Dislaimer: The episode 'Dilemma' does not belong to me, nor do any characters from 'Emergency!' I just borrowed both for fun. No profit has been made.
At an industrial accident at a rail yard, the crew of A-shift find a man named Jesse down on the ground. He’s dizzy and his respirations are slow. Roy smells cleaner on the man and thinks it is Trichloroethylene (TCE). The foreman explains that the workers were cleaning tanks with vegetable oil in them, but there are also tanks with TCE. It’s possible they cleaned the wrong ones. Andy, the other worker, is missing. They soon find him in one of the tanks with TCE.
Dilemma: An Alternate Ending
By Audrey W.
This picks up just after they get the second man out.
Johnny climbed out of the tanker car and sat on the rim of the access hole. He swiped at the sweat on his forehead, then glanced around at the bustle of activity going on as the victim he and Roy had just gotten out was lifted down in a stokes. DeSoto was overseeing the task.
The younger paramedic shook his head slightly as the men around him wavered in his vision. Feeling woozy, Johnny slowly got to his feet, staggering slightly. Everyone else was too preoccupied to notice.
As the stokes with the victim was carried towards the fire trucks and ambulance, one of the workers from the rail yard climbed off the car. Johnny followed after him. The worker made it safely to the ground without incident. Unfortunately, Gage didn’t fair so well. Determined to ignore the symptoms coming on and complete the job at hand, the paramedic misjudged his second step on the ladder. His coordination off kilter from the dizziness, he stepped into empty air and fell, banging his head on one of the lower ladder rungs. Johnny landed in a heap on the ground.
Roy hollered for the victim to be hosed down when the men reached the trucks, then reached out for something to steady himself when he felt a wave of dizziness come over him. The closest thing available was Captain Hammer’s shoulder. The paramedic noticed a concerned look from the captain when his hand rested on him.
“You all right, DeSoto?”
Roy opened his mouth to explain he was just feeling a little light headed, when he saw his partner suddenly disappear off the side of the railway car. His own health forgotten, he rushed to the ladder. Hammer was the first off, followed by Roy. One of the men on the scene was already at Johnny’s side. The rail yard workers who had not gone with their injured co-worker gathered around, forming a half circle around the hapless paramedic. Mike Stoker and Marco were with the other victim, Andy, to help hose him off.
With his adrenaline now at a rush, Roy shoved his own symptoms aside. He and Captain Hammer both knelt beside Gage. The senior paramedic did a quick exam to check for any possible broken bones. Finding none, he and the captain both carefully turned Johnny onto his back.
“Johnny? Can you hear me?”
The younger man groaned, and moved his head slightly. He squinted up at the faces directly above him.
“You okay?” Roy asked.
The captain glanced at the men around them. “Can you all move back some and give him some air?”
Johnny moaned as he started to try to sit up, but Roy stopped him. “Just stay still till I’ve checked you out.” He looked to Hammer. “I’m gonna make sure Andy gets off to Rampart okay. Don’t let Johnny move till I get back.”
“Right.” As soon as Roy left, the captain glanced back down at Gage. The paramedic’s eye lids were droopy, his breathing shallow. “Chet, go get the O2 ,” Hammer directed.
“Sure thing, Cap.” The fireman took off at a fast trot.
Roy noticed his surroundings waver slightly as a dizzy spell again washed over him. He could guess now what happened to his partner. They’d been inside the cramped space of the railway car with no clean air or ventilation. Johnny was in a bit longer than him. If he was feeling the effects of the fumes, it was most likely Gage was feeling them even more so. And, like Roy, he probably didn’t think it was worth worrying over till now.
After Andy had been hosed down, he was set up with an oxygen unit that had been on the ambulance and an IV of D5W. Now ready for transport, DeSoto called the hospital on the biophone to let them know the victim was enroute. Due to the urgency of the situation and lack of paramedic units available, the first man that was exposed to the Trichloroethylene had already been sent to the hospital without a paramedic accompanying him despite having an IV started. It was going to be the same for this one since Johnny was injured and exposed to the chemical as well. Roy let Rampart know the basic circumstances and that he would be in touch soon on Gage’s condition. He then packed up the biophone and picked it up. With the red box tucked under one arm, he next grabbed for the IV and drug boxes as Chet came running over to him.
“Johnny’s gonna need some O2, Roy. He’s not breathin’ very well.”
DeSoto nodded. Marco heard and, knowing the oxygen from the squad was not available, he grabbed the unit off the engine and handed it to Chet. Roy continued to ignore his own growing symptoms as a headache tried to develop. Johnny was his main concern for the moment.
Mike joined the three men, and the four of them hurried back with the equipment for their injured friend.
When the firemen returned to the scene, Johnny was woozy and barely aware of his surroundings. He lay still on his back on the ground. Hammer was kneeling down beside him. Chet put the oxygen on Johnny and Roy adjusted the flow and checked Gage’s pupils as he explained to the others what he figured happened.
“So how are you feeling?” Hammer wondered after Roy had finished.
The paramedic shrugged. “I’m okay.” He picked up the bp cuff and placed it on his partner’s arm.
“No, how are you really? I’m concerned, Roy. If your partner was sick enough to step into thin air. . .”
“I think we’ve both got mild symptoms, Cap. It’s just that it hit Johnny at the worst time possible and now he’s dealing with a concussion on top of being exposed to the Trichloroethylene.”
Johnny groaned as he began to come around again. Wincing at the brightness of daylight, he started to close his eyes.
“Hey, partner, can you stay with me a minute?” Roy asked. The only reply he got was a groan.
“I’ll take that as a ‘yes’” he said, forcing a smile. “Can you tell me your name?”
Johnny winced. “Roy. . .not. . .now. . .” came a weak sounding answer.
“Not my name. Yours. C’mon.”
The others waited anxiously, their eyes on both Roy and Johnny.
“Uh. . .John. . .Gage.”
“Fri. . .Friday.”
“That’s . . .my line,” Johnny mumbled.
Roy grinned. Despite a lump on the back of his head and the chemical exposure, his partner was pretty much going to be okay.
“The ambulance should be here anytime. I called for one while you were gathering the equipment together,” Hammer explained.
“Good.” Roy contacted Rampart on the biophone. Absently rubbing at his forehead, he spoke into the receiver. “Rampart, this is Squad 51.”
“Go ahead, 51,” came Brackett’s reply.
“Third victim is suffering from exposure to Trichloroethylene and a blow to the back of the head when he fell off a train car. Pupils are normal, Bp is 94/50, pulse 70 and breathing is shallow and slow. I’ve administered O2, and would like to start an IV of D5W.”
“10-4, 51. Start IV of D5W, continue O2 and transport as soon as possible.”
When he got off the biophone, he saw that the younger man was watching him. Johnny gave a slight groan when Roy inserted the IV, but didn’t complain. He just grimaced as the throbbing in his head continued.
After getting his partner ready for transport, Roy stood up to help lift him onto the stretcher once the ambulance arrived. It was then he staggered slightly from another brief dizzy spell. He also noticed his mild headache had settled in stronger. Must’ve been too busy to realize it was there.
Roy’s reaction wasn’t lost on Captain Hammer. “DeSoto, you okay?”
The senior paramedic glanced at the captain and nodded. “Just stood up too fast, I guess.”
Hammer put his hands on his hips, his eyes still on DeSoto. “Roy. . .?”
He knows. “I’ll get checked out at Rampart,” the paramedic gave in.
“Be sure you do. I’ll stand the squad down till we get a replacement for Gage and word on you. Chet can drive the squad over to Rampart. If you’re cleared, ride back with him.”
The ambulance attendants wheeled the stretcher with Johnny on it towards the rear of their vehicle. Once at the ambulance, the paramedic was lifted in. Chet and Marco set the biophone, IV and drug boxes just inside the doors. Roy climbed up and got situated beside his partner.
Chet trotted to the squad and got in on the driver’s side. He followed behind the ambulance as they headed for Rampart.
Roy watched Johnny as the younger man’s eyes looked lazily up at him.
“That’s quite a step you took earlier,” Roy commented.
Johnny nodded. “Tell me. . .’bout it.”
Roy then noticed an unmistakable expression come over Gage’s face. He quickly helped the dark-haired paramedic turn his head to the side, ready for what would come next. Fortunately Johnny was feeling nauseous but so far was able to keep his stomach intact.
"Next time . . .you . . .go down. . .first."
"You mean down the ladder or inside the tanker?"
"If the situation ever comes up again, you've got a deal. I have a feeling Cap'll make us put on our gear next time. . .if there’s room for it."
Johnny nodded and swallowed, still trying to keep the contents of his stomach down.
Roy sat back and sighed. “Next time we’re feeling bad from exposure to the elements, let’s make sure we tell someone.”
Once again, Johnny shook his head yes in agreement.
Brackett put his penlight in the pocket of his white coat, then folded his arms across his chest. "You’ve got a mild concussion, Johnny, but I think you've seen the worst of the symptoms from the Trichloroethylene."
"In . . .other words. . .If I hadn't. . .fallen. . ."
"You'd be back to work," Kel finished, nodding.
Johnny winced as another throbbing pain shot through his head.
"We'll keep you here till tomorrow," Brackett explained. "If you're doing okay, you can go home then."
The news wasn’t what he’d hoped for, but Gage knew he was in no shape to drive himself home. "'kay."
Roy's symptoms had subsided except for a mild headache that could be relieved with two aspirin. Ready to head back to the station with Chet, he grinned at his partner.
"Well, I guess I'll see you next shift if all goes well."
"Yeah. . .next shift."
"Take it easy, huh?"
"You. . .too."
Roy nodded and headed for the door. He was just glad that he, Johnny and the injured rail yard workers were all going to come out of the rescue okay. Another thought crossed his mind: hmmm. Just last week, Johnny sprained his knee during a rescue; a week before that, he got sea sick. I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come.
Before the beginning of the following shift, Johnny and Roy stood near the counter in the dayroom of the station still dressed in their civilian clothes. Other members of A-shift were in the room with them, also out of uniform, all enjoying coffee before time to get ready for duty. Chet Kelly had requested the time off, but his replacement was there and waiting with the rest of the crew.
Suddenly the back door to the dayroom opened and Chet stepped inside. “Good morning, gentlemen.” He scanned for Stoker, spotting him at the table. “You have those keys for me, Mike?”
“Sure, Chet.” The engineer handed a set of keys to the fireman.
“What’re the keys for?” Johnny asked.
“Oh, Mike’s letting me use his Dune Buggy for the day. I. . .uh. . .have a date.”
“That’s right, Johnny. And I think you’re gonna be a bit surprised.” He stepped over to the still open door. “C’mon in, Cynthia.”
“Cynthia?” Gage wondered.
Roy just stared at the doorway, expecting a homely girl to walk in. His mouth dropped open in surprise when a beautiful gal with long brown hair entered. “That’s Cynthia?” he asked his partner.
Johnny’s mouth was already hanging open in shock. The woman was gorgeous. Nothing like he recalled from before. “Yeah. . .” he muttered without taking his eyes off her.
“That’s the girl you were trying so hard to dump?”
“Yeah,” Gage answered again, still staring.
“Too bad ya didn’t hit your head before you met her. It might’ve knocked some sense into ya.”
“Yeah, no kiddin’.” Johnny had to wonder, himself, what he’d been thinking. He stepped over near Chet. “How’d you. . .?”
“Oh, while you were in the hospital and the squad was out on another run, Cynthia came by again,” Chet explained. “And the rest is history.”
Marco was offering Cynthia a drink of some sort for the third time since she’d come in. Mike was offering to get her breakfast. Kirk, Chet’s fill-in, was trying to think of what to say. He’d blown his opportunity to go out with Cynthia just like Gage had.
Before anyone could say or do anything more, Chet and his date were on their way out. “See you later, guys.”
Johnny just stared at the closing door. “You know, Roy. . .”
“I think I was right about her.”
“But she’s beautiful.”
“Yeah, she is,” he agreed. “But there’s something wrong with that chick. I mean, look. She’s dating Chet.”
Roy shook his head. He sensed another long shift with Johnny on the subject of Cynthia. . .here we go again, he thought. The girl was going to keep his partner busy trying to figure her out no matter what she did.
Thanks to Jill Hargan for the beta read! :o)
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