The Duke of Hazards

By Audrey W.




Chet Kelly wandered into the dayroom where paramedics John Gage and Roy DeSoto were seated at the table. With black markers in hand and large white poster boards in front of each of them, the two briefly glanced up before quickly returning their attention to their projects.


“That was a short run,” Johnny commented. “Must not’ve been a very big fire.”


“It was a couch fire,” Chet explained. “On a sidewalk.”


Both paramedics looked up again, this time in surprise.


“A couch fire?” Roy asked.


“On a sidewalk?”


But it wasn’t Chet who answered. The rest of the engine crew had filtered in and Marco Lopez supplied more details.


“That’s right. The couch was going to be in the back of a truck soon. They were in the process of moving.”


“And someone apparently tossed a lit match on it after lighting a cigarette,” Mike Stoker continued.


Then it was Chet’s turn again.


“They said they kinda panicked when the couch caught fire and everyone ran in all different directions. One person called for us. Another grabbed the garden hose.”


“The fire was nearly out by the time we got there,” Captain Stanley put in. He eyed the paramedics’ projects on the table as he walked by to get a cup of coffee. 


“How’re the safety posters coming along?”


“Pretty good, Cap.”


Johnny held his up to show the graph he’d drawn with various hazards neatly printed inside each square in marker,  with basic illustrations penciled in so far to go along.  


“I’m just about done. Got electrical dangers, fire hazards, the importance of water safety.  Guess I could add couches,” he teased. “Roy’s nearly finished too.”


The senior paramedic nodded in agreement. “Almost.”


Gage went to lay his poster back on the table when the right edge slipped through his hand in the process. His mouth opened wide and he let the paper drop as he jerked his hand away.


“Son of a …!”


The exclamation ended in an unintelligible mumble.


“What’d you do?” Roy wondered.


Johnny held out his hand, a grimace on his face. “Man, it sliced me.”


An inch and a half long thin crimson line was already visible about a finger width below the base of his thumb on the inside. A very narrow flap of skin stuck up where the paper had cut under.


Marco peered over his shoulder. “Wow! That stuff is sharp!”


“It stings like hell.” Johnny brought his hand in closer and examined the small cut, wondering how such a minor wound could cause so much pain.


Chet pulled out a chair and sat beside him.


“Looks like you’ll have to start your poster all over again, John, and add another square on the graph.”


“What for?”


The curly haired fireman pointed to the cut on his hand.


“The dangers associated with poster boards. You wouldn’t want a rash of these types of injuries happening to the unsuspecting public, would ya? Why that’d be a disservice to the people of LA County.”


Johnny rolled his eyes and pushed back his chair, causing Marco to have to take a couple of quick steps to get out of the way. As the younger man got to his feet, Roy inquired, “Where’re you going?”


“To get a band-aid, then finish this in private.” With an annoyed gaze fixed on Chet he added, “Before I have to add another potential hazard, like what happens when a co-worker irks the wrong guy.”


The five crew members watched as the dark-haired paramedic headed for the door with an ever-so-slight limp, having sprained his ankle a couple of weeks earlier when his right foot slipped off of a wet curb.  


Johnny’s supplies were in tow, the board tucked under his left arm and writing utensils in his left hand, his right extended out. Once he was gone from sight, the others looked at one another, but no one said a word. All had the same thought though.


Considering over the past few years he’d nearly died from a monkey virus; tumbled down a hill and twisted his knee; was bitten by a rattlesnake; caught fire when fuel was in the water system; had a board fall on his leg and injure him as a building was about to explode with him in it; had a girdle fly into his face at ‘rocket speed’; strained a muscle in his right shoulder; cut open his hand on a nail, not to mention other minor incidents and injuries, including his latest two. . .


John Gage could easily be the poster boy for potential hazards.





Author’s note: 

Work inspired this story. :o)




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