“Ya Gotta Do What Ya Gotta Do”
By Wanda C.
“Chili’s on!” When Marco made chili, no member of A-Shift wanted to miss out on the feast. He was known all over the department for his chili, and the guys knew that. Sometimes they would even rub it in to the other shifts when they wanted to add some comedy to their day.
“Roy, I been waitin’ on this all day.” John Gage breathed in deeply, smelling the spicy aroma and patting his tummy.
“Yea, me too. Marco makes the best chili I’ve ever tasted, but please don’t mention that to Joanne. You know what happened with Mike’s spaghetti that time. I thought I’d be in the dog house for months.”
They both laughed as they entered the kitchen. They thought they had been quick enough putting their equipment back in the squad to beat the others to the meal, but unfortunately, they were last in line. Of course, Chet was first.
“Come on Kelly, don’t hog it all!” Captain Stanley was also looking forward to his hot (in more ways than one) bowl of chili.
“Yea, Chet, hurry it up.” Johnny loved it when he had Cap to back him up.
“Okay, Jeez, you guys need to work on gettin’ a little patience. Think of all the starving people who haven’t eaten in days; they would be more than happy to wait for me to finish.”
“Not for you.” Mike muttered that so quietly that only Marco heard him and they both just smiled. Mike had set out all the dishes needed and had hoped to be first in line himself, but Chet seemed to come out of nowhere, so Stoker ended up being third, behind Cap.
Just as everyone had their chili and sat down, breathing in the wonderful aroma, the klaxons went off.
“UGH! Chester B. this is all YOUR fault.” Johnny had to voice his thoughts, but all the men were really let down.
“Station 51, auto/pedestrian accident. 1913 West Vermont, 1913 West Vermont, cross street Wichita. Time out 12:13.”
“Station 51, 10-4. KMG365.”
“Well we know who won on this one.” Chet spoke as he swallowed his only bite of chili and got his position on the engine.
“Roy, it should be right around this corner.”
“Okay, thanks, I was thinkin’ that we were getting close.”
As the paramedics pulled over, they saw the pedestrian lying in the road, and a vehicle with considerable damage not far away. They both noticed that the victim had hit the front of the car. There was damage to the bumper and windshield, and they also could not detect any movement from the victim from their position.
“Looks kinda bad, Roy.” John hated losing patients, and he hated even more when they arrived on the scene of an accident where a patient that couldn’t be saved.
“Let’s check it out. I’ll get him and you get the driver.” Roy could see that they would both likely need medical attention assessing the damage to the car.
Chet had already pulled the battery cables, and Marco was hosing down the area around the car. The smell of gasoline was unusually strong.
Johnny opened the driver’s side door, and there was a loud explosion. It was strong enough that Roy could feel the ground shake beneath him and all he could think of was his partner. He knew that his patient wasn’t stable, so he couldn’t leave him right now. He looked over toward the car. There was a large fireball.
“How’s Johnny?” The fair-haired paramedic called over to the Captain.
“Don’t know yet, Roy. We can’t get to him until we get this fire under control.” Hank Stanley was another man who hated to lose. He now feared for the life of one of his men, and for that of any occupant in the car.
“This is Engine 51. We need an extra ambulance and send out another squad. We’ve just had an explosion at our location.”
“10-4, Engine 51. Squad 16 join Station 51 at their site: 1913 West Vermont, cross street Wichita. Time out 12:31.”
Now all any of them could do was wait until Chet and Marco had the fire calmed. Hank went over to see if he could assist Roy in any way. He helped him get a few things from the drug box that Rampart had ordered, and manned the biophone at one point, but kept his eyes close to the vehicle at all times.
“Roy, is this guy stable?”
“No, Cap, he’s losing blood internally. That’s why Brackett had us set up the second IV. He’s banged up pretty bad. I really don’t know if he’s gonna make it at this point. We’ll know more when they run some tests at Rampart.”
“So you’ll have to ride in with him?”
“I’m afraid so, Cap, unless I can get Brice or Bellingham to ride in, and since they aren’t familiar with the patient, I’m not sure Rampart would allow that.”
“Okay, Pal, do what ya gotta do, and we’ll do the same.”
About that time they could hear the second ambulance and the other squad approaching. Roy was glad that it was 16 because he knew that both paramedics were tops in their field, and would treat Johnny well. He hated leaving the scene, but his patient was stable enough to transport, so he left in the ambulance. Roy looked back as long as he could see the smoke from the car that had engulfed his partner.
As Brice and Bellingham pulled up, they hoped that no one was in the vehicle, which was now smoldering. They began to remove their equipment from the squad as Captain Stanley reached them.
“Anyone hurt over there?” Bellingham dreaded the answer, and knew from the look on the captain’s face, it was probably bad.
“Gage went in to save a victim, and there was…suddenly Hank felt a lump in his throat…a big explosion. We got the fire out as quickly as possible, but they were both inside the car. It’s still too hot to get to them.”
“Okay, leave it to us, Captain Stanley, we will get them out.” Brice, always the unemotional, by the book paramedic, headed to the car.
“ I think you guys can check ‘em out now. It seems to be cool enough.” Chet was anxious, as was the rest of the crew.
Brice headed toward the slumped figure of John Gage, while Bellingham checked out the driver. Brice could tell that Gage’s fire equipment had likely saved his life. It had not kept him from injury though.
“Need any help?” Bellingham had gotten to Brice awfully quickly.
“What about the other guy?” Marco had to know about the man that Johnny had tried to save before the nightmare began.
“He’s dead. I’d say the accident killed him. He’s been dead for a while now, and from the smell, I think some alcohol was involved.”
“Wait a minute, you mean John went in to save a dead man and was hurt?” Chet never was one to contain his emotions.
“Looks like it, Chet.”
“Get Rampart on the biophone. I have Gage’s stats.” Brice was still very robotic in tone and movement.
“Rampart, this is Squad 16. We have a male approximately 28 years of age who was involved in an explosion. There are some second-degree burns to approximately ten percent of his body. Vitals are as follows, pulse 125, BP 110/60, respiration shallow and 30. Be advised the other victim is deceased, and this patient is John Gage.”
Morton could hardly believe his ears. “16, administer sterile gauze and water to the burns, start an IV with ringers. Are there any further injuries to the patient?”
“None apparent, Rampart, but patient is still unconscious. There is no noticeable trauma to the head.” Brice knew exactly what Morton was getting at, and he also knew that Johnny needed morphine.
“Administer five mg MS, IV push, and bring him in as soon as possible.”
“10-4, Rampart. Five mg, MS, IV push and transfer.”
Actually Johnny was lucky this time. His airway was intact, although O2 was a given with this type injury, and he really wasn’t burned badly at all. The turn out coats and pants really did help deter the fire.
When Johnny woke up, he was in a room at Rampart being closely monitored. At this moment, no one was in the room and he noticed that his clothes had been removed. The dark haired young man looked underneath the sheet and breathed a sigh of relief. Thank goodness I didn’t wear those horrible duck boxers that Jeanette gave me for my birthday. Instead he saw a pair of simple blue plaid boxers. Man a guy’s really gotta watch himself; ya never know what might happen. Johnny knew that if he had the funny duck boxers on, and the crew saw them, he would never live it down. He then tried to remember what happened. About the time he realized that he was clueless as to why he was in the hospital, nurse Dixie McCall walked in.
“How are you feelin’?”
“Uh, well Dix, I can’t remember what happened, but I’m hurtin’.”
“I’ll see what I can do about the pain. Let me look at your chart.” Dixie looked thoroughly to see what Morton had left concerning pain meds. “Okay, I can give you some morphine.”
“Yep, that should do it!” Johnny grinned the way that only he could, and the bad part was that he realized how that smile had an effect on women. “Dix, what did happen to me?”
“According to Craig Brice, you went into a car that had hit a pedestrian, to check on the driver. Apparently there was an explosion when you opened the door. They’re still investigating as far as I know. One of those little mysteries in life.”
“How about the driver, Dix, is he okay?”
“They said that he was likely dead on impact. I’m sorry, Johnny.”
The young man was suddenly hit with a horrible thought, and the questions began spilling from his mouth.
“Brice? Where was Roy? Dix, is Roy okay?”
The monitors began flashing and making odd noises, and in rushed Morton, Brackett, and Early.
“It’s okay, Roy’s fine, John. He was with the pedestrian that was hit by the car.”
As soon as those words were uttered, the paramedic’s vitals became more stable.
“You gave us quite a scare with all the monitors going haywire.” Dr. Kelly Brackett really liked the paramedics that he worked with, and although he wouldn’t readily admit it, John Gage was one of his favorites and one of the best.
“Sorry Doc, I was…”
“I know, worried about your partner. He’s worried too, so I’m gonna let him in for five minutes and then you need to get some rest. Your burns are only second degree, so you should be fine, but you’ll need to stay with us for a few days. We need to make sure there isn’t going to be a problem with infection.”
“I’m the doctor and you’re the patient. Now John, don’t waste your time with this.”
Before he could utter a word, his partner walked in the door and soon both men were wearing wide grins.
“Boy, some guys will do anything to get a little attention from the nurses.” Roy chuckled. “Seriously, how are ya doin’?”
“Well, I was in pain, but Dix took care of that for me. Did they ever find out why that car exploded?”
“Not yet.” Then Roy realized how odd that question was. “Do you mean you remember that?”
Winking, the junior paramedic said, “Well, Dix kinda filled me in.”
“Oh, okay. Well, I gotta go. The guys will want to know how you’re doin’. I’ll tell them that you said hello for ya.”
“Thanks, Roy, and I’m glad that it wasn’t you.”
With that, Roy DeSoto exited the room. He knew that Johnny meant every word of what he had just told Roy. He would feel the same way about his partner too. They were as close as brothers; closer than some, and for that he was grateful.
By the next shift, Johnny was almost ready to go back to work. All the guys had pitched in and bought him a cake while he was in the hospital wishing him well. He decided that he wanted to do something nice for them, too. He was going to have breakfast ready when they got up, even though he wasn’t quite able to work yet, he could at least cook. The handsome young man very quietly let himself in the back door of the station, and was very careful not to wake the other men.
As he went about getting the food and pots and pans ready, he heard an odd noise. He turned around to face the nose of a gun.
“Shut up! Are you the only one here?”
“Uh, yea, why?”
“Well, we know,” one of the men said.
At this point Johnny looked around. Oh man, there are eight of these guys, and they’re all armed.
“We know that you had a fundraiser recently, so hand over the cash. NOW!”
“Sorry, buddy, but we don’t keep any cash around here. You’ll need to go to the bank for that.”
At that point, John felt a hard hit behind his ear, and he didn’t remember anything else until he woke up beside his fellow firefighters. They were all tied up, and all still in their boxers. The jerks must have gotten them while they were still asleep and tied them up. Just then he noticed that his friends seemed happy for a group of guys tied up. What the…
Now John Gage noticed that all eyes were on his, well his pants. He looked down and his tanned face became bright red. The men must have taken his clothes off after they knocked him out, and he had on those horrible duck boxers. He closed his eyes, and the others began to chuckle.
“Okay, ha, ha, ha! Jeanette got me these for my birthday and I just wore them while I did a good deed for you guys, and now look what’s happened.” Maybe I’m not the only one with weird boxers on. I’ll have a peep around. Soon John joined in the laughter. Cap had on boxers with boxers (the underwear) on them, Chet had on boxers with clown heads all over them. Marco’s had jalapeno peppers on them, and Mike proudly wore boxers with fire trucks. Actually Roy had the least embarrassing ones on and even his were funny. He had little weight lifters all over his boxers.
“We might not be comfortable, but at least we’re all entertained!” Hank Stanley had a wonderful attitude and was the ultimate captain.
“Does anyone know we’re here?” John realized that he was injured, but his ego was going to hurt much worse than his head if they were found in these boxers.
“Not that we know anything about, and let’s hope they realize before next shift comes in, or we will never live this one down.” Marco was so right.
About that time the klaxons rang out.
“Station 51, man down, 7 Danes, 7 Danes, cross street Chandler Avenue. Time out 9:59”
All the guys began to giggle. They knew that now the police would have to come and check out the station. Of course, the would be robbers were long gone, but they had a great description of all the men, so hopefully they would be caught.
“Station 51! Station 51, do you read?”
Vince, along with three other units, arrived.
“In here, Vince.” Hank was only mildly amused knowing how hard the officers would be laughing.
When Vince rounded the corner and saw the six men tied together in their boxers and tee shirts, he had to sit on one of the beds to keep from falling over with laughter. The other officers were of no more help than Vince. But who could blame them?
“Does anyone care to tell me how you got like this?”
“Oh, it’s a weekly ritual, Vince. We have a knot tying contest and it got out of hand today.” Roy’s words were such a surprise that Vince began laughing again.
“Well, Vince, if you could get us loose, I’m sure we could explain this easier.” Mike was less than amused and not at all comfortable being tied to his fellow crewmembers.
“I’m sorry, guys. Okay, let’s get these professional knots untied. And by the way, nice boxers, especially yours, Gage.”
With that they all began laughing. This was by far the strangest call that Vince ever had.
“Is anyone hurt? Do I need to radio for an ambulance?”
“John got hit on the back of the head with something, and I can see that there has been some bleeding. Rampart will likely want to run some tests, so yea, you might want to call an ambulance.”
“Aw, Roy, I’m fine. It’s nothin’.”
“I know all about Rampart and head wounds. Sorry Johnny, but I’m gonna have to call this in, then we will get a statement from each of you.”
“I just got outta that place,” John mumbled under his breath.
The ambulance pulled up to Rampart Emergency, and Roy could tell that his patient was less than happy to be there.
“I’m sorry about this, but you took a pretty nasty blow to the head. You were also unconscious. So, Johnny, you know as well as I do that you need to be here.”
“That doesn’t mean I have ta like it.”
“No, ya never have to like it.”
As they rolled in, the staff was ready for John, and for a good laugh at the firemen.
“All I want to know is where you guys do your shopping?” Joe Early loved having a good time, and this was one that he wasn’t about to pass up.
Roy just dropped his head, grinning, and red faced, but Johnny was in a trickier position. Jeanette was one of the nurses in the room with him, so he hoped that Roy wouldn’t say anything. He knew that he wasn’t going to say anything.
“Let’s check you out here, John.” Even Brackett was snickering at the incident. “Dix we’re gonna need a CT on his head, just to be sure.”
She ordered the CT immediately, between giggles.
Before Johnny knew what had happened, Jeanette was by his side holding his hand. “I heard that you had on the boxers that I got you for your birthday. You were probably the only one that wasn’t teased.”
Putting on his best Gage grin, he simply replied, “Yea, something like that.”
At this point Roy hit the door and was out of the room quicker than anyone knew he could move. John knew exactly why he had gone out…..to laugh. At least Roy was there instead of Chet. He would have said something stupid that made Jeanette feel horrible and that’s the last thing they needed.
After a good bit of time, the senior paramedic had composed himself enough to come inside the room again. When he got there, Johnny had gone for his CT.
Brackett and Morton wanted to know just what had happened. Bits and pieces of the story were all over Rampart, but they knew that rumors couldn’t be believed, and that Roy could. After explaining it all to them, the trio was laughing hysterically.
“Wasn’t that scary though?” Morton couldn’t imagine being tied up in his boxers with the men on the hospital staff.
“Not really for us, ya see, it all happened so fast. They had us out of our beds and tied up before we were really awake. I imagine that Johnny got a scare, though.”
“Why was he there?”
“Oh, that’s the worst part. He was gonna surprise us with breakfast, and I still haven’t eaten, so I know he hasn’t either.”
“Why would it be more scary for John?” Now Brackett had to enter the conversation with some of his own questions.
“Well, he was in the kitchen, gathering the cooking utensils, when he turned around and had a gun pointed in his face. He actually talked to the guys. They were after the fund raiser money that we had collected.” Roy chuckled. “You guys know Johnny; when they asked him for the money, he told them they would have to go to the bank for it. He said that’s when they hit him from behind with something…probably a gun.”
“I’m sure the hospital will send someone out to talk to you men. You know that it’s events like this that can later cause post traumatic stress disorder.”
“That, and starvation.” Roy’s stomach had begun to growl and he was rubbing it.
“We’ll have something sent up for John and you. Roy, you do realize that we are going to keep John overnight, no matter the outcome of the CT.”
“Yea, Dr. Brackett, I kinda figured that. Also, thanks for the food. I know that he will be as hungry as I am.”
“Not a problem.” The doctors exited the room, leaving Roy to wait for Johnny and some food.
After eating, Johnny was ready to go back to the station and maybe surprise the guys with dinner.
“Not yet, John, you know that we have to make sure you have all your ducks in a row before you leave the hospital.” Dixie winked at Roy.
“Oh no, not you too, Dix. Very, very funny, now, can we stop the boxer jokes?”
“Okay, but if you start being a bad patient, you know what will happen. Let’s just say that you’ve been warned.”
The tanned, dark haired paramedic looked up pleadingly at his partner.
“Well, Dix, he did have it a little rougher than the rest of us. Johnny, when did they take off your clothes?”
“Uh, I have no idea, Roy. I guess after that guy hit me with the gun. Anyhow, if everyone’s reaction is any indication of theirs, I’m glad I was unconscious.”
Even in a bad mood, and with his dignity dampened, Johnny could still make them laugh.
“Well, I’d better go. I’ll see ya tomorrow. Take good care of him, Dix.”
“Okay, and, Roy, thanks.” Johnny smiled at his partner.
After Roy left the room, Dixie asked Johnny if he was okay, and he seemed puzzled by her question. She explained that the doctors had told her about what had happened, and that she was concerned about him.
“Honestly, Dix, the worst thing of all of it has been the teasing about these boxers. The other happened so quickly that it didn’t really sink in. I wasn’t even sure that they were being serious. It was almost like I was in a movie or somethin’.”
“You look tired, how about some sleep?”
“Okay, but I get to go back to work next shift, right?”
“That’s what they tell me.”
With that Dixie exited the room and Johnny was asleep within five minutes. All through the night, nurses went in to check his vitals, and he was asleep every time anyone went in. That was a good sign, and after the ordeal he had gone through, he needed rest.
The next day started out beautifully. There wasn’t a cloud in the Los Angeles sky, and Johnny had slept through the night, without any incidents. He felt ready to leave, and after he ate breakfast, Dr. Morton gave him his discharge papers.
“Roy came by this morning and left some clothes for you, and told us to call him when it was time for you to go home. So I’ll get you a ride now.”
As he looked through the bag that Roy left, he saw five pairs of boxers and a brand new pair in a package. When he realized what was going on, he began to laugh out loud. Each of the crew had submitted the boxers that he had on that day, and they had pitched in and bought John a new pair with a note that read take your choice.
No offense guys, but I’ll take the new ones, Johnny thought as he opened the bag. When he took them out, he could hardly believe his eyes. Apparently the crew had pitched in for something else. The fabric was white, but there was a drawing of a cook and some robbers on the front of the boxers, and one of five men in tee shirts and boxers all tied up on the back. I don’t know whether to laugh or kill these guys. The slim paramedic put on the boxers and his clothes that Roy had brought, and waited for Roy, or one of the other men to pick him up. Today maybe he could prepare that meal for them.
Dixie came in the room and said, “Johnny, your ride’s here!”
“Alright! No offense, Dix, but I think I could rest better at home.”
“Oh, I understand, and, Johnny, good luck.”
What did she mean by good luck? As he walked through the hospital, people had strange looks on their faces. I’ll never live those silly ducks down. Instead of acting odd, he just looked them in the eye and said good-bye, and thank you. Finally getting out of the hospital, he smiled looked up toward the sun and took in a deep breath of not so fresh air. Now John Gage was one happy man. He could go to the station, cook, then go home and get some proper rest. Puzzled, he didn’t see the squad anywhere. He didn’t see Roy or any of the guys anywhere. Wait. Could it be? In the distance he thought he saw his Land Rover, but who could have his keys? He checked his pockets, and there were no keys. They all know how I am with my car. Who would be stupid enough to drive it? As the vehicle came closer he could tell there was something on top of it. That’s it! Whatever that is up there, well, they’d better hope they haven’t scratched my Rover. I’ll bet it was Chet. As the car came even closer he could tell that several people were inside.
“Oh no!” Now Johnny could see his car in all its glory. Not only were all the guys inside the car, but the decoration on top was a huge pair of boxer shorts with ducks on them. I’m gonna kill ‘em.
“Anyone lookin’ for a ride to the station for some cake and coffee?” Of all the members of the crew, Captain Stanley was the last one Johnny would have thought to be driving his Land Rover.
With gritted teeth, Johnny got into the passengers seat of his automobile and said, “When I’m better, I’m gonna kill you guys.”
Laughter could be heard throughout the Rover, and Cap simply came back with, “Well, John, ya’ gotta’ do what ya’ gotta’ do.”