This story is in the Amanda series and has a couple of references to previous
stories in the series, but it isn't necessary to read those before this one.
However, if you want to, they are located
here below the Melvin
Emergencies Only, Please
By Audrey W.
Roy and Johnny climbed into the squad after taking an asthma victim to Rampart and replenishing some of their supplies. Roy put the key in the ignition, and started the engine.
“Where to, Junior?”
Johnny looked at his watch and shrugged. “Well, it’s past lunch time and I’m starved. How ‘bout we stop and get some burgers somewhere.”
“Burgers it is,” Roy said as he drove out of the lot. “Keep an eye out for a good place and give me enough warning.”
“You got it.”
The paramedics were only three blocks away from Rampart when the tones sounded over the radio. “Squad 51, stand by for response.”
Gage picked up the mic. “Squad 51 standing by.” He glanced at his partner. “I guess lunch is gonna hafta wait. . .again.”
“Don’t sound so glum. Maybe it’ll be a quick run.”
Johnny snorted. “Yeah, it might’ve been till you just said that. If I remember right, that’s what you said about the run before the asthma attack. . .which between the two, is why we haven’t eaten lunch yet.”
Roy remained silent while they listened to the information on the call.
“Squad 51, unknown type rescue at the corner of Clemons Street and Merryville Avenue, time out 14:20.”
“Squad 51, 10-4.”
Roy flicked on the lights and siren as they hurried to the address.
“I wonder what this one’s about,” Johnny commented.
“You know, there’s an elementary school a couple of blocks over from there. It should be letting out around this time.”
“Yeah? Well, I sure hope some kid hasn’t gotten himself into trouble. Turn left at the next intersection.”
Roy nodded and followed his partner’s directions. As they headed down Merryville Avenue, Roy had to grin. “Not some kid.”
“Huh?’ Gage turned his head from gazing out the passenger window, to his partner. “Roy, what’re you talkin’ about?”
DeSoto indicated with a nod for Johnny to look forward to who was just up the street from them. “That’s your kid.”
“I don’t have a ki--oh. . .ah man. . .”
“You mean ‘Ah man - da’.”
Johnny shot his partner an annoyed look, then watched out the windshield as they approached where she could be seen under a tree in a grassy lot. Amanda Freeman was a little girl who had taken a special shine to Johnny after he had ‘saved’ an inch worm for her when she called the fire department, sending him and Roy to her house. Since then, Amanda and Johnny had become friends in a way, the child looking up to him as her hero.
The paramedics watched with curiosity as they saw first Amanda, then a chunky little boy beside her, jump up off the ground; their arms straight up, as if trying to reach into the tree.
“What’re they doin’?” Johnny wondered.
Roy brought the squad to a stop. “My guess is something is stuck in that tree.”
The two men got out of their truck and started for the kids. “I’m not climbing any trees to rescue a cat. . .”
Roy grinned. He knew his partner couldn’t say ‘no’ to the kid. Amanda had Johnny wrapped around her little finger just as much as Jennifer DeSoto had Roy wrapped around hers.
Amanda raced out from under the tree when she saw who was coming her way.
Gage made a quick glance to Roy and rolled his eyes when he saw the grin still on his partner’s face. The younger man then returned his attention to the little girl.
“Hey, sweetie.” He looked around, wondering how they’d been summoned there in the first place. Although there were houses nearby, hers was a few miles away. “Uh. . .did you call the fire department?”
Amanda shook her head. “Uh uh. I been right here.”
“Did he?” Johnny indicated the boy who was with her.
“Then how. . .?”
“Carrie?” Roy asked.
“Well, what’re ya doin’ so far from home?” Johnny wondered. “Where’s your mom?”
“She’s at home,” the little girl answered matter-of-fact. “I’m playin’ at Carrie’s house.”
The paramedics glanced around. There was no sign of another girl.
“If you’re playin’ at Carrie’s house,” Gage began, “what’re you doin’ out here. . .without Carrie?”
Frustrated, Amanda sighed. “She went ta call you!”
Roy smiled. “Makes sense.”
“Let’s hope the rest does,” Johnny mumbled. He squatted down in front of the little girl. “Sweetheart, just what did you need the fire department for? It’s not another inch worm, is it?”
“No. My lunch box.”
Amanda pointed at the tree. “My lunch box. We were walkin’ from school and Chester grabbed it and threw it up there, an’ now we can’t get it down.”
“I said I was sorry,” the boy whined. “’Sides, it was her idea!”
“Chester?” Johnny repeated.
Roy shook his head and stepped closer to the tree, looking up into the branches. He then glanced down at young Chester. “You’ve got a good arm. It’s pretty high up there.”
The chubby boy smiled proudly. “I’m strong!”
Johnny was finally past the name Chester, and looked to where the lunch box sat. He grinned when he noticed it was well within their reach to shake it down. Roy had been exaggerating Chester’s strength. The younger paramedic played along.
“Man, you sure are strong. When I was your age, I doubt I could’ve gotten it that far up.”
“Wow!” The boy flexed his ‘muscles’. “I’m stronger than a fireman!”
“Well, that was years ag--” Gage sighed. Ah, what the hell. “Yep, you sure are.”
Chester’s smiled widened with the reassurance. In the meantime, Amanda stood watching the three with her arms folded across her chest, her brow furrowed.
“What about my lunch box?”
“Oh! Yeah. . .I guess you want it down, huh?” Johnny said, a crooked grin on his face. It quickly faded when his little admirer’s irritated expression didn’t change. The paramedic reached up and shook the end of the branch the box was on. It wobbled slightly until it teetered off and fell to the ground.
“Oh, thank you, Johnny!” she said as she hugged him around the waist. “I knew you‘d get it down!”
Johnny picked up the lunch box and handed it to Amanda as another little girl came running across the grass in the distance. Roy turned and headed for the squad.
“I’ll call us in as available.” He glanced over his shoulder at the younger paramedic. “You know what you’ve gotta do. . .”
Gage nodded. “I’ll take care of it.” He sighed as he looked down at the two little girls now looking up at him in admiration, one of them clearly out of breath. Chester was less impressed and was now at the squad, waiting patiently to ask Roy all sorts of things about the truck.
Johnny squatted down in front of Amanda and Carrie. “Look, I need to talk to you girls about somethin’.” Both just gazed at him with longing eyes.
Man, I wish older chicks were this easy to impress.
“Are ya listening?”
The little girls shook their heads up and down enthusiastically, and smiled. Amanda clutched her lunch box tightly.
“Okay, I just wanna make sure. Now this is real important, okay?”
Again the nods.
“First off, we’re here to help when someone needs it. So you did the right thing to call when you thought help was needed. But, it kinda needs to be something more urgent. Like if one of ya gets bitten by a dog. . .or gets stuck in a. . .oh. . .well, gets stuck. Then it’s a good thing to call.” He noticed the girls still staring at him with the same goofy looks. “Are ya followin’ me? I mean, what I’m sayin’?”
Both girls indicated with nods that they were. Johnny gave a slight crooked grin.
“Good deal. Okay, so if it’s an inanimate object, like a lunch box or a book or somethin’ that needs to be ‘rescued’, we really can’t be doin’ that sorta thing. There might be a person having a heart attack that needs us. And if we’re here,” he explained, a sweep of his hand indicating the area around them, “then we won’t be there to help someone who may really need us. Do you get what I’m sayin’?”
“Yes,” Amanda answered.
Carrie smiled. “Yes sir.”
Suddenly the tones came over the radio, sending the paramedics on a call involving a woman bitten by a dog. Although Roy couldn’t say he was happy to be going on another run, he had to admit he was glad it bailed him out of having to answer anymore questions from Chester. Johnny left the two girls standing where they were as he got back in the squad and acknowledged the call. He gave a quick wave as Roy pulled the truck onto the street and both men put their helmets on.
“Man, I hope I got through to those girls. They looked kinda lost.”
Roy shook his head. “You had the easy part. I had Chester asking, ‘what’s that, and that and that and why is that’ till I couldn’t take much more. Even Chris doesn’t ask that many questions in such a short time.”
“And here I thought you were the expert on kids.”
“There is no such thing.”
Johnny smiled and the men were quiet the rest of the way to the rescue.
Roy drove the squad into a parking lot and brought it to a stop in front of a clothing store. A woman with graying hair stood on the sidewalk, a very concerned expression on her face. As the paramedics got out of their truck, she quickly stepped over to them.
“Oh, I’m so glad you’re here!”
Roy turned as he got the drug box out of a compartment. “What happened?”
Wringing her hands in worry, the woman looked across the parking lot. “A customer from our store was walking out to her car after purchasing some clothing. When she went by that pickup truck over there,” she explained, pointing to where a man and woman stood beside the vehicle, “a dog that was in the back just lunged and nipped her shoulder. Caught her totally by surprise!”
As they looked to where she was indicating, the paramedics noticed the dog sat near the couple, a leash on its collar.
“Did you call the police and animal control?” Johnny asked.
“Yes. Yes, I did.”
The paramedics followed the woman into the store. The three wound their way through curious onlookers as they headed to the far right front corner of the building where an office was located. When they stepped inside, they could see a woman in her fifties sitting on a chair, ice wrapped in a towel held to her right shoulder. Another woman was leaning against a desk next to the victim.
“Right in here,” their escort told them. She then addressed the others. “These are the paramedics. I’m going to go wait outside for the policemen.”
With that said, she left. Johnny and Roy went to the injured woman. Gage got out the BP cuff, while DeSoto checked out the wound.
“Let me take this away from your arm a minute so I can see the bite, ma’am.” He slowly eased her hand and the towel toward him. There was a tear at the top of her sleeve and two short thick marks on her shoulder where the teeth raked against her skin without breaking through. A slight bruise was starting to show, but no sign of anything that would require urgent care. Roy frowned. Johnny followed suit as he read her blood pressure.
“Normal.” Gage then checked her pulse. “A little fast, but under the circumstances. . .”
“Normal,” Roy finished.
It hadn’t been the type of situation they had expected. After advising the woman to see her doctor if she had any problems with the ‘injury’, the paramedics returned to their squad. They could see that both animal control and the police were with the owners of the dog, the woman from the store telling them what had happened in the parking lot.
“I’ll let ‘em know it wasn’t an actual bite,” Johnny said with a sigh.
“Okay, I’ll make us available again.”
“Right.” Gage made his way over to the others, knowing the information he was about to give would make their job at the scene much easier and quicker.
The paramedics headed back for the station after stopping to get their late lunch at a local burger place.
“You know, the ladies at that store should’ve known better than to call us for a torn sleeve and a couple a scratches.”
“I agree. But, I think since the scrapes made her skin rise up a little, they were afraid to take any chances.”
Johnny shook his head. “So send the lady on her way to a doctor. It’s not like she couldn’t drive. There was nothin’ wrong with her.”
“Hey, I agree with that too. But I’d say she was probably too shaken up at first.”
“Still, we weren’t needed there anymore than we were with Amanda’s lunch box. But at least then it was kids who didn’t know better.”
“Unfortunately, some adults don’t either.”
When they arrived back at the station, Roy backed the squad into the apparatus bay. The men got out of the squad and headed for Captain Stanley’s office to fill out the log book. Even the unnecessary calls had to be documented.
A week later, both Johnny and Roy were relieved that they hadn’t been on any more unnecessary responses like the one with Amanda’s lunchbox or the lady who thought she’d been bitten by a dog. As they returned to the station after dropping off the victim of a near drowning, the two reflected on their calls, discussing a subject that had surfaced before.
“You know, this past week has been a good reminder of what this job is all about,” Johnny commented, glancing at his partner. “Every one of the runs we were sent on were valid.”
“Maybe people are finally getting the message. That we aren’t here to save them a regular visit to the doctor, but to take care of them when it’s more urgent.”
“I hope so. It gets frustrating when we’re out removing a splinter, so to speak, and down the street someone really needs us and we aren’t available.”
Roy took a quick look at Gage, then returned his eyes to the street ahead. “You must’ve gotten through to Amanda and her friends.”
“I think I did.”
“Hey, you hungry?”
Johnny looked at his watch. It was after one o’clock in the afternoon. “Yeah. What was Chet fixin’ for lunch today?”
“Some new recipe his Great Aunt gave him. . .I think it had pineapple in it, whatever he said it was.”
“Oh. . .”
Roy grinned when he noticed the apprehensive expression on his passenger’s face. “Bob’s Burger Bonanza’?”
Johnny smiled wide. “Sounds like a good deal to me.”
The senior paramedic made a right turn at the next intersection, images of a juicy burger and fries in his mind.
Just as they squad pulled into the lot of the hamburger place, the tones came over the radio, once again sending the paramedics on an unknown response.
“Here we go again,” Johnny said, as he put on his helmet and tightened the strap against his chin.
“Kind of a dejavu’ from a week ago, huh?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
With the lights and siren on, Roy drove the squad out of one of the exits and into the street.
“Oh man,” Johnny moaned.
“Forty-one O one North Hyatt Street. It’s been a long time, but I know this address.”
“Remember Archie? The gerbil that was under the shed?”
“Oh yeah. The little shucks that bit you.”
“Alright, alright. So I almost slipped up with all those kids around. But you’ve gotta admit, that was a pretty quick cover up.”
“If you say so.”
“Hey, I never said it was a good one.”
Johnny tried to imagine what was waiting for them, hoping their time wasn’t being wasted on another pet; and at the same time, not wanting anything seriously wrong.
Once on the scene, the paramedics gathered the basic equipment from the squad compartments and headed for the front porch of the house. Before they could knock, the door opened revealing the ex-Barbie kleptomaniac Tammy.
Johnny took a quick glance at the address numbers on the house to make sure they were at the right place, while the winded little girl told them what was wrong.
“There’s a big huge giant bird,” she said spreading her arms open wide, “and it’s attacking Billy’s mommy!”
Roy looked to his partner, who in turn was then eyeing him. Each had a doubtful expression on his face. Suddenly screams and squeals erupted from the back yard, sending both men scrambling through the house towards the back door. They hurried past the den where Amanda Freeman was still talking on the telephone with LA Dispatch, the operator unable to get the little girl to hang up. Instead she was giving a detailed description as to what had been going on. But when Amanda saw Johnny pass by the room, she dropped the receiver and followed.
Roy and Johnny rushed out into the yard where they saw Billy’s mother lying on her stomach on the ground underneath a partially filled clothing line. A big black bird was standing on the back of her head and was pulling on her hair. Billy was nearby yelling at the bird while two little girls squealed in fright. Tammy joined in while Amanda stood right behind Johnny for safety.
“I guess we try to scare it off,” Roy said.
“If all this screaming hasn’t done that yet, I’m not sure we can.”
Billy charged at the bird, then ran back when it squawked very loudly.
“It’s a raven. I wonder what it’s doing in the city?”
“I don’ know. Maybe a pet?” The younger man suggested.
They started forward, yelling and waving their arms. The bird stood its ground.
“Please get him off!” The mother yelled. “He’s pulling my hair out!”
“We’re trying,” Roy said, still eyeing the bird. He and Johnny got right up to it, but the bird still didn’t move.
“It’s certainly used to people.”
“I’ll say. . .”
“Well, maybe it won’t be so hard to pick up.”
DeSoto opened his mouth to say he disagreed when Gage suddenly reached for the raven. He had a hand on each side and so far everything was going okay as he lifted it off the woman. However a quick peck on the right hand made Johnny let go and the bird flew over to a swing set, sending the children screaming in all directions as it perched on the top rail. Billy’s mother got to her feet. Although she was shaken and short a couple of clumps of hair, she appeared to be okay.
The raven remained a few minutes, then took off again, flying into the distance.
“Good riddance,” the woman said, her voice quivering.
“It has to belong to someone,” Roy told her as he watched the bird leave. “But I guess we’ll never know who.” He returned his attention to her. “Are you okay?”
“Yes. . .Yes, I’m alright.”
Amanda tugged lightly on the back of Johnny’s shirt as the paramedic examined the small wound on his hand where the bird had pecked him. He turned around, a look of concern on his face. “You okay?”
“Seems like you get around town more than we do.”
The little girl giggled. “That’s silly.”
Johnny put his left hand out for her to grab a hold of. When she did, he took her over to the patio where they both sat down on a bench. Roy glanced at the two as he talked more with Billy’s mother. The other kids were by the swing set going on about the raven, their hands and arms moving animatedly as they each relived the experience through words.
A police officer arrived on the scene and Johnny quickly directed him to his partner and the mother, then carried on with Amanda.
“How’s your mom doing?”
The little girl shrugged. “She’s gettin’ a big tummy. But she says it’s just the baby.”
Gage smiled. “Babies’ll do that.”
“I can’t wait till it’s out and I can play with it. Mommy says I can help take care of it.”
“I’m sure it’ll be a lot of fun for you.”
Amanda stared at him a moment, glanced at Billy’s mother, then returned her gaze to Johnny. “Was it okay to call the fire department? Was this a real rescue?”
“Yeah, sure.” He noticed a doubtful expression on her face. “Amanda, you did good. A lot of kids wouldn’t even think to call anyone. If you ever need anything, just call me at the station. You have the number at home,” he said as he got up to join Roy, who was coming toward them.
“Yeah, sure.” Gage glanced down at Amanda, then returned his attention to Roy. “Sure.”
As the paramedics walked through the house with their equipment, Johnny noticed the phone still dangling off the hook in the den.
Just try to hang up next time, Amanda, he thought to himself.
With the next shift off to a slow start, John Gage swept the floor of the dorm room; his partner was assigned to help Marco and Mike with the hose rack in the back lot of the station. Captain Stanley had Chet Kelly cleaning the dayroom, while the captain was in his office preparing a review of handling warehouse fires under various conditions.
Johnny stopped his chore and looked to the doorway when he caught a movement out of the corner of his eye. Chet was standing in the room, watching him.
“Don’t you have something you’re supposed to be doin’?” Gage wondered.
“Yeah, but I can’t help it if your phone calls interrupt me.”
“It’s not who called. . .it’s who’s calling. You know, you really need to tell your girlfriends to wait till you’re off duty.”
“Chet, are you telling me I have a phone call?”
“Yeah, I am,” he nodded. “And I’ve gotta tell ya, you’re pickin’ ‘em a little young these days.”
Johnny scowled and set the broom against one of the brick dividers. “Funny, Chet. For your information, I’m not even seein’ anyone again . . .yet.”
“Well, she asked for you.”
The paramedic walked past his shiftmate and pushed open the door, heading across the apparatus bay. He was beginning to wish the call had come on the line that was also in the dorm room.
At least that way I might’ve answered it myself.
Chet followed behind, wanting to see Johnny’s reaction when he picked up the receiver.
Captain Stanley looked at the two men in curiosity as he came out of his office, wondering why they weren’t busy with their assigned duties.
“Considering it’s those two, I’m not sure I wanna know,” he mumbled to himself. He headed for the dayroom to write some information on the chalk board.
Johnny picked up the telephone receiver and put it to his ear. “John Gage.”
“Johnny. . .” came the reply of a little girl’s voice. There was a waver to it that hinted she’d been crying.
Gage looked at Kelly, then answered. “Amanda, is something wrong?” He glanced at his watch. Being it was already nearly 9:00 in the morning, the seven-year-old should have been in school.
Suddenly the little girl allowed herself to open up and between sobs managed, “Mommy’s. . . sick!” . . . “She’s. . .she’s. . . hurtin’ real . . . bad!”
The fear in her voice sent alarm through the paramedic. He didn’t even notice the concerned expressions now on the captain and Chet’s faces as they stood listening.
“Are you at home?”
“Yes! Please. . . come over!” she wailed. “I’m. . . scar. . .scared!”
“I’ll be right there.” He hung up the phone and turned to the others, a lost look on his face.
“John?” Hank Stanley asked.
“It’s Bonnie Freeman; somethin’s wrong.” He started for the doorway to locate his partner. “Call us in for a still alarm. Twenty-one fourteen West Whipple Street. And have them send an ambulance,” he added as he went out of the room.
“Hey, didn’t you mention awhile back that she was pregnant?” Chet asked as Johnny disappeared from sight.
The paramedic’s reply had an echo sound to it as he hollered back, already near the rear of the squad. “Yeah, about seven months!”
After exchanging grim expressions, Hank and Chet both went out to the podium, though just the captain called in for the squad.
Johnny was out near the hose rack in a matter of seconds. “Roy! We’ve got a still alarm!”
The senior paramedic joined his partner. “What is it?” he asked as they trotted toward the squad. Mike and Marco looked on, then continued with hanging the hose.
“Amanda called. . .she’s real upset about her mom.”
Roy climbed in the driver’s side of the truck while Johnny got in on the passenger side. As he turned the key in the ignition, Roy asked, “Her mom?”
“Yeah. Roy, she’s seven months pregnant.”
Both men kept silent as they put on their helmets. Though they had no idea what exactly was wrong, the possibilities were not good.
Roy brought the squad to a stop in front of the Freeman house and the paramedics quickly got out. They immediately gathered their medical equipment, including the OB Kit as a precaution. Once they had it all in hand, Johnny led the way as they trotted toward the front door. He didn’t bother to knock, but rather went right in.
The little girl appeared in the hallway outside of one of the bedrooms. She ran to Johnny and hugged his waist, sobbing. “I don’ want. . .Mommy. . .to die.”
“She won’t, sweetheart. We’ll take good care of her.”
He and Roy both hurried into the room Amanda had been in. There they saw Bonnie Freeman on a double bed, still in her nightgown. The woman was clutching a sheet and blanket, an agonized look on her face; her hair and skin were damp with perspiration.
The men went to either side of the bed and Johnny gently touched her right arm to let her know they were there.
“Bonnie, it’s John Gage. Amanda called me at the station.”
The mother looked over and winced as more pain shot through her abdomen. “A. ..man. . .da. Where. . .?”
“It’s okay,” he soothed. “She’s near the doorway where we can see her. How long have you been in labor?”
“Bad for. . .couple a. . .hours. . .my water. . . broke.”
“Are the contractions close?”
“Ye . .yeah. . .” She cried out as another strong contraction made itself known. “I started. . .aching. . .last night.”
Roy put a BP cuff on her arm, and looked worriedly at his partner. Johnny was taking Bonnie’s pulse.
“Did you try to call anyone then?” He asked as he wrote down her heart rate.
“No. I didn’t. . .I didn’t think. . . Oh God,” she cried. “Oh no.”
“Where’s your husband?” Roy wondered.
“He. . .he’s outta. . .town.” Tears ran down her cheeks as she tried to get the words out. “He. . .doesn’t. . .know.”
Johnny wasn’t surprised. He was used to Mr. Freeman being gone a lot of the time from his family and putting business first. He had a feeling this was going to be one of those times the guy regretted it.
Having gotten the blood pressure reading, Roy set up the biophone and contacted the hospital. “Rampart, this is Squad 51.”
“Go ahead, 51,” came Early’s reply.
“Rampart, we have a woman in her late twenties in the advanced stages of labor. Be advised, she’s only in her seventh month.”
“51, did you say seventh month?”
Joe Early glanced at Nurse Dixie McCall beside him. “This is gonna be a rough one.”
He then keyed the mic. “51, what week is she in?”
Roy looked to Bonnie. “What week?”
“Twenty. . .eight,” she gasped.
“Has the baby crowned?”
With latex gloves on, Johnny gently put Bonnie’s legs in position to check. He shook his head.
“Is the ambulance there?”
“Negative. But it should be anytime now.”
“Stay on the line and keep us informed. You may have to deliver there. You think you guys can jury rig something for an incubator if you do?”
Roy looked at his partner. “Remember when we set up that dresser drawer as an incubator?”
Johnny nodded. “It worked out pretty good.”
“What’d we use. . .towels, hot water bottles. . .” he noticed one on a night stand near the bed.
“A vinyl rain coat. . .” Gage glanced around the room.
“In the . . .closet,” Bonnie supplied.
Roy grinned and pressed the transmit button on the biophone receiver. “Rampart, that’s an affirmative on the incubator.”
Johnny was about to step away from beside the bed when Bonnie stopped him.
“First. . .ge. . .get Amanda. . .out. . .”
He glanced across the room to see the little girl watching from the doorway. “Sweetheart, why don’t you wait in the hallway?”
“No,” Bonnie said. “Get. . .her. . .out of the. . .house.” She shut her eyes, trying to block out the intense pain.
“I don’t think you need to wor--”
“John. . .Johnny. . .you don. . .don’t understand.” She paused as another pain made it impossible to speak, then went on. “The baby. . .what if. . .she sees it. . .and. . .it doesn’t. . .survive,” the distraught woman whispered.
Gage looked up to see a concerned expression on Roy’s face that he figured must have mirrored his own. The younger man tried to be reassuring, despite being worried. “I’m sure it’ll be okay.”
The woman nodded slightly, but the tears still pooled in her eyes. “I jus. . .I just have. . .a feeling. Please. . .don’t let. . .’er see.”
“You need to stay calm,” Roy interjected as he put on sterile latex gloves. “I know it’s hard, but you’re gonna need to concentrate on pushing, breathe through the contractions and stay as calm as you can.” He got in position to check on her progress.
“I. . .can’t.”
“You can do it,” Johnny reassured again. “It’ll be alright.”
He needed to be right there to help set up the temporary incubator and deliver the baby. However, if things went as Bonnie feared, he had to agree it was better if Amanda didn’t see the baby’s birth. The mother was right. He should get the little girl away from the room and busy with something else.
“Jus. . .get her. . .out . . .please.”
With a nod from Roy, Johnny peeled off his gloves and hurried over to where Amanda was standing in the doorway of the bedroom. He guided her down the hallway to the livingroom, where he squatted down to get eye level with her.
“Listen, I need you to wait outside on the front porch.”
“Am I in trouble? You said to call an’ I did an. . .”
“No, sweetheart, you’re not in trouble. You did fine again. You did the right thing.” He wiped the tears off of her cheeks with his right index finger. “But you can’t be nearby when the baby’s born. It’s gonna need to be kept away from as many people as possible till it gets stronger.”
“But I love the baby,” she cried.
Johnny was getting anxious. He really needed to be in helping his partner.
“Okay, look, I’ll tell ya what. I’ll give you an important job. You go wait on the porch and be the one to tell the ambulance crew where we are.”
“That’s real important?”
“Very. And after they get here, stay on the porch. Someone needs to make sure no neighbors get curious and wander in.”
“Okay.” She started for the front door as Johnny hurried back to the bedroom. When he got inside, Roy was setting up the incubator. Gage immediately went over to help. When they were almost done, Bonnie let out a cry that alerted them to a change. Johnny checked and could see the baby’s head crowning. Neither paramedic heard the siren of the ambulance as they prepared to deliver the baby.
Amanda did as she was told and pointed to where the bedroom was located. Not wanting to disappoint Johnny, she returned to the porch to stand guard.
“That’s it,” Johnny said as the baby’s head emerged. The rest of the infant quickly shot out along with the cord and more fluid. Roy and the younger man exchanged glances once again when they saw the baby was so tiny. Being just two pounds in weight and fourteen inches long, the chances of survival were definitely going to be questionable.
Johnny quickly cleaned out the infant’s nose and mouth with an aspirator bulb. Roy clamped and cut the umbilical cord. With the baby letting out a cry, Johnny placed it in the drawer-turned-incubator, the cover for it being made from the clear vinyl rain poncho that had been in the closet.
Bonnie wiped at the sweat on her face. “Wha. . .what is it. . .?”
“You’ve got a little boy,” Roy said with a reassuring smile to hide his concern.
After both mother and baby were ready for transport, the ambulance attendants helped to get Bonnie on a stretcher and the two were taken out. Johnny carried the incubator while Roy held onto the oxygen canister being used on it.
Gage wanted to be the one to go in with Bonnie and her son, but that left Amanda out. Roy sensed a problem and put his partner at ease on the way out of the house.
“I’ll take Amanda in the squad.”
Johnny nodded. “Thanks.”
The little girl was waiting on the porch when they emerged. She followed behind the entourage as they headed down the walk way. “Did mommy have the baby? Where is it?”
Once Bonnie and the baby were placed in the ambulance, Roy took Amanda by the hand and walked her to the squad as the others got situated. “You’ve got a baby brother. He and your mom are pretty tired from the delivery. But we’ll go to Rampart in the squad and meet up with ‘em.”
“What about Johnny?”
“He’s gonna be riding with your mom and brother.” He watched as the ambulance pulled away. I hope the baby makes it.
Inside the ambulance, Johnny watched the tiny boy in the drawer through the plastic sheeting that covered him.
“He’s just. . .too early . . .”
The sadness in Bonnie’s words tore at his heart. It would not be easy to comfort her like he could if it were someone he didn’t know as well. With anyone else, it would have been just part of the job to assure that things would be okay. But this situation was too close. And as much as he wanted to tell her the newborn would be okay, the professional in him knew that assessment was better left to the doctors.
Johnny forced a smile as he busied himself by checking Bonnie’s vital signs. “He’s got a lot of disadvantages to overcome. But if he’s got any of the spunk and determination Amanda has, he’s gonna do fine.”
The mother nodded slightly, her eyelids droopy from exhaustion. “She’s quite. . .a kid,” she said.
“Yes, she is.”
Gage looked at the infant again. Its hands and feet were so tiny, it was amazing just to see them move.
Hang in there, kiddo.
When the ambulance arrived at Rampart, the mother and son were whisked away to different areas, Bonnie going into a treatment room downstairs; the baby to the second floor where premature infants were cared for in ICU.
As Morton and Early began their examination of Mrs. Freeman to make certain she was okay, Johnny gave her hand a squeeze.
“I’ll go let Amanda know you’re in here with the doctors.”
“Okay,” she whispered. “Thank you.”
The paramedic looked to the doctors. “What about Amanda? She’s alone till her dad gets notified and makes it home.”
Joe Early smiled. “Well, I’d say between Dix and a few other nurses taking turns spending time with her, she should be okay. Where is her dad?”
“He’s in San Diego,” Bonnie answered. “On business.”
“You know the phone number of where he’s staying?”
The mother nodded and gave it to the doctor as he wrote it down. He then handed the piece of paper to Johnny. “Give this to Dixie, Johnny. She can contact him and fill ‘im in.”
“Sure, Doc.” He then directed his attention to Bonnie. “I’ll check on you and the baby next time we’re in.” As he headed for the door, he heard Morton ask the name of Bonnie’s obstetrician. Johnny stood there for a moment, watching the two doctors with his friend. He didn’t want to leave, but duty had to come first.
When Johnny stepped out into the corridor, he saw Dixie at her desk. He walked over to her and handed her the slip of paper.
“Early said to have you contact Mr. Freeman.”
“I’d be glad to,” she said, taking the paper. “And he’d better not put business before family this time.”
The paramedic smiled. Bonnie’s husband was sure to get an ear full from the head nurse if he didn’t say he was coming right away.
“Have you seen Roy and Amanda?”
She pointed to the nurses’ lounge. “He had a phone call to make, so they went in there.”
“Great. Thanks, Dix.”
She watched as he opened the door to the lounge, then picked up the telephone receiver and dialed the number he’d given her.
“Johnny!” Amanda hollered and ran to hug her hero when he entered the room.
The little girl pulled back and looked up at him. “Is Mommy okay?”
“Yes, she is. She’s gonna be just fine.”
“Is my baby brother okay?”
Johnny squatted down to be at eye level. He glanced up at the concerned face of his partner, then returned his attention to Amanda.
“He’s got a long road ahead of him. But he’s doin’ okay.” He grinned as he tapped her lightly on the nose. “You did the right thing in calling us. You saved his life.”
Amanda's face lit up with a proud smile. “I did?”
Roy cleared his throat. “I called Jo. She said Amanda can stay with us if she needs to. If it’s okay with Amanda’s mom,” he added.
Johnny stood and placed his hands on his hips. “That’s great, isn’t it, Amanda?”
“Uh huh. He said he has a little girl, too!”
“Yes, he does. A very nice one.” Gage again addressed his partner. “Dix is calling her dad now, so we’ll know soon enough I guess.”
“Maybe daddy’ll stay at work and I can go to his house,” Amanda said, indicating Roy.
The two men exchanged amused expressions. Like a typical youngster, the little girl had her own priorities, not quite understanding fully what had just happened with her mother and the baby.
Johnny took the girl’s hand in his and led her back to her seat. “Maybe. But in the meantime, what is my little lady friend drinking?”
“What would you like to drink?” He motioned toward the beverage machine. “Juice, Seven-Up?”
“Good deal then. Orange juice it is.”
Roy watched as Johnny put money in the machine. He quietly left the room to see what, if anything, Dixie had found out.
Johnny got paper cups filled with orange juice for both he and Amanda, then sat at the table with her. Holding his up in a toast, he said, “Here’s to baby brothers.”
Catching the cue, the girl lifted hers and giggled as they gently touched them together.
“Do you have a baby brother, Johnny?”
The paramedic shook his head. “A little sister. I guess one boy was enough for my mom and dad to handle. I probably kept them busy bailing me out of messes as it was.”
Amanda frowned. “Were you naughty?”
A crooked grin spread across his face. “Let’s just say I was adventurous.”
Both looked toward the doorway when Roy came back in. “Well, looks like your dad will be here later. So Dixie is gonna let you hang out with her until he gets here.”
“So I can’t come to your house?”
“Not this time. Maybe another.”
“And my baby brother can come too?”
Roy nodded. “When he’s old enough, sure.”
Johnny tossed his now empty cup in the trash can, then pushed off the table with his hands. “Well, let’s get you to Dix before Roy and I get a call, and we have to throw you to her on our way out.”
Again Amanda giggled.
Several weeks later, Johnny and Roy were checking over supplies in the squad as they began another shift on duty. The younger man squatted down to examine the open drug box he’d set on the concrete floor of the apparatus bay.
“So how is the Freeman baby doing?”
Johnny grinned. “You mean little Dougie? He’s doin’ great. Doin’ great. Havin’ him home helped the whole family feel a lot more settled, too.”
“Yeah. But he’s got a lot of catchin’ up ta do. He’s gonna need to grow up big and strong with a middle name like Roderick.”
“Why? You didn’t.”
“Very funny.” Gage sighed. “You know, I still can’t believe Amanda got to pick out his middle name and she wanted to use mine.”
“You could’ve made up a name.”
Johnny shook his head. “Nah. Don’t wanna tamper with namesakes. But it’s almost humorous when ya think about it. She saves his life, then picks out a name that may make him wish he was never born,” he teased.
“At least she’s still kept her promise to quit calling us for non-urgent stuff.”
“Yeah, that’s true. But Roderick. I wonder if her parents are regrettin’ letting her make the choice.”
“Relax. It’s only a middle name. You’ve done alright with it.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
Roy placed the trauma box in the squad and turned to get the now closed drug box from his partner when the klaxons sounded.
“Squad 51, cat trapped, 3122 East Spring Street, three one two two East Spring Street, time out 8:20.”
“Oh no. . .”
Roy glanced at Johnny as the younger man quickly handed the black box to him. “Isn’t that the elderly couple who had us and the engine at their place for the cat in the tree the other day?”
Johnny nodded. “That’s the one.” He helped to get the compartments of the squad closed and secured while Mike Stoker acknowledged the call at the podium.
“Two calls about a cat in less than a week. . .” Roy commented as he hurried around the front end of the truck.
Climbing into the squad, Gage sighed and put on his helmet, tightening the strap just under his chin.
Mike handed Roy the slip of paper with the information on the call just after the senior paramedic got situated in his seat. He in turn gave the paper to his partner.
As Johnny read over the address to himself, he voiced a thought the two paramedics shared. “Well, we got Amanda to understand. Maybe if we can just get the Clemons to keep a closer eye on their cat. . .”
Thanks to Jill Hargan for the beta read.
Any errors, medical or otherwise, are mine. This story was inspired last year
when I went to pick my daughter up at school and. . .well. . .it really IS
possible for a lunch box to get stuck up high in a tree. Luckily a tall man was
in the office that afternoon. <G> The original incubator set up was done in the
episode 'The Professor', in the uncut version of the show.
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