“Blood Is Thicker Than D5W”

** Part One**


By Audrey & Ross



Captain Hank Stanley completed morning roll and lowered his clipboard.  The Fire Officer issued some work orders to his engine crew and then turned to his paramedic team.  “By the looks a’ the log book, Lorey and Gilbertson were kept pretty busy last shift.  You two should probably go through the Squad, see what supplies you’re short on, and then take a quick run on over to Rampart, to re-stock—before things get real busy around here.”


“Right, Cap!” the pair acknowledged and immediately began emptying their truck’s equipment compartments.


Their Captain, and his clipboard, disappeared in the direction of his office.



A-Shift’s paramedics had just gotten their equipment laid out on the garage floor and were about to begin running radio telemetry checks and taking inventory, when the claxons sounded.


The two men waited to hear if it was Station 51, or just the Engine, or just the Squad, that was being toned out.


“Squad 51…” the dispatcher finally announced.


The firemen exchanged alarmed looks and quickly began filling their truck’s empty equipment compartments back up.


“…man down…unknown cause…in the 1400 block of  East Sawyer Blvd…One-four-zero-zero block of East Sawyer Blvd…cross streets: Alamo and Thornton…ambulance is responding…time out: 08:02.”


“Squad 51. KMG-365,” Hank Stanley calmly acknowledged. 


DeSoto scrambled behind the wheel and slammed his door shut.


About a split second later, his Captain passed a copy of the call slip through his open window.


Gage got their truck’s last two compartments closed and slipped into the seat beside his partner, just in time to take the little piece of paper from his extended hand.


The Captain couldn’t help but smile.  “Talk about cutting it close,” he commented, solely to himself.  He watched the rescue truck pull out of the Station, and then reluctantly returned to his paperwork.



The firemen arrived at the call address in just under six minutes.


The two rescuers exchanged alarmed looks for the second time that morning.


There really was a ‘man down in the 1400 block of East Sawyer Blvd.’!  Their victim was lying facedown—right in the center of the strangely deserted street.


Before Roy could even brake to a complete stop, his partner already had his door open and one foot on the ground.


Moments later, John was kneeling at the motionless man’s side and performing an initial patient survey.  ‘Unknown cause, my ass!’ he silently fumed, upon spotting the crimson-stained hole in the back of their victim’s beige shirt.  ‘Da-amn!’ He hated these types of rescues.  The type where they didn’t know what they were getting themselves into, until they were already ‘into’ it dangerously deep.  “Hey, Ro-oy?” he nervously called out and began surveying their immediate vicinity for any signs of a sniper. 


Roy was in the process of pulling compartment doors open.  He caught the anxious tone in his partner’s voice and immediately locked gazes with him.


“This guy’s got a gunshot wound to his left shoulder, through and through.  Looks like he’s lost a lot a’ blood.  I can’t find any other physical injuries.  What d’yah say, we do a ‘grab and go’?”


DeSoto’s blue eyes widened a bit and began darting about, as well. ‘Hell yeah!’ he thought.  The paramedic nodded his compliance to his partner’s proposed plan of action and promptly closed the equipment compartments.


The rescuers carefully crammed their unconscious victim into their truck’s cab and then quickly climbed in with him.


The Squad’s doors were slammed. 


DeSoto ignited its engine, threw it into drive and went racing off down the deserted street.



Gage braced their propped up patient with one hand and grabbed their dash-mounted radio’s mic’ with his other.  “L.A., Squad 51 on scene,” he began, a bit breathlessly.  “Notify police there’s been a shooting here.   We’re transporting our gunshot victim to a safer location.  Advise the ambulance driver to avoid the 1400 block of Sawyer Blvd.  We’ll call our victim’s new location in, once we’re safely away from here.”


“10-4, 51…Will notify and advise.”


John replaced the radio and started reaching for their gunshot victim’s corotid.  The paramedic kept his fingers pressed upon their patient’s pulse and his eyes peeled to his wristwatch.  “He’s goin’ south!”


The Squad’s driver quickly considered his options over.  If they kept going, the victim would be in danger of dying.  If they stopped now, they could be, as well.  Roy reluctantly brought their rescue truck to a stop, just a couple of blocks from the shooting scene.


John snatched their radio back up and then stuck his head out his window.  He noted the names on the nearest street signs, and then thumbed the mic’s send button.  “L.A., Squad 51.  Advise the ambulance driver that we are now at the corner of Sawyer and Perkins.”


“10-4, 51…Police are en route…The ambulance driver will be advised of your new location.” 


The paramedics piled back out of their truck.


John spread a bright yellow drop sheet down onto the grassy strip, between the curb and the sidewalk, and their patient was gently lowered down onto it.


The two firemen then fetched their equipment cases from their rescue squad’s side compartments…and immediately went to work.



Sirens wailed and gunfire was exchanged, in the not too distant distance.


Vital signs were relayed and doctor’s orders were quickly carried out.  The victim’s bloody left shoulder was both bandaged and immobilized.


Every once in awhile, one—or both—of the busy firemen would stare off in the direction of the original call site, and silently pray that they’d managed to move far enough down Sawyer Blvd., to stay out of harm’s way.



The pair had just gotten their patient stabilized and ready for transport, when their HT began to ‘bleep’.


“Squad 51…Police report they have a gunman in custody.”


Roy traded looks of relief with his partner and started reaching for their hand-held radio.


Suddenly, the ridiculously loud report of a rifle ‘crack’ed the air.


John jerked at the sound.  In that same instant, the IV bag in his upraised right hand disintegrated, splattering both the paramedics—and their patient—with its clear, liquid contents.


Both firemen immediately hugged the ground.


Gage used his body to shield their gunshot victim’s body, and began looking for what was left of their patient’s IV line, hoping to turn the drip valve off in time. The paramedic was relieved to find that his partner had already had the presence of mind to crimp the clear plastic tubing off with his fingers.  “Funny, I could a’ sworn the dispatcher just said the cops had the gunman in custody.”


Speaking of his partner…


Roy was currently experiencing a ‘flashback’ to his medic days in ‘Nam, where snipers and bullet-ridden bodies were the norm.  Judging from the all-to-familiar sound’s direction, the shot must a’ come from between a couple a’ buildings, directly across the boulevard from them.  “The police may have a gunman in custody.  But they obviously don’t have the gunman.” 


Gage glanced up at their Squad.  They carried a lot of rescue gear on that truck.  But there was nothing in its compartments that could help them handle this type of ‘fire’.  “Think we could get Cap’ to requisition us some bullet-proof vests?”


“If we can’t—and, if we live through this,” Roy replied, “let’s just buy our own.”


“Works for m—.”


“—I didn’t hafta aim for that bag, yah know!” the shooter shouted out.


“We believe you!” the blond paramedic confidently called back—all be it, a bit breathlessly.


“Yah see,” the gunman continued, “I got nothin’ against firemen!  My beef is with that miserable rapin’ bastard the two a’ you are tryin’ so hard ta keep alive!  Yous go away—and leave him alone, and I’ll go away—and leave yous alone!”


“That’s fine by us!” the dark-haired paramedic readily agreed, and started getting stiffly to his feet. 


“Are you nuts?!” his still prone partner suddenly demanded, speaking in a rather frantic whisper.  “On second thought, don’t answer tha—”  


“—Squad 51…” the dispatcher suddenly cut in. “Did you copy that last?”


Roy raised his head about a fraction of an inch.  Their hand-held radio was lying within arm’s length.  He thought of reaching for it, but then he recalled what a crack shot the shooter was, and quickly reconsidered.  He valued his left hand too highly.


Gage completely ignored his buddy’s sarcastic comments, and calmly continued to address the sniper. “This guy’s dead, anyway!”


“You’re lyin’!”


“Go ahead!  See for yourself!” the paramedic proposed, and waved an arm toward their perfectly still patient.  “When you blasted his IV bag, you allowed a bunch a’ air to enter into his vein!  That caused a massive air embolism to travel to his heart—stopped it cold!”


There was a derisive snort.  “That bastard doesn’t have a heart!  If he did, he and his lousy gang wouldn’t a’ raped my kid sister last ni—!”


“—Drop the rifle!” a police officer’s familiar voice suddenly ordered.


A few seconds later, Vince Howard came out from between a couple of buildings. He had his handcuffed prisoner’s right arm in one hand, and a scoped rifle in his other.  He gave Squad 51’s paramedics an ‘all’s clear’ signal, and then herded his prisoner off down the street.


DeSoto got quickly to his feet and then glared disgustedly at Gage. The blond-haired fireman was almost too flustered to form his racing thoughts into words. "What were you going to do, if that guy over there—with the gun—didn’t believe you?"


His partner replied with a quick question of his own. "Why wouldn't he believe me? I mean, I think I’m a pretty darn good liar. And I owe it all to fishing. Yah see, part a’ bein’ a good fisherman, is knowin’ how to lie—convincingly."


But Roy remained unconvinced. "What if the victim would've moved...or moaned? What if Vince hadn't a' shown up when he did?" The fuming fireman stood there, staring at his partner, like he had purple antennae protruding from the top of his head, or something. "Whatever possessed you to just stand up like that, anyway?!"


"You heard ‘im. He has nothin’ against u-us."


"Yeah? Well…What if you weren’t the only one who was lying? You didn’t stop to think a’ that.  Did you."


"Yeah. Sure. I-I thought a’ that."


Roy could tell, by the look on his buddy's face, that the idea had never once crossed his mind. "You’re as lousy a liar, as you are a fisherman.  You wanna get another IV set up for me?  My fingers are starting to cramp up, here…" He gave the clear plastic tubing in his right hand a distasteful glance.  He’d been keeping it crimped off the entire time.


Gage obligingly stooped beside their drug box.


The distant sound of wailing sirens drew nearer and nearer.


It appeared that police back-up and their ambulance would be arriving at the same time.


“51, this is Rampart…” Dr. Brackett’s voice suddenly came over their Bio-phone.  “I’m still waiting on that vitals update…gentlemen.”


The two ‘gentlemen’ traded ‘Oops!’ glances.  What with the exploding IV bag, and all, they’d completely forgotten about the physician’s latest request.


John re-inflated their patient’s BP cuff, and then stuck the tips of his stethoscope back in his ears.


Roy latched onto their Bio-phone’s handset with his left hand and thumbed its send button.  “Squad 51.  Sorry for the delay, Rampart.  We got a little…distracted.”


Gage grinned at his friend’s gross understatement.  He gave Roy an eye roll, along with a little piece of paper, upon which he had listed their gunshot victim’s latest set of vital signs.  He got another IV all set to go and then turned to one of the new arrivals.  The paramedic asked the police officer if he would care to accompany their ‘possible rape suspect’ to the hospital.



Fifteen minutes later, Roy found himself leaning against the counter at the Nurses’ Station in Rampart General’s Emergency Receiving, sipping on a cup of steaming coffee.


“Heard it was like the Wild West out there for you guys,” Joe Early said, as he came stepping up with a medical chart in his hands.


“Yeah,” DeSoto solemnly concurred. “A sniper managed to blow our vic’s IV bag to smithereens.  Shot it right outta Johnny’s hand. I tell yah, that guy was a crack shot.  I bet he could a’ hit a fly on a barn door, from a hundred yards.” The paramedic saw his partner approaching the Nurses’ Station.   “And Wild John Hickock, here, had to stand up and make himself an even bigger target than he already was.”


Dixie passed the dark-haired paramedic a freshly poured cup of coffee.


Joe Early gave the new arrival’s soggy right shoulder a couple of comforting pats.


“Hi, Dix!  Hi, Doc!” Gage greeted the two hospitable hospital staffers.


Not one to miss much, Miss McCall had caught the aggravation in DeSoto’s suddenly raised voice.  Along with the Java, Dixie had given Roy’s partner a questioning glance.


Which Johnny didn’t see, because he was too busy staring down at his still damp uniform.  “Dix, do you know if D5W leaves a stain?”


“No,” the nurse numbly replied. “But, seeing as how it’s just sterile water, mixed with a little dextrose, I wouldn’t think so.”  Dixie finally caught the fireman’s attention and motioned toward DeSoto with her head.


 John caught the woman’s ‘What’s up with him?’ look.  “He’s still a little upset with me.”


“I’m not a little upset,” Roy calmly corrected, but then his blue eyes began narrowing into menacing slits. “I’m a lot upset!”


“Hey, don’t blame me-e.  Blame Oscar.  It’s all his fault.”


The look on his partner’s face turned, from one of consternation, to confusion.  “Oscar?”


“Yeah.  Yah see, my Grandmother was a hu-uge fan of Rogers and Hammerstein.  So we grew up listening to all the soundtracks from their musicals.  I can’t remember the name of the musical right now.  But I can clearly recall all the words to the song.  It goes…”


Everyone within earshot swung their heads in the young man’s direction, as he suddenly began singing—acapella.


“‘Whenever I feel afraid I hold my head erect

And whistle a happy tune

So no one will suspect I`m afraid


While shivering in my shoes I strike a careless pose

And whistle a happy tune

And no one ever knows I`m afraid


The result of this deception is very strange to tell

For when I fool the people I fear

I fool myself as well


I whistle a happy tune and every single time

The happiness in the tune

Convinces me that I`m not afraid


Make believe you`re brave and the trick will take you far

You may be as brave

As you make believe you are


You may be as brave

As you make believe you are…’”


The tune ended and people began to quietly applaud the paramedic’s impromptu performance.


John heard the applause and turned his head.  The fireman’s bottom jaw fell open and his cheeks flushed.  He hadn’t realized he’d had an audience.


Gage’s immediate trio of friends traded looks of total astonishment.


The physician was the first to find his voice.  “That was very nice, John.”


“You got that right, Joe!” Dixie adamantly agreed.  She flashed the melodious fireman a lovely smile. “You have a beautiful singing voice, Johnny.”


The bashful fireman flashed his beautiful critic back a grateful, slightly lopsided grin.


“Yeah.  Nice song,” DeSoto said, his voice filled with an equal mixture of frustration and sarcasm.  “Perhaps you’d like us to play it for you…at your funeral!”


“Hey, don’t knock it, til you’ve tried it.  I’m tellin’ yah, it works!”


“In a musical, maybe,” Roy relented.  “But, you ‘hold your head erect’ out there—in the real world—and you’re liable ta get it blown off!”  He saw his partner gazing glumly down at the floor tiles beneath his feet and backed off—a bit.  “Look…the next time you get the urge to ‘strike a careless pose’, I just wish you would do a little less ‘whistling’ and a lot more ‘thinking’, first.”


Gage’s gaze suddenly turned even glummer.  That was one wish the fireman knew he would never be able to fulfill for his friend. 


In order to carry out some of the rescue operations they were called upon to perform, the pair often had to place themselves smack dab in the middle of some truly terrifying, not to mention incredibly dangerous, situations. 


John knew that, if he didn’t keep his ‘thinking’ to an absolute bare minimum, his body would probably become too paralyzed, by fear of injury—or death, to even be able to move. 


This was particularly true when it came to confronting folks who were fond of firing guns. 


Gunfire was the only fire John Gage wasn’t prepared to fight.  Truth was, he felt defenseless against it…and that scared the living hell out of him!  There was only one way, that he knew of, to deal with it.  So what, if it involved a little bit a’ ‘make believe’? Bottom line was, it worked…at least, for him.


For when I fool the people I fear…I fool myself as well,’ the fireman repeated his silent mantra for coping with the otherwise un-cope-able.  Then he heaved a heavy sigh, and slowly began to raise his glum gaze.  “Sorry,” was all that he could truthfully say, when his sad eyes finally locked onto to his perturbed partners’.


The look in his crushed companion’s sadder than sad eyes shook Roy to his very core, and his anger vanished. 


What did Johnny have to be so sad and so sorry for? His brash-acting buddy hadn’t really done anything wrong…exactly. 


That realization helped the former medical corpsman realize something else, as well.  He’d been venting some of the frustration and anger he’d accumulated over there—toward his partner.  He didn’t mean to.  It’s just that, he’d seen so much senseless killing!  The incident with the sniper that morning had managed to bring a lot of suppressed memories—and feelings—boiling back up to the surface.  The thought of his best friend standing up like that—and then taking a bullet—would’ve been just another senseless killing…and he’d seen enough of that…more than enough. 


DeSoto gave his partner’s soggy shoulder a reassuring squeeze.  “Let’s just forget the whole thing ever happened,” he suggested.


His no-longer-forlorn friend flashed him a smile of approval.


Roy returned his buddy’s smile—with interest. “Since we’re already here…What d’yah say we go over the Squad and see about re-stocking our supplies, right now?”


“That’s a great idea,” Gage agreed.  “It’ll save us a trip.”


The pair placed their half-drained mugs on the counter and began heading off down the hospital corridor, in the direction of the parking lot.


“Thanks for the coffee, Dix!” John called back over his shoulder.  “Catch yah later, Doc!”


“Be careful out there!” the physician called after the departing pair.


Judging by what Dixie and Joe had just heard, the two firemen were very lucky that it was only a little D5W—and not their own blood—that their uniforms had become drenched in that morning. 




“Hey, Charlie! Hey, Pete!” Gage and DeSoto called out in perfect unison, as they passed a couple of their colleagues in the hall.


“Johnny! Roy!” 36’s paramedics acknowledged, also speaking in unison.


“Sa-ay, you 51 guys really know how to start your shift off with a…bang,” Pete Henschel teased.


51’s guys exchanged a pair of pained expressions and then watched, as the comedian, and his grinning partner, followed their patient’s gurney on its journey toward Treatment Three.


“Gee,” DeSoto snidely remarked, as the two resumed their trek toward the parking lot and their rescue truck, “I wonder how many times we’ll be hearing that today?”


“One more time will be one too many,” Gage quickly determined.  The paramedic really really wanted to ‘just forget the whole thing ever happened’.



The two firemen climbed up into their Squad, and DeSoto drove off across the lot, in search of a pair of side-by-side parking spaces.  He finally found a couple and proceeded to park in such a way, so that the passenger side would face the empty space.


The two men exited their firetruck and started emptying its equipment compartments.


“Remember when I said that Joanne’s sister might be bringing her kids for a visit?  Well, they came Wednesday morning and left Friday night.”


“Oh yeah?  How did it go?”


“Connie’s youngest boy is eight now.  He spent the entire two days regaling us with those ridiculous ‘What do you get when you cross ‘this’ with ‘that’ jokes.’  You know, like: What do you get when you cross a lion with a head a’ cabbage?  That sort a’ thing. Anyways, this morning, at the breakfast table, Chris tells us he made up a joke of his own, and wonders if we would like to hear it.  We have no idea what we’re getting ourselves into, but he’s our kid.  So, of course, we agree.   Chris asks, ‘What do you get when you cross a dog with a car?’  After about a minute, or so, Jo and I finally gave up.  You’ll never guess what the answer is.”


Roy was right.  After a minute, or so, of racking his boggled brain, his buddy was forced to surrender.  “Okay.  I give up.  What do you get when you cross a dog with a car?”


DeSoto hesitated a moment or two and then rather dazedly replied, “A runned over dog.”


Gage was both dazed and amazed—and amused.  “That’s…sick…and yet, terribly funny…at the same time,” the paramedic confessed, and couldn’t keep from grinning.


Roy joined him. “The two of us tried to ‘keep it together’.  But we ended up cracking up.”


“That—That’s understandable.”


The firemen finally got all of their gear spread out on the pavement.


John stooped down and began opening up cases. “What do you get when you cross a lion with a head a’ cabbage?” he suddenly pondered


Roy crouched down beside his perplexed partner and reluctantly replied, “A man-eating coleslaw.”


Gage groaned in mental agony.  “I like Chris’ riddle a lot bett—”




The duo exchanged looks of disbelief and started tossing everything back into their truck.


“I’m beginning to get the feeling the ‘equipment gods’ don’t want the two of us to take inventory today,” John half-jokingly commented.


Roy’s eyebrows arched upwards, along with the corners of his mouth.  ‘The equipment gods?’ Now, there was a tangent his partner had never ventured off into…before.


“Squad 51…What is your status?”


Roy paused in his equipment passing to reach for their radio.  “L.A., Squad 51 is available on follow up to Rampart General,” he obligingly informed the dispatcher.


“10-4, 51…” headquarters quickly came back.  “Standby for a response…”



Author’s note: “I Whistle A Happy Tune” is from the Rogers and Hammerstein musical, ‘The King and I’.


“I Whistle A Happy Tune”

Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein ;)


“Whenever I feel afraid I hold my head erect

And whistle a happy tune

So no one will suspect I`m afraid


While shivering in my shoes I strike a careless pose

And whistle a happy tune

And no one ever knows I`m afraid


The result of this deception is very strange to tell

For when I fool the people I fear

I fool myself as well


I whistle a happy tune and every single time

The happiness in the tune

Convinces me that I`m not afraid


Make believe you`re brave and the trick will take you far

You may be as brave

As you make believe you are


You may be as brave

As you make believe you are


I don`t think I`ll ever be afraid again


While shivering in my shoes I strike a careless pose

And whistle a happy tune

And no one ever knows I`m afraid


The result of this deception is very strange to tell

For when I fool the people I fear

I fool myself as well


I whistle a happy tune and every single time

The happiness in the tune

Convinces me that I`m not afraid


Make believe you`re brave and the trick will take you far

You may be as brave

As you make believe you are


You may be as brave

As you make believe you are…”



“Squad 51, possible head injury, 2124 West Applewood Lane, two one two four West Applewood Lane, cross street Hyland, time out 09:38.


“At least it doesn’t sound like another situation like the last one,” Johnny commented as he reached inside the squad to acknowledge the call on the radio.


Roy closed the compartment doors and secured them, then trotted around to the driver’s side of the truck. He climbed in beside his partner, then drove out of the hospital lot, lights and siren in use.



Roy brought the squad to a stop in a concrete covered driveway, where he and Gage scrambled out. They grabbed the biophone, trauma and drug boxes, and oxygen before trotting up to the front porch of the home.


Johnny let go of the oxygen tank on wheels and pressed the doorbell with his free hand. After a few seconds of waiting, worry began to grow when there was no response from inside. The dark-haired paramedic tried again as Roy stepped off the porch and peeked in a front window. He looked to Gage, who’d’ tried to open the door only to find it locked, and shook his head.


“I don’t see anyone.”


“Maybe they’re in back. . .”


Johnny grabbed the handle on the oxygen tank and followed behind DeSoto as they hurried around to the other side of the house. Roy had to shift his load to one side in order to open the latch on a chain link gate, then the two continued on, hoping they were on the right track.


But there was no one in the yard. Just an in-ground swimming pool attached to a large patio, with assorted lawn furniture on it.


Johnny immediately went for the back door, this time not knocking, but rather trying the knob and calling out “Fire department!” as the door opened freely and he burst inside.


After the experience they’d just been through, Roy was grateful to not hear any gunshots from within when his partner entered. Any other time it may not have come to mind, but for a brief second he’d began to wonder if they’d been set up in yet another dangerous call. Evidently, it never occurred to Gage . . . or he was ‘fooling himself’ again.


Roy rushed in a few steps behind. The paramedics were met with quite a sight.


A boy about five years old was talking on the kitchen phone to someone. The wall-mounted device had a long spiraled cord that was stretched out as he walked about, chatting on and on. A chair underneath the base was evidence of how he got the phone.


A toddler girl with a small plastic glass and a milk mustache stood by the kitchen table, staring at the new arrivals. The diapered tot was sporting pigtails in her hair.


A baby girl was in a high chair near the end of the table, drinking from her bottle and eyeing the firemen.


Last, but not least, a hippie-type teenaged girl was seated on the floor, her bottom partially in a small puddle of milk, a slight trail of it leading to her feet. She was leaning against a table leg, between the two young girls, a hand on the back of her head. The girl’s lower jaw dropped as her gaze shot to the boy, then up at the firemen.


“F. . .fire department?”


“Didn’t you call us?” Johnny wondered.


“Uh. . I gue. .  . I mean. . .yah.” She glanced nervously at the little boy, then again returned her attention to them. “But aren’t you guys for. . .like. . .fires?”


“Not always,” Roy said with a smile. “Not anymore.”


John set down the equipment in his hands and squatted beside her after a quick glimpse and grin over his shoulder at the baby girl playfully smiling at him from her chair. “Looks like you’ve got your hands full here.”


“And for only fifty cents an hour, too,” she complained. “Dianne,” my mother said, “Why don’t you take up baby sitting? It’ll be good for you. And now look,” she added with a pout.


Roy kneeled on the other side of her. “You hit your head?”


“Yah. Trudy spilled half her milk.” She motioned with her other hand in the direction of the toddler, who was behind Roy and beside the table still. “And I slipped in it.” She winced. “I hit my head on the edge of the table. Look, you guys got any aspirin?” The question was followed by another wince.


“We can’t give you anything. Not with a head injury,” Johnny explained. “Did you lose consciousness at all?” he asked as he flicked his pen light in one of her eyes, carefully observing the results, then repeated with the other.


“No. . .no, I’ve been awake the whole time.”


“Pupils equal and reactive.”


Roy nodded in acknowledgment and proceeded to get her vital signs after having her lower her hand. Johnny shifted to where he could see the back of her head better. He gingerly moved some of her hair out of the way to look for a break in the skin.


In the meantime, the little boy’s voice could still be heard as he went on and on chatting about his pet fish and favorite cartoons.


“She’s got a lump there, but I don’t see any sign of bleeding.”


All of a sudden Johnny felt wet drops hit his back side while little giggles could be heard from behind.  He turned just in time to see the infant girl fling more milk on him from the nipple on her bottle that she’d evidently chewed a larger hole in.




Johnny just looked down at the newly splattered front of his shirt. The kid sure could sling the stuff.


“Well, look,” Johnny said as he tried to ignore another spray of milk drops. “You’ve got quite a goose bump on your head, Dianne. The doctor’d like us to take you in at least for observation for a brief time. But we need a way for him to contact your parents since you’re a minor, otherwise he can’t treat ya.”




“Is there anyone who can take care of the kids?” Roy asked. “A neighbor or something?”


“Uhm. . .yah. . .yah, I think so.”


Suddenly Johnny noticed someone else was about to get ‘milked’. . .but in a much more effective way. “Uh, Roy!” He motioned with his head for the other to turn around.


Too late. An open milk carton that had been on the table was on its way off, with the help of Trudy. Roy didn’t stand a chance.




As the milky-spotted paramedic helped secure Dianne on a stretcher, he looked at the boy who was still going on about this and that on the phone.


“Who’s he talkin’ to anyway?”


“I don’ know. Maybe the fire department? I told’um to call my mom, he dialed the wrong number on the list.”


Johnny and Roy exchanged glances.


“Oh man. . .”


“I’ll go see. . .”


A partially soaked Roy hurried over to the youngster. He gave a friendly smile and hoped he could work magic to get control of the phone. Having a young son himself paid off and Roy soon had the receiver in his hand. And one weary, but grateful, dispatcher on the other end of the line.



Before they left, Roy hurried over to the neighbor Dianne had suggested and got care for the children. Meanwhile, Johnny had gotten a hold of her mother to inform her of where her daughter would be, while assuring her it was strictly as a precaution; not that Dianne was seriously injured.



Johnny rode in the ambulance with the girl, while Roy drove the squad, the window open in hopes his shirt would dry a little for comfort’s sake. However, unlike D5W, milk would stain. He’d need to take off his shirt and put on a clean one once they were back at the station, And if he only had the two, this one would need to be rinsed out very thoroughly so he’d still have a spare.



Once Dianne was taken to Rampart and left in the care of Doctor Early, the paramedics headed back to the station after some ribbing about their milky apparel from Dixie and Doctor Brackett.



Chet waited by the engine as the squad was backed into the apparatus bay. As soon as it came to a stop, he commented into Johnny’s open window, “Boy you guys really started out with a bang today.”


Apparently word about their first run had already spread via the phone line. Johnny looked at Roy, who in turn eyed him.


“And I’ll bet he thinks he’s being original,” Gage deadpanned with Chet’s giggles in the background. “Get out of the way,” he said playfully as he opened his door. Roy climbed out on the other side.


Captain Stanley came out of his office and clapped his hands together.


“Well, it’s certainly good to see you guys are still in one piece. You sure know how to start a shift out with a bang.”


Johnny groaned and Roy just looked on, dumbfounded.


It didn’t take but a second for their reactions to sink in.


“Lemme guess. You’ve already heard that today.”


“Twice before,” John said with a quick glance in Chet’s direction, two fingers held up as well.


But they had more to address than an annoying punch line. They still had to get the milk out of their clothes and inventory the squad. The question was, which should they do first?



Before the pair could decide which task to assign top priority to, their Captain proposed his own plan of action.


“You guys wanna step into my office for a minute,” Stanley ordered more than asked.


The ‘guys’ exchanged puzzled glances and obediently filed into their Captain’s office.


The Fire Officer followed his paramedics into the room, pulling the door closed as he did so.



Hank motioned for the two mystified men to have a seat.


They did.


Their Captain dropped into the swivel chair behind his desk, and then just sat there, staring at them.  Suddenly, his nose scrunched up.  “What smells like sour milk?”


“Uhhh…that would be us,” Roy apologized.  The senior paramedic swapped glances with his partner again, and ‘changing into fresh uniforms’ was moved to the top of their ‘to do’ list.


“You guys gonna need some time to decompress?” their concerned Captain inquired, following several more minutes of silent observation.


His paramedics exchanged glances yet again.


“Thanks, Cap,” DeSoto told him.  “But that won’t be necessary.”


“Yeah,” Gage agreed.  “Yah see, we sort a’ decompressed back at the hospita—” His comment was cut short, as their station’s tones suddenly sounded.


All three firemen shot up out of their seats.


Gage and DeSoto quickly followed their Captain from his office.



“Station 51…” the dispatcher declared, “Construction accident…1174 Gilleland Avenue…One-one-seven-four Gilleland Ave…Crosstreets: Harper and Danforth Drive…Ambulance is responding…Time out: 10:04.”

“Station 51.  KMG-365,” the Captain calmly acknowledged.  He passed his paramedics a copy of the call address and then went trotting across the apparatus bay.



The firetrucks pulled out of the station and went wailing off down the street, with their warning lights flashing.



Seven minutes later, Station 51 reached the accident site.  

A newly constructed, two-story home was apparently in the process of being spray-painted Hunter Green.  The front of the structure was covered with scaffolding. 

A man in white coveralls was lying face up on the gravely ground, right below the scaffolding, clutching his left forearm and writhing in pain.  

Two other white-coverall’ed workmen were kneeling beside the grounded guy, trying to keep him from getting up. 

Gage and DeSoto jumped out and began pulling Squad 51’s side compartments open.  

Stanley’s left hand reached blindly for their truck’s dash-mounted radio’s mic’. “LA, Station 51 is on scene,” he informed headquarters. 

“10-4, 51…” 

The Captain replaced the radio. 

Engine 51’s occupants spilled out onto the construction site and went trotting over to the workmen. 

The paramedics grabbed their rescue gear and followed closely on their heels.



“What happened here?” Captain Stanley inquired. 

“The trigger on the sprayer pistol has been sticking all morning,” one of the kneeling workmen gloomily replied.  “Damn thing got stuck in the ‘on’ position.  Benny banged it on the scaffolding, to try to free it up.  The next thing we know, he’s layin’ here on the ground, groanin’ and holdin’ his left arm.” 

“How far did he fall?” DeSoto wondered, as he began setting up their Bio-phone. 

“About fifteen feet,” the other workman estimated. 

Gage gripped the groaning guy’s shoulders and attempted to get his attention.  “Benny?  You hurting anywhere—besides your left forearm?” 

“My—my arm’s killin’ me so bad,” Benny gasped, “I can’t really tell.” 

John gently released their fall victim’s shoulders and proceeded to perform an initial patient survey.   “Pupils equal and reactive,” he informed his partner.  “Pulse 120 and strong and steady. Respirations 26.  His lungs are clear,” he added and began taking a blood pressure reading.  “BP’s 140/90.” 

His partner nodded and passed the victim’s vitals along to the doctors at Rampart. 

Gage slipped his bandage scissors from his assessment kit and carefully began cutting the sleeve of the injured workman’s coveralls open.   

A small cut appeared on the back of the house painter’s left forearm.  The injury was oozing a watery green fluid.  Either their victim was a Vulcan or he had been—. 

The coverall cutter’s blood suddenly ran cold.  “Roy, he’s got an injection wound on the back of his left forearm.” 

Roy exchanged grim glances with his partner.


Though their victim’s injury looked like "just another cut", it could lead to an amputation—or even death.


Roy regrettably passed the grim news on to the hospital. 

Kelly saw the Model No. on the high-pressure paint sprayer the workman had been using and whistled softly. “My uncle had one a’ these babies when I worked for him, back in high school.  We’re talkin’ 2000 pounds a’ pressure per square inch. That’s about a gallon a’ paint per minute.” 

The construction crew foreman came along just then, and spotted the non-operating paint sprayer.  “What the hell is going on?  We’re paying a #@$&! fortune to rent this damn machine!  So why isn’t anybody using it?!  We’re already two days behind schedule!”  The grumpy guy then stooped down to plug the expensive sprayer back in.


“Don’t touch that cord!” Captain Stanley ordered and started heading toward the new arrival at a rather rapid rate.  “The sprayer isn’t working properly!”


But the grumpy guy apparently didn’t believe him—because he proceeded to plug the paint sprayer in, anyway.


The pistol grip was lying on the ground beside the victim, with its trigger still stuck in the ‘on’ position.



Gage and DeSoto emitted some rather colorful expletives, as the fronts of their uniforms suddenly became saturated with Hunter Green paint.



The Captain cursed beneath his breath and promptly ripped the paint sprayer’s power cord from the portable electrical outlet.


It was the second time that shift that his paramedics had come ‘under fire’.  


Hank gave the deaf foreman an angry glare.  “Guess I didn’t speak authoritatively enough for you,” he realized aloud, his bitter words oozing sarcasm.  “John, could you step over here for second,” he ordered more than asked.


Gage obediently crossed over to where his Captain stood, still holding onto the paint sprayer’s power supply.


“Could you cut this cord for me,” Hank further requested—er, ordered.


Gage whipped his scissors from his assessment kit and gladly obliged.


The Captain passed the detached plug on to the deaf foreman.  “That clear enough for you?” he icily inquired.


The grumpy guy glanced down at the severed cord.  “Sorry,” he forced himself to say.


Captain Stanley remained extremely skeptical—and upset.



Doctor Morton’s medical orders were quickly carried out.


The ambulance arrived.


The paramedics’ immobilized patient was placed on a stretcher and loaded inside it—along with one half-empty five-gallon bucket of Hunter Green house paint.


Gage and DeSoto frowned down at the fronts of their uniforms.


Thankfully, it was Latex paint they’d been sprayed with. So they should be able to wash up with just soap and water.


The pair removed their Hunter Green uniforms and t-shirts and deposited them in a couple of plastic ‘personal possessions’ bags.


The ‘no longer green’ guys then donned their dark blue jackets…and went right back to work.


On the bright side, at least they wouldn’t have to worry about washing the sour milk out of their uniforms.



Fifteen minutes later, at Rampart…


John stepped up to his partner, who was standing in front of the ER’s Nurses’ Station.  “How’s that painter guy doing?”


Mike Morton glanced up from the medical chart he’d been examining. “He’s still in surgery.  They’re decompressing the wound. As you know, the pathophysiological process of his injury involves ‘distention by fluid injected under high pressure’ and the ‘formation of oleogranulomas’, which cause the skin to rapidly deteriorate. Hopefully, you two were able to get him here in time. If not, it’s possible that he could become a prime candidate for an amputation…or he could even die from blood poisoning.”


Gage gave the morbid young intern a strange stare. Then he turned back to his partner and watched him snatch a small cardboard carton up from the counter.  “What’s in the box?”


“I picked up a few items to restock the Squad.”


“But…we haven’t even taken inventory, yet.”


“Yeah.  I know.  I just thought that maybe, if we were to make a small offering to the equipment gods, they might ease up on us a little.”


“Oh. Right, Roy.  Mock the equipment gods.  As if they ain’t angry enough already.  Now we’re really going to experience their wrath.”


Roy was amused to no end.  He glanced down at their odd attire. “Seems more like the uniform gods are mad at us, if you ask me…”


Gage grinned.  “The uniform gods, huh…Yah know, I believe I may be a bad influence on you…”  


DeSoto’s own grin broadened. “I came to that exact same conclusion—years ago,” he informed his ‘influential’ friend.


His buddy’s grin vanished as the HT in his left hand suddenly leapt to life.




“Squad 51…What is your status?”


“LA,” John responded, “Squad 51 is available at the hospital on follow up.”


“10-4, Squad 51…Standby for a response…”


The paramedic team turned toward the ER’s exit and started heading off down the hall—at a trot.


“Squad 51…in place of 36…”



Five minutes—and fifteen blocks later…


Gage and DeSoto glanced at one another, as their rescue squad’s dash-mounted radio suddenly crackled to life.


“L.A., Squad 36…We are clear at the scene and will be responding with Engine 36.”


“10-4, Squad 36…” *Bleep-bleep* “Squad 51, cancel…”


John snatched up the radio’s mic’ and depressed its send button.  “Squad 51. Roger that, LA,” he acknowledged and glanced at his partner again.  “Might as well change before we head back to the hospital for supplies,” he suggested and received a nod from Roy.  “Squad 51 available.  Returning to quarters.”


“10-4, Squad 51…”



As planned, Squad 51’s paramedics returned to their quarters and promptly placed their painted uniforms in plastic pails full of warm, soapy water—to soak.


The pair scrubbed their badges and plastic nametags clean and then headed for the locker room—to change.



“Why do I feel like I’m donning a fresh ‘target’,” Roy gloomily remarked, as he tugged a clean uniform on over a bright, white t-shirt.


Gage managed an insincere snort of laughter.  “I know what yah mean,” he whole-heartedly declared and immediately ducked down.  “Say…I didn’t get any of that paint in my hair.  Did I?”


DeSoto obligingly studied his buddy’s longer than regulation locks.  “I don’t see any gree—”


John gasped in exasperation and straightened back up, as the rest of Roy’s ‘hair report’ was interrupted, by the loud blaring of their station’s claxons.



Author’s Note:

Injection wounds occur whenever a high-pressure fluid pierces the skin. Most injection wounds result when a person places their hand, or other body part, too close to the tip of the spray gun’s nozzle, or when they grab a leaking hose or fitting.*** Info gleaned from the web.




Roy brought the squad to a stop where asphalt met grass in the parking lot of a park. As the two paramedics glanced out the windshield and side windows, they saw lots of open space and no sign of snipers, spray painters nor cartons of milk in the vicinity. In fact there weren’t many people in the park period. They weren’t sure of what they were there for yet since the call had come as an unknown type rescue.


“I think we’re gonna come outta this one with clean uniforms.”


“Grass stains,” was Roy’s only reply as he and Johnny scrambled out of the squad.


The younger man took a quick glance downward at his trousers before opening the compartments of their truck and grabbing the biophone and drug box. The park had very plush grass. Maybe Roy was right.


The two trotted toward a young man with shoulder length brown hair who was running toward them from the direction of the playground area.


“Man, I am glad ta see you guys!” he called out as the three met up. 


“What happened?” Roy asked. They still had no idea why they were needed.


“It’s Craig. A friend of mine.”


They followed him as he explained, “He’s kind of a know it all. . .”


“Must be somethin’ about the name,” Johnny mumbled to his partner, referring to a Craig they knew in the fire department.  


“We were goofin’ around and he said he could balance on the monkey bars. Like walk on ‘um, man. I told him no way. But he climbed up on the top and he was doin’ okay. It was pretty far out. Then all of a sudden he started flailing his arms and next thing ya know, he’s fallin’ and tumbled right off. Came down hard on the ground.  Not cool man, not cool at all,” he added with the shake of his head.


The three trotted down a small slope to where the actual playground was located. There was Craig, a boy around nineteen years old with shoulder length blond hair, lying on the dirt surface, his tennis shoe-covered feet just underneath the arched contraption. It resembled the architecture of a bridge except for the gaps between each of the bars.



On a weekend the place would be crawling with children of all ages, but since it was a weekday, the playground and park would mostly be empty until later in the afternoon.  


“He says he can’t move.”


“I said I don’t wanna move.” Craig corrected. “I told ya moving after a fall like I had could paralyze me for life, Jeff!”


Jeff looked at the paramedics. “What’d I tell ya? A know-it-all.”


Johnny traded a smirk with Roy. The two set down their supplies and squatted near the boy.


“Can you tell us exactly where you hurt?”


Craig kept his head perfectly still as he answered. “Hurt? My back. . .lower back. My right hip’s kind of sore, too. And my head. . .I’ve got a headache.” With a hint of worry in his voice, he added, “You guys are gonna take precautions, right? I don’t wanna be in a wheel chair the rest of my life because you didn’t.”


“We’ll do everything the doctor on the other end of the line,” Johnny said with a wave toward the biophone, “instructs us to do.”


But considering he fell six feet, landed lying down on rather firm ground and was complaining of pain, it was basically a done deal that they’d take every precaution.


“I’ll get the back board and trauma box,” Roy said.


“Okay, I’ll get his vitals and contact Rampart.”


Roy trotted off after declining help from Jeff.


“Wow, Craig. You must really be hurt bad if they need a ‘trauma box’!”  Jeff then looked at Johnny. “What’s in a trauma box?”


“Stuff for trauma,” Craig jumped in with.


Johnny shrugged. “What he said.” Though it was very non-specific, it was true.


“Did he lose consciousness at all?” Johnny then asked Jeff.


He shook his head. “Nah.”


Johnny gently felt the back of Craig’s head.


“Hey, take it easy. . .You tryin’ to make it worse?”


“No, I’m checkin’ for any sign of injury. You’ve got quite a goose egg there.”


Why was he suddenly having a deja'vu?


Oh yeah. . .the babysitter. . .


He looked up at Jeff. “You sure he wasn’t out for even a few seconds?”


“Uh huh. As soon as he hit the ground, he started talkin’ about not wantin’ to be paralyzed, man.”


Johnny quickly and briefly checked both of Craig’s ears for any signs of bleeding. There was none. He next took Craig’s blood pressure, then checked his pulse and respirations. All three were a little above normal, but it was likely due to his being anxious about the situation. Still, a doctor would have to concur on that.


The paramedic jotted down the vitals he’d gotten. He then lifted the receiver from the biophone and pressed the transmit button as he held the device in his left hand, his notepad in his right.


“Rampart, this is Squad 51, how do you read me?”


“Read you loud and clear 51, go ahead.”


Just then there was a flapping sound overhead. Johnny and Jeff glanced upward. A pigeon had landed on one of the bars that arched above them.


“51, go ahead,” Doctor Brackett repeated.


Johnny caught sight of Roy coming down the small slope with the backboard and trauma box as he brought his gaze back to his notepad.


“Rampart, we have --”


Suddenly he felt something hit against the cloth covering his right shoulder, almost simultaneously he whipped his head to the side.  


“Ahh man!” he said with a sour face.


“51, did you say a man?”


Johnny frowned. There was a white glob of bird poop on his shoulder. He glanced upward again as the bird took off.


“Thanks a lot!”


Roy had just arrived and shook his head as he came to the threesome with the equipment.


“I hate to tell you this, but you have some on your back, too.”


“51, did you copy?” Came the impatient voice of the doctor.


Johnny pressed the transmit button again. 


“10-4, Rampart.”


He then went on to give the information on their patient.


Roy set the backboard beside Craig, then opened the trauma box to get a c-collar. He carefully put it on the victim, even though Craig protested he'd be better off without it. When Gage was done with the biophone for the time being, he moved over to help get the board under the their vocal patient.


When the two paramedics were almost done with the task, they heard the flapping of wings, then nothing as the bird landed somewhere.


“You see where he went?”


“Uh huh,” Johnny answered.


“You’d better move, Mister!” Jeff advised Roy.


But it wasn’t soon enough. The pigeon had been on the edge of the bars right above where Roy’s lower back was as he leaned over to slide the board under Craig. Next thing he knew, he felt something lightly smack against his shirt.


“Don’t tell me. . .”


“Okay, I won’t,” Jeff said.


Roy and Johnny traded smirks. Roy didn’t mean literally. He could already guess what had happened.


“My shoulder and your back,” Johnny commented. “You got the better end of the deal. . .literally.” He glanced at the offensive white glob still on his shoulder. 


“I heard that bird poop can eat paint off of cars,” Craig stated.


“Thanks,” Johnny said as he traded glances with Roy. “Just imagine what it’ll do to our uniforms.”


Luckily, Craig was only partially right. Bird poop had to be on a car for a long time to damage the paint.


“I hope that ambulance gets here before these birds call out the cavalry,” Johnny joked.


With Craig situated on the board, Roy was busy trying to look at how bad his lower back was soiled. But it was in a place he couldn’t see.


“If you’re wondering if you’re gonna need a clean shirt,” Johnny offered, “Yeah,” he said with a nod.


Jeff stood away from the bars, not wanting to take any chances of being next.  Before long, Johnny sent him to meet the ambulance, as he figured it would be there very soon.


Once the ambulance arrived and the stretcher was brought to their location, Johnny and Roy helped to place Craig on it, the backboard underneath him for continued support.


As they headed for the ambulance, Johnny remarked to Roy, “An' you thought we had to worry about grass stains. . .”



TBC. . .




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