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        En Route
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Stoker offered another possibility. "He might have his hands full doing other
things, Chet. Like caring for victims. I know that would be the first thing he'd
try for regardless of what was going on with himself personally."

Marco thought on a tangent. "Where's Roy? All of this has got to be going
down hard with him."

Cap replied, stroking a softly whining Henry on the bed beside him. "Shhh, pal.
It's okay. We're just talking." he looked up with an answer. "Battalion said
he's at CHiPs Headquarters in a Triage tent, getting some shut eye."

"What's he doing there?" asked Marco.

"They needed a Head of Triage. Seems that folks are showing up at the highway
patrol office in droves, looking for medical help." Cap replied.

"That place isn't very big." Chet said.

"I know. Hence the tent." Hank nodded. "A rescue squad's been posted there for
the duration."

"Who?" Stoker asked, curious.

"Us. Brice and Bellingham." Hank answered.

"They were here?" Chet asked, surprised.

"Yeah, for five hours. You were out like a light, Chet." said Marco told him.
"They came, slept, and went."

"Sorry for not noticing." Kelly said defensively.

"Hey, none of that. We're all getting irritated here, not just me." Cap warned.
"And that's something that's going to stop."

Woof! said Henry.

"Just keep trying there, Kelly. We've got three hours to kill before we can go
back on duty." Hank ordered.

"Yes, sir." replied Kelly.


Dixie looked at Liz Stanton, Kate Brown, Stanley Dubois and all the other
Mayfair EMTs gathered in front of her at Incident Command at the edge of
the field. "Our duties have changed, at least, for a while. We've caught up
with search and rescue teams with regards to transporting out any live
victims they find. Now we're being assigned doing the opposite, for those
times in between calls."

"Body recovery?" asked the curly haired Stanley Dubois.

"Yes. Not of those here in the morgue. Those are safely out of public eyes.
The ones we're being ordered to handle are the ones in active rescue sites.
It seems natural decay is interfering with search dogs' accuracy in spotting
any trapped victims. So we're going to fix that problem." McCall shared.
"We'll be taking all fatalities to Dodger Stadium for processing by the forensics
and medical examiner offices teams."

"Ughh." muttered Kate Brown, Liz Stanton's EMT partner.

Liz just patted her shoulder in encouragement. "Won't be as bad as that. USAR's
already put them into body bags."

Dixie didn't hear the exchange from where she was in front of her employees.
"Mayfairs Eight through Twelve, report to CHiP Central in East Torrance. There's
a new Triage site being established there. Mostly minor trauma victims and
some major medicals on civilian evacuees leaving the freeway system for help.
Your job is to help treat and take those victims to available hospitals and medical
centers. A fire department Battalion Chief will give you your destinations via radio.
Listen for him using your callsigns once you report in. There will be a pair of
paramedics there to prioritize."

Stan raised his hand.

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Dixie nodded.

Dubois asked his question. "What about an M.D.? Will there be one on site?"

"There can be if the need arises. He or she can fly in by helicopter. Until then,
utilize the CHiP force in the building to assist you. Ponch and Jon are based there
and so that's another pair of EMT's on hand." Dixie smiled. "Okay, people. Let's
move out. Read the assignment board here behind me for where your ambulance
is to report. Don't worry about documentation. Concentrate on keeping yourselves
physically protected from contamination and infection exposure by using strict
body substance isolation protocols and procedures. Is that understood?" Dixie
asked loudly.

Murmurs of assent returned and slowly, the EMT teams found their relevant information
on Dixie's assignment board. They departed one by one in their ambulances for the

Kate Brown and Liz Stanton were the last ones to read the board. Dixie joined them.
"Find it okay?" she asked.

"Yeah." said Liz. "How are you doing, Dixie?"

McCall's in charge demeanor suddenly fell away. "As well as to be expected. Not
knowing's been a heavy load."

"What's she talking about, Liz?" Kate asked. "I'm missing something here."

Liz just sighed. "Remember that paramedic named Johnny Gage who faked a head
knock on a mock for you last week?"

"Oh yes, Mr. Funny. I remember him. Why?" Miss Brown asked, smiling conversationally.

Dixie eyed up Kate, reluctant to share the news. "He's been reported as missing at
the bridge site. His ambulance was found washed up on the beach next to Mel
Turner's body. Both he and an EMT, Rosalie Arnold, are presumed trapped under
one of the collapsed caissons out in the bay."

"I'm so sorry." burbled Kate. "Anything we can do to help find them?"

"Pray." replied Dixie dully. "Three days is an awfully long time to be caught alone under
all of that."

From: patti k (
Sent: Tue 12/21/10 6:42 AM
Subject: Progress..

The first thing he heard were voices near his head and the electronic noise and beeps
of life support machines surrounding him. Vince wanted to open his eyes, but couldn't
yet. He lay, finally lung comfortable, his breathing supported by a large specialized mask
strapped to his face, held with clips. Howard found he hadn't the strength to move
a single fevered muscle, even though he was wide awake inside.

"Sharon, how's Mr. Howard doing?" asked a male voice with authority.

"He's stable, doctor. There's been no further degradation of his respiratory efforts.
His pressure's back on track. It's sitting at 88/46. Capillary refill in all extremities
is on the rise."

"Hmm...he's still a bit tachycardic." said the M.D., studying the rapidly tracing EKG
monitor that Vince could hear going off to his right, next to his ear.

"His heart's beating faster than it used to be? It was fairly calm just a few seconds
ago." said Sharon, feeling the pulse beat in the police officer's wrist.

"He might be starting to come to." theorized the doctor. "The conditions are right.
His blood chemistry's normal now. Have one of your nurses start checking for
higher signs of consciousness every fifteen minutes. Notify me once he's fully
awake and responding so I can do a full neural assessment to see if he's
taking any damage from the bacteria. Specifically, I want to rule out meningitis

"Yes, doctor." she said as he left the room with Vince's patient chart and lab

Almost immediately, Howard heard the sounds of privacy curtains being pulled open
and a soothing woman's perfume began to fill his nostrils. Vince almost started to
cry with the familiarity of it.

"Hey, Vince." said Dixie McCall. Howard felt his good friend take his hand. "I just heard.
I was worried a minute ago, but it looks like you're doing all right here." her voice smiled
vocally as she quickly studied the readouts on all of Vince's machines. "They don't
even have you in critical care yet." The hand moved to his forehead, feeling his internal
temperature. "Sharon?" Dixie prompted. "What was found?"

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"Septicema. A non-resistant staph infection. Gram negative stain. He was about
ten minutes away from full neuro muscular paralysis from the toxins being
created in his bloodstream when we got to him after he drove himself to the hospital.
We cleared most of that up with emergency dialysis. He's currently on top dosages
of the proper antibiotic in both of those large bore I.V.s." she reported. "And.." she
hesitated. "I think it might be my fault that he got sick." she whispered fearfully, trembling.

McCall looked up and met her eyes firmly. "Nonsense. You know full nursing care skills
and practice them just as well as I do. And even if you were the first one to see and treat
this wound.." she said, pointing to Vince's arm cut that had been left open to air and drain
onto a blue chux absorbing pad. Dixie could see that it had been thoroughly cleaned
and irrigated with betadine. "..there are all kinds of horrors happening out there in
the disaster zone, including the microbial kind. Especially since all of the underground
sewer systems were flooded out. This is a chance infection, Sharon. It's not due to
any kind of malpractice on your part. Septic sludge is totally contagious if not kept off
of the skin."

"He did say that he was working on evacuations in the flooded areas." Walters peeped.

"There you go. He was exposed to all of that with freshly broken skin. It was only
a matter of time before he fell ill from something no matter how good you were treating
him beforehand. Sh*t's filthy." she grinned cattily with exasperation.

Walters let out the tense sigh she had been holding in with utter relief, her doe eyes
filling with tears. "I was.. so worried about him."

"You're not the only one. Now pull yourself together. Vince's wanting good company,
not friends sobbing over him for no good reason." Dixie chided Sharon gently.

Then McCall pulled up a stool and sat down next to Howard's head, still holding firmly to his
hand in comfort. "Vince, I can tell by your heart rate that you're hearing us." she said, speaking
out loud to him. "Don't worry about not being able to move. You've been sedated as a
precaution to prevent any febrile seizures from making your condition worse while
we kick this bug of yours. That mask you're feeling is offering you pressurized oxygen
so you don't have to work so hard at breathing. It's called a P.E.E.P." she said, tapping it
so he knew what she was talking about. "As for the time of day, it's about seven
hours since you crawled in here to see us." she teased. "You are most definitely
not dying. If anything, you are getting better very rapidly, so relax that overactive brain
of yours. I'll tell you all the news you're wondering about. You're family's been notified.
They're flying in from wherever they are and should be here by evening. It's four forty
five p.m. Sunday. So not too long now. Work is cool about this vacation break of yours
that you're taking." she joked. "And, throughout your beat in Torrance, there's only a
few active search and rescue operations still going on. One of which is the one pinpointing
where Johnny Gage may be trapped. They have a few fresh leads on that. Now, is there
anything I've left out?" she asked Howard's lax face.  The EKG monitor remained steady
in its new slow, restful rate. "Didn't think so." Dixie grinned gently, patting him on his
blanketed shoulder. "I suggest you take a nap. Either Sharon or somebody else will wake
you when your visitors arrive. I'll check on you again later as soon as I possibly can with
another followup on the outside world. Get well fast." she ordered, then she kissed him
lightly on his sweaty forehead. "See you, Germ Boy."

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"Dixie!" Sharon admonished, half laughing.

"What? That's what he is." McCall shrugged. "Gotta have a sense of humor around this
place. Right, Vince?"

The heart rhythm on the EKG monitor twitched.

"See?" said Dixie. She looked at her watch. "Oh, Sharon. I've got to be getting back.
My official break's over." She gave Walters a fast wave as she left the curtained room
for the exit where a Mayfair was waiting for her to rejoin it.

A nurse from the ICU desk poked her head in a minute later, her eyebrows raised.
"Don't tell me. Dixie was here. I can tell." she said, admiring Vince's improved vital

Sharon nodded.

"I wish I had that kind of magic touch." said the nurse.

"So do I." Walters smiled. "Let me know when he fully awakens, all right? I'll be
downstairs, back in the full chaos again."

"I don't envy you." said the ICU charge nurse.

"It's not so bad any more. Not since Dixie taught me a few things." she said in
sudden self discovery. She smiled at the memory fondly.

"Whoa. You're no longer nervous about being head nurse of the entire E.R.?
Newflash! Tell all once all this is all over?" she asked, playing with Sharon's
good mood.

"You bet, Carol." Sharon promised. She tucked Vince's blanket up a little higher
tenderly and then quietly pulled Howard's privacy curtain shut behind her as
she left for the elevator.  "Behave yourself." she teased the officer in a whisper.

Vince mental grin faded into the gray of wholesome sleep, as he was
infinitely reassured by the jab.


Pon and Jon Baker stood panting on the rocks, sipping water bottles while they
watched USAR map out where fallen road sections had settled in and around
Caisson One.

"Did you hear?" Frank asked his equally overheated partner.

"What?" asked Jon.

"Vince is down. Some kind of blood bug."

"Is he all right?" Baker asked, shocked.

"Yeah, he'll be fine. I just talked to Dixie." said Frank. "Some instinct made him
visit the hospital just before he collapsed." he panted, still tired from digging.

"That's some instinct." gaped Jon. "I wonder what it was that tipped him off?"

"When he gets better, maybe we can ask him." Ponch shrugged as he sat down
onto an empty trauma box to catch his wind again. Then he eyed up the scene.
"This grid by grid probing thing... it's taking too long." he groused.

Baker agreed, nodding.

"Why aren't they using the dogs anymore?" Ponch asked, irritated.

"USAR tells me it's because there are now too many body parts lying around,
buried and in the water. The dogs are getting confused by all the abundance of
human scent from the rescuers, too. It's throwing them off." Jon explained.
"But I totally agree with you. There's got to be a better way."

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Ponch leaned over, towelling off his neck with a rag while leaning elbows
over his dirty knees.Suddenly something clicked in his mind like a thunderbolt.
"No, Jon. Listen! What we a better dog." he said excitedly.


"Station 51, man!" he said, bouncing back up to his feet. "They've got a Basset
Hound there, right? And what better search dog can there be than one who
knows the victim?"

Jon's face lit up in comprehension. "Ponch, you get the craziest ideas sometimes,
but this one, I really like." he crowed.

"Come on, let's go!" Ponch told him, running for the road.


The bell at Station 51 rang at the kitchen side door. Ann, the Red Cross worker
answered it. "Yes?" she asked. "Are you two officers looking for a meal? You've
come to the right place." she said happily, swinging the door wide open in

"No, ma'am. Not right now. This is official business." said Baker.

"We need to speak to this station's captain. It's urgent!" said Ponch.

"Oh, my.. If it's an emergency.." minced Char, her companion cook.

"Ladies, everything going on the last three days have been emergencies."
Ponch insisted.

"They're all sleeping still. Just nodded off the poor dears." said Ann.

"They'll be happy we woke them." Ponch said. "Excuse me." he said
as he and Jon ran for the apparatus bay. They drew out their flashlights
and headed for the silent bunkroom.

"Captain? Captain Stanley? We need to talk to you immediately!" shouted
Ponch as they entered.

Hank shot up in his bed with the skill of years of waking reaction. "I'm up!
We're all up! What's the story? What's happened?"

Ponch grinned, aiming his torch at the sleepy expression on Cap's face.
"You mean what's going to happen."
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Hank shoved it out of his eyes and flicked on the light to get over the
pain of readjustment to daylight. "Tell all." he prompted.

Jon started in eagerly. "Got one of Johnny's dirty shirts handy? Your
dog's going on active duty as of right now."

Cap gaped and smacked himself on the forehead. "Why didn't we think
of that?" he asked incredulously.

"Because we were too tired, Cap." said Chet, dressing eagerly.

"Stoker." snapped Cap. "We're going back there pronto. Go warm up the Ward."

"Yes, sir."

"Marco.." Cap directed. "Go grab Henry and some of Johnny's old laundry.
The smellier the better."

"Right, Cap." Lopez nodded, running from the room.


Engine 51 screamed down deserted 223rd Avenue with full lights and sirens, nimbly
escorted by Ponch and Jon on their lights activated motorcycles, leading the way.

Chet hugged Henry tightly in his lap to control him. The dog was beside himself
with eagerness. He had figured it out. But Kelly was worried about other things.
"Just how much trouble are we going to be in for coming back on duty two hours
early?" he asked Marco, seated next to him.

"None." replied Lopez, hugging a bag full of Gage's laundry. "We're just following
Captain's orders."

Stanley had overheard the conversation and he turned back ferally. "USAR's gonna
have major egg on their faces when we find him first and they don't despite all
their fancy gear. Henry's just a pet, remember?" he grinned happily. "Still kicking
myself that I didn't listen to the Old Boy." he said patting Henry's sides affectionately
with his work gloves. "He was trying to tell us. Didn't you see how he camped out in
the squad's footprint this morning and refused to move?"

"Woof!" said Henry.

"He knew about the possibility way beforehand?" gaped Marco.

"Yep." said Cap.

"That's one smart dog. But it took a pair of highway patrolmen to figure it out for us."
Chet admired.

"Henry knows what his job's gonna be that's for sure." said Stoker, eyeing them all up in
his rear view mirror.

"It's not a job to him, Mike." said Kelly. "It's more like fixing a major cosmic wrong in
his whole universe."

"Just so long as it works." muttered Hank, tightening his helmet strap as they bounced
along the road.

"Amen." replied the gang.

And Henry. He added an empathetic.. "Woof!"
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From: patti k (
Sent: Wed 12/22/10 1:41 PM
Subject:  Falling Into Place..

A blast from Engine 51's airhorn as she travelled down the freeway
overpass startled a sleeping Roy bolt upright. Bob Bellingham greeted
him swiftly. "Easy, Big Guy. That's us. On the way to providing a solution
to a really big problem that's near and dear to our hearts." he said happily.

Roy sat up inside of the triage tent at CHiP Headquarters where they
were stationed and was instantly wide awake. "Johnny." he guessed

Bellingham nodded.

When DeSoto went to push up off of his cot to stand, he discovered a
BP cuff neatly wrapped around his arm. "What's this?" he asked, pulling
it off and brandishing it.

Brice spoke up from a stool at the foot of Roy's bed. "We just performed
a condition check on you. You were dead to the world for six hours..." Craig

"...and that's a good thing." Bob finished, completing his thought
empathetically, exchanging a self conscious glance with Brice, biting his lip.

"Oh." Roy muttered. "Don't worry. I'm not gonna bite. That's a Cap
kind of thing. So what's the miracle plan our engine's rushing in?"

Bellingham grinned, reassured."Not a plan as I said. A solution." he shared.

"Yes." said Craig. "A four legged one."

"A search dog?" Roy guessed, still pulling on his shoes and tying them.

"Our dog." Bob said proudly. "Henry's gonna be turned loose to run all over
the pile to see if he can get a bead on Gage's whereabouts."

Roy's face broke out into the genuine joyful expression that Craig and Bob
had been waiting for all day. "Did Chet think that up?"

"No. It was Ponch." chuckled Bob. "He's out there right now overseeing the
big launch. It was also his department that encouraged I.C. to refocus attention
back onto Caisson One."

Roy was grateful, but also instantly frustrated. He punched a fist into the pillow
that he had drawn up into his lap for comfort. "I want to be out there, too."

Bob was adamantly agreeable. "Oh, don't worry, we will be." he promised. "Why
else do you think we took the CHiPs triage assignment? Once they find him, guess
who they're gonna call first?"

DeSoto began grinning again, even wider. "Paramedics."

Brice nodded and for him, almost ferally."And I've already calculated that we are
the nearest available rescue squad to respond to the bridge site. We'll be the
ones toned out."

"And you're coming with us." said Bob. "So keep your running shoes on."


Hank opened the side door of the engine as fast as he could. Chet had already
scattered Gage's clothes all over the floor of the engine so Henry could firmly
imprint on them. "Come on, Henry." said Cap. "Let's get your everloving rear outta

"Whoa! Look at him go!" Chet yelled as the frantic Basset Hound plopped to the
ground on his own and immediately began questing about among the rocks at a

"I sure hope he doesn't get hurt." Marco said as small avalanches began wherever
Henry had to really work at getting up a crumbling slope.

"Nah, dogs are great that way." Hank said. "They've got good instincts."

"And let's hope an even better sniffer, guys." Chet added. "Fingers crossed!"
he shouted, showing four sets of his own.

Cap grounded a shoe on top of a piece of rumble to watch their mascot comb
the pile with a practiced eye.

Captain Robert Cooper slowly paced over to Hank's side. "What's that?" he
asked, pointing to the loud, search snuffling Henry.

"He's another angle we're trying." Cap said firmly, not looking away.

Cooper's puzzled look went away instantly. "Good luck." he mumbled as
he set back the way he had come, returning to his men, who were carefully
replotting the pile over a structural engineering map.

Kelly started cheering Henry on when the blood hound started to get overanxious
as he cast about. "Come on, Henry. Find him. Go find Johnny. He needs you, boy."

Henry started whining even louder in frustration when suddenly it was as if a cable
whipped his head around practically to his tail. His whole demeanor changed into
intense concentration as he zeroed in on a telltale odor. He lifted a paw and
started baying to the sky as he rushed off towards the west most end of the
crumbled caisson, suddenly straight as an arrow.

"Over here! Over here, guys! On the double!" Chet hollered at the USAR team.
"Our dog's found a positive scent trail!"
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From: patti k (
Sent: Thu 12/23/10 4:13 PM
Subject: Heart To Heart...

Johnny and Rosalie did not rush things as they crawled.

"Are you marking our way?" Arnold asked.

"Yes, but I wouldn't count on any chalk mark lasting. The dust
is still--" Gage froze when an unseen surface underneath him
gave way and tilted slightly under a gloved hand. Slowly feeling
around the edges, he found that it was just a boulder on top of
a very hard, flat surface that was a roadway. "...settling." he finished.
"We're much better off trailing our rope. That way we don't need
to see to get back if we have to."

"Where are we?" she asked. "Feels like we've been crawling
for hours. And the air's not getting any fresher." she coughed
as she pointed her flashlight around them to find all the obstacles
in their way. She painfully dragged herself over a steel beam in
front of them.

"It's been three hours twenty minutes." he said, looking at his
watch in his flashlight's beam. "I'm guessing we're about ninety
feet from where we started inside of the core space, but all
of the zigzagging we're doing in between all of these crevasses
is what's causing the distance. We've got about four hundred feet
of total play with these." he said, picking up their rope. "And I'm
still hauling a coiled full one on my shoulder."

"We've gone only two hundred feet or less?" she sighed in dismay
in the stuffiness.

"We've been backtracking a lot because of all the dead ends." Gage
panted, sweat streaming down his face. Johnny stopped crawling and
pulled a rock that was damp from out of a hole. "Smell that?" he smiled
when a soft caress of an air current brushed past his cheek.

"Yeah, fresh brine." she said.

"Let's hope that this breeze is coming from a crack somewhere that's
wide enough to let us through."

A deep rumbling began groaning once more above them, only this
time, it was louder and more frightening.

"In here!" Johnny said, quickly finding a niche underneath the slanting
edge of a pavement slab. They quickly scrambled under its solid,
protective shelf and drew their feet into safety. Rosalie was
pressed tightly against a back wall. "Not another one." she coughed.

"Breathe through your shirt!" Gage shouted over the noise. "It'll keep
the dust out of your lungs." he warned.

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Several huge chunks of concrete and steel girders slammed into
the slope in front of them, raising clouds of choking grit in a thunder
of noise. Then the debris fall began to die away almost as quickly
as it had come. The cave-in lessened to a small trickle of dust
and water and suspended flecks. "What's causing all of that?"
Rosalie gasped, very scared, when it was over.

"Metal fatigue." Johnny replied. "Steel can go on tearing once its
been torn if the forces acting on it are great enough. Just like a
partially broken tree branch."

Finally, the last of the shuddering underneath them stopped. A few
seconds later, the sharp breeze they had been following returned and
cleared the steamy air around their heads.

Rosalie and Johnny wiped the dust off of their goggles so they
could see again. Gage aimed a flashlight beam back out into the

There were many new fallen steel cables stretched or tangled around a
jumble of green steel girders that had been warped by the tidal waves.

Johnny looked back and grinned. "Feeling nimble enough for a jungle
gym? Because that's what we've got." he joked.

"Oh, no.." panted Rosalie. "I don't think I can do that for very long. I'm..
I'm getting really shaky." she said in a trembling voice.

Gage did a double take from where he was pushing a piece of rubble
away from them with a shoe. He scrambled back over to her. "Is it
your blood sugar? You're not a diabetic?" he prompted. Rosalie just eyed
him up, getting slightly anxious."No... just... a little out of....breath." And
then the coughing began again before she could try to smile.

Johnny flicked on both flashlight beams regardless of energy expediture.
"You weren't ever before. Any ideas about what brought this on?" he
asked, gripping her carotid pulse point with a few fingers. "It's fast."

Rosalie just looked at him, struggling more and more.

Gage tried again. "Easy, Rosalie. What's different besides what you
already had going on? Is it a dust allergy?" he said shifting himself to lay
next to her in the small space.

"I just.. can't get....any air." she gasped.

It was then he saw it as he was leaning over Rosalie to loosen clothing
from around her neck. "Sh*t." he said.


"Just keep your head back for a second. I need to check this out."

"Johnny, wh--"

"It's JVD." he gasped, quickly seeing raised jugular veins in the feeble
lighting of the torches. His alarm grew rapidly.

"Ohh...please no." she groaned.

"Quiet for a second. Let me listen to ya." he ordered, ripping her uniform
open down to the T-shirt. He placed an ear onto her chest just below
and to the left of her breast bone. "It's muffled." he said. "It's your heart.
Not your lungs."

"Johnny, I don't--" she started, gripping his hair in her hands.

Gage lifted his head, frightened.
"You're tamponading, Rosalie. That hard knock you took to your chest from
that brick must have ruptured a slow leak into your pericardium. We have
to go back for all the medical gear so I can treat you!" he said, beginning
to panic as he considered the actual distance they had travelled.

"W-Won't it go away if I just a bit?" she panted.

Gage shook his head. "And I'm afraid I've made it worse by letting you
exert yourself like I did. I knew I should have checked you out a little closer
yesterday morning." he self chided, holding her face softly in his hands.

"M-My fault. I...brushed you off." she insisted.

"No, it's mine. I'm the senior provider. I should have known better." he
told her, breathing fast. "Now,.. there's no time to waste. I'm going back
for the trauma box. Stay upright or you'll start to suffocate." he instructed.

"...okay.." she gasped, her eyes rolling, as she snatched at her own clothing,
trying to find breathing room.

Johnny could see she was already getting a little cyanotic around her lips
and mouth."I'm grabbing the oxygen, too. I'll be right back." he promised.

Rosalie's fumbling fingers fell onto a squarish lump in her jacket pocket and
a look of horror washed over her face, casting it a ghastly white.

"Rosalie?" Johnny asked, taking over her airway control firmly with both
hands. "Slow and steady."

She swept his hands away, copious tears beginning. "" she sobbed.
"I forgot we had it? I'm so...sorry."

"Had what?" Johnny asked quickly.

"This..." she sighed."In my pocket. It's an instruction manual.." Arnold panted.
" the new biophone."

Johnny's mouth worked in shock. "Wait a minute, are you saying we have a--
I didn't see one!" he insisted, scared and stunned.

"I should have remembered it.." she coughed. "I think we grabbed it out with us,
Johnny,.. thinking it was a....splints box." she gasped. "It's a new...model or something.
I...didn't have time to read the book before...all of this happened. I'm sorry I-- It wasn't

"You had a lot on your mind. A tidal wave doesn't leave any room for thinking."
Johnny reached into her pocket for the booklet and snatched it open. "So it's black.
No wonder it didn't register with me, what it was."

Rosalie tried to sit up, choking weakly.

Johnny held her still against the wall. "Don't move. I'll prop you up a little more. Then
I'm going." he told her.

", J-- I'm so scared." Arnold panicked, reaching out to him.

"Shhh.." said Gage softly. "Calm down. The lower your blood pressure is, the slower
the increase in swelling that's going on. There's most likely blood pooling around
your heart. But you're doing fine. Your heart's still slippery as an eel inside of its sac
and that's good." He gently grasped her face in his hands and he held the two of them
together, forehead to forehead. "There's still time." he told her. "You've had this up to
three days already, so how bad can it be? Huh?" he encouraged, his eyes suddenly
brimming over with cascading tears as a soft desperation began to color his voice.

Rosalie tried to smile, keeping her eyes closed. " can fix this?" she panted.

"Pericardiocentesis. Yes, I can fix it. It takes about ten minutes." he said, taking both
her shoulders and leaning her back into a better supporting niche in the wall.

"Go.." she finally sighed, trying not to pant. "Then hurry back." she whispered, feeling
a heavy numbing weakness filling her as hypoxia began to take a firmer hold. She
pressed her flashlight into his hand.

Johnny Gage paused cheek to cheek with her, holding her tenderly. "I love you."
he sobbed, kissing her cold, perspiration drenched forehead.

Rosalie felt him strip off his jacket to spread over her, and then he was gone,
taking the light with him.
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From: patti k (
Sent: Thu 12/30/10 6:27 PM
Subject: Fine Tuning..

Henry was barking up a storm. His face was planted up to the shoulders into a crack
at the bottom of a "V" in a collapsed slab of freeway. It took both Marco and Chet to
collar haul him out of it to make way for the USAR team and their heat imager. Even
Robert Cooper couldn't keep the sound of excitement out of his own voice that was
so prevalent inside of the dog's. "See anything?" he asked the firefighter standing in
the long depression.

The dusty jacketed lieutenant's eyes lit up along with the infrared scan. "I have positive
intact figure silhouetting and it's showing as having survivable body temperatures."

"How many?"


"All right people." ordered Cooper. "Test this whole area for large equipment instability.
I want to know if this fractured roadway can handle up to a lifting crane's weight. Mapping?"

"Yes, sir." replied another fireman.

"Work with the scannerman. See if you triangulate the distance depth our victim's buried.
I want it estimated to the nearest millimeter"! he barked swiftly.

Hank Stanley immediately got on his handy talkie. "Engine 51 to CA-2. We've at least one
live victim under significant entrapment. Please respond a heavy equipment crew with
jack hammers."

Chet was beside himself. "Think it's him?" he asked Cap, trying to hold back a lathered
Henry who was getting overprotective of the rescue area he had found.

Hank almost didn't meet his eyes. "Either that or somebody he was with recently."

Robert wasn't through yet. "Who's got the gas sniffer?" he followed up with his team.

"I do." said a big fireman.

"Read for carbon dioxide higher than the ambient air." Robert ordered.

The fireman readjusted the handheld machine and stuck a long rodded probe deep into
the crack. "33.4, sir. Whoever's down there is still breathing." he announced.
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Nearby, Cap closed his eyes in instant relief. "Another survivor.." he sighed.

"Yeah, but who? Is it Rosalie or Johnny?" Chet asked.

Hank swallowed dryly. "We won't know that until we dig them out of there, now will we?
Gang,.." he told his crew. "..make yourselves useful, this waiting game is over for us. Nobody
can say we don't know how to dig." he encouraged them. "Time is critical. Now more than
ever. Grab tools. Whatever you need from whereever you need. Don't hold back. And..

Marco, Stoker and Kelly nodded and took off running for USAR's equipment trailer with
a barely controlled urgency.

Cap paced over to Robert's side and stood there, helping to oversee the newly escalating
operation. "So how long are we talking about until we reach that air pocket?" he asked.

Robert looked at him, pursing his lips. "I can't guess that. But I can tell you a rate of progress.
It's an inch an hour once we melt through the surface asphalt to get to the reinforced concrete
bed underneath."

Hank shifted with impatience, displeased.

Robert eyed him up firmly. "But we won't need a big hole right away to start maintaining good
life support. Access to an arm and a face is all we need, Hank."

Cap guessed. "I.V.s and oxygen delivery?"

"Yes. And for manual respiratory support if it's needed."

"I'll call in a squad early. You never know. We might get lucky and break through a little faster."
Cap decided. "Engine 51, L.A.. Respond paramedics to our location on emergency standby.
We have signs of an entrapped live victim at Caisson One."

##10-4, Engine 51. L.A. out. 13:03.##
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Brice, Bellingham and DeSoto were sitting in the CHiPs briefing room after having cared for
their last group of walk-in tsunami evacuees. They were in the midst of cleaning up. Suddenly
it was a race for the fire department HT set up on top of the podium when the tones went off.
Brice and Bellingham were too slow.

Roy DeSoto held it up into both of his trembling hands as they all waited with bated hopeful
breath, that this was the call they had been waiting for. It was.

##L.A., Squad 51. Respond to USAR Base of Operations at Caisson One, at the Vincent
Thomas Toll Bridge collapse site.  You will be on medical standby for a newly activated
search and rescue operation. Engine 51 reports a viable victim trapped underground.##

Roy forced calm into his reply, knowing the whole fire department world at the moment would
be able to hear his voice. "Squad 51, L.A. They copy your assignment and will be reporting to
Caisson One. Note that Mayfair One will also be responding as a backup resource."

"L.A., Squad 51. Acknowledging Squad 51 with Mayfair One. Time out: 13:04.##

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"Let's go!" Roy shouted as Bob and Craig both abandoned their cleaning chores. They took
off for the hallway at a fast clip.

"Good luck." said CHiPs Officer, Sargeant Joe Gatraer, a little belatedly as they disappeared
around the corner. He began smiling when he realized the summons meant that there
was a very high probability of a survivor that they could save.

Just then, Bonnie Clark and Artie Grossman walked in the door with more ready to eat
meals inside of boxes.  They both expressed surprise at Joe's good mood.

Gatraer simply pointed to the paramedics' vacant chairs.

Grossie grinned from ear to ear. "Well all right! That's the best reason of all to take over
someone else's clean up detail, isn't it Bonnie?" he chuckled, anticipating the order his
boss was about to give.

Bonnie beamed. "Will we know when they know?" she wondered.

"Count on it." replied Joe. "Ponch and Jon are all over this thing." he said, lifting up his
own scanning walkie talkie.

"Turn it up, Sarge. So we can hear it." said Artie.

Joe frowned at Grossman's familiarity.

"Uh,...sir." Grossie corrected himself contritely at the look. "Please?"

Joe softened his gaze's challenge and did their request up one better. He turned on the
base station radio in the room and flicked on the overhead intercom speakers. They began
to play back the fire department frequencies throughout all of Headquarters, CHiP Central.

Officers station wide paused in whatever they were doing briefly until they figured it out
that the traffic going on was a definite survivor rescue in progress. Soon, their happy
babble about it reached Joe's ears in the briefing room and that made him smile even

Sargeant Gatraer sat back into the podium's chair and folded his arms across his tan
uniformed chest with deep satisfaction. "Okay, Poncherello and Baker, what other rabbits
are you going to pull out of your motorcycle helmets today? For once, you two are
proving absolutely astounding for fellow officer morale." he mumbled with pride and


Ponch and Jon stood on the cliff overlooking the bridge site where they could see
everything going on from their high vantage point. Frank gestured to the knot of rescuers
focused over the crack in the V-bent roadway. "That dog actually found them!" he
said, pleased with himself.

"One of them." said Jon, pointing to his radio for clarity.

"Okay, one of them." But then he looked puzzled. "But why there? That's hundreds of
feet from where we calculated they'd be." he said.

Baker shrugged as he watched the massive digging operation taking shape below
them. "Maybe Johnny and Rosalie had a very good reason for moving from where
they first ended up. That's a good sign down there, Ponch. That means that one
or both were healthy enough to be mobile for at least a little while in spite of
being underground."

Ponch refused to be reassured. "Nah, something's just not right here, Jon." he insisted,
listening to his instincts. "I'm still telling you that the center of that caisson core
is absolutely the best and safest possible place to be right now in a post collapse
situation. There's gotta be someone there."

Baker frowned. "You mean someone other than Johnny or Rosalie?"

"Yeah. Makes sense, doesn't it? That's the only reason I can think of that'll drive an
EMT and a paramedic out of solid shelter in the middle of a dangerous disaster scene."
Frank reasoned.

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Officer Jon Baker's frown deepened as he considered. "I know it would us."

"Okay then. Let's go share our new idea with the fire department captains and see
what they think." Frank nodded.

"Right on, partner. You took the words right out of my mouth." Baker agreed.


A few minutes later, Frank and Jon were in deep debate with Station 51's commander.

"But, sir!" said Frank to Cap. "That's not where he is!" Ponch insisted.

Hank just shot incredulous eyes at the diggers surrounding the fissure that Henry the
hound had found. "Well somebody's stuck down there." he shot back at the Hispanic

"Captain, look." said Poncherello more reasonably. "Maybe he was down there and
that's what your dog picked up on. That's not the point. Jon and I have reason to
believe that Rosalie and Johnny aren't the only ones here." he said, gestured at the
whole caisson expansely.

That took Cap aback. "Explain that, officer. Best you can." he encouraged.

Jon and Ponch both began to describe their gut feeling. "That wave may have killed
EMT Mel Turner. But it certainly didn't wash away the others out of the ambulance
or Henry never would have found any active scent now, you follow?"

Baker took up that angle, trying to be clear. "They walked themselves out, Captain.
Isn't that what you firemen do all of the time? Walk into danger looking for victims?"

Something almost sad crossed Hank's face. "Especially Gage." he whispered.
Then he blinked and shook himself as he held up a gloved finger. "All right. Tell you
what. I'll have my man, Kelly, take Henry one more circuit around this whole pile.
Just looking for another strong scent clue." he capitulated.

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"That's all we ask." said Jon Baker.

Ponch's eyes looked worn and frail. "We owe it to anybody else who may still be
unaccounted for out here.. We're still inside a survivable time period for people. Even
if they've had no food or water since it all happened."

Cap ungloved his hand and whistled piercingly using fingers and teeth, turning every
head at the rescue site. "We're refocusing a team to re-examine the core area. There's
a thought the missing Mayfair crew may have been moving around after finding other
victims. We're going to check it out at the most likely used, safe sheltering spots."

Cooper nodded. "Meyers, Thompson. Go with them with the infrared. If that dog
sniffs out another hot spot, let me know a.s.a.p." He ordered the two firefighters.

They nodded and joined Lopez, Stoker and Kelly by the engine who were gearing
up with ropes. And Henry.

Mike left his radio monitoring post inside of Engine 51. "I'll be Safety." he volunteered.

"And I'll scout out ahead for any instabilities in front of them with a probe." said Lopez.

"And I'll be watching all three of you." said Hank. "Keep your HTs on!" Stanley said,
the ultimate firefighting mother hen.

Ponch grinned, big. Then he shrugged at the captain, indicating himself and his partner.
"Extra pair of eyes?" he offered.

Hank angled his head. "I'm not your supervisor enough to try and stop you." he grinned.
"Watch your backs!"

"We will." said Jon Baker.

Then he and Ponch carefully picked their way over the dusty concrete rocks and jumbled
bits of torn suspension cable wire threads, nimbly following in Henry the Bassett's footsteps,


Cooper looked over a jack hammer operator's shoulder and tapped him to get his attention.
The man glanced up at the USAR commander instantly."How does it feel?" Robert asked.

"Slow going." said the construction worker. "I'd be surprised if we break through to the victim
within forty eight hours."

"Two days?" Cooper gaped.

"That's right. You see this top layer ain't the only one we gotta chip through. There's a second
one that's completely unfractured and still intact, lying pancaked underneath it."

Robert's face began to growl.

The worker thought fast. "But if you get me some TNT- I'll--"

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