asked.

"Nothing else. Ah, maybe a bump on the head. Her hair's matted down
with blood on the back of her neck." he said. "It didn't seem too bad."

Brice bent over listening for a fetal heartbeat with his stethoscope."Roy.
It's suppressed. Very slow."

"And the mother's?" DeSoto wondered.

"Just as slow."

"Better take a look at it." he warned Brice.
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"Take a look at what?" the firefighter at the woman's head asked.

Craig ignored him and felt behind both the mother's ears. "Soft, Battle's sign.
And her neck is really st--" Suddenly the mother's arms began to curl up into
fists over her chest and her toes pointed and turned inward in a spasm at
Brice's light touch to the base of her skull. "Don't let her move!" he shouted.

Roy hurried over to help at once. "She's posturing. That's the base of
the brain, Craig."

"I know. Doesn't look good."

The woman's breaths began to get deeper and faster in shuddering gasps
under her oxygen mask. "Cheynes Stokes." Roy noticed. Then her breathing
slowed and almost ceased before starting back up again into great heaves
of effort.

Roy pulled out the defib paddles and scoped her. "Junctional, falling into
bradycardia." he said with worry. He grabbed out his stethoscope and
began listening to the baby again inside of her womb. "Baby's distressed."

"I've just lost a pulse!" said the young USAR fireman, feeling her neck around
the collar that Brice had placed there.

Craig confirmed it on their small scope. "V-fib."

Roy turned a bright shade of ghastly white when he realized the change.

Brice grabbed Roy's hand that was holding the drum of the stethoscope over
the woman's skin. Craig snatched it away and out of his ears. "Don't listen,
Roy. Don't do it."

"Maybe we can--" DeSoto mumbled.

"No, she just died. And triage protocols are very clear. Roy, listen to me,
the baby's too small to save. It's maybe only barely at three months of age
judging from her size and presentation. Let the baby go." Brice said, his
voice cracking. But he still held Roy's shoulders firmly. Roy felt Brice grip
his face to redirect his eyes up into Craig's own."Look at me. You know
this is right. Her brain's herniated." Brice told him.

Roy's lip trembled as tears flooded out as he forced himself
to lift his hands away from the woman's still belly. He got to his feet
and quietly returned to the man's side, who was just beginning to mumble
as his blood returned to normal chemistry.

The USAR firefighter grew stonily silent in face and voice as he quickly
covered up the dead mother and her dying unborn child with a tarp. "I'm
so sorry, ma'am." he whispered. "May you both find your way in peace."

"Let's go work on the girl." Brice told him softly.

USAR left them lying in total darkness, taking their flashlights
and medical equipment with them.

Roy had barely finished wiping his running nose clear when his
patient reawakened. "Easy, mister. Just relax. You're going to
be fine." he said, taking his hand.
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From: patti k (
Sent: Wed 12/08/10 6:11 AM
Subject: Coda...

Henry was barking behind the automatic door when the heavily
equipment stripped Engine 51 returned to the station. Mike Stoker
hit the opener and the door retracted, revealing the impatient basset
hound pacing in the bay. The engineer pulled back into the Ward's
usual place in the garage carefully, mindful of him.

Henry wasn't waiting for them well, still barking pogniantly from where
he moved to stand in the squad's vacant parking space.

"He knows, Cap." said Chet, stepping down from the cab. Kelly
immediately went over to comfort him even before he took off his jacket
or dusty helmet. "We're doing everything we can to find him, Big Guy.
Don't you worry." he crooned, petting him vigorously.

"How the heck did he find out?" Marco wondered, too tired to leave the
running board he had plunked down onto wearily.

Stoker took Lopez's helmet and hung it up with the other two he had
gathered from the rest of the gang along with his own inside of the
La France. "Nothing miraculous there. He can tell we're still upset."

"From half a mile away?" Marco asked. "I heard him baying even
before we turned onto Wilmington."

Cap shrugged. "We've been gone for two days, Marco. He's probably
figured it out that that's too long for any normal emergency call for us."
Hank, too, knelt down to pay Henry some apologetic affection. "You're
a good boy, Henry, yes you are. We brought you some canned beef
since you've been stuck with the dry stuff since Thursday morning.
Marco, that feeding chore's yours." he said, plucking it out of his turnout's
pocket and holding it up. Then he looked around the bay in the dim
emergency battery lighting and saw that tables full of food shelf items
had been partially set up. "Hey, the Red Cross is here. Be nice to them, guys.
But tell them nothing about what it's like out there. That's a job for their bosses.
We're here to recuperate." he ordered hoarsely, fatigued to the bone.

"Where are they?" Kelly asked, peering about in the darkness.

"Where do you think?" Lopez smiled, brandishing the can of dog food. "Smell
that?" he asked, crossing over and cracking the door leading to the kitchen
and rec area beyond. Out poured the odor of sauteeing onions and steak.

"Wow, that smells terrific!" Chet said. "Let's go bum a set of meals off
of them. They're supposed to feed us, right?"

"That's right." Mike agreed. "We're still on duty."

They filed on into the kitchen area.

"Hello there." Cap said warmly as the four of them entered.

Three middle aged women wearing disaster relief aprons looked up from
the stove and oven.

"From the Torrance Chapter?" Hank wondered.

"Carson, acually." beamed a larger white haired lady who had control of
a frying pan full of very appetizing T-bones. "We're new."

A red, curly haired woman nearly the same age smiled hugely as she looked
up from a bowl of mashed potatoes she was whipping up with chives. "Sit
yourselves down, boys. You can eat all you'd like. And we've already turned
down your bunks for you."
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"This looks fantastic!" said Stoker, eyeing up the table set with a good spread
of salads, fruit, chicken and bread. "Need any help?"

The last worker, an Italian gal whose hair was set into a severe bun just frowned
good naturedly at him. "In your dreams. You did your job. Let us do ours. We're
feeding anyone who walks through your fire station doors regardless of who
they are. We're assigned here for the duration of the disaster or until the
government takes over our task at other locations. Those were our orders from
your fire chief. All costs and supplies have been paid for by the county."

"We also have been calling paramedics in, using your payphone, for anybody
that looks like they've been flattened by those waves out there in a serious
way." said the first Red Cross volunteer. "I'm Ann,.." she introduced. Then
she pointed to the spuds cook. "That's Char, and Miss-Let-Us-Do-It here is
Maria Rose. She's just joined up."

"Charmed." said Maria Rose with a little knee bend curtsy for the firefighters.
"Now park." she told the gang no nonsense. " you can get the best square
meal you've had in days." she tempted.

Bark! said Henry.

The gang sat with alacrity.

"Thank you ma'am, ladies.." said Hank. "Has our dog here been behaving himself
okay around you and your people?"

Char replied. "Oh, he's been absolutely adorable. He lets us know when the access
door rings when we're too busy to notice."

"And he's been cheering up all the kids." replied Ann.

"Kids?" Kelly asked, pausing in mid collar napkin tucking.

"Oh, don't worry." Ann told him. "Anyone non-firefighter here gets shipped off to the
high school for sleeping space. The National Guard has put up a tent and cot city

Cap set a very full plate down in front of himself after dishing out his own portions.
"And what about you four?" he asked. "We could hang a few blankets up as a divider
in the bunk room for more privacy." he offered.

"No need." said Char. "The Red Cross management gave us a sleeper bus to go along
with the canteen van. They're parked out back in the yard." she replied. "We
have to be able to mobilize on a moment's notice." she explained.

"Sounds familiar." Chet bemoaned.

Char pegged him with a look that spoke volumes. "We may not put out fires, but we still
response to every fire call you do." she chuckled. "Now shut up and eat. Lights out in
half an hour." she bristled in mock.

Maria Rose added more. "Shower towels are all lined up on the bench in the locker room
with full toiletries."

"Wow." Chet remarked. "You'd think this old place was suddenly a five star hotel. Thanks."

"No, thank you for being in the brunt of it. I don't think any of us could handle all the blood,
guts and gore quite as well as we do the phone and frying pan. Bon Appetit.." she wished,
dishing out the steaks to each of them.


Forty five minutes later, stuffed to the gills, Chet, Marco, Hank, and Stoker were showered
and getting ready for a long sleep.

"Is it really only seven o'clock?" Chet asked.

"Yep. Feels like forever since we've been back here." Stoker told him as he put on a fresh

"How long do we have to wait?" Kelly asked, voicing what was on everybody else's minds.

Cap sighed, still tense and anxious in spite of the soothing darkness of the familiar bunk
room. "Eight hours, guys. Exactly." he clarified. "Then we're back at the pile. I'll make
sure of that."

"I'm not going to be able to sleep a wink regardless." said Marco, putting on a pair of

The others muttered assent.

"Say, when are Brice and Bellingham coming back?" Stoker asked.

"In about an hour. They had paperwork to fill out on everybody they treated today."
Cap replied.

"Sucks to be them." snorted Kelly.

The sound of claws clicking on the linoleum alerted them to Henry's arrival into the room.
A soft series of whines from him sliced through their hearts unexpectedly.

"Aww. It's okay, Henry. I miss him, too." said Chet, crouching down to pet
his long ears affectionately. "Why don't you jump up right here, next to me, for a good
snuggling session. It's good therapy, pal."

Lopez watched them both from his deep cocoon of blankets. "I get him next." Marco said.

That started up Stoker's protest about the same thing. "No, me. I didn't get a break

"None of us did." Kelly glared at him.

Hank ended the squabble smoothly. "I'm... sure he'll be paying a visit to each of us all
night long so bide your time, guys."
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Kelly nodded in triumph and helped Henry settle into both of his arms' embrace as he lay
back. "Ohh,,, he's nice and warm. Like a furnace." he sniffed. "No couch for you tonight?"

Henry just looked at him in an unblinking stare before laying his head down peacefully onto
Kelly's chest with an indignant yawn.

"Wow." said Chet. "Okay, okay. I guess tonight's the big exception."

A snore peeled from Henry almost immediately, sawing wood in a genuine deep sleep.

The soothing buzz of it soon made the gang's eyes heavy as they finally relaxed at
the familiar sound.  

Five minutes later, sleep reigned all across the bunkroom.
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From: patti k (
Sent: Tue 12/14/10 11:32 AM
Subject:  Loose Ends...

The sun was just beginning to rise on the morning of the third day.

Kel Brackett left the camper trailer he and the other doctors had been
given to use and headed to the food tent to meet up with Mike Morton
and Joe Early. For what felt like the billionth time, he looked at his watch,
noting the hour right down to the current minute. ::Why do I keep doing that?::
he thought to himself. ::Mulling over survivability curves with or without water
intake is going to accomplish absolutely zilch, doctor.:: he admonished in his
mind. The look on his face gave him away to his colleagues instantly.

Morton scowled as he handed Kel an empty food tray. "Kel, cut it out. We're
not going to be able to get to everyone in time and that's gonna be a fact of
life whether you think about it or not. Let the fire department obsess about
trapped victims. We're part of the cure, not the problem." he growled, snatching
up another apple from a nearby bowl into which he crunched a set of frustrated

Joe was more than thoughtful. "Are you thinking about the bridge survivors?"

Dr. Brackett's face twitched in surprise that his private thoughts had been so
thoroughly guessed. "Well, yes. They're surrounded by seawater. Nothing to drink."

"Injured? Two to four days best case scenario before renal failure without a water
source takes its toll." Mike said. "Uninjured? Fairly long. Up to a week to ten days,
depending on a victim's emotional state." he speculated to help Kel get over it.

"What about the bay's sea fog?" wondered Joe. "That's bound to build up a
dew on cool surfaces. I can see condensation tricking down fairly far into nooks
and crannies."

Brackett smiled. "Thanks, guys. I needed that. Sometimes my brain works too
much for its own good."

"We all do that." said Dr. Early. "It's probably inherent for anyone in the business
of life saving, the police, hospital staff.., the fire department..." he listed off.

"And now ambulance companies." added Dr. Morton, reading one of the reports
a runner just handed to them. "Congratulations, fellas. We've just reached a rate
of four hundred transportations every twenty four hours. Mayfair had the highest
of them, followed by We Care and Cadillac Company."

"How many total victims are they talking about, Kel?" asked Early. "Do you have
different quotes than I do?" he said, tapping a sheet of paper in front of him.

"I do. Preliminary estimates are projecting ten to twenty thousand dead, twelve
hundred or so injured enough to be shipped to triage as red tags, and hundreds
of thousands injured to a lesser degree. And those are not counting the ones we
may never find out about." he said, buttering a piece of toast soberly.

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"Which ones?" Early asked.

Brackett looked at him. "The people who gave up trying to get to a hospital and
treated themselves." he replied ironically.

"Do you really think it's come down to that?" Morton wondered in shock.

"Oh, yes." Kel replied. "We became overwhelmed in all our emergency services
five minutes after the first wave struck."

Right then, Roy DeSoto entered the tan canvas tent, looking like he was running
on vapors. He had on a clean, white Mayfair uniform, but that was it. His face was
still dirt stained and his hair messed from wearing a helmet and crawling through
small cramped spaces.

Kel smacked Joe and Mike's arms to get their attention to where he was pointing.
Soon, they both spotted the signs of exhaustion on Roy's face and all three of
them decided to intervene.

"Hey, Roy. Hungry?" said Morton brightly. "We grabbed the last plate of bacon here."

DeSoto's legs worked on automatic as he accepted their invite to join them with
a lack luster nod.

"Coffee?" Joe added, holding up a pot.

"Sure." Roy said, almost smiling as he sat down, but not quite getting there.

"How are you doing?" Kel asked casually, the question double sided about both
his physical and emotional states.

"The truth?" DeSoto croaked hoarsely, his voice worn out from shouting for victims
in the debris pile.

Morton, Brackett and Early nodded.

"It's been a long time since I've seen a death toll this high. And some of them have
been... really hard to take." he said dully.

Mike leaned forward, no nonsense. "Hey, I was your physician for Caisson Four.
You saved three out of five victims and that's a very good recovery considering
what you had to work with and the conditions you were facing out there."

"Thanks, doc." Roy nodded, still dead pan with fatigue.

"Eat." Morton ordered. "Then one of us is going to go over you in a condition check.
You didn't show up for any of yours yesterday." he reprimanded. "When did you last
get some sleep?"


"You're doing it right now. Right after you get some food into you." Mike snapped.

Joe jumped on the bandwagon. "Dixie and the whole Mayfair Company went on
mandatory off duty last night. Where were you?"

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DeSoto started dishing out eggs onto his plate. When that wasn't happening fast
enough to Morton's satisfaction, Mike doubled it with a helping spatula from the
serving bowl. "CHiP Headquarters. They needed someone fire department medic
to handle a crowd of injured people that showed up there from the highway."

"Umm hmm. We heard about those." Kel replied, pouring Roy orange juice into
three glasses. "They were shipped to Long Beach for more treatment following

"Yeah, forty eight total. Two of those died en route, long before they got to
the hospital." Roy shared. He began to sip his orange juice gingerly, trying
to work around a shrunken stomach's active protests. "I think part of my
physical problem is exposure, doctors. The water in the bay's now pretty
darn cold because the tidal waves dragged in deep sea water from the bottom.
I was on USAR's dive team for a while."

"We can fix that." Brackett grinned. "It's nothing that a little warmth and a lot
of food can't cure." he said, tossing DeSoto an extra blanket into which he could
wrap himself.

All four of them looked up in surprise when Battalion Nine, assisting CA-2 as
a personnel tracker, approached their table. "DeSoto?"

"Yes, chief?"

"Two of your EMTs at Mayfair are AWOL. Command says their accountability
tags are still missing as being on duty. A... Baker and Poncherello?" he asked,
reading the names off a chart.

DeSoto rubbed his face wearily. "They wouldn't have known to report back to
the personnel table to sign out after being called off duty, sir. They are Highway
Patrol Officers on an exchange program."

"Find out their statuses and report it to Accountability so they don't launch a search
and rescue operation on us, looking for them." said the fire chief.

"Yes, sir." Roy told him. He hefted up his radio into a hand and switched frequencies.
"CHiP Central, this is Mayfair One. Do you know the 10-20 of Seven Marys Three
and Four?" Roy asked. "Battalion Nine wants to know on behalf of Accountability."

## Mayfair One, they reported back on duty in the vicinity of Caisson One at 0704
hours. Status: Available.##

"10-4, CHiP Central. Mayfair One out." DeSoto replied.

Battalion crossed off his newly solved personnel problem from his chart. "Thanks,
DeSoto. Now go off duty for real this time. That's an order. The doctors surrounding
you here look like they want to tie you down to the nearest patient cot and poke
you to death."

Brackett smothered a chortle. Mike Morton just grinned cattily.

Roy finally sighed. "That just about sums it up. I give in."

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The chief leaned down to place a hand on Roy's shoulder. "I heard about Fireman
Gage. Don't worry. We'll find him. I've committed USAR 103 as assigned to the task
exclusively now that the bulk of S&R is through for our area. Someone in the CHiPs
came up with some pretty convincing theories about where he and his EMT might be.
We got that report from their accident reconstruction department this morning."

Roy fought a serious breaking down at the news. "Thank you, Bill. Johnny and I have
been working together for a long time. It's been hard not hearing from him."

"So Hank says. Get some rest. We'll keep you abreast of any developments as they
happen." Then Battalion straightened up, after snatching a donut from a box, to go
back to IC. "Take care of yourself. I know how you paramedics are. All self sacrificing
for your patients' sakes and all that."

DeSoto and the others watched him leave the tent. Finally, Roy began to shovel in his
food more enthusiastically.

Kel asked him a question as he watched Roy drain his third orange juice glass dutifully.
"Do you know anything about the girl with him, medically speaking?"

"Do you mean from the information in her personnel file at Mayfair?" Roy asked around
his slow chewing.

Brackett nodded.

"She's as healthy as a horse when it comes to being fit to be an EMT. No pre-existing
medical conditions at all. Or allergies." he tacked on.

"That's good. We already know Johnny's medical history that way." Kel shared.

Roy's eating dropped off again. "Will having no spleen effect him much if he's actually

Joe replied eagerly. "Not if any hemorrhaging's controlled right away."

Kel agreed. "It'd be a different outcome if he had, say, a missing kidney going into all
this. Then any thirst issues would be a huge factor on how he handles being trapped
away from any drinkable water sources."

"He'd better have the gear with him." Roy muttered, pushing his eggs around his plate.

"What?" Morton asked, "I didn't quite hear that."

DeSoto looked up at him, distracted. "The Mayfair was empty when we found it on the
beach. Even the supplies from all the locked compartments were gone. And no amount of
seawater could have taken those. We had to unlock all of those doors just to check them.
The ambulance in my opinion, was expertly stripped down manually before it was washed

Morton rubbed the five o'clock shadow on his chin. "Well if that's true, why hasn't either
of them tried to contact us using the Mayfair's biophone?"

Roy set down his fork empathetically in mid bite, suddenly crestfallen all over again.
"That's a good question." he admitted. "Cap's been telling me that Chet's been glued
to ours every chance he gets, waiting for Johnny to call."

"That's right." Dr. Early said in discovery. "The rescue squads haven't been using them.
Not that I recall."

Brackett nodded."That's because their patient call volumes have been off the charts.
Too many to dilly dally and waste time talking about them over the phone waves.  It's
about time those standing orders of ours for all the advanced life support crews were
tested. Too bad it took a tidal wave before the fire department started using them."

"They'll work out all right, Kel." said Morton. "A lot of conditions react the same in just about
every case. Those pre-determined treatment steps will get the job done for all the common
emergencies. And if something doesn't fit the protocols, our paramedics can still reach
their doctor for some further help by calling in."

Not paying attention to the doctors' conversation any longer, Roy pushed his empty
food plate away with a small shove. ::Why haven't you, Johnny?:: he thought to himself
in a return of heightened stress.

Roy DeSoto felt his heart rate begin to rise in renewed worry.

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From: patti k (
Sent: Wed 12/15/10 2:23 AM
Subject: For Every Action...

Officer Grossman looked down at the garbage on the floor of the hallway
at CHiP Central. "What a mess." he said, placing his hands on his hips.

"Since it stands out as a problem in your mind, how about donning a pair
of medical gloves and picking it all up? Triage, is messy." said Sargeant Joe
Gatraer, his immediate highway patrol office supervisor. "Follow up with a
fast bleach mop. I think we can expect more victims eventually finding us
from off the freeway system today, too."

Grossman immediately squatted down and put on some from the pouch
on his uniform belt. He snagged a nearby waste basket and started in
on cleaning up. "But why not any until now?" he wanted to know. "The last
wave struck two days ago."

"People are weird, Grossie." said a feminine voice. It was Officer Bonnie
Clark, another CHiPs colleague who drove a squad car instead of a motorcycle.
She began helping out as well after pulling on gloves of her own. "Add a full
blown disaster into the mix, and they all go crazy." she said dramatically with
a smile through her shoulder length blond hair flopping down in front of her eyes.

"Yeah. Judgement goes right out the window. Grossie, you've seen people at
accidents." reasoned Gatraer.

Baricza appeared from a doorway, tossing them a roll of red medical bags.
He had overheard the whole conversation from the report desk. "They never
act in a way you'd expect." he agreed.

"That's right. There's no explaining it." Sgt. Joe shrugged. "Thanks, guys, for
doing this."

"You're the sarge." said Grossman meaningfully.

The irony was lost on Joe.

Grossie suddenly blanched as he said more. "There's not enough money in
the world to convince me to take a sargeant spot in filling your shoes right now."

"Oh, really. Why so?" asked Joe.

The flaxen haired, slightly pudgy officer with the lisp just pointed over his
shoulder subtlely, remaining speechless.

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Gatraer whirled around to see Battalion Nine storming down the hallway
towards them. A firm expression on his face glared from underneath his
white fire department helmet.

Joe's eyes narrowed even as his underling officer's eyes widened. Gatraer kept
his body language neutral as he wondered who had let him in. "Chief, what drags
you away from the Big Event?" Sarge asked.

The silver haired firefighting supervisor head didn't mince words. "We're considering
using this building as a secondary triage location and clinic. But only if it doesn't
interfere with your day to day operations."

Joe smiled. "You're more than welcome. We even have garage space out back
for a makeshift morgue if necessary that's out of the public eye. It's next to
our mechanic's shop. We only keep vehicular evidence in there."

"Good man." said Battalion. "Now, how did DeSoto do when he was here?"

Gatraer looked puzzled, folding his arms over his elbows uncomfortably. "Fine.
Is there a problem?" Joe asked.

"No. Just confirming a job well done for later commendation. We'll have a
tent outside for our people to sleep in and we'll have a rescue squad stationed
twenty four/seven out front. We had no idea the public would consider a highway
patrol office as a point of destination for emergency medical help."

"Neither did we." said Sarge. "But we're sure glad your man showed up when
he did."

The chief grinned. "This summer, he's one of Mayfair Company's men. But he
can act on behalf of the fire department when the need arises."

"Coffee?" Bonnie offered the chief.

"No, ma'am. But thanks. I'd better be getting back to Incident Command." said
the chief. "Let HQ know what supplies you have in here that get used up and
we'll replace it a.s.a.p. through Logistics. Only thing I can't get right away
is personnel help beyond the team I'll be assigning here." he shared.

"Will do." said Joe as the chief turned away to return back to his battalion car.
Bill turned back on a thought. "Oh, and another thing. About Caisson One..."

Gatraer held up his hands in instant self defense. "Now, I'm sorry about that.
What my officers do on their own time is completely out of my control. Ponch
and Jon decided to risk their own skins off the paycheck." he insisted.

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Bill chuckled."Nice speech. You must say it often. That sounded very politically
correct. No, what I was about to say was 'Nice job.' Your officers gave us leads
we hadn't had the capacity to even consider yet because of our workload. Keep
up the good work. And thanks for allowing those two to attend our EMT program
this past spring. They've been invaluable in the field already, on multiple occasions."
he beamed.

"You're welcome." Gatraer parroted, still stunned by the unexpected compliment.
He blushed a bright shade of red.

Bill held up a hand in farewell. "I'll let myself out. Looks like you're all very busy.
We'll be in touch through the main emergency band. Good luck with today, people."

"Likewise." said Grossman, finally finding his voice at being privvy to Joe's foot
in mouth mistake.

When the door closed behind them, all four of the CHiP officers just kept on
staring at it. Bonnie Clark summed it up in a single sentence. "How come our
own chiefs don't scare us half as bad as the fire department ones do?"

Grossman shrugged, picking up a bloodied bandage carefully and tossing it
into his plastic bag. "Because they're cooler. They used to be firefighters."

Everyone else sighed in agreement and finally got down to business.
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When Vince Howard's bandage fell off the wound on his arm, exposing
a stench of infection, he decided to pay a visit to Rampart for some free
medical care. He parked his car, and walked up to the staff intercom, and
rang it.

##Rampart Emergency?## came the disembodied reply.

"L.A.P.D. Howard, Badge #27. I've been injured, and..."

*Snick* went the door.

Two nurses met him when the security buzzer mechanism released its lock
on the door. One of them already had a wheel chair in hand and the other
was carrying a full jump bag across one shoulder. "What happened?"
a tall blond one asked, getting a grip onto both of his shoulders protectively
to prevent any falls.

Vince exclaimed when he felt the vinyl of the chair's seat being pressed against
the back of his knees. "Whoa! Easy there. Nothing happened. At least not today.
I got a nick that's gone bad. Getting puss-y, you know." he trivialized.

"Those are the worst kind." said the second nurse with dark hair. "Where is it?"
she asked.

Vince humored her, and sat down. "Left upper arm. Listen, ladies." he insisted
as they began to wheel him quickly inside. "I didn't mean to make a fuss. I tried
to tell you a minute ago that all I needed was a new bandage, but you opened
the door too fast."

The first nurse nailed him with a Look. "Puss is nothing to shake a stick at. It
means that your immune system is overcompensating grossly. That could be
why you're sweating so much." she said, swiping a few gentle gloved fingers
across his damp forehead.

"I am?" Vince asked, surprised.

"You've got a pretty high fever." said a third, getting a high sign from the other
two R.N.s that a gurney was needed immediately. "Know how I can tell?" she
asked Howard, tipping her elegant African American face towards his

"No. But I'm sure you're going to tell me." he grinned tightly, getting more and
more irritated by the flurry of activity instigated on his behalf.

"Your ears are pale, even though you're not white." she chided, patting the
mattress of the bed meaningfully. "Come on, these orderlies will help you up.
This could be early septicemia. Your whole arm's swollen and you've got red
streaks tracing up a long way from the cut."

"Funny. I don't feel that sick." Vince shivered as he let them lower his head
down onto a pillow.

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"You will be very sick if we don't treat you with I.V. antibiotics as fast as
we can pump them into you." said the first nurse. "Doctor!" she shouted,
hailing one from a little further down the hallway where they were hurrying
towards the Emergency Department. He joined them quickly. "What do you

"Probable early septic shock. I can't find a pulse in either of his wrists now.
He was a walk in. History of a laceration from just two days ago. His pressure's
dropping rapidly."

Vince spoke up, slurring suddenly. "Now that I think offf it. I am kind of dizzzzy.
Nauseated, too." he said, keeping flat on his back as the motion began to
torment his stomach.

"Roll over." ordered one of the nurses."It's better you throw up sideways than
up. Or you'll start choking."

"Terrific..Would somebody please tell my supervisorrrr know what's ...what's going
on?" he asked as he felt an oxygen mask being slipped over his face.

"I'll do that." said a new voice. Vince felt a cool hand gently touch his cheek.
It was Sharon Walters. "Vince. This is all my fault. I must have hurried too much
tending to your arm the first time." she told him unhappily.

"No it's not." Howard said blearily. "It's...I was probably crawling around raw
sewage with the National Guard for hours while we got out old folks trapped in
their flooded homes. We got absolutely soaked a few times. Head to toe."

"That'll do it." said the doctor, ripping away more of Vince's shoulder sleeve so
he could eye the rest of the urticaria spreading up towards his shoulder. A deft
hand quickly felt under his armpit.

"Ahhh." Vince winced.

"Sorry about that. I had to find out." apologized the doctor. He looked up at his
nurses. "Swollen lymph nodes in the axillary groove. Lots of them." he shared
for their hasty chartwork. Then he looked down again and began examining
Vince's rolling eyes. "Officer, this is your lucky day. A few more hours with
that not so little nick unattended, and that tiny lack of a clean bandage, might
have gotten you killed."

Somehow, that dread pronouncement didn't seem to sink into Vince's growing
mental haze. He just moaned when he thought he was talking to them. Fear
began to settle deep into his chest. ::I could have died?:: Vince panicked mentally.

The young M.D. continued speaking. "Let's get him into Three to lance that
wound open to see exactly what we've got. I want an immediate lab team
called in for him. I want swabs and blood cultures to I.D. this bacteria as soon
as humanly possible. Somebody, find his chart so we know what antibiotic we
can safely put into his I.V."

Sharon Walters grabbed one of Howard's trembling hands but he couldn't
feel it. "Vince, hang on. We'll turn this around. You'll see." she promised.

The police officer found that he could no longer respond and his eyes slid

"He's heading for a tube." said the doctor. "Get on the phone and get RT
here now." he ordered crisply. "Somebody grab the crash cart."

Vince felt the world going away by the time Respiratory Therapy arrived to
help him breathe manually from a bag due to increasingly weakening lungs.

He blacked out.

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From: patti k (
Sent: Sun 12/19/10 10:18 AM
Subject: The Hole...

Johnny Gage watched the light fade out of National Guardsman Specialist
Karen's eyes. ::I didn't count on this.:: he thought to himself. ::But I can't
say it wasn't unexpected.:: He looked up into Rosalie Arnold's eyes. "I'm
sorry. She's gone, Rosalie. There's nothing more we can do for her." he
said softly.

"Why did she die?" Arnold asked, stunned, still feeling where the pulse
had been in the broken legged soldier.

Gage turned off the I.V. flow on Karen and left the bag lying on her stomach.
"It was a combination of things. We're all hungry, but for her it was worse.
Swelling in her legs below the fracture points caused something called
compartmental syndrome. That's where muscles get bloated far beyond
the space they normally fill inside of their fascia sheaths. The circulation
to her feet got cut off and tissue died. The potassium in her blood
rose to a level that I couldn't offset anymore and that stopped her heart."

"Oh." Arnold remained quietly dry eyed. Exhaustion was now all consuming
in all five of them. The expression of any strong emotion seemed to severely
tax their already low energy reserves. Rosalie covered the woman's peaceful
face with a piece of plastic before taking her blanket to add another layer
over sleeping Joshua, the boy, who lay beside her. "How much glucagon
and sucrose paste do we have left?" she asked dully.

Johnny glanced at all of their running I.V. bags appraisingly. "Maybe...
enough to last out the day." he croaked wearily. "Then we start getting a
little uncomfortable."

Rosalie calmly brushed off the dust from the front of her uniform. "Maybe
it's time we start getting a bit more proactive about helping ourselves then."
she whispered.

"I don't follow." said Johnny, packing up the EKG monitor they had used during
Karen's final hours.

Rosalie shrugged. "Let's start exploring a little. While it's still daylight."

Gage shook his head instantly. "It's too dangerous. This pile's completely

She countered, lifting her chin up. "I can't just sit around any more. The
waiting's getting far too unbearable." she said, casting a hand towards Karen
significantly. She looked away from the body with an effort.


"Johnny, please. We can make it safer. We've got two pairs of eyes. Yours,
and mine. We can watch each other's backs. And yes, we can go slug slow
through all the tight spots. It can't be that much farther to go to hit the bay."
Johnny started to purse his lips vehemently in disagreement when she hissed.
"What other choice do we have?" she whispered sharply so the others wouldn't
hear or be disturbed. "Soon we'll be too weak to do anything to get ourselves
out of here." Rosalie smiled for the first time in a day. "You know how the saying
goes. I'd rather d--"

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"Don't say it. Don't even think it." he glared. "We are nowhere near a last ditch
effort situation. We're just--"

"All alone." Rosalie pitched right back. "Still trapped apparently." she

Johnny narrowed his eyes. "D*mn it. You're.. you're right. I'll give you that. We
don't know if we're still stuck with no way out."

"Aha. See?" she pounced.

Johnny shushed her by placing hasty fingers over her trembling mouth. "All right.
All right." he said angrily. "We'll try this. But I'll go in first. I've more experience
testing out confined spaces."

"I'm smaller."

Gage held up a warning finger even as he began looping his own I.V. tubing
around his shoulder like a lasso to protect it and to move it out of his way.
"We're not going to go running pell mell into the darkness here. We're gonna plan
this thing. At the very least, we're going to have to explain to Bernie, Gertie,
and Joshua, the dangers involved."

"I'm sure they won't mind. We're supposed to be their rescuers, Johnny. So
let's finish the job already." Rosalie suddenly closed her eyes in a wave of
dizziness and she sank back down onto the piece of rubble she liked because
it refused to get cold in the chill. "Oh.." she gasped.

"What?" Johnny prompted, grabbing her arm quickly.

"Guess I'm a little hungry here or something. I got dizzy for a moment. I'm all right."
she reassured him.

"Not again. Here's another one." Johnny said, passing off a glucose tube he had
waiting in a torn pocket. "It should fix you enough to travel for a few hours. How's
your pressure?" he added.

"Fine." Rosalie said, getting back to her feet to show him. "I'll go get our packs.
Then we can go wake the others so they can man our lines."

"Wait a minute. What lines?" Gage asked, confused.

"Those lines." Rosalie said, pointing up the shaft over their heads. "The ropes Karen
left hanging off the ladder when she fell. We can cut them down. They look solid

Johnny grinned. "So they are." he said peering up at them with a flashlight. "They're
two hundred footers, at least." he guessed.

"Enough to go exploring this whole caisson base." Arnold nodded with satisfaction.

"If we can." said Johnny, locating their work gloves inside of his pack.

"No. When we do." Arnold corrected, changing the feel of their whole plan into
a brightly fierce hope. She sucked down the sickly sweet sugar gel from the tube
in her hand and tried not to gag as her overshrunken stomach tried to rebel.

"Better?" he asked, seeing the nauseated expression that had spread briefly over
her face leaving.

"Yeah." she sighed, when the wave had passed. Already, she could feel energy
returning to her sore body. "Let's go."


They packed lightly, taking nothing with them except extra flashlights, clothes,
two new I.V. solution bags to use for later, and the ropes Johnny had retrieved
after a bit of difficult climbing.

"Good luck." said Gertie, holding on to both her husband Bernie, and their nephew
tightly, at the entrance to the hole. "We'll stay here until we're found." she promised.

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Gage nodded his head. Kneeling down by it , he offered the ends of their ropes to
Bernie to tie off onto something firm so they'd be able to retrace their path safely
back to the main chamber if they got lost. "These will also lead rescuers to you once
we find a way out." he said.

"Take my compact mirror." said Gertie, reaching into a pocket for the water soaked
powder cosmetic she had there. "You may be able to use it as a signal."

Johnny gripped her hand. "Thanks. Remember to do what I taught you once all your
I.V.s run out. Replace the bags before they drain dry. Manage the drip according
to how thirsty you get or not over time. Try to conserve fluid as much as possible."

"I'll remember." said Gertie, worried for them, not the instructions.

"Don't do anything stupid, young man." said Bernie. "I know how brash firefighters
get, by reputation."

Johnny just grinned. "Yeah, well, the stakes aren't high enough yet." he joked.
Then he looked down. "Joshua, look after your aunt and uncle. I'm going to count
on you to keep them safe and calm for as long as this takes."

"I will, Mr. Gage." the boy replied.

Johnny rumpled his hair affectionately.

"Okay. Rosalie, let's get this done before I lose my nerve." he said, turning
on the flashlight in his gloves and disappearing into the blackness. "Stuff your
I.V. bag into your shirt. It won't get bumped that way."

Already breathing hard, Arnold followed him into the hole. "Right back at you."
she puffed, some of her bravado faltering. "Boogey man, watch out! Here we
come." she teased for the boy's benefit.

Bernie and Gertie began to feed in rope as it was pulled inside, inch by
slow inch. Soon, even the light from Rosalie and Johnny's flashlights disappeared,
leaving behind only the rasp of rope on rock as it was dragged past them.


Chet sat cross legged on his station bunk, hailing on the biophone. "Engine 51 to
Mayfair Three, do you read us?" he repeated once again. He was doing so
every fifteen minutes. No reply came, just static on the Mayfair Channel.
He tossed down the receiver to bounce on the messy mattress. "Cap, this
doesn't make any sense at all. Now Johnny's not dull. And Rosalie's a real
sharp cookie. Why aren't they calling using their biophone?"

Hank just got irritated. "Besides the hideous answer, there are two other reasons
I can think of, Kelly. Low battery or damage to its transmitters, or a physical
barrier that's preventing reception. Bridge construction is pretty solid even
when it's intact."

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