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   A Day In The Life
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Page Nine

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From: patti keiper (  
Sent: Tue 3/19/13 1:24 PM
Subject:  The Mound...

Sam Fujiyama winced at the powerful lightning erupting around their black county
coroner's wagon. He began to grip the dashboard even tighter. "Uh, Quincy. I'm
beginning to think checking up on that nurse for Dr. Brackett isn't such a great idea.
We could get ourselves killed out there!"

"We're not out there yet." said Quincy, turning up the wagon's wipers even higher
as he gamely struggled to peer through a windshield being pummeled by a sheet of wind
and intense rain through the darkness. "It's plenty safe for us in here. Do you see me
taking any unnecessary chances?" he snapped in frustration and partially from hunger.

"Your whole persona's about taking unnecessary chances. And you like to drag me
along with it." Sam griped.  "Here.." he growled in passive irritation.

"What's this?" Quincy grunted, feeling a smack on a leg as a fist and arm laid something in
between his knees onto the seat beneath the steering wheel.

"Food." Sam retorted, keeping a very watchful eye on the road barely seen in front of them.
"A Mounds bar. I can hear your stomach growling louder than the thunder. I figure if I can
keep you fed, maybe we'll both survive this little side trip of yours with the barest minimum
of griping from the boss."

Quincy eyed up his assistant in utter mortification. "Sam.. Do you honestly see me that

"Frequently." Sam huffed, not bothering to hide being uptight about the violence of the
weather. "Your mouth's only slightly faster than your moralistic impulses most of the
time." he said, snatching up the Mounds bar only long enough to peel off its clammy
paper and to shove half of it into Quincy's mouth.

"I can't help it. I'm a hot blooded Jewish coroner!" the M.E. groused, chewing the large
bite of candy muffling him quickly.

"God save my poor slant eyes. And my rear." Sam mumbled.

"You're not Christian, you're Buddhist. So quit pretending. Sam, I'm shocked at you. Your
famous kusala's drowning in just a bit of invading nivirana now, eh?"

Sam winced again, this time in self admonishment.

"You did ask me to remind you whenever it crops up." Quincy suddenly hit the brakes,
sending Sam into another full lock armed brace against the dash to keep his face in one
piece. "Oo! That's our turn!"

"How can you tell?" Sam asked, rubbing a pulled down sleeve to clear a steamy window.

"We passed the mall sign. It's yellow. Remember?" Quincy scowled.

Sam's eyes widened. "Uh, but I'm not seeing any mall to go along with it. Are you?"

Quincy swallowed the last of the sweet. "Hmm. No, I'm not. That's odd." he said, slowing
down. "We are in the right place."  he said, peering around the parking lot. He flicked on the
high beams as they crept ahead.

"The vet's office should be right in front of us." said Sam. "The hardware store's right next
to it, isn't it?" Sam asked over the roar of the rain.

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"Yeah. ACE. See the awning?  But where's the vet's store front to the left of it?"

The extra head lamps' light suddenly illuminated some nastiness; the thick slurry of a
recently expended mudslide.

"Whoa.." Sam  grunted as Quincy hit the brakes to avoid driving into it. "That's mud!"

"A whole lot of it. I think we've just found our answer about the mall, Sam. It's been buried.
Come on!" the M.E. said, flinging the station wagon's door open so he could get out . Quincy
yanked up the hood of his rain slicker with one hand as he grabbed a flashlight from a side
pocket with the other.

Sam quickly joined him, also decked head to toe in rubber. "Wait a minute, Quincy. We can't
do anything about this. This is fire department or U.S.A.R. territory."

"The h*ll we can't! Don't worry, Sam. We'll play it safe. But I've got to find out if anybody's still
alive under all of that." Quincy urged.

They were only seconds into beginning to mill about in front of the new hill of mud draped over
the shopping mall when three new flashlight beams appeared out of nowhere through the
driving night storm surrounding the coroner and his assistant.

"Halt!" came Vince's booming voice. "This whole area's an emergency disaster zone site. You
civilians clear out of here, pronto!"  he ordered in a command tone, thinking Quincy and Sam
were a pair of early looters.

"Not civilian, officer." shouted Quincy as he saw the wink of Vince's badge in his light beam.
He raised his wallet, showing off his own shiny coroner's shield and then he aimed the flashlight
toward the wording stenciled on the side of their black wagon. "L.A. County Coroner's Office.
We're not robbing the place. We're here checking up on a possible missing nurse that a Dr.
Kel Brackett at Rampart Hospital told us about. Her name's Dixie McCall. I'm Dr. Quincy and
this is Sam Fujiyama, my lab assistant."

Les Taylor and Dave Gordon from the Animal Shelter took over the anxious search for a way
into the vet's clinic. Les toggled his plastic wrapped radio once again. "Unit 60 to Base.. Doc,
do you hear us?" he shouted.  Their channel to the vet remained silent. "D*mn it!" he cursed.
"They're still not answering."

"Try again." said Gordon, the burly African American. "We're closer where the roof antennae
should be."

Vince heard this only peripherally as he addressed Quincy and Sam. "Vince Howard. And
these two work for the animal shelter, Les Taylor and Dave Gordon. Sorry, Mister. But you're
going to have to leave. We're far from safe conditions here and legally, it's still too early for
you to be on site before the scene's been fully secured by rescue services."

Quincy's ire rose swiftly. "Do you see any fire engines or ambulances coming, sir? The five of
us are the first in!  And probably the only ones available to come for hours yet. If there's any
rescuing to be done by any kind of coordinated team, I'm afraid we're it. So, respectfully,
where do we really stand here?!"

A tense stand off charged with worry, challenge and anxiety filled long seconds, broken
only by the frequent thunder booming over their heads.

Finally, Vince nodded his helmeted head. "Okay, you can help us scout around. But you
take orders from me."

"Understood, Officer. You're in charge." Quincy grinned through the rain coating his
hooded face. "That much is clear."

Vince eyed up his two frantic companions as they started a running beeline for the
mud pile. "Not that way! There's not gonna be a hole anywhere near that. We'll try
through a wall of the Hardware store. There's plenty of tools we can use in there."

They all clustered before the store's shuttered door. Vince drew out his gun and flipped it
around so the butt of its handle was facing out towards the glass in his gloved hand.

Sam blinked. "You're breaking in?"

Howard smiled. "Sure. Executive powers. This is a rescue operation as of this moment.
The owner's insurance will cover this. One more broken window won't matter much with
parts of the mall already demolished by the slide."

He carefully tapped a place out near the dead bolt inside and smashed a hole large
enough so he could reach in and open the door.

They rushed inside after not smelling any signs of natural gas indicator.
Vince pointed. "Try the phone to reach your friends. If it's ground wired, it may still
be in service internally even though the outside phone lines are down to the rest of
the city. I'll look for an adjoining service door that may connect up with the vet hospital."

"Good idea." said fair haired Les. "Dave, can you go with them? This will only take
a sec." he said, picking up the counter phone's receiver by the cash register.
He began to dial out. "Let's hope this works. I hate not knowing anything like this." he

"Join the party." Quincy mumbled, snatching up more flashlights, tarps and hand tools
that would prove useful to them.

"Everybody on the double,  I think I found an access!" shouted Vince.

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"Is it a door?"  Gordon asked as they all crowded around Howard in the darkness.
Their flashlights eerily illuminated the sagging mud heavy ceiling tiles above them and a
neat row of dripping water streams coming from the earth burying the mall.

"No. It could be a return air ventilation grill. I'm feeling blowing air and smelling animals
through here."

"The power's still on in the basement?" Dave wondered.

"It's probably just the emergency generator. Places this big usually have backup systems
that run independently. Even so, watch for fallen electrical wires and  unplug anything
plugged into the wall near your feet. Everything's wet." Vince cautioned. "I can't tell
if somebody's pulled the master switch to cut off the mall's main power supply yet."

"Can't we do that to make things a little safer?" asked Sam.

"I don't know the best way into the basement from here. And besides, that would only
waste time. The mud's probably already taken out the electricity on its own most likely."
Howard guessed.

"Let's hope you're right."  Quincy said, handing Vince and Dave two crow bars to
work against the air vent grill.  "Or I might find myself in official business here."


"Boy am I glad I we ate so much food last night." remarked Marco as he and
the others sped in Johnny's rover for the city of Rialto and Five Points Plaza
Shopping Center. "We're gonna need it."

It was crowded in the rover with Roy, Brice, Sharon, Johnny, Stoker and Lopez.
But nobody was complaining. Their minds were on the mud slide Chet had told
them about over the phone from the hospital.

"Do you think they're still alive?" Sharon asked, worried about Dixie, Boot, and
the staff at the animal shelter.

"Mud's heavy." replied Roy. "Once it's got you, breathing gets impossible real quick.
Not so much from drowning but from suffocation. But they've have points in their
favor." he told her honestly as a firefighter. "They were inside a strong building when it
happened on level ground. What mud there is, probably isn't very deep and it's getting
thinner by the minute from all this rain."

Gage agreed as he gripped his steering wheel even tighter as they travelled the freeway
quickly. "I'm definitely in the they-were-protected-okay camp, Sharon. That mall's got
mostly steel girders in its makeup. We used to do rappelling exercises in its rotunda
for rescue operations demos for the public. At best, they're buried from leaving
just from the outside, trapped inside a room somewhere with the air getting a little
stuffy. Nothing they can't survive if there isn't a gas l--"  He bit his tongue at the last
of his comment.

Walters gasped but remained quietly sitting at what could be reality for Dixie and
the others.

Stoker provided moral support. "We grabbed a few diving tanks from my boat.
We can release air into any space for over an hour each if we have to. And I
can't see the vet's not having oxygen tanks in its surgical areas. We'll cope."

Brice shifted from his dozing spot underneath a pile of blankets. "What's our

"About half an hour. If it were daylight." grumbled Gage. "In this storm? I'd say
probably a good hour ten minutes away, barring obstacles."

The group of six fell silent as they mulled over their worried thoughts privately
as the minutes ticked by.

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From:  patti keiper (
Subject: Baby Steps..
Sent: Mon 5/06/13 2:14 AM

Kel Brackett let himself into Chet Kelly's hospital room without preamble. His
face was tighter than usual, not exactly in professional mode.

Chet Kelly and his sister startled out of their conversation over pizza. "Dr. Brackett..
what a surprise." Kelly simpered guiltily. "I didn't know I had any dietary restrictions."

"You don't." Brackett replied, crossing his arms over elbows in half contemplation,
half irritation. "I'm missing a couple of nurses. Dixie and Sharon. Know anything about

Chet set down his oddball breakfast self consciously. "On the first, no clue. But I have a
working theory on where she is that the guys are checking out. On the second? I -- I  really
don't think I should be talking about Johnny Gage's love life or about his new girlfriend. Heh."
he chuckled nervously.

Kel leaned over the bed dangerously. "Off the record. Mr. Kelly, don't get me mad. You won't
like it very much. Now, I've sent two people after MY girlfriend over an hour ago.  An orderly just
told me he overheard you talking about something bad happening at the shopping center vet
hospital that Dixie was planning on visiting last night. If you know anything new about her that I
don't know about yet, spill it!  Pronto! And this is not doctor to patient. This is man to man."

Chet's sister gestured to the bed. "Uh, I think you'd better sit down, doctor. It's not nice news."

Dr. Brackett sat down on the mattress edge. "Sorry for snapping, you two. I get worked up
when it comes to friends and family or a patient I know I can save. Okay, I'm listening."

Kelly sighed and moved out of grappling range. Then he spoke carefully. "That shopping
center is being reported has having been heavily damaged by a mudslide."

Kel shot to his feet immediately. "And Dixie's there for sure?!"

"We don't know that yet." Chet told him. "I spoke to Roy and Sharon and the rest of the guys
a bit ago about what I overheard on ham radio. So I sent them to Realto to poke around a little.
Because both you and I know that all the emergency services are currently overwhelmed by
other calls."

"U.S.A.R.?" Kel asked.

"Tied up."  Kelly answered.

"L.A. City Police Department?"

"Busy. They say they're prioritizing responses to worst first. Like obvious life or death."

"A mudslide burying a shopping mall IS life threatening!"

"But it's not in their area of expertise. They're not equipped to handle it. That's U.S.A.R.'s
and the fire department's territory."

Brackett began pacing. "And they're both in over their ears. Terrific." he growled sarcastically.

"I know. It seriously bugged me, too." Chet sympathized empathetically. "That's why I thought
outside the box to get off-the-radar help over there as fast as possible. I was going to call
you about Dixie once I knew one way or the other... Honestly.."

"Who's going?" Kel barked.

"Everybody from my shift who's off duty, except Cap.." Chet replied. " ..along with Miss
Walters and Brice."

Right then the door opened and Joe Early walked in on his regular rounds. "Morning."
he said cheerfully.

"No, it's not." grumbled Kel. "Did you hear about Dixie?"

"Yep." Early replied as he began taking Chet's vital signs for his chart.

"And you didn't tell me?!" Kel roared.

"I didn't need to. Kel, you already knew Dixie was going to pick up Station 51's dog."
Early answered mildly. "She'll probably be back in an hour to pull one of the emergency
shifts we need covered."

"Then you don't know." Dr. Brackett sighed, still charged up, but quieter.

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"Know what?" Joe grinned, eyeing up the three of them.  

Chet shoved the pizza box his way in a sympathetic open invitation.

Hungry, Joe picked up a gooey piece of pizza to munch on, dripping with cheese.

"Dr. Early, you'd better sit down."  Chet's sister sighed again. "But... I wouldn't recommend
eating for this. Not just yet." she said as she watched him chew happily.

Joe Early sat on the bed very quickly and started paying attention to the real matter
at hand that went far, far past the usual business.


"Hank...    Hank?"  came a voice from a long distance.   Captain Stanley turned
in his chair, carefully holding the baby that felt so much like his daughter had so many
years ago.  It knew it was Emily, his wife, calling him, but he wasn't finished with his
dream yet.

"Umm ... I'm not through, Em." he sighed, still tired beyond exhaustion, despite
a full night's sleep spent in the infant ward at Rampart.  Even his shoe covered feet
still trembled with unrested muscle fatigue.

Mrs. Stanley glanced up at the nurse. "Should we give him a sedative?"

"Nah." said the Haitan morning R.N. "Natural sleep is the best thing for stress. Let's
let him be and keep our bad news a secret." she replied about Dixie's whereabouts.

Emily shifted uncomfortably in her seat, surprised that the staff grapevine was that fast
and effective. ::I supposed it would be for me, too, with firefighters, if Hank or one of
his boys went suddenly missing.  And she's right.::  A small part of Emily's mind
reasoned. ::Medication's not a refuge.:: Biting her lip in worry for the growing county
wide disaster she was slowly learning more details about, Emily Stanley willingly
decided to let her husband sleep on in peace. ::He really doesn't need to know
about a close female friend in trouble. Not now.  It's his own health that's more
important at the moment.:: she concluded.

The door of the neonate intensive care opened, admitting Dr. Morton.  Quietly, Mike
nodded at Emily's family corner and padded over to the care nurse.  "How was the
baby during the night?"

"She did great." confessed the wizened nurse at the monitoring station. "I don't
know exactly how, doctor.. But i-it's like they're healing each other for want of better
words. I guess there's something very special about the power of human touch." she
said, referring to the fire captain and the tiny sleeping infant wrapped in his arms. "Yes,
she's a low birth weight, but I sincerely believe she's gonna make it now, doctor."

"Hmmm."  Mike harrumphed in his throat. His eyebrows rose as he addressed Emily,
with a question. "Improving a lot, eh? How's he doing, emotionally?"

Emily nodded with conviction. "This is the first solid sleep Hank's gotten since the hostage
situation ended at the station,.. and the baby hasn't cried since my husband started holding
her. A win/win for us so far. I know she's not smiling but at least she doesn't seem to be in
such deep pain anymore."

Morton thumbed the clicker of a pen thoughtfully. "Not of the physical kind anyway. An
emotional fallout will come much, much later. Maybe in a few unexplained kidhood
nightmares?" he speculated. Slipping a few fingers under the baby's upper arm, Morton
took a brachial pulse quality check on her to back up what he had seen on the EKG
machine. "Nice work, you three." he said to both women and the sleeping Hank.

Two people grinned back at him sleepily as Dr. Morton made a final note on his chart and
headed out the door.  On a thought, he peeked back in. "Oh, uh.. Anything I can get for you
ladies?  Coffee?  Food from the cafeteria?"

"How about finding the baby's father.." Emily shrugged, expressing the wish that wasn't a

"That's the toughie." Dr. Morton sighed. "I'm afraid everybody's really busy with the weather
today if you know what I mean. The police just told me that finding a legal guardian for our
orphan's been pushed to the very bottom of the list. I'm sorry. I don't have an answer to that
request yet."

"It's okay. Really.  We can be here as long as it takes, doctor. She's good for him."

"They're good for each other." Morton smiled. "See you later on. Thanks for staying."

Emily smiled back as she leaned her head against the back of her parental rocking chair.
"Umm hmm."  she hummed in affirmation. Then she closed her eyes to cat nap for a bit.

                            ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  

In the dream, Hank was in charge of a very controllable fire.  In his barbeque. At a
gargantuan mansion that he somehow knew to be his very own house. The grilling he
had started suddenly smelled very, very good.

"How do you like your steak, Chet?" Cap asked, tipping up the rim of a sparkling white
Battalion Chief's helmet that was on his head as he spoke through his shiny chrome HT

"Medium rare." replied Kelly, through a solid gold HT as he lay on an inflatable raft
shaped like a stokes stretcher floating in an ambulance shaped swimming pool. His
station uniform was sooty with gun powder, but neatly pressed.

Hank grinned happily as he manipulated his meat fork to turn over the meal that he
was currently roasting over hot coals.    

Cap startled horribly when he found that he was stabbing a badly burned baby instead
of a beef steak.  

He screamed, dropping the fork, as both the pool and the baby began to boil a bloody
red before his eyes.

Painfully sharp metal knives and black smoke filled his mind.

                            ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  

At his side, Emily watched as her husband's face twisted faintly in his sleep. Moving
closer to his chair, Mrs. Stanley rested her soft head against his shoulder until his new
shivering stopped.  "Shhh, it's all right.  It's okay. You truly saved her, Hank.  She's right
here with you. Right now. And so am I."

The baby cooed contentedly and it was only after Emily stroked his cheek with the back
of her hand, did Hank's face slowly clear back down into true rest.

"It'll take time." whispered the nurse to Emily. "For both of them to accept what's
happened. But in the end, they'll both be stronger for it." Then she began to sing a hymn
from her old country. One that was both warm and comforting as it filled the room with its
gentle beauty.

On the EKG monitor, the baby's heart rate dropped from autonomic newborn distress,
into a health embracing slower rate, bathed in sleep.

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A shattered avalanche of bricks cascaded into the veterinarian office's elegant
lobby, opening a hole from the ventilation system through which the others had  been

Coughing and waving away heavy dust from the air, Vince shouted. "Can anybody
hear us?!  Rescue party!"

"Yes. Finally. We need you!" shouted a voice through the silt scented, fetid
darkness. "Over here!" shouted Dr. Barney Coolidge. "My assistant, Miss Patty Burns,
has been hurt. I don't know how bad. I can't see anything. There's no light."

"Let me through.." Quincy ordered, shouldering past Vince with a black medical bag
he normally used for housecalls for the living. "Dr. Quincy with Los Angeles County.
I'm a coroner but I have a full medical doctor's license."

"Doc!" shouted Les and Dave at their boss. "How bad is she?"  One of them tossed
a lit flashlight into Quincy's hands as he climbed through the hole into the partially
collapsed, muddy obstacle course that was the heavily damaged pet hospital.

"Please come in. Uh, er... excuse the mess, gentlemen. I don't quite know what
happened." the vet replied. "I think I awoke already on auto pilot. I found myself binding
her arm. It's a fractured radius and ulna from what I felt."

"She awake?" asked the blond haired Les Taylor as he lit up his boss's face with
a torch. A rivulet of blood had dried down one of his temples but the rotund man
didn't seem to be aware that he was also injured.

"Partially. She moaned a bit ago when that big noise happened." said the vet,
who was slumped awkwardly against a wall where he had propped up his semi
conscious secretary.

"That was us." Dave said. "We had to sledge hammer through a wall by hand."

Quincy squatted down by Coolidge, feeling the man's head with gently probing
fingers.  A warm wetness made him look at one hand. "You're bleeding. Probably
a concussion. How much do you remember?"

"Uh, nothing. I think I was on the phone. What is that?" Barney squinted, trying in
vain to peer through mud spattered and cracked round spectacles, pointing at
something huge and brown at his feet.

"That, is an overturned, upside down examination table." Dave told him. "Just keep
still and let the coroner check you out."

"I'm not dead yet. I felt halfway there earlier. Don't rush my burial." Barney snapped.

"Funny man. That's a good sign." Quincy grinned up at the others.

Coolidge winced as Quincy began to dress his head with bandages. "We're in
the front office?" he frowned in confusion, still focusing on the twisted table.

"Yep.   Doc, the mall's been crushed by a mudslide." Les said, leaning over to study
Patty Burn's pale face while he took her pulse. "Looks like the whole back of the clinic's
been caved in and pushed to the front. We're surprised we even found you two alive."

"Two? No.. that's not right." Coolidge murmured fuzzily. "We had a visitor just before
the lights went out. She was playing with her friends' dog. He was about to go home.
Boot, I think his name was."

"Forget the dog, Dr. Coolidge." Vince said, beginning to search the area with his own
meager light beam. "What was your visitor's name. Can you remember?  Was it Nurse
Dixie McCall from Rampart Hospital?"

"Oh, yes. That was it. Such a soothing voice on the young lady. My patient, Boot, is
quite smitten with her."

"I'm not seeing any sign of the dog or Dixie around here." reported Officer Howard,
sloshing about in ankle deep, slowing rising mud. "This room's empty."
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"Try the surgical bay. It's... it's to the side of us." Barney mumbled to his animal control
officers. "The toys and TV are in there. I told them to wait out ...the storm."

Instantly, Les and Dave shot to their feet.

Quincy grabbed Taylor and Gordon's trousers with both hands to stop them. "Grab
those shovels we brought before you go. I'll stay with these two and examine them
closer for other problems past this bump on the head and fractured forearm."

Vince, Les and Dave departed into the darkness to Quincy's left.  Gasping in the thin air,
Quincy pulled out his own flashlight and buried its end upright into the mud to create a
pool of light reflecting from the slurry soggy ceiling above them.  Then he bent to work.

Sam stuck his head through the opening in the wall. "Quincy! There's no answer on the
phone. Nobody even picked u-  oh. You found them."

"Yeah, two of three. Do me a favor and go back to the wagon for three body bags. We'll
use them as thermal regulators."


"As sleeping bags, Sam. They're both ice cold from all of this water and mud. We've got
to warm them up to prevent shock from setting in."  Quincy said.

"Right. Hey, Quincy, can you quit using fancy terms? Plain language works much better."

"I thought I was talking plain language. Sorry, Sam. You know how my brain works. I'm
an analytical type with dictionary recall."

"Yeah, well, start turning into a thesaurus." Fujiyama said, making sure his way back into
the wall was free of steel rebar and sharp metal debris. "Today literal accuracy's not
important. It's life or death now."

Quincy ignored his retort. He minced, feeling the secretary's carotid pulse. "Hmm, she's
mostly out. But stable. Her breathing's strong and regular."

"Good thing. I'll be right back. Anything else you want?" Sam asked.

"See if you can scrounge up an oxygen cylinder or two from the surgical bay. The others
all went to my left through a hallway. We'll be needing some if Dixie's been buried."

"Got it." replied Sam, with worry.  Soon, Quincy was left alone with his muddy patients.

"Horse dryer." whispered Barney, rubbing his eyes with his hands to focus them.

"What?" Quincy asked, eyeing Coolidge when he spoke.

"Horse dryer. Big fan. Lots of heat. It can dry off our clothes like it does animal coats
and fur." Barney said more clearly.

"Sorry, doc. All the power's out. That's partly why you can't see anything that clear. The
rest of it is due to your poor bell ringed skull cap." Quincy shared.

"Listen to me. We've... our own generator. Just....turn it on. It's battery powered." he
said more distinctly as he concentrated through his dizziness.

"Whoa, wait a minute. Really?" Quincy said, gripping Coolidge's sweaty face in both
hands to help him focus on him.

"Why would I make this up? I'm a doctor." Barney chided. "Just carry us in there."

"I trust you. I'll be right back!" Quincy said eagerly, climbing to his feet to update
his companions.   He skidded away on the slippery floor. "I'm going to go tell the others.
We'll move you guys and use it once we've found Dix--"   The coroner broke off when he
saw that Barney had lightly passed out, no longer able to hear him. "You just hang tight,
Doc. Nobody's going to die here. Not if I can help it." he added.

Quincy disappeared into the dripping darkness.

Above them, thunder bubbled through the mud, its vibrations increasing the amount
of silt and water flooding into the room, inch by inch.

In the surgical bay, Vince, Les and Dave were immediately challenged by a frantic, panicked
barking. It was Boot!

"Easy, boy. Remember me from the other day?" Vince asked him, keeping his hands low
and to his sides. "I'm here to help your girlfriend. Now where is she?"

Boot immediately whined, turned around, and starting digging into a knee deep pancake
pile of thick mud pooling and oozing half inside and half outside of a pressure splintered
cabinet.  It was then he saw a pair of Oxford sandals sticking up out of the mud.

"Les! Dave! She's behind a cabinet on the floor in here!" Vince shouted, slipping to his knees
into the slop as he began to desperately sweep around underneath the mud with both hands.

Taylor dropped the oxygen cylinder he was salvaging onto a counter top.  Dave beat him
there with a shovel.  "Is her face covered with mud?"

"I can't tell." Howard grunted, trying to enlarge the torn hole in the cabinet.

Together, all three felt up her legs and sides until they were gripping slimy hair. Someone's
flash light lit up still pink skin.  "She's alive." said Vince. "And her nose and mouth are clean."
Straining, the three of them slid their arms underneath her body, legs and head to try and
pull her out of the cabinet space where she had been tossed by the slide. But the powerful
suction of the thick hillside mud prevented them from budging even just an arm a single inch.

"It's like glue. Constricting all around her." Les realized.

"Is she still breathing?" Dave asked, seeing a sudden paling of Dixie's face.

"Not well." Vince reported, sliding a hand to feel her ribcage under the mud.

"We'd better hurry. She's being suffocated even worse every second." Quincy said, quickly
joining them with the oxygen tank and a resuscitator mask. He had found one human sized.
"I'll use a demand valve on her while the three of you shovel out this slop. If we're fast
enough, we'll be able to drag her out into the open before it fills back in again."

"What if she's got broken bones? Isn't twisting her like that a little dangerous?" Dave worried.

"Without better oxygenation very soon, she'll quit breathing entirely. Being in a set of casts
for a longer time or getting paralyzed is a small price to pay for surviving when you consider the
alternative. Just dig. Dig hard!" Quincy said. "Or we'll have one very dead nurse on our hands
in less a few minutes!" Quincy tried offering some forced breaths using the valve, but precious
little got into Dixie's lungs where it was needed. "Hurry. She's dying."

Straining, all three officers slashed at the mud with their cement shovels. But as fast as they
worked, the mudslide oozing in from the shattered back wall facing the cliffside, was even faster.

Boot even joined in, frantic for Dixie, in his pawing at the mud, to remove it.

"This isn't working. There's too much of the slide pouring in. We need to try something else."
Les panted.

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"Dilution!"  came a voice from behind them. It was Sam. He dropped the neatly folded
body bags he had been carrying as he slipped and slid his way next to Quincy to aid him in
keeping a good seal on the oxygen mask around Dixie's mouth and nose with his extra pair
of hands.

"What?" Quincy gasped, carefully working to get forced oxygen into Dixie's lungs without causing
harm with excessive inflation. "Speak plain language, Sam. Or I'll--"

"Water it down. Make it thinner! Use the emergency fire hose in the wall."

"Like quick sand. She'll float to the top! Sam, you're brilliant!" Quincy grinned. "Keep a grip
on her carotid. I don't want to lose track of that pulse."

Vince smashed the glass over the hose compartment, exposing the water valve and accordian
folded loops of canvas hose. He jerked it out onto the floor while Les charged the line.

"Watch your eyes! And hers!" Howard ordered. Then he let loose a literal flood of clean water
over where Dixie lay mired in the muck.  The sandy mud loosened swiftly beneath questing
shovels and the flooding water stream, freeing Dixie from her sticky entrapment.

Immediately, the demand valve was able to affect chest rise and Dixie's skin began to
lose its bluish shade.

A very wet and muddy Boot began barking excitedly.

"Okay, okay. She's ventilating a bit. Let's get her somewhere out of the mud." the coroner

Struggling in the slime, the four men bodily lifted Dixie onto an intact surgical table with Quincy
maintaining constant oxygen care at her head. Sam quickly returned to help him out.

"Cut this off of her. It's still too heavy!" Quincy pointed with his head at the mud glopped wool
sweater she was wearing.  "Dave, go grab that EKG monitor from the shelf. You know what
that is?"


Sam grimaced as they worked to keep their mechanical breaths working for the nurse.
"How are we going to use that? Nothing's going to stick on her. Not through all this water
and slime. There's motor oil mixed in with it." he said about the electrode pads attached to
its wires.

"Alligator clips." Quincy improvised. "Like clothes pins.  A vet hospital's full of them. Animals
are too furry for the usual stickers hence those clips. We'll attach them to her fingers and toes.
The reading will be a little exaggerated height wise, but I can live with that. Les, Vince, clean
all the mud off her hands and feet and dry them off. Then put those clips on like I told you.
Dave, when you're done turning the EKG's power on, go find something that looks like
a defib. The doc has one, doesn't he?"

"It's over here."

"Lug it on over, I need to see the settings on it in case we have to use it."

"Is she that bad?" Dave fretted as he retrieved it.

"I don't know yet. She could be injured past getting squeezed to death by all the muck.
I'm just covering the bases." The coroner answered truthfully. "I'll check her over in detail
once we get her better stabilized." he gasped, sweating, while he worked to give oxygen
to the nurse in time with her own weak attempts to breathe.

"Ambu bag trade out?" Sam asked, worried about pulmonary tissue damage from their
mechanical oxygen delivery.

"No." Quincy replied. "She's probably aspirated some food or saliva or both into her lungs
due to nausea from being knocked around. The stronger ventilation is what we want, to get
oxygen through it. The demand valve's definitely better for her at this stage."
Gordon set the vet defibrillator unit down between Dixie's knees on the table, powered
it up and then turned the front of it to face Quincy so he could study the dials. "Damn. It's
European.  Their units of power aren't the same as ours. Amperes, joules, volts.  What
a mish mash. And DC power versus AC....Different current flow. Ah!" he snorted in disgust.

"Doc Coolidge will know which setting to use." Les said. "He's the one who bought it."

"Get him in here. I hate to move him. I left him dozing, but we need to seriously pick his brain."
Quincy said. "Don't jar him unnecessarily. And keep his head up." Quincy told them.

"What about Miss Burns?" Dave asked. "We shouldn't leave her alone in the other room."

Quincy nodded his head. "Somebody should stay with her."

"I will." replied Dave.

"Put her on some O2. One fracture may mean more." the coroner told him.

"I'll go outside and start calling for help on the HT." Vince volunteered. "Holler if
there are any problems."

"I'll call you on ours if that's the case." Dave offered. "Tach 3."

"Got it." Howard replied.

Soon, the a.c. officers had their boss placed in a tipped back chair leaning against
an intact wall near Dixie's treatment table.  Dave disappeared into the next room to
put Miss Burns into a warm and dry body bag and to begin further care to treat her shock.

Soon, Les attempted to rouse Barney from his sleepy concussion fog.

Taylor knelt near Coolidge after he placed the vet under a flow of blow by oxygen to
help him wake up. "Doc. Can you hear me?"

"Hmph?"  Barney mumbled. His under eye pouches were already swelling black and blue
from the effects of his head injury.  "What's... what?  Have we got a new patient?" he asked

Les knew he had to speak in terms of animals or confusion would complicate matters.
"I've got a....  chimpanzee. Weight 135 pounds. Age thirty five?  Brought in with a heart attack.
Pulse rapid but fading fast. I've got the defib set up for you. What setting do you want?"

Barney didn't answer.

Boot whined and came forward and he began to scrub a warm tongue over Barney's chilled
face. Coolidge rallied at the familiar sensation and he weakily pushed Boot away with a smile.
"Where were we?"

"Defib for the chimpanzee. Remember her size and age?"


"What do I set for you to use, Doc? Can you tell me? We have to hurry. Things aren't good."
Les told him into his ear.

"One watt equals one joule per second. Just turn to 400 j/s. Same as for a human." he
shrugged, as if it were the most obvious answer in all the world.

"Thanks, Doc. You rest easy now. You've been hurt. I'll have you in a nice warm place
before you know it." Les promised.  

Sam stage whispered. "Don't tell him it'll be inside a body bag."

"I won't." Les hissed back. "Time to dry you off, Doc. I got you propped up under the
horse dryer." And with that he turned it on and the whole room began to heat up with
blood stimulating warmth to its far corners.

Quincy was concentrating so hard on what he was doing that he almost missed seeing it.
"A PVC. Les, she's got something else going on. Take over. I'm going to
have to look for it. I can't wait any longer."

Taylor took over Dixie's assisted ventilations smoothly. "What do you think it is?"

"I wouldn't have said something else if I knew the answer to that, now would I?" he
said empathetically. He opened his black leather medical bag for a stethoscope
and used it.  "Tachycardic. Weak. Irregular. She's got to be hemorrhaging. She's
far too young for cardiovascular disease."

"Where from?" Sam fretted, eye balling up the EKG that was speeding up ominously.

"We won't know that until we wash off all this oil and mud. Sam, go grab up that fire hose
again. Fan it to scrub her down like an embalming prep. Then use those towels to
wipe any leftover slime off."

Soon, Dixie's soaked jeans turned a very fast, dark spreading maroon by her left thigh,
just above her knee.  "There, Sam. Looks like an arterial laceration. Not the femoral,
thank God. Most likely the popliteal.  I'm going to clamp it off with a hemostat."

"Careful. You don't want to cut off circulation to the rest of her leg. That isn't cadaver
tissue you're monkeying with." Sam cautioned nervously.

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Quincy smiled. "Far from. It's even tougher than deceased flesh, fiber wise. Don't worry.
I won't seal off the blood flow completely. Just enough to encourage a few large clots
to form."

Les Taylor began to turn green. "Uh, not so many details please. Autopsies
are my Achilles heel. It's why I work exclusively with animals. There's fewer similarities."

Sam noticed the animal control officer's wavering. ""Here, Les. I'll take over her
ventilations again."

"Oh, sorry, Mr. Taylor. Just shop talk." the coroner apologized. "Now I wonder if there
are any I.V. solutions about. A bag or two absolutely would be the cat's meow for
all three patients of ours. I'll start hunting around for the pharmaceutical cabinet."
Quincy volunteered.

"Needles are in the safe. I know the combination." Les reported as he bundled
up Doc Coolidge inside of his morbid plastic and zipper seamed cocoon.

Quincy turned from wrapping up Dixie's clamped off leg wound. "The safe?"

Les looked a little self conscious. "Well, yeah. Doc always worries about some junkie
coming in here and knocking the place off, looking for drugs and stuff."

"People can't use animal medications." Sam frowned.

"You and I know that, but they sure don't." Les said, about the junkies, smiling.

Quincy reconsidered his other female patient. "We should bring Patty in here
where it's warmer, bone injuries or no. Being protected from the chill is more important.
I just forgot the priority of that fact again, about living people."

Sam smacked him kiddingly with one of his free elbows. "Quit being such a dead beat."

"Shut up. I'm sixty four. I'm entitled to a few senior citizen brain farts every now and then."
Quincy pouted, not offended in the slightest.

"I'll go get her, uh, but I don't think I can move Miss Burns by myself. She's bigger
than I am." said Taylor.

"Sure you can." said Quincy. "Don't knock it. Body bags make great improvised
stretchers. They slide across mud really well." shared the coroner. "Besides, Dave's
available to help you. He's still with her, right?"

Right then, Dixie began to cough wetly underneath the ventilator mask Sam had
pressing firmly against her face. He lifted it away.  "Dixie? Dixie McCall? Can you
hear me?"

"Suction, Sam! Suction!" Quincy urged.

"Oh, uh.." Fujiyama began to look desperately around.

"Here." Les said, reaching up to a suspended spring tensioned Yankauer tip and
tube hanging above the surgical table. "This is it. Just cover the hole on the side with
a finger to start the pull."

"Got it. Okay, roll her over onto her left side. I'll clear her mouth." Quincy said.

Soon, vomited food and some stomach acid were whisked away safely. Nothing
more was found after a few probes with the suction tube placed a short way over her
swollen tongue.  

"Huh. She didn't aspirate. There's no blood tinging." Sam remarked happily.

"Lucky us." Quincy grinned.

"Lucky her." Les emphasized.

"Okay, let's roll her back. Pretend she has a spine injury. Keep her straight. Okay,
one, two.. that's it. Easy." the coroner coordinated.

"Wake her up?" Sam suggested.

"We can try." Quincy agreed , reaching out with a few firm knuckles.

Dixie moaned at his sternal rub. A second one resulted in a total panic in her, from
head to toe, as consciousness returned from the point in which it had been torn away,
while almost drowning inside the heart of a mudslide.   McCall began to flail mindlessly,
still half out.

The EKG began to race wildly.

"Get a grip on her. Keep her from falling off the table." Quincy ordered. Then he bent close
and began to offer some encouragement. "Dixie.. Dixie. Don't fight us. You're going to be
fine. You were stuck under some mud but we got you out. So just keep calm and--"

The EKG suddenly began to flute a warning as Dixie suddenly stopped struggling, falling

Quincy glanced at its screen. "...okay, not that calm. Sam? It's V-fib. Let's start CPR.
Les, call for Vince and get Dave in here. We're going to need them for a full resuscitation."

"Quincy, we don't have any human meds!" Sam quailed. "What if her heart loses irritability?"

"I'm hoping for another really lucky break. A minute of compressions now, Sam.
Let's get the last of her oxygenation circulating quickly. Then I'll try the three stacked shocks.
It's the only chance we have to save her."

Les thumbed his mic. "Vince, get in here. Bring Dave. Cardiac arrest!"

##We're on our way!##
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From: patti keiper (  
Subject: Of Bolts and Rivers
Sent: Mon 5/06/13 12:36 PM

Fujiyama began to work on Dixie at once.  Vince soon hurried into the room.
"How long has she been down?" he said in shock when he saw that it was
McCall who had suffered sudden death.

"A little more than a minute." the coroner answered. "Her airway's clear. Give
her a couple of good breaths. I need time to figure these out." Quincy said,
holding up a pair of very tiny gauze covered defibrillator electrodes.

Vince took up the demand valve ventilator and began to use it on Dixie deftly.

"Those are... for intrathoracic... access." Sam grunted as he kept up his
C.P.R.  "Are you going to crack her open?"

"Oh, gosh, no, Sam. I won't expose her to that kind of additional risk."
Quincy cringed.

"Why not? She's already dead." Sam fussed, already growing tired.

"I won't expose her chest cavity to this kind of environment. Even if she
survives cardioversion that way, she'll die later of massive infection.
There'll be no cure possible. Not even after just a tiny half gram of this
filthy mud gets in."

Sam gasped in frustration, missing one of his counts, skipping a beat.

"I'll take over, Mr. Fujiyama." said Les evenly. "I've got her." he said,
continuing CPR. "Are you getting a pulse with my compressions?"

"Yes." Sam said sadly, after checking for one in her throat. "Sorry for
lapsing. I didn't mean to falter like that."

"No problem. It wasn't for very long." Quincy murmured, his eyes still
closed as he thought hard about a possible solution to their problem.

By their feet, Boot began to whine very loudly, distressed, fully
understanding what was happening.  Another human being was dying
in right front of him. He began to howl in agony.

"Quincy, she can't wait." Sam urged. "You have to decide something.
Something fast."

"Shh. Let me think." Quincy said. "Now about electrical differentiation. More
conductivity over a larger surface area? Can it be that simple?" he mumbled
to himself. "Golfers in a rainstorm! Sam! That's it!"

"What is?" Fujiyama gasped, shaking out his aching arms and hands.

"We'll make her more conductive to shocking intentionally! Soak her down with water.
Lots of it! Right where it's needed. Then these smaller paddles will work like larger
human ones! Just like lightning from a tree onto a golf course!"

Again the fire hose came out.  Dave pulled back its lever and gushed a generous river
across Dixie's sallow, blue, darkening skin.

"Everybody back out into the hallway. I don't want anybody else getting electrocuted!
Take the dog, too. I don't know how far this current will carry through all of this ooze."

"What about your own safety?" Vince wondered, pointing at the ankle deep puddle
surrounding the coroner's legs.

"I've got that covered! Just go!"

As soon as everyone was clear, Quincy reached out and pulled the last body bag onto
the floor and leaped onto its dry, temporarily rafting, surface. Then he gave Dixie a
countershock using her shoulder and lower ribcage like normal. McCall's body arched
up as he had desperately hoped it would, then she noodled into stillness.  The EKG
monitor gave a blip, but it didn't last.

"Come on, come on..." Quincy grumbled, eyeing up his feet as water from the flooded floor
began to well up closer to the edges of the outstretched body bag he was standing on. He
made sure his muddy shoes were still surrounded by a full circle of dry vinyl before he
shocked her again.
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This time, Dixie gasped, and the heart monitor began to run out a healthy string of fast
beats, irratic, but there.

Boot suddenly barked an eager greeting, rushing back into the room to lick the tips of
what fingers of Dixie's he could reach by rearing up onto his hind legs.

"That did it! Her heart's beating again." Quincy celebrated, quickly pulling the oxygen mask
back over the nurse's face to encourage her growing breathing attempts. "Just in time.
My shoes are back underwater." Quincy shivered.

"She's got a strong pulse." Vince said, taking up her wrist.

"That she would. A shock that widespread made even her adrenal glands convulse. Natural
fight or flight adrenaline always works far better than laboratory mixed ambulance grade
epinephrine. I've been preaching that at paramedic conferences for years." the coroner
grinned. "Wrap her snug now, and turn up that horse dryer. We don't want her to get chilled
any further. Once she's warm and dry, get her into this. " he ordered, pointing down at the
body bag that had saved her life.

Les and Dave nodded and located a set of clean, dry blankets to do just that.

Quincy slumped onto a surgical stool, eyeing up Dixie's pale face. A rosy color was just
beginning to return to her cheeks as he strapped a lighter oxygen mask over her face. One
that contained heated oxygen this time that she could draw from at her own pace. "That was
close, Sam."

"Too close." his assistant agreed, double checking the contact fit of the alligator clips
still dangling from McCall's toes and fingers one by one. "What if that hadn't worked?"
he wondered.

Quincy put a finger to his lips and shushed him, slowly shaking his head. "Don't ever tempt
fate like that, Sam. She's alive. I for one, don't want to see any clients in my office today. I'm
too worn out. Now let's see to the patients we've been neglecting. Vince, could you
keep an eye on her?"

"A close one. I'm not going anywhere. I know a whole station house full of firefighters
who'll have my badge if I'm not found taking care of one of their own properly." he quipped.
"I just spoke to them a few minutes ago. We've got three paramedics and a full set
of advanced medical gear about fifty yards away. And they know exactly where we are."

"Dixie?!" came Roy's anxious voice as he sloshed through the hall with his stationmates
and Sharon.  Everybody in the surgical bay heard a loud crash, and then a curse after
somebody male banged a shin on an unseen obstacle.

"She's got an adequate pulse now, so you can stop killing yourselves getting in here."
Quincy reprimanded. "There're sharp pieces of metal jutting up along every foot of that
ventilation shaft through the mud. Slow down!"

Taylor spoke up to the room at large. "Dave and I are heading out to go find an ambulance
on our own. We'll lead them back here."  And then they were gone, sliding past the gang
still newly arriving.

"What's her status? She looks to be the worst of them." Gage snapped, sloshing rapidly
over to Dixie to take a carotid count and breathing rate.

"She's.. comfortable." Vince shrugged with a smile.

"Wait a minute, you told us she was dying." Brice interjected, studying the EKG's
readout in total disbelief.  Dixie was in very stable sinus rhythm.  Not to be distracted,
Craig crouched down in front of the secretary to check her out thoroughly.

"She was. But not any more. The good coroner here got her going again about
a minute or so ago." Howard said, nodding at Quincy.

Roy didn't get stressed out like the other paramedics in the room. He just asked
the obvious question. "What got her into cardiac trouble?" he wondered as he
began to look at Barney's pupils with a penlight from his shirt pocket.

"Who knows? I can't tell cause of death without doing an autopsy.  Hypovolemic shock?
Hypothermic cardiac conductivity supression with electrolyte imbalance issues? Your
guess is probably better than mine, fellas, because paramedics deal with the living. Have
at her." Quincy told them with a wave of his hands. "I'm going to sit down. As your official
attending M.D., I'll just supervise from over here. I'm exhausted. Let me know if you want
to know what I found on the three of them medical wise."

"We do want to know." Gage said, all business as he quickly examined Dixie from head to
toe in a secondary survey, looking for other trauma issues past the fresh CPR bruising on
her chest.

Quincy sighed wearily, just now beginning to shake with reaction. "On Coolidge. Brief black
out, confusion, occipital contusion, non-depressed. Bleeding from the area is controlled. He's
body core temperature deficient. On Burns, broken left R.and U., with unknown etiology on
level of consciousness. No obvious signs of other external injuries. On Miss McCall.
Suffocation history, no blunt trauma evident, a lucky poke on that left popliteal artery lower
lateral femur, no tendon involvement. Blood loss estimated at 1200 ccs based on initial vital
sign readings. Brief airway obstruction was resolved, lungs are clear. Cardiac arrest duration
three minutes twelve seconds. An adequate rhythm was restored after two shocks. Breathing
recovery was instantaneous. Cyanosis was minimal during all crisis periods. She, too, is
moderately chilled. Anything else?"

"Thanks." Roy grinned at him as the six of them got to work.  "Help yourselves to hot coffee.
Doctor? We brought some with us." and he tossed over a blissfully warm steel thermos
Quincy's way. "There's enough for everybody who can have it."

"Me first. I'm thirstier." Sam said, snatching it out of the air neatly before helping himself to a
generous cupful.

Stoker and Marco began to survey the room for other dangers that weren't already known.
"The utilities are off. And there are no gas leaks." Mike reported, waving a hand held sensor
around in the air.

"I'll double check this generator and see that it keeps going." Lopez offered.

Sharon Walters turned thoughtfully to Vince and the others. "You guys okay?"

"Yeah. Just tired. We had to knock down half the mall to get in here." Howard told her.
"Our arms are a little sore, but that's all."

Her face firmed up into decision as she took charge of the non-wounded.
"Rest up. We brought clean clothes and fresh boots. Now go camp out under that ...that.."

" dryer.."  Dr. Coolidge piped up from under Roy's ministrations.

".. to warm up and dry off." Sharon finished without missing a beat. "And that's an order."

"Nurses." Quincy chuckled happily. "Gotta love em."

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From:  patti keiper (
Subject: Taffy
Sent: Tue 5/07/13 12:10 PM

"Dr. Quincy. I concur.." said Roy as he straightened up from his examination
of Coolidge. "It IS just a bump and small cut. Minor concussion. He says his
vision isn't doubling up anymore." he said.

"I had thought you might." he grinned. "You're very sharp."  

"I'll vouch for that assessment." Johnny teased DeSoto. "Now what's her
story?" he asked Craig about Patty Burns, Coolidge's secretary.

"Shock, mostly.  Her diminished L.O.C. is due to constant psychogenic
fainting due to pain.  She woke up on me twice, looking panicky, before
hyperventilation knocked her out again. The arm fracture's comminuted."
Brice replied.

"We can fix both those problems with some pain meds." Johnny told him.

"Nuh uh. Her pressure's too low for narcotics. It might be the best thing
to just let her keep blacking out like this as a coping mechanism." Craig said,
glancing down to where he had placed her on her side, within her
insulating body bag. "Perfusion in that hand is bad enough as it is."

"How about a Bier block? Johnny wondered. "That's just a local."

Brice pursed his lips. "It's worth a shot."

Johnny turned to the others. "Dr. Quincy?"

"Yeah?" replied the older man who was nursing a steaming cup of coffee
with both hands across the room as he played keep away with Boot with
a free foot gleefully.

"Do you know how to do nerve blocks?" Gage asked the coroner.

"Nope. That's a skill more in an anesthesiologist's ballpark. I just know general
sedation and the usual paralytics and a few cardiac stabilizers, same as you
paramedics." he replied.  "Sorry."

"Okay, uh.. do you have any suggestions on how we can handle Miss Burns
for extrication?" Gage asked, thinking out loud.

The coroner didn't hesitate.
"Rapid Sequence Intubation with Fentanyl as opposed to Etomidate,
followed up by some epinephrine to dilate the blood vessels in her extremities  
to improve the status of that fracture. That way she's paralyzed, but with a
favorable analgesic effect so she can start to get some rest."

"Tricky. That imidazole-derived agent is very short lived." Brice remarked.

Quincy met his eyes fully at that.
"So? There's enough of us here to keep her under decently, and airway and
breathing maintained. All it takes is one hand squeezing an ambu bag and
the other suctioning out her mouth from time to time. What's more important?  
Her comfort or your convenience?" the coroner countered.

Craig had the decency to look properly chastened by an expert.

Gage fought to hide a smile. "Oo, looks like Brice has finally met his match."

Even Roy smiled. He glanced over Johnny's shoulder. "How's Dixie?"

"Trying to wake up, I think. She reacted visibly when I started her I.V." Johnny
told him.  

Roy grinned. "She sure does hate those things. I'm surprised she didn't try to
sit up and punch your lights out. In that way, she's worse than Dr. Morton."

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   A Day In The Life
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