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        En Route
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Date: Mon Aug 16, 2010 2:05 pm
Subject: Outside The Box
From: 'patti keiper' <>

Frightened now and coyed by the chaos around them, Rosalie snatched
for Johnny's hand. He squeezed it briefly and smiled a very convincing
fake smile for her benefit. "Rosalie, we'll find ourselves moving the rig for
defense if it comes down to that. Nobody's gonna get through our doors."
Johnny said, pointing to the windows at the back and at the side access. "Not
with P.D. out there." He got up and locked all three swiftly for good measure.
"You got your bullet vests on?" he asked the EMTs.

"Yeah." replied the male EMT. "The police wouldn't let us off the boulevard
without wearing them. Why? Are we still in danger?"

"Not from people." Roy mumbled, keeping an eye on Ryan's EKG monitor.
He lifted his HT. "Squad 51, L.A.. Respond a full brush assignment with police
protection to Riley Regional Park north of our address. Active large group
arson activity in progress. Looks like the whole hillside's been ignited."

##L.A. on P.D..10-4, Squad 51. We note your active fire. What is your current
status?## asked Sam Lanier calmly.

::Smart man.:: thought Roy. ::He's checking up on our escape route.::
"We're with Mayfair Five. We're both blocked from leaving the neighborhood,
but we're not in imminent danger of direct hostilities or fire. Is there another
route available out of our location? Our assigned street and cross intersection's
asphalt is fully aflame by the park." he asked. He fiddled with Ryan's I.V. line
unnecessarily and kept a hand on his chest as Rosalie's partner kept bagging him
slow breaths by ambu through the boy's taped endotracheal tube.

##Squad 51, launching Copter Ten for visual aerial assistance. E.T.A to you, five

"Squad 51, 10-4." DeSoto swallowed. He knew whatever driving solution there was
to be had for them would be completely off the road map.
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Return assignments and full fire department SCU tones blossomed over the fire
channel that Gage had called up to monitor who was coming to aid them.
##Copter Ten, Station 127, Brush Truck 99, Station Eight, Ladder 24,... Engine 51.
Brush fire. 1700 Beechwood in Riley Regional Park. 1700 Beechwood in Riley
Regional Park. Squad 51 requires an immediate fire response at their location
with Mayfair Five to obtain a patient transportation route."

"We're flying him out?" Arnold asked, gathering up Ryan's patient information and
EKG strip for his run sheet as she transferred Roy and Johnny's notations to
her record. It was a legitimate question.

Roy shook his head. "No place for them to land. At least, not now." he added
eyeing up the very worried Alannah self consciously.

Mrs. Diaz put two and two together about their desperate situation, and got livid, fast.
"If we can't get him to the hospital, he'll die? Those gangs are killing my boy!" she finally
started to cry, frantic with anger, and a mother's fear.

"Alannah!" Gage said, grabbing her arms before she tried to leave the Mayfair.
"Panicking will do your son more harm than good. The doctors will need your consent
to treat him once we get to Rampart Hospital. And we WILL be getting there. By the
fastest means possible. How are you going to do that for us if you get yourself shot
up by leaving shelter?"

Alannah plunked right back down onto the rider's bench and felt her swollen stomach
protectively, thinking of her second child instantly.

"That's better." Rosalie told her no nonsense. "Would you let me clean up those facial
cuts you've got before the fire department breaks us out of here?" she asked Mrs. Diaz
firmly."It won't do to get those infected, now will it? We're outside and getting full of soot."
she said, snapping the peek window leading to the driver's compartment shut to cut
down on smoke.

Trembling, Alannah nodded yes, cowed.

Rosalie changed her gloves out. Then she reached up into an overhead for some
gauze pads and antiseptic and into another slender access bin for something else.
"Alannah, here, put this on. It's an extra ballistics vest. Then come sit by me." she patted
on the seat nearest her. Johnny Gage and Mrs. Diaz traded placed on the rider's bench so
the two women could sit next to each other. Rosalie started to fuss over the mother. "I'll
get you squared away in a jiffy. I've also got some water I can give you. Are you thirsty?"
EMT Arnold didn't miss the agreeing nod from both Johnny and Roy about her suggestion to
Mrs. Diaz.

"Yes." replied Alannah. "Seems like I'm thirsty all the time now."

Rosalie smiled. "That's normal from what I've heard." she grinned. "How far along are you?"
Arnold asked companionably as she passed over an icy water bottle.

"I'm at seven months." Mrs. Diaz answered, taking a sip.

"How's the baby?" she asked about possible adverse symptoms like sudden cramping from

"She's been quiet. I'm the only hyper one. Ryan was the same way." Mrs Diaz shared.

Relaxing just a bit, Johnny and Roy busied themselves over Ryan's care.

Outside, the sound of crackling fire on the wind and the stench of smoke, grew stronger.


A sharp splash of directed hose water against the ambulance's chassis startled them
all six minutes later. They heard a familiar double smack from a gloved hand against the
Mayfair's rear windows.

Roy flung them open. It was Cap, wearing an air bottle, but not masked. Behind him
were Stoker and Marco, manning a fanning spray over the police cars to clear their
windows of soot and ash. "We've got you cooling down. The fire's still across the street,
but you're downwind. Gotta move you into clearer air. How are you doing in there?"

DeSoto coughed, squinting out at the teams of firefighters spreading out from the fire
companies that had rushed to the scene. "Fine for now. I should ask you guys the
same thing. Any sign of the gangs or active gunfire?"

"Not anymore. The police can't find them. I guess they're playing pollo literally tonight."
Hank said tightly. "Can't say I like their kind of games." he said, his eyes falling on
the critically ill Ryan.

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"Where to?" Gage asked.

Hank pointed back behind him.
"Not the way you came in. The tar's melted. The heat left'll pop your tires. And driving
on grass is out. Trees come right down to the street on both sides of the road. There's
not enough room to maneuver an ambulance this size." Cap replied. "Get ready to follow
Chet in the squad. He's been told where to go next by that CHiP cruiser. Copter Ten's
just come up with a plan. I think it may work real slick in getting you guys out of here
to the set up landing zone for your kid's flight outta Dodge. It's both safe and guarded
and away from all of this smoke."

Gage just looked at him, not figuring it out.

Stoker turned off his hose's stream that he had been using to clear off the Mayfair's
windshield. Then he pulled off his faceplate mask."Fellas, she's absolutely crazy!" he
said excitedly. "I think I'm in love. Just wait until you see what our pilot's got planned."

"What?" Johnny asked, totally clueless.


Squad 51 and Mayfair Five travelled nimbly around clumps of washout debris and small
rivulets of hydrant water being used by the fire crews above them. They moved in
darkness, with no lights, along the L.A. Riverbed. They were following just behind
Copter Ten's tracking spotlight.

"This works." Johnny admitted grudgingly to the others. They were on the way to Griffith Park
and the wide concrete levee that served the waterway on three sides. It was there that the
helicopter would land to uptake Ryan, his mother, and both paramedics. "And we'll still get
to Rampart without losing any more time." He lifted the biophone. "Rampart, Squad 51.
We're coming in by air. E.T.A...."
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"Eight minutes." Roy supplied, where he was talking with Chet using their intratruck channel.

"...eight minutes." Johnny said neatly. Then he turned to Alannah.

##We'll be standing by, 51.## came Dixie's calm reply.

Johnny studied Alannah's face, instructing her. "Mrs. Diaz. The bird's gonna be cramped and
tiny. There's only one way we're gonna be able to take both you and Ryan on that flight."

"I'm listening." said Mrs. Diaz.

Roy explained. "You're going to have to ride in a stokes stretcher, lying down. That's the
only way to fit everyone on board."

"That's okay. I promise I won't be napping this time." she said, trying a weak joke. She gripped
Ryan's hand lightly in her own. "Are we going to be billed for the helicopter?" she asked sensibly,
her voice wavering.

"No. This was a police and fire authorized emergency evacuation." EMT Arnold replied. "Only
Mayfair's ground transportation rate will apply here, by mileage. Like a taxi. And we're not
going far."

"I don't care about the cost. I'll re-mortgage the house if I have to. Anything for my little Ryan."
she said, her breath catching. She kissed his pale, limp palm.

Rosalie's face went absolutely flat. "Alannah, Copter Ten's service in Ryan's case is
gonna be absolutely free. Courtesy of the gangs. The police'll take it out of their hides once
their arrests are made. The charges of arson and reckless endangerment are held severely
accountable in court."


Soon, Roy, Johnny and Chet, had Alannah and Ryan secure by stokes inside Copter Ten.
They lifted off, leaving Chet alone with the squad and Mayfair in the L.A. Riverbed. As they
banked over the area, heading for Rampart, Gage saw Baricza in the CHiP cruiser joining
them to show the fireman and EMTs the way out at another locked neighborhood access
gate. On the hill, in nearby Riley Park, he could see fire crews successfully stopping the
brush fire. It would be extinguished long before it jumped the street to threaten any of the
residences there.

##Seven Mary David, Copter Ten. Safe flight all.## radioed Barry as they circled in
the night sky, reorienting to their chosen flight coordinates to the northwest.

"10-4, Seven Mary David. Squad 51, out." said Johnny over his HT.

Roy leaned down over Alannah's stokes and smiled. "Not long now." he told her.

"Good." she said. A tear leaked from the corner of Mrs. Diaz's eye. She wiped it
away and turned her head to watch her son as Roy breathed for him using the bag
valve mask in his hands.
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Five minutes later, the helicopter was safely night landed at Rampart.

Dixie met Ryan's gurney swiftly, leading Johnny, Roy and Alannah Diaz into
Treatment One. "This way." she said. "Respiratory's standing by." she
told DeSoto about an awaiting ventilator machine. She grabbed up Ryan's
upper arm in a brachial artery check. "It's absent."

Gage confirmed her finding. "His pressure's fifty over thirty two. Carotid's still
strong though."

They got through the door and moved Ryan to the treatment bed, exchanging
oxygen, EKG lines and suctioning sources. There awaited Dr. Brackett,
Joe Early, a phlebotomy nurse, a respiratory therapist and a team from X-ray,
already apron garbed to handle Ryan.

"This is Ryan Diaz, age six. Found unconscious with no gag on arrival. Last
food four and a half hours ago. This is mom." Gage reported aloud to the room.

Kel began to snap out orders. "Once he's on the bird, and all bloods are drawn,
clear the room." he told everyone.

"But.." said Alannah.

"Ma'am, even you. It'll only be for a minute. We need to know what's in Ryan's
stomach for sure and a good way to do that, to rule in or out iron ingestion, is to get
some films. That'll be a faster lead than just waiting for his lab work." Dr. Brackett told
her as he dug through the collection bag Johnny had handed to him to retrieve the
prenatal tablets bottle. "Only heavy metals demonstrate radiopacity. These tablets will
show up on an X-ray very clearly if that's the case." he said, passing it off to the RN
holding Ryan's drawn blood tubes to run to the lab for tests. He set the rest of the
bag, onto the floor underneath Ryan's bed for safe keeping.

The nurse fled the room with her samples tray.

Joe Early finished looking at Ryan's pupils and listening to his chest. "He's crackling."
he said, glancing at Roy. "His pupils are blown almost completely now."

"Those are the same rales we noted on arrival." DeSoto reported. "His eyes are a
new change. They were only 4 mm diameter on takeoff."
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Dr. Early turned to the respiratory therapist at Ryan's head. "What's his PSO2 levels?"

"Blood oxygen levels...ninety three percent." reported the tech. The man glanced at
another dial on the automatic ventilator now attached to Ryan's airway. "And ETCO2
is 32 mm Hg."

"Normal." Joe remarked, palpating Ryan's abdomen. He found a new rigidity over his
epigastric region. "I'm finding more signs of internal hemorrhaging here. All right, I'm
guessing his wide pupil dilation and new shock is from partial vascular collapse.
Dixie, get him into mast trousers following the X-rays. We need to get his systolic
back up to at least ninety. Go ahead and set up that whole plasma. He may need
it if his values come back grossly abnormal."

Gage finished getting another set of vitals. "BP 48/22. Pulse's barely viable at
the carotid. 134." he glanced up. "Occasional PVCs with PSVT on scope."

The respiratory therapist sitting at Ryan's head chimed in. "Bird's set to 12 a minute,
lower tidal volume." he said, suctioning out more liquids from Ryan's mouth around the
endotracheal tube.

"Keep it there." Kel ordered. "We need to get him stabilized."

"Heavy secretions continuing." the tech added. "Pink, frothy. Blood evident."

Joe looked up. "Dixie, give him 1 mg epinephrine 1/1000 I.V. Push. Let's dry him out
a little lungwise."

McCall moved over to the crash cart and retrieved the medication. Then
she cleaned off the injection chamber hanging over the bone stabbed I.V. line in Ryan's
leg and used it. She turned up its flow rate to wide open to deliver the medication
she had given the boy, rapidly. "Epi's in." she said aloud.

"Good. Should make a difference for you, Carl, real soon." said Kel to the respiratory tech.

Soon, Ryan was ready for his X-rays and all but the two X-ray technicians were kicked out
of the room.

Roy and Johnny Gage uptook the gear they had left outside of the door. "Need us for
anything further?" Johnny asked Joe and Brackett, standing with Alannah in the
hallway just outside of the treatment room doors.

"No, go on ahead. We'll handle him from here. Make sure you do a very detailed report on
this one. The tiniest scrap of information might be important in this case." Dr. Brackett
told him.

"Thanks, fellas, for everything. I'll let you know, okay?" Mrs. Diaz promised, looking
to Dixie who nodded that she could keep Alannah in touch with the paramedics.

"You bet." Johnny smiled.

Roy waved a farewell, shifting his HT into his other hand. He bowed his head
respectfully at Mrs. Diaz.

Together, the two paramedics turned around the corner to stop at Dixie's desk to
resupply their gear and fill out their replacement requisition forms.


Dr. Brackett led Alannah over to a nearby chair outside of the treatment room
and both he and Joe sat her down. They crouched by her knees to get to her at
eye level.

"Want some coffee or more water?" Dixie asked, pointing to the plastic bottle
that Mrs. Diaz still held in a death's grip in one of her hands. The container
was nearly crushed in two.

"Oh. Sorry." Alannah said, barely noticing it there."Uh, no. I'm fine. Thanks."

Dr. Brackett met her eyes. "Mrs. Diaz. I'm gonna be frank with you about Ryan's
situation. Things are very serious. Ingestion of iron in doses greater than 20 milligrams
for each kilogram of body weight typically produce symptoms such as abdominal cramping,
blackening of the stools, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and vomiting. Ingestion of amounts
greater than 60 milligrams per kilogram can cause internal hemorrhage, decreased blood
pressure, and dehydration. Ryan is demonstrating the signs for at least the sixty milligrams
per kg concentration so far."

"Well,...what does that mean?" Alannah asked, shaking her head at the two doctors.
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Joe spoke up. "A dose greater than 180 milligrams of iron per kilogram is very often

Alannah, sucked in her breath, and wrapped her arms about herself. Dixie sat down
next to her and hugged her lightly by the shoulders in encouragment.

Dr. Brackett went on. "Iron poisoning is divided into four phases. The first phase occurs in
the first few hours after ingestion and involves acute gastric disturbances. The effects on the
GI tract are due to the corrosiveness of the iron solution and include vomiting, diarrhea and
abdominal pain. If the iron is extensive, the mucosa of the upper GI tract may become
hemorrhaged, wherein the vomit and stools will become red or reddish-brown with blood.
If excessive blood and fluid is lost, the person who took the supplements may go into
hypovolemic shock. That is what's happening to Ryan right now."

Joe continued, speaking softly. "As free iron flows through the bloodstream, the
liver releases enzymes that cause blood vessels to dilate. Blood vessel dilation
results in the lowering of blood pressure, which in turn can result in a coma. The blood
also becomes acidic. Ryan may be at high risk of having convulsions over the next
few hours. But, only a handful of iron poisoning victims die in the first phase of iron
toxicity. If Ryan's poisoning is mild, there's a good chance he'll recover without
experiencing any additional phases."

Brackett nodded. "The second phase of iron toxicity begins between 6 and 12 hours
after the ingestion of excess iron. In the second phase, the symptoms of the first
phase abate as the iron is taken up by the liver. The lull in the symptoms lasts
for 12 to 48 hours. Ryan may wake up and appear absolutely normal."

"He isn't cured by then?" Alannah grinned fearfully. "Even after treatment?"

"That depends on how much iron Ryan ingested." Joe replied. "And how effective
lavage, whole bowel irrigation, and ferrioxamine excretion is after we begin his
continuous deferoxamine infusions."

Kel nodded. "The third phase: Iron absorbed by Ryan's tissues will start to be
re-released into his blood stream. It's marked by severe shock, liver cell damage
and cell death, decreased blood coagulation, low blood sugar, and renal failure.
This stage has a high mortality rate, Mrs. Diaz, I'm sorry."

"" sobbed Mrs. Diaz.

Brackett went on, taking her hand. "If a patient survives the third phase of iron
toxicity, in 2 to 5 weeks, they will progress to the fourth phase of iron toxicity.
This means that Ryan might ultimately survive, but he'll be changed permanently
digestive wise. In the fourth phase, the patient develops symptoms of GI tract
obstruction from iron corrosions which include pain, constipation, and sometimes
nausea and vomiting and may require corrective surgery. The rest of the iron carried
into his larger bones, will remain there for the rest of his life. At any time, Ryan
may be re-poisoned from re-released old iron due to illness or excessive
exercise, well into adulthood."

"I had no idea." she whispered, horrified, covering her mouth.

Dixie squeezed her hand in support.
"The important thing right now is for you to stay focused and hopeful. There's every
chance in the world that Ryan can be saved. He's here, isn't he?" she smiled. "And
he's with the best team of doctors possible for this kind of problem. I should know,
I work with them." she grinned.

Joe and Brackett looked respectful at Dixie's glance.

Alannah nodded, studying her hands and cried new tears.  "Okay. Um, could you
help me call the police department? I think they may be watching my husband.
It's a long story." she sniffed.

"Sure. Let's go over to my desk." Dixie said, helping Mrs. Diaz to her feet.

Joe and Kel watched her go. The phone by their heads rang. Kel picked it up.
"Treatment One hallway. This is Doctor Brackett."

##Ryan Diaz.## said a voice in the lab. ##Bicarbonate level of 6, K + of 5.8, and
a BUN/creatinine of 40/2.8. Blood glucose is 7.7 mmol/L and white blood count is
21,800 mm3.##

"And for iron?"

##It's 800 mg/dL, doctor.## said the technician.

"Is he positive for any other kind of poison?"

##Negative. That's it. I'll send up the rest of his results A.S.A.P.##

"Thanks." Kel said, and hung up the phone. A grin widened. "We may have
a chance, Joe. They found just the iron."
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"What's it at?"

"800." Kel smiled, gripping Ryan's patient chart happily.

"It's still early in the game, Kel." Dr. Early frowned.

Dr. Brackett heard the treatment room door open as the X-ray team left
the room with their portable machine. The respiratory tech rushed back
in to sit in his place by Ryan's head to continue his job of monitoring
and maintenance.

"Better too early than too late." Brackett said. "Come on, let's get back in
there and give Ryan his better chance to survive the night."

From: Patti Keiper <>
Subject: Vignette
Sent: Tue 8/17/10 12:59 AM

In the nurse's lounge, silence reigned except for the sound of Rosalie
Arnold pouring herself a cup of coffee. She slowly made her way to
the table where her EMT partner, Roy and Johnny sat nursing cups
of their own.

Nobody was drinking.

She studied a poster stuck to the wall displaying facts about sterile
asepsis, without even seeing it. "Dare I ask the question everybody's
thinking about?" she spoke, not meeting eyes.

Gage looked up from where he and DeSoto were leaning with chins resting
on their palms and elbows. "Yes. That's only if you don't mention any
names, nor a detailed account of what you saw to anyone other than
the individual's direct health care providers." Johnny cautioned.

"And only if what you say never leaves this room." Roy added. "It's
to uphold patient confidentiality." he explained.

"It fits." Rosalie nodded, seriously thoughtful.

Johnny sighed and waggled half hearted gimme fingers as an invite
for Arnold to speak her mind.

The flaxen haired EMT studied her cup in minute detail and didn't look
away. " you think his chances are?"

Roy blinked quickly, taken aback, while Johnny slowly started shaking
his head in disapproval with a sharply lifted index finger.

"That's a trap to avoid, Miss Arnold." Roy smiled kindly, steadier now.

Johnny agreed. "Umm hmm. Don't even go there or all you're gonna do
is beat yourself up into a completely miserable, emotional wreck, in about
two seconds." Gage said vehemently, remembering his own extreme
discomforture trying the same thing in his earlier paramedic days.

"Really?" Arnold asked, genuinely surprised at their answers. But
then she got mad. "But I thought I was being paid to care." she snapped.

"Not that much." Johnny said empathetically.

Arnold's rage turned into brimming tears of self doubt and worry over the
tiny patient she had helped transport to a helicopter a scant half hour before.

DeSoto helped ease the sting. "Miss Arnold. Johnny's right, as harsh as it
sounds. We all have to learn how to focus solely on the job at hand and
nothing else, no matter how crazy it gets, for the good... or the bad."
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Gage nodded apologetically. "Especially with peds calls. They... can be
really bad sometimes." he said, rewarming up his untouched coffee from
the pot. "Kind of like now." he admitted.

"It takes a few years to toughen up your skin." Rosalie's EMT partner
shared. He shoved a box of kleenix her way.

Sniffling, Arnold drew up a few tissues to mop her face. "Does it ever
get any easier?"

"No. It never does." Johnny said honestly, staring off into the distance. He
shoved aside the report he had been writing about Ryan Diaz. "But you do
seem to...recover a little bit faster each time from the lumps that do get
ripped out of you during the bad ones."

"Does this hurting ever go away?" she sobbed, still feeling her very early grief
effecting her.

Roy shook his head. "You just sort of...change the way you think about it
until it eventually becomes something you can cope with rationally. Then,
afterwards, you find you can reorient and somehow work better the
next time, on the next one."

Johnny let out a small smile, meant to be reassuring. "I decided long ago,
that giving someone who was dying,..that one last shot,.. to try and make it
back,.. was worth feeling like I had all pain in the world for a little while." he
told her simply. "That was when I actually realized that I really loved doing
what I do. Just like that, after three long years working as a paramedic.
That year and ever since, most of my stress, evaporates away during
peds calls. I still get the dry mouth and the sick stomach, the trembling fingers
and the pounding heart. But finally, I could focus on knowing what I had to do."
Gage met the young woman's eyes self consciously. "I..I.. didn't mean to offend
you earlier. I...just sometimes have trouble expressing myself exactly
the way I'd like to."

Rosalie's glance slid over to Roy, who lifted his eyebrows in
subtle confirmation as he sipped from his mug. Convinced, Arnold set
a hand on Johnny's arm, where it rested on the table. "It's okay.
I can tell you didn't mean it."

"Friends?" Johnny asked timidly.

"Friends." she beamed back, finally wiping off her wet cheeks.

"Good." he said finally.

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From: patti k (
Subject: The Changing Of The Guard.
Sent: Sun 8/22/10 12:22 AM

It was five a.m.

"Man,.." said Johnny, rubbing his sleepy face. "Feels weird not coming
here in a squad."

Roy yawned as they both made their way to Dixie's reception desk in the E.R.
at Rampart. Both were wearing jeans and western shirts. "Don't fret. You'll
soon be coming here in an ambulance. Probably more often than you do in
the squad." DeSoto mumbled.

"You think so?"

"Yeah. Think about it. They respond to at the very least, all the same calls
we do." DeSoto reasoned.

Gage stopped in his tracks, cold. "Does Mayfair company get even busier
than our fire department?"

Roy offered a scoffing look of incredulity. "They sure do. Nursing home runs,
invalids that need to go from their houses to doctor's appointments, standbys
for sporting events.." he began to list off.

"That'd be kind of fun.." interjected Johnny.

Roy went on, "..crime scene body recoveries.."

"Not so fun." said Gage, crestfallen and more than a little dismayed.
"Why wouldn't a hearse do that?"

DeSoto applied his knowledge. "They gotta get to the county medical
examiner's office for further forensics and an autopsy for an official
cause of death.. before any wake." Roy emphasized.

His partner held up mildly defensive hands. "Roy.. Roy? Would you just
shush? We just got done with a hearty breakfast." he protested.

"You're not the squeamish type." DeSoto countered, miffed.

"Who's not squeamish?" asked a silky feminine voice.

It was Dixie, wearing a stylish navy and bone powersuit. She was
carrying three mugs by their handles in one hand and hefting up
a huge steel coffee pot in the other. She joined them with her
pilfered java with an offered invite and a smile.

"Never mind." Johnny scowled as he eyed up his partner with disgust.
"It's not a decent conversation for this early in the morning."

"Uh huh." harrumphed McCall. "Well, then, I guess I didn't miss
anything." she decided, her still very happy grin not faltering one iota.
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Johnny cleared his throat, just begging a question but feeling
self conscious enough not to ask it. So Roy did.

"You look nice." said the older paramedic. "Going to a meeting?"

Dixie smirked. "Sure am. I'm going with you guys to the ambulance
garage." she said matter of factly. She distributed the coffee mugs
to the two of them and started pouring. "Bon appetit. I figured we're
all gonna need a LOT of caffeine before we get the ball rolling."

Gage did a double take, both mental and physical. "Wait..wait a
minute. Did I just hear you right? Do you mean to say that
you're gonna be reporting in to work for us today at Mayfair?"
he asked, surprised as all get out.

Dixie just grinned. "I'm afraid you fellas have that backwards. It's
gonna be the other way around."

It took a second or two before the off duty head nurse's comment
sank in.

McCall ended their confusion."Your district's battalion chief says that
since I officially out rank a fire department paramedic in the real world,
I have to be Mayfair's branch boss in your stead." she said simply.

Gage started sputtering, almost angry."That's-- that's h--" he frowned,
trying to be tactful.

Roy elbowed him subtlely. "Billing?" he whispered, sotto voce.

Johnny immediately lit up a lightbulb. "That's wonderful, Dixie!" he beamed,
spreading his hand and coffee mug out expansely. "I mean, that's absolutely
fantastic!" he gushed. Then his face got instantly serious. "For how long?"
he fidgetted, not yet realizing that he was no longer going to have to
be Mayfair's fire chief elected, walking calculator.

"Oh, just for the entire summer." Dixie answered. "Kel told me that making a
sideways move might make for a great mid career blues sabbatical cure.
So I decided to take him up on his suggestion."

"You? Feeling depressed?" Johnny gaped, gesturing.

Even Roy concurred. "That's amazing, no offense, Dixie, but I've.. I.. can't
really recall the last time I've ever seen you down." he said, taking a sip
from his mug.

"Emotionally that is." Gage added. "We've already seen you down medically."
he shrugged companionably.

Dixie was wry. "I can't say I can recall that time all that much." she said,
remembering the concussion she had suffered from the vehicle that had rolled
over her during Roy and Johnny's beginning paramedic days. "Hope you did a
good job." she remarked, shrugging right back.

Roy just snickered, almost spitting out his mouthful of coffee.

Johnny had the grace enough to look unoffended. "Uh huh. So,.. Just how big is
your office gonna be?"

Dixie nodded sagely. "Certainly bigger than your office inside of a working
Mayfair, don't you think?" she winked, finally heading for the garage access
to the side of the emergency entrance.

Johnny suddenly felt like he had been had.

Roy patted him on the shoulder in sympathy. "Try not to think about it so
much." he comforted, and followed Dixie's lead. "It's probably a good thing
that she's taking over for ya."

"But I thought the senior man.."

"Woman.." Roy corrected.

"..woman.. had to stay on the rigs..." Gage said, confused. " train
all the EMTs."

"Apparently, we're good enough." DeSoto replied, hurrying a little, to
escape his much too over occupied beleaguered partner. "Come on, let's
go start our new careers, shall we?"
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From: patti k (
Subject: New Eggs
Sent: Tues 8/24/10 8:45 AM

Dixie, Roy and Johnny were chattering away animatedly, huddled in a
bubbly laughing group, when they went walking into the main office and
training wing of Mayfair Ambulance's home base.

McCall said, "As a manager, my duties can include: responding to EMS calls,
assisting with training, vehicle and equipment maintenance, cleaning..."

"Cleaning?" asked Johnny, surprised.

"Yes, cleaning. Everybody gets the grunt work, not just the rookies."
Dixie glared mildly. She went on with her list."..restocking, billing,
data entry..."

They stopped dead when they saw who and what greeted them. All
twenty four newly hired Mayfair EMTs were lined up in rows of plastic
chairs. They were very quiet with all of their hands folded dutifully in
front of them on their laps on top of their orientation folders. Not one
hand was holding a cup of coffee, despite the bubbling pot someone had
going invitingly on a nearby table.

Dixie set her hands on her hips. "Oh, my, my, my." she chided with
amusement for their benefit. "This will never do, will it boys?" she asked
of Gage and DeSoto.

Johnny began to smirk. "Uhh.. nah." she shook his head. "It's been
twenty years since any of us were in grade school. Come on, Roy,.."
Gage gestured. "I see at least fifteen couches in here gathering dust
over by the entertainment center."

Roy nodded. "Arrange them in a circle? Gotcha. Come on, everybody,
we're ordering pizza." he said, tossing his head at the EMTs watching

That stunned the starch and pressed new employees wearing white
uniforms. One was brave enough to speak up. "But it's only a little
after five in the morning, sir." he said.

McCall just made a dismissive wave and snorted. "You passed all of
your skills and final written tests, haven't you?"

The seated two dozen EMTs nodded.

Dixie grinned wolfishly. "Then you're officially professional medical folk
as of right now and we're famous for being able to eat anything, anywhere
at any time of the day or night. Gather round, we're taking orders." she
snapped with authority.

That finally broke the ice and the chatter, began.

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