A throat cleared at the end of the hallway. The three men looked up
saw Mike's wife standing at the corner. John and Roy took a
step toward her. She watched their expressions.
"Is he okay, guys?"
"Mrs. Stoker?" Brackett walked over to her stretching his hand
"I'm Doctor Brackett, Mike's physician. Pleased to meet you."
She took the offered hand and shook
"Will he be okay?"
"He's in critical condition but doing okay for now. We're waiting
for his current x-rays. He's had surgery to repair a tear in his
liver and we have him hooked
up to a heart monitor to keep an eye on
that. We've given him something so that his heart doesn't
work so hard and he has lost a lot of blood, so he's getting blood.
It's touch and go
for the moment, but he'll be okay."
She looked into Roy's blue eyes and then into Johnny's. Johnny
lowered his head guiltily and leaned heavily on the wall.
"Can I see him?"
"In a minute.
We have a tech crew in there with him at the moment,
so as soon as they're done you can go in." Brackett
looked at the
two paramedics, "I'm gonna go check on Hank. I want to make sure he
those stitches out again."
"Thanks, Doc," both men responded.
Mike's wife stepped over
to her husband's station members, not taking
her eyes off Johnny. Roy pulled a chair over for her
to sit in.
Johnny refused to look her in the eye, his guilt weighing heavily on
Roy helped her into the chair.
"Ah, I'm gonna go call Joanne and have her come back. I don't
you sitting here by yourself."
"Thanks Roy," she responded. When his footsteps receded
she spoke to
the dark haired paramedic. "What happened, Johnny? You won't look
me in the eye."
He hesitated a moment and then looked into the pretty
woman's face. He could see why Mike loved her,
she was something to
"The wind was really bad. My gut told me there was going to be
trouble and I didn't listen to it. We should have waited." He slid
down the wall next to her
chair putting his hands into his hair and
resting his elbows on his knees.
"This doesn't sound
like you, John." She put her hand on his
shoulder. "I would expect this of Roy, but not you. Since
you guys ever 'waited' when someone was in trouble?"
Johnny nodded, "I guess you're
right. It was horrible to see though.
All four of the guys ..." he let the sentence drop.
saw Hank's wife on the way up. Chet and Marco are doing okay I
hear, too." She pulled his hands away
from his face and saw that his
eyes were red rimmed and full of tears. "It's not your fault."
"But ..." She took hold of his hand and squeezed it.
"Look, you can't control the wind any more
than you can control the
sun. Now stop blaming yourself."
"That's what I've been telling
him," Roy said as he entered the
hallway. "Joanne will be here in a few minutes. Her mom will stay
with the kids so she can be with you."
Several people filed out of Mike's
room followed by Dixie. Mike's
wife and Johnny stood up.
"Can we go in now?" Johnny asked.
"Yea, only for a little bit though. You two should go home, you look
right you know," Mike's wife grinned at the two men.
"No, we'll stick around here for a little
while." Roy said.
"Suit yourself, I just don't have any spare rooms for exhausted
Dixie smiled. "Mike is gonna be fine."
The nervous trio walked into Mike's
room. Mike's wife gasped at the
sight of her husband surrounded by so much medical equipment. "Oh
Instinctively, Roy and Johnny checked the various monitors. Both let
out a loud
sigh of relief when they saw that Mike was stable. Roy
took Mike's wife's hand since he was closest
to her. "He's going
to be just fine. Some time and some TLC and he'll be back on his
back to being himself in no time."
Mike's wife knew that Roy and Johnny wouldn't lie to her.
Johnny pasted his best Gage grin on and said, "Of course we do."
let out a sigh of relief as she sat down, "Thank
Before anybody could say anything
else, the door to Mike's
room flew open again. Roy and Johnny quickly snapped around
what to expect. Dixie ran in, "Guys, I need you
Worried Mike's wife asked, "Dixie,
is everything okay?"
Dixie replied quickly, "Everything's fine. The guys are okay,
is a certain ornery Captain that isn't taking my nurses'
word that Mike is okay."
chuckled lightly, "Boys, tell Hank everything is fine.
I'll stop up and see him later."
said, "You bet."
Johnny turned back toward the sleeping engineer. "You just
worry about getting
better Mike, we'll take care of Cap."
Mike seemed to relax more as the guys turned and quickly
Johnny asked, "Dix, what room?"
two are our last hope of getting him to rest without full
Roy said, "We'll take
care of him."
The guys swept away the fact that they were tired and took off at full
towards the steps. Everybody that was in their way smartly moved.
The guys would have knocked them
over if they didn't. In less then two
minutes the guys were on the fourth floor.
hard to find Hank's room. As soon as they opened the door they
heard, "I don't care what you say!
I want to know how my engineer is
before I do anything else."Roy and Johnny looked at each other
quickly sped toward their agitated Captain's room.
Once they were there, Roy said to
the nurse who had been trying in vain
to calm Hank down, "We'll take care of him from here."
nurse said smugly, "Good luck." and left.
Johnny closed the door. Hank seemed to calm immediately
as the guys stood
on either side of his bed. His voice shook slightly as he asked, "How is
Roy said calmly, "He's going to be just fine, Cap. We just left him. He
seems to be resting comfortably.
The surgery went fine. His wife is
Hank laid his head back on the pillow, "Thank
Johnny tried to hide the sadness in his eyes, "Now Cap, you know you
have to be
nice to the nurses around here."
Hank blushed, "I know. I guess with everything that happened,
flipped. Needed to hear it from you two."
Roy said, "Cap, everybody's gonna be fine."
Hank sat back up and looked at his two paramedics. "How are you two?"
Roy and Johnny scoffed
but Hank's glare wouldn't let them go.
Roy answered first, "Physically okay. Mentally and emotionally
Johnny took a quick breath, "Physically beat. Mentally and..."
Johnny's breath caught
in his throat, "Beating myself up."
Hank focused on his youngest charge, "John, look at me." Johnny
looked Hank in the eye. Hank continued, "None of this is your
fault, pal. I know we're in pieces
now, but we'll be okay.
Listen to your Cap. Go back to Roy's get some rest and if you
can talk about things more tomorrow. Right now you
need to relax."
Johnny tried to relax
but still couldn't find his voice. Hank
continued, "Pal, trust me. Nobody blames you for any of
Johnny finally asked shaken, "Are you sure?"
Hank took the young man's hands, "I'm
positive, pal." Hank
looked at his two medics, "Now listen to your Captain, GO HOME!
eat. Got it?"
Roy and Johnny chuckled as they both answered, "Yes, Cap."
Roy added, "Call
us if you need anything."
Hank yawned, "Will do. Now get out of here, ya twits."
Johnny chuckled as they left Hank's room.
Gage whispered as the door
shut. "Say, Roy?"
"I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't feeling
the core. Man.." Johnny groaned, rubbing
his sore eyes, neck and arms. Sighing, he dragged
closest waiting room chair over against the wall
and flopped down wearily.
DeSoto sank with
him into a patient chair parked next
to Hank's shut door. "Do we need to go through
Gage stopped his self ministrations and looked up.
reasons. A critical incident debriefing
session." Roy said frankly.
"I'm not hurt.. I...I...
well okay, I'm a little raw on
the inside. But we didn't lose anybody today, like Cap
you feel I need to see a shrink about all this?"
he asked honestly, still seeking reassurance in the
Roy met his partner's eyes shyly, completely un-paramedic.|
"Not particularly. You're just fried out
physically and that
thinned your protective shell out a bit. Nothing that a little
sleep and food
and one long hot shower, won't cure."
"Okay. Fixing part one right now. Wake me up when Dixie
up for Cap's next vitals check." And he immediately slumped into
a hap hazard slouch and
began snoring loudly.
"Johnny?" DeSoto stared. "Uh..Johnny.. I don't think the nurses
will appreciate having a pair of bloody firemen
crashed along the wall like this. Let's move to a
He shoved Gage's limp arm. "Hey,..can you hear me?"
Johnny was out, deep
in a recovering coma of sleep. The relaxation
that had taken over his face made it younger by at least
Roy smiled. "Guess you can't, by clear choice." he grinned.
Carefully, he rose
and bent over Johnny and picked him up into his
arms and gently carried him into a resident's bed
closet and stretched
him out onto an unused cot. Sighing lightly, Johnny turned onto his
and konked out again. "Cap.. I'm..doing what you asked.. Now
leave me be in p--...." Gage grumbled
Sliding a light blanket over Gage, Roy pulled up a chair in
room by his bedside as he pulled out their squad HT from his pocket,
and slowly turned
it off. ::We're not gonna be on duty for a long, long
time, I'm afraid.:: He thought. ::I should
go shower.. But I don't want
to get too far away from either one of t--.:: Roy fell asleep in mid
Dixie McCall whistled quietly as she organized
the items on her
TPR tray as she left Hank's room. Looking around, she tried to locate
Johnny but found nothing but their helmets resting
on two chairs by Hank's door.
tray on a nearby crash cart, Dixie grinned when she spotted
dried blood on the door knob leading into
the resident's bunkroom.
"Now that was smart. Hospital administrators can't complain about
now. Poor fellas, they must be zonked out by now." Thinking
on a game plan, Dixie headed softly to
the cafeteria for a lot of food.
The rich smell
of pizza woke Johnny first. ::Sausage?:: He opened
his eyes, smiling. "Hey, Marco. I know it's your
time to cook but
this is too m--" he broke off and startled when severe disorientation
memory returned. "Gah..." Johnny groaned, bolting sharply
upright. "I'm still at Rampart. And I hate
knowing the reason why.." he
DeSoto, was snoring next to him, propped against
a shelf full of
unused surgical scrubs where he was seated awkwardly in a tipped
back metal chair.
"Rise and shine..." Gage said loudly, lifting both tray lids off the platters
full of cold pizza.
"FooOOOood." he shouted cheerily. "Come on, Roy.
Wake up. Dixie has already been here and gone.. Look.."
he said, picking up a carbon copy of patient care notes. "She even left
us everybody's progress reports
to mull over while we eat."
Roy startled badly, jumping, then groaning at every bruise and ache
he had stiffening. He snuffled and wiped his mouth. "Anything to
drink? Don't think I can. I'm a little
nauseated to tell you the truth."
Gage tossed his head around in amusement, eyeing up their dim
surroundings. "She's covered that, too. There are two bags of
D5W sitting right over here. Needles
and tubing, too."
"No way.. She can't do that.."
"She just did.. er.. maybe she did sometime
last night." Johnny snorted,
finding the stunt completely hilarious. "Want to stick me first? I'll
get you next."
"In my right arm. While you're doing that, I'll read up for the
both of us."
he said, waving the patient care notes meaningfully. "Who do you want
to know about
"Mike." Roy said instantly, sleepily swabbing down Johnny's arm with
the supplies Dixie
had left neatly laid out. "He was the worst. Not
even breathing right."
"Well he is now." Gage
said, holding still while DeSoto pegged the
antecubital vein in the fold of his elbow.."UmmpHH." he
said at the
sting. "He was pulled off CPAP at three this morning. Vitals holding.
No signs of
tachycardia developing, or respiratory--- Put me on
wide open, pal. I'm really dry."
right up." Roy said, taping off Gage's I.V. line. "Okay, do
me. My tongue's pure sawdust here."
"Okay, hang on. Hang on, I'll get ya. Just let me finishing chewing here.
I can't eat and report at
the same time ya know. Shutup and eat
your pizza while I get yours in.." he snapped.
a wonder Dixie trusted us not to kill ourselves with these things."
Roy scoffed grumpily as Johnny
slid in a twelve gauge catheter
and got a flow going from the I.V. stand with his name on it.
"No paramedic has ever killed his partner..." Johnny insisted, still
chipmunk cheeked with pizza,
while he started checking
and double checking the flow of his intravenous fluid to reassure
that the water and sugar were flowing into his own veins at top
aperature. "Okay, yours is going good.
Tape it off.."
"Hey, I taped yours off."
"I'm busy.." said Johnny, waving the reports around
"Do you wanna hear how they're doing or don'tcha?" Johnny glared.
Roy moused down and began biting off strips of tape to lay across|
his panted leg neatly while he held
down his own I.V. line catheter.
"Well, go on then, I'm listening!"
"Shush..!" Gage said, stuffing
a piece of folded pizza into Roy's
mouth to quiet him down instantly. "I'm about to start up again."
And Johnny proceeded to rattle off vital signs, doctor's notes,
surgical notes and general test
results as fast as he could gather
in the information with his eyes. Eventually, their appetites were
appeased, all three of them.
Soon, sleep returned to the tiny, overheated, dank cubicle. But
two paramedic firefighters holed up inside of it, were smiling
"God bless Joanne DeSoto." Johnny whispered.
"Hmmm?" Roy sat up blearily and looked at his
partner who held up a
neat stack of folded, clean clothes along with a note.
and started to read the note aloud. "Honey?" Looking
at Roy he gasped. "Roy, your wife's sweet on
Snatching the note, Roy grumbled, "Give me that!" Rubbing his eyes he
continued to read.
"We must have just missed her. She had to head
home but wanted to bring by some clothes. She even
stopped at your
apartment. You owe her big, junior."
Johnny nodded. "Painting the guestroom
or fixing the handrail on the
"I'm betting the guestroom. Let's get out of here.
need a shower." Roy pulled the tape from his arm and quickly removed
the IV cannula,
placed a folded piece of gauze on the puncture site
then handed the bandage to his partner to apply.
"I'm not the only cause of the aroma in this room, you know…" Johnny
grumped as he removed his
own IV line and let Roy apply the gauze and
Refreshed from their quick showers the
paramedic duo headed to make
their own rounds to check on the status of their stationmates,
to see Chet and Marco first. Roy quietly pushed the door
open to reveal Chet sleeping, slumped uncomfortably
in the hard vinyl
chair next to Marco's bed. His right arm hung in a sling, and his
wrapped in a soft collar. Despite Chet's apparent
discomfort, he snored softly. The men turned their
attention to Marco
who laid flat on his back in bed, his neck also supported by a soft
He was hooked to a heart monitor that beeped softly, along
with an IV running two different fluids
into his arm. A purple bruise
peeked from beneath a large bandage on his forehead.
man.." Johnny couldn't help but utter at the sight of their two
Chet startled awake.
"Wha-?" He groaned as he tried to sit up looking
over at Marco. "Hey, guys? Marco okay?"
placed a hand on Chet's shoulder to still any further
movement. "Yes he is. How long have you been
in this chair?"
Chet blinked and looked at Marco. "I don't know. A while I guess."
Johnny shook his head. "Let's get you back in bed. Can you stand?"|
Chet gave him an irritated
look. "I got here by myself, Gage. No big
deal." He moved to stand but gasped and sat back. "Okay.
I seemed to
have stiffened up a bit." He closed his eyes and groaned.
Roy and Johnny helped
the man to his feet, then shuffled him slowly
to his own bed where he lay back with one last groan.
"Man, I pulled
muscles I didn't know I had." He rested his head back on his pillow,
"Sleeping in that chair didn't help, Chet."
Chet tried to glance over at his friend but his
it. "Marco had a bad night, man. He was hurting."
The paramedics nodded but
didn't speak as they watched Chet drift
back to sleep as he finally found a comfortable position.
to Marco's side when they saw him stir.
"Hey, Marco." Johnny smiled. "How are you
Marco Lopez accepted the sip of water Roy offered. "I don't really
tell you the truth. I hurt all over, but I got some good
stuff last night." He tested his fingers
and toes by wiggling and
stretching. "Just glad to be able to do that. I admit it guys, I've
been so scared in my life. I woke up and I couldn't move and it
"Yeah, we know.
You had every right to be scared." Roy patted his
"I'd rather fight a three alarm
fire any day. How are the guys?"
"We're on our way to check on Cap. He was doing pretty well last
night, but just really worried about everyone. He has some bad road
burn and lacerations on his
legs, but he was lucky. He might get to
go home today if Brackett lets him. He hasn't exactly been
patient." Johnny grinned. "And Mike's holding his own. He stabilized
last night after
giving us a bit of a scare."
Marco was quickly tiring as evidenced by his drooping eyelids. "Glad
he's doing better." He moved his eyes towards Chet's bed, unable to
turn his head to look. "I
was worried about Chet. He had a bad night
and was really hurting."
Roy and Johnny exchanged
amused glances at the familiar words and
watched Marco fall back asleep. They both knew the bond
firemen shared was every bit as tight as their own. It was just how
Partners who watched each other's backs, whether they
be paramedics, hose-jockeys, or Captains and
Leaving Chet and Marco's room, the two paramedics made
their way to
see their Captain. Entering his room, they saw a calmer and well-
Stanley sitting up in his bed and talking to Doctor
"Hey Cap," they both called
out in unison.
"Roy...John. You guys are here early."
Brackett looked first at the two
paramedics and then at Hank before
smiling wistfully. "They never left, Hank."
"You mean you
guys have been here all night?"
Roy smiled at his boss. "Where else *would* we be, Cap?"
Hank on the shoulder, Kel smiled. "I'll be back to check on
you later. Roy, Johnny...I'd suggest
that you find your way home
soon...and get some much needed rest."
After Brackett left the
room, the two medics came closer to Hank's
bed and pulled up some chairs.
better, Cap. Feeling better?"
"I am, John. Doctor Brackett informed me that Mike is stable and
are Chet and Marco." Hank took a moment to observe his two
friends. "I couldn't imagine how
much of a nightmare this whole
thing must have been for you two."
Roy, ever the practical
one, answered. "Well truthfully...it wasn't
easy Cap, but we did what we needed to do to get through
just be glad that we all *did* manage to get through it."
After visiting with Hank
for awhile, Roy and Johnny decided to head
"We'll be by later, Cap."
Do me a favor, fellas...take care of yourselves."
Johnny smiled wearily before answering. "We'll
do our best."
Leaving Hank's room, they headed to the ICU to try to see Mike. They
that he was presently stable, but needed rest, but they
could come back later in the day to see him.
So, they headed back
downstairs. Arriving in the ER, they were greeted by Officer Vince
"Gentlemen, I have my orders to make sure that you arrive safely back
to your station. I am your
Too tired to argue, the two paramedics wearily followed Vince out to
patrol car. The trip back to the station was done in silence.
Pulling around to the back of the
station, Vince dropped off his
"Get some rest fellas. The two of you have an awful
lot of people
concerned about you."
Johnny, who was never at a loss for words could only nod
his his head.
"Thanks for the lift, Vince."
"No problem, Roy."
Once Vince was gone,
Roy and Johnny stood in the parking lot for a
few moments pondering what to do next.
do we do now?"
The senior paramedic let out a slight chuckle. "I was kinda hoping
have some ideas."
Johnny shook his head. "Sorry, partner...I'm toast."
we could always just crash here at the station for
awhile. It's not like we're gonna have anyone
or anything bothering
Nodding his head in agreement, Johnny followed his partner into
Before entering the dorms, they stopped in the kitchen and looked
Everything was still left as it had been from the evening
before when they were called out on that
"Well Pally...let's get some sleep."
"Right behind ya, Junior."
The two overly exhausted paramedics made their way to the
their beds, in hopes of getting some much needed
sleep. Taking off his clothes and lying them on
the foot of his bed,
Roy climbed in and pulled the covers up to his neck, letting out
"Feels *so* good to be in the bed, huh Johnny."
When his partner didn't answer,
Roy turned his head and looked in
the direction of his friend...he saw Johnny, just sitting on his
not even attempting to get in the bed and try to get any rest. He saw
the tears that had
started to roll down Johnny's face.
**Oh great, he's blamin' himself for this**
back up in bed, Roy turned on his side and leaned on his elbow,
as he softly said, "The guys are
gonna be okay Junior. And if you're
blamin' yourself for this...stop it...now...it isn't your fault."
Johnny just sat there, slightly rocking back and forth as he wiped his
Finally speaking, Johnny softly said, "You...you really think so...I wish |
I was...as confident as...as
you are...and it *is* my fault... my gut...I
should'a... should'a listened to it...and now..."
Stopping his friend, Roy said, "Johnny...just stop a minute and listen
to me. I know there have
been...a few...times when your gut feelings
turn out to be right...and we've all had those, it just
comes with the job
I guess. But, just think of all the times when you've been wrong. You
cause this and neither you...or me...could'a stopped what happened."
Standing and unmaking his
bed and taking off his clothes, Johnny said,
"Well...maybe *one* day...I'll be able to believe that.
But it won't be
Getting in bed, Johnny pulled his covers up to his chest
and threw his
left arm over his eyes as he was finally able to drift off to sleep...he
he wouldn't have any nightmares, but he wasn't betting on it.
Back at the hospital,
Doctor Brackett was in ICU, checking on Mike.
As he was writing some information in the Engineer's
chart, his attention
was drawn to the heart monitor.
"PVC's...Mike, don't do this!...V-fib?"
Going to the door, Kel shouted, "I need Doctor Early in here, stat!"
Going back over to
the bed, Kel started CPR.
With one elbow hitting the Code Blue button on the wall and
other hand jerking out the pillow that lay beneath Mike's
head, Kel started active resuscitation.
He rolled Stoker long
enough to place a CPR board under him that angled his
head back swiftly and
provided a firm support on the soft
Dr. Brackett rechecked Mike's light oropharyngeal
had been left in place by the Recovery Room staff but it was still
doing its job well.
Oxygen from a hastily placed ambu bag rapidly
filled Stoker's lungs with two breaths, quickly delivered,
when Brackett saw no natural chest rise at all, once Mike's airway
was assured in alignment.
checking the finding on the EKG monitor, he dug in fingers,
feeling over Mike's carotid artery to
re-affirm the lack of a pulse. The
coarse V-Fib was real and not a fallen lead's artifact.
the h*ll? What did the surgical team miss? His liver
repair was a textbook case!.:: his reasoning
But then the little voice in his head spoke again. This time in
the quiet mental
voice Kel always dreaded when it came.
::Did you think to check for rhabdomyolysis?:: it said as his
swept over the pale, sweaty skin of Mike's chest and abdomen that
he had bared of sheets.
::More than enough of Stoker's
muscles are bruised and battered to account for a
imbalance. But I ordered bicarb to counteract
that. So this pulselessness is inexplicable.. What's
his eyes found another synergistic cause hanging over Mike's bed.
Lactate line started in the field was still that kind of
fluid post surgical for Mike's I.V. ::Oh
no, this arrest is a potassium
surge in full swing?::
Throwing the mask aside, Kel flattened
the bed to level and
grunted in full fury as he began chest compressions sharply
over Mike's sternum.
::Now who the h*ll didn't follow my orders
to change out that I.V. to D5W/Normal Saline? That's
the potassium problem now.. And Mike's dying here
because of it!::
His wandering hurried glance
at the door while he bobbed up
and down with CPR caught the telltale rhythm of peaked T-waves,
QT intervals, and some ST segment depressions before
the big PVCs on the pooling EKG strip falling
into the catch bin in
the feet of paper. Mike's V-Fib was still scrolling out in ink, growing
despite Brackett's tightly focused CPR.
::I'm right. Too much potassium! Which accounts for that fatal
arrythmia I saw just before he crashed and this levelling now.::
Kel reached up and snatched down
Mike's I.V. bag from its pole, dialing
the flow to stop. Then he ripped the liquid reservoir off
of its spiked tubing
and violently threw it across the room. Holding the clamped line in between
teeth, Kel kept working on Mike, swearing up a storm.
Brackett was into his third set of
bagged breaths and compressions
when the code team and Dr. Early rushed into the room. "Kel!"
communicated alarm and a question into that one tiny word.
Brackett moved aside as two orderlies
took over Mike's CPR and
he brandished Mike's bagless I.V. line in the air. "Ringer's! Post
along with the muscular bruising effect we knew to expect.
It's now hyperkalemia accelerated!"
Joe hurried into the crash cart two nurses brought alongside the bed.
"It's not his bruising so much,
Kel. His urine's not dark yet." Early said,
noticing the foley bag hanging under the bedframe. "He
easy to turn around. Nothing's physically gotten crushed on him."
"Yeah, well, we're
not helping matters any pounding on his chest
now are we?" Brackett growled.
Joe was swift and sure.|
"Here's what we'll do. I'll start another I.V. subclavian of Normal
Hand me a 1000cc bag, would ya? Dial it wide open.
We'll try calcium chloride at 5 mL of 10% solution
IV over two minutes."
"Add one amp sodium bicarb too!" Kel snarled, still very angry at
medical mistake playing horribly out before their eyes. "Then
two amps 1/10,000 epinephrine I.V. push."
"Then I'll defib." Joe agreed as the two nurses in the room hastily
assembled the supplies and
syringes. "Keep it sharp." he told the
two orderlies. "His heart's lost its muscle tone completely."
"Defibrillate! 400 watt seconds!" Kel ordered.
"Everybody clear?" Early asked.
confirmed. "Clear.." he indicated
while the others centered Mike onto his back, whose color had
washed into a bluish ghost of its prior shade.
Early gelled the paddles and waited for the charger
"One. Two. Three... Clear!"
Everyone lifted their hands off of Stoker.
delivered his first shock.
The heart monitor indicator leaped but didn't convert, instead
fell into the first seen course V-fib again.
"No conversion.." he announced. "Recharging.." he
the power up switch once more.
Again, Early defibrillated. To no avail.
The two orderlies instantly continued their CPR.
Brackett snapped out
an order. "I want an arterial blood
gas and a potassium screen A.S.A.P!"
A charge nurse picked
up the phone to summon the lab.
"Kel, we've no recapture..Insert an endotracheal airway.." Joe
his voice tight with stress.
"Got it.." Brackett said, grabbing for the laryngoscope
and ET setup.
"After he's tubed, administer 1 mg 1/10,000 epinephrine I.C. and
Early's head lifted. "I'm on it!"
Frantic minutes went by with several more shocks.
swiftly stabbed home the I.C. injection while the others
watched tensely. A bead of perspiration
formed on his upper
lip as he concentrated and pushed the plunger carefully, then
he withdrew the
syringe."Okay, I'm out." he said, eyeing up the long
needle for any part of it that might have broken
off on a rib.
None was missing.
"Continue CPR." Brackett ordered.
The phone rang and
a nurse picked it up. "Doctor.
His potassium's 30-50 mmHg,...4-6.5 kPa. PaO2's 98%"
roared. "I want a calcium chloride DRIP at 5 mL of 10%
solution IV, NOW!"
It was done.
Kel took the paddles from Joe and made sure he was
connecting firmly over Mike's sweating skin. He
This time, a tentative recaptured heartbeat began to flute on
Weak and wavering.
"He's finally balanced.." Joe said.
"So it was just the I.V. solution."
"Got a pulse?" Early asked the orderly as they started suctioning
Mike's endotrachael tube as a precaution.
"Yeah, it's grower stronger, doc." said one.
relaxed around Mike, except for his ventilator.
Slowly, Kel reached up and slowed the potassium
a crawl. "The effect of this should last half an hour to an hour to
control any more
electrolyte induced arrythmias. Add Sodium
Bicarbonate 1 mEq/kg piggyback to prevent a repeat of
"Yes, doctor." said a nurse.
Now Joe's eyes were as troubled as Kel's as they
drew away from
Stoker's bed. "Who made the error in hanging that I.V.?"
"I don't know, but
I'm sure as h*ll gonna find out." Brackett vowed.
and on a mission Brackett stormed out of the cubicle.
He made a beeline for the nurses' station. He
made such a noise
the nurse on duty looked up. "Doctor Brackett..."
Kel cut the nurse off as
he barked. "I want a list of any and
all visitors and staff in the unit for the last day and I want
The nurse became extremely concerned. "Of course sir, what
not exactly sure, but it almost cost a patient his life
and I want to find out NOW!"
over. "He's stable, Kel. I am going to stay close,
for a bit just to make sure."
"Thanks Joe. Somehow or another I have to go try
to explain this to a very worried group of close
Joe's face dropped. He knew how close the men of A shift were.
"If they want to talk
to me, just holler. I'll be up here."
"Thanks Joe and thanks again for your help."
do anything, you did all the work."
Kel turned back to the nurse. "I will be downstairs, I want
that list STAT!"
The nurse swallowed hard. "Yes sir."
Concerned, confused and shaken, Kel
finally turned and left
the unit. He never liked to deliver bad news. He despised
it even more
when the news involved a friend. He didn't
have to go far to find the remaining ambulatory members
of A shift. They were less then 200 yards from the
Marco and Cap may have been in their patient rooms
recovering, but Kel knew that once he shared Mike's
development, they'd try that walking, actively. To see Stoker's
situation for themselves. So
he planned ahead, and got a couple
of orderlies to flank him discreetly to stand outside their patient
doors. He asked them to wait across the hall, watching whatever
Station 51 crew door Brackett
happened to enter.
Inwardly, Kel was half pleased that Roy and Johnny were no longer
If they had been, they would have come running at the
sound of Stoker's Code Blue page that had echoed
over the intercom
a few minutes ago.
He first targetted Cap's room. Dixie, checking the duty
at the main desk on Mike's ICU floor, whipped on a pantomimed finger
drawn on fake
huge smile in a reminder to Brackett to kill his own angry
frown of frustration before he opened
Hank was up out of bed again, but listening to advice to keep his restitched
elevated in the recliner by the window. He had a plastic wrapped package
in his hands, on his lap.
It was his own hospital returned bloodied fire fighter
uniform and badge, along with those of Chet's,
Marco's... and Stoker's.
::County property.:: Kel mused. ::But not saved as evidence by the fire
department accident investigators. Well that's a good sign following a
crashed fire engine.:: he decided.
"Hey, doc. How's it going?" Stanley said, looking up from the sunny dawn
he had been looking at
without seeing out the window.
Brackett perched on the edge of Cap's restlessly messed up patient
"I just came from Mike's room."
"What? What's the matter? Did he have a set back?" Hank
getting agitated and nervous. "Where's his wife?"
"She's with him. And he's
resting comfortably. Joe's at his side, monitoring his
Somehow I think you don't mean from his crash injuries when you're
saying that." Cap whispered.
"That's true, Captain. I'm not. May I be frank with you?"
"As long as it doesn't involve any lawyers.."
Hank joked. His bruised smile died
away when Kel's expression didn't match his own. Cap cleared his
throat and set
the uniforms pack aside. Nervously, he laced together fingers onto his stomach with
artificial casualness. "Okay, give it to me straight, doc. I'm used to hearing the worst
things. It's part of my job description."
"What I have to tell you isn't going to be easy, Mr.
Stanley. It most likely involves
human error on the part of somebody working for me." Kel shared seriously.
"What? No, wait. I did get that. It's just a little shocking here. Um--."
Brackett let out
a huge sigh and folded Stoker's extra chart over his lap. "A support
staff member failed to take certain
steps either in the pre or post surgical phase
and didn't change out Mike's prehospital intravenous
fluid type. As a result, it caused
an electrolyte imbalance which triggered a loss of a viable heart
Hank shifted in his chair, frightened, restless. But he didn't get up. "Are you telling
that Mike almost died from a cardiac arrest?"
"No. He was never in any risk of dying. I
was right there when it happened and I guarantee
to you that he never lost oxygen perfusion. There
will be no brain damage or any other
permanent body effects suffered. We corrected something called
a potassium surge.
As fast as it happened, Mike's problem was rectified in minutes without any danger."
Cap was numb. He said the first thing that came to his mind. "Thank you for saving his
he whispered, in a half joke trying to wrap his brain around what he had
just learned. "Uh,.. Let
me think." he said, biting his lip.
Kel noticed that Hank was sweating a little, in the heat
of the sun. He handed Stanley
a glass of water and a straw from the night stand. "Here. This'll help."
Hank gratefully took a large sip. Then he spoke. "Okay. That's better. This is where I'm
to start. Doc, please don't create any waves for that hospital worker. Mike wouldn't
want that. And
neither would anybody else on my crew. We're not the suing types. Not by
a long shot. I guess it's
because we as firefighters are so close to seeing the results of
human failings all the time."
Brackett kept his peace but he was also honest. "I have to begin an investigation to
satisfy the hospital's
legal services and to eventually appease upstairs administration.
In fact, I'm already expected to
do that as his attending. Whoever treated him wrongly
was practicing under my license and as such,
I'm legally responsible for anything that
happened, however indirectly."
Hank's eyes held no
bitterness. If anything, he looked calm and collected.
"We'll sign a waiver. All of us. Especially
Mike. Absolving blame. It was a mistake, doc.
Not an attempt at murder.." he insisted.
pursed his lips. "In the eyes of management, any medical mistake is a punishable
offense that can't
be easily ignored."
"Will you get fired for this?" Cap asked him, shocked.
"It may come
to that if deliberations determine that a second check by me could
have prevented it." Brackett finally
"That's ridiculous. You didn't do the actual error."
"No, but as head of the E.R. department. I'm responsible for any made by my staff."|
can my men and I do to help?"
"Nothing, Captain. This is out of your sphere of influence entirely,
County policy is very clear on what I and others have to do at this point. I just
you needed to know about all of this first hand."
Hank met Kel's eyes like a scared rabbit. "I
see or rather, I don't see. But I'll bow
to your administrator's discretion of course. And so will
"I hope it won't come to that." Kel told him sadly.
Chet had hung up the phone two minutes earlier. He and Marco were still
swallowing hard at the
news Cap had shared with them.
::Mike's heart stopped?:: Kelly thought in horror. ::My G*d. Where
Roy and Johnny?::
at the station.
After getting several hours of sleep, Roy woke up in somewhat of a haze.
to his right, he noticed that Johnny's bunk was empty. Somewhere in his
haze-filled mind, he was sure
that he remembered his partner following him to
the dorms earlier, and even falling asleep, but now
there was no sign of him.
Slowly, Roy sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. Rolling
head around, he tried to get the kinks out of his neck. Inhaling deeply, he
held his breath
for a few seconds and then exhaled loudly. Getting up, he then
put his pants on and made his way to
Getting no response, Roy made his way to the office. Sitting on
a chair at
Cap's desk, with his feet propped up was Johnny. His face was very pale and he
bags under his eyes.
"Johnny? What's...what's going on?" Roy became very worried after he saw
awful his partner looked.
Looking his best friend in the eye, Johnny started to softly
speak. "I spoke to
Dixie awhile ago...Mike almost died. There was some kind of mix up with his
much potassium...and he went into cardiac arrest."
"He's okay though, right?" Roy asked with concern.
"Dix said he was stable. Brackett and Early got him back."
"So what happened? Brackett would
never make that kind of mistake...not in a
"I don't know, Roy. She wouldn't
go into details."
"The other guys?"
"They're holding their own."
"Don't take this
the wrong way, Junior...and I'm not trying to be funny, but you
look really lousy. Did you manage
to get *any* sleep?"
Johnny sighed softly. "Maybe an hour. I spent most of the night in the
cold pizza we had didn't seem to agree with my stomach."
"Why didn't you wake me up, Johnny?"
"Because I'm okay, Roy...besides, you needed *your* sleep. We should probably
head over to Rampart."
"Roy, don't make a big deal about it. I suggest we wash up and head over. You
Johnny wearily got out of his chair and slowly walked out of the office, leaving
concerned Roy in his wake. A few mintues later, Roy joined his partner in the
gonna be up for this, partner? You really look like you're on your last
*you're* driving. I'll be fine. Mike and the guys are in far worse
shape than *I* am."
the two paramedics washed up and dressed, they made their way to Roy's
truck. Once they were inside
the cab, Roy looked wordlessly over at Johnny
before putting his key into the ignition.
trip to Rampart was made in complete silence. Every few minutes Roy would
look over in Johnny's direction.
Although he, himself wasn't feeling the
greatest, or looking the greatest, he knew Johnny was feeling
and looking one
hundred times worse. At the moment, Johnny's head was resting back on the
his eyes closed.
Arriving at the hospital, Roy parked by the ER entrance.
The dark-haired paramedic lifted his head and opened his eyes. "I kinda figured
stopped moving." Johnny knew what Roy was about to say and cut him
off before he could say it. "I'm
okay, Roy. The guys, they need us...I can't
let 'em down."
The two of them got out of the truck
and made their way into the ER. The first
person they saw was Dixie.
The head nurse's jaw dropped
at seeing how awful the junior paramedic looked.
"Johnny? I know you've been through a lot, but,
my god...you really look awful."
Johnny smiled weakly at her. "I'm okay, Dix. We're here to see
Dixie knew what her two friends had been
going through since the accident,
but she felt that Johnny and Roy needed to know about Mike.
Hesitantly, she said, "Well…you know where the guys are…but I think…"
Seeing the nurse's hesitation,
Johnny and Roy both could feel that something
"But you think what Dix…did somethin'
Finally answering Johnny, Dixie softly replied, "Yeah, something happened.
went into cardiac arrest…someone didn't follow orders when Kel
told them to change the IV to normal
saline after his surgery…he had a build
up of too much potassium."
Not believing what he was
hearing, Roy asked, "Is he alright?"
Hoping to put her friend's minds at ease, Dixie replied,
"Yeah Roy, he's
fine…now. Joe and Kel got him back."
As Johnny stood there listening to the
news once again about his friend, he ran
his hand through his long hair and he could hear his ears
ringing and he felt as if
everything was moving away from him…he started taking deep breaths in
hopes that he wouldn't pass out.
**It's all my fault…I knew I should'a said somethin'…I could'a
all of this**
Johnny was holding on to the desk so tightly to keep himself upright,
knuckles were turning white...this was not lost on Roy and Dixie.
"Johnny, are you
"Yeah...yeah Roy, I'm fine. This is all my fault...when we got that call...the
winds...the feeling I had I...I should'a...should'a said somethin'...to
Cap...let's go...go see Mike."
Roy saw the deep breaths that his best friend was still taking and knew
that Johnny needed to
see a Doctor.
Placing his hand on Johnny's back, Roy looked at Dixie, and asked,
Brackett or Early around?"
Before Dixie could say anything, Johnny looked at Roy, and replied,
"No Roy...I don't...I don't need to see a Doctor...I'm okay...I'm fine...
Johnny thought he had everything under control, but the second he let
go of Dixie's desk, he
quickly realized that he didn't.
**Oh no...I'm goin' down**
Johnny then fell to the floor,
"Johnny...Dix, get one of the Docs...hurry!"|
Just as Dixie came around the desk and started down
the hall, she
saw Kel, who was rushing toward his fallen friend.
Kneeling down beside his
unconscious friend, Kel asked, "Dix, Roy,
"We don't know Kel, he started
to walk away to go see Mike and the
minute he let go of the desk...he went out."
around for a gurney, Kel spotted one down the hall and
looking back at Roy, he said, "Roy, grab that
gurney down there and
we'll take Johnny...let's get 'im into Treatment 3."
Roy stood and
quickly made his way down the hall, grabbed the
gurney and and brought it to a stop beside his still
partner and best friend.
"Help me lift 'im Roy. Dix, go to 3 and get some oxygen
set up and
As Roy and Doctor Brackett carefully lifted Johnny
on to the gurney,
Dixie went ahead of the two and quickly got the O2 ready for her friend,
entering the treatment room, Johnny was left on the gurney as
Dixie placed the nasal cannula on Johnny
and Doctor Brackett
started to examine his friend.
"Dixie, get his vitals."
as Dixie was putting the cuff on Johnny to get his blood pressure,
he started to regain consciouness.
Waving his arms around, Johnny softly said, "Don't... Get away...
Leave me alone."
to calm the young paramedic down, Kel grabbed onto his arms,
and said, said, "Johnny...Johnny, its
okay, you're fine, just lay there and
relax. You're in Rampart and you passed out...just relax."
Slowly opening his eyes, Johnny looked around the room before he spoke.
out...why? What...what happened?"
"Well, that's what we wanna find out. I'm gonna keep you
here, at least
over night and run a few tests just to be sure that there isn't anything
We'll be right back."
"Yeah, okay." Johnny softly replied.
Kel motioned for Roy to follow
him. After stepping away from their friend,
Roy softly spoke.
"Do you have any idea what
"Exhaustion, worry about the rest of the guys...guilt. I've seen the way
been acting since the accident, he's blaming himself for this.
But...what I can't figure out is...why.
He had nothing to do with it."
Roy knew that the Doctor was right, he had also seen the case
that Johnny had been carrying around with him since everything happened.
miss much, do ya Doc. Yeah, Johnny *is* blamin' himself
for the accident. The night we got the
call, we were havin' extremely
high winds...Johnny started havin' a bad feelin' before we left the
Station but he didn't say anything about it...well, except to me...and
then the wreck happened
and the guys...now this with Mike...so he
thinks, that if he'd said somethin', he could'a stopped
it from ever
happenin' at all."
Placing his stethoscope in his pocket, Kel replied, "Yeah,
the bad winds we were having. But it wasn't Johnny's fault and there
that he could have done."
Agreeing with Kel, Roy replied, "Yeah...you know that, and I know that...
but you know Johnny...you can't convince *him* of that."
Kel just smiled in agreement as the
two walked back over to Johnny
Reaching the gurney, Kel asked, "Johnny, I know
this is gonna be a
dumb question...but have you been eating and getting enough fluids
Taking a deep breath, Johnny softly replied, "No...but neither has Roy."
I figured that...but Roy isn't the one that hit the floor...you did."
"Don't remind me. I wanna
go see Mike."
Pushing his friend back down on the gurney, Kel said, "Forget it, you
'im later. Dixie get an IV of normal saline going and lets get
him admitted for observation."
"Right away Kel."
Roy left the exam room and headed
for the payphone only after
being pushed out by Dixie. He knew the last thing his partner ever
was an overnight stay at Rampart, and Johnny's soft
resignation said more to his state of mind than
one of his famous
ongoing rants. Roy remained deeply troubled over how to help
his friend. How
could Johnny think there was anything he could
have done to prevent what had happened? At one time
another every one of them had experienced moments when
they felt a fire or rescue would turn
bad, but that was just how
this job went. Expecting the unexpected was a daily routine.
also knew that Johnny's feelings went deeper. While
he and his station mates had immediate or extended
as a vital support system, Johnny had no one except the men
he worked with. They were
his family and his feelings of loyalty
and protectiveness were all directed at them.
reached in his pocket for a dime, hating the call he needed to
make. Captain Stanley had just been
released home today, and
he would be trying to rest and recuperate. Cap really didn't need
more thing to worry about. As the station's captain, he held
the respect of every man there, and
he was most certainly as
troubled, if not more, than Johnny. It was his station... his men
had gone through hell as a result of this accident. But Roy
knew Captain Stanley well enough that
the man could separate
responsibility from guilt. Right now Cap's primary concern
would be that
all his men recover and return to Station 51.
Roy dialed the number and let out a sigh, slumping
against the wall as he listened to the ringing at the Stanley
"Oh, Hello Mrs. Stanley, this is Roy DeSoto."
There was a soft chuckle
over the line. "Roy, how many times do
I have to tell you to call me Emily?"
a few more, Emily, until I get it right. Could I talk
Emily hesitated. "Well,
Roy, he's just finally gotten to sleep about
twenty minutes ago. Could you call back in a couple
"I'm sorry to be calling and I certainly wouldn't be disturbing him
if it wasn't
important, but he needs to know something, and if I
didn't wake him I'd be in a lot of trouble later."
"Of course. Just a moment."
Roy heard the sound of the receiver being placed on the counter
and while he waited, he rubbed his face tiredly. There was a click,
and he knew Emily had picked
up the phone extension in the bedroom.
He heard Hank clear his throat and mumble, "H'lo? Roy? What's
Is it Mike?"
"Uh, no Cap, Mike's still stable and doing well. It's uh... It's actually
Johnny that I'm calling about."
"John? What happened?" Hank's voice was strong and clear
with no trace of the sleepiness a moment earlier.
"Cap, he's okay now, but he just...
well, he passed out here at the
hospital and Brackett wants to keep him overnight. It's just a precaution.
Johnny let himself get run down and exhausted, and it just caught up with him."
fine, Roy! But of course he wouldn't let on to me that there
was anything wrong."
He's got this idea that he's to blame for all this because of the
feeling he got that night. He thinks
he should have said something to you
and it all could have been prevented."
Stanley let out
a deep sigh. "Of all the crazy ideas that man has had over
the years, this has got to be the most
Roy's mouth quirked into a smile. Leave it to Cap to narrow down the
issue. "I know, Cap. I'll be here for a while and they'll get him settled
into a room. I'll try to
talk to him again."
"And you and I both know it won't do any good if he's already got his
"I think that he'll figure it out eventually, but knowing Johnny, we just may
to drill it into him a little longer."
"That's exactly what I intend to do, Roy. I'll be there
in about an hour."
Roy's eyes went wide. "N-no, Cap! That's not necessary! Get some rest
I'll give you a call later."
"If you think I can rest now, knowing that twit, Gage, has himself
up in knots over some nonsense that he could have prevented this, you're
There was a click and Roy could just imagine the words flying between
Hank and Emily now. The
captain had been given strict instructions by
Brackett to rest at home and keep his legs elevated.
He let out a groan
and had the sudden urge to bang his head against the wall. If Brackett
Hank back so soon after being released there would be hell and
brimfire at Rampart. But he was pretty
certain that Captain Stanley
intended to raise a little hell of his own when he met up with his
Hank slammed the phone down worried, upset
and frustrated. He
knew he had restrictions, but he couldn't stay away. John was like
son to him, heck the entire crew was family to him. He also
wanted to know how in the world his youngest
charge thought he
could have stopped the accident.
Click Rampart to |
go to Page Three.