You Really Stuck Your Foot in it This Time

By Audrey W.







“So, how’s it look, Doc?” 


Doctor Joe Early glanced up from where he was squatted down, in the process of examining the left ankle of Roy DeSoto, when John Gage spoke out.


“Well, it looks like you were right. . .a sprained ankle as well as a possible fracture. I won’t know for sure on the latter until we take a few x-rays.”


Roy glanced glumly at his partner from where he was seated on the exam table.  


“I’d congratulate you on being right, except for the fact your ‘win’ is my ‘loss’.”


Johnny splayed his right hand on his chest. “Hey, it’ll be my loss, too, if I get Craig Brice as a temporary partner.”


“I’ll try to remember that while I’m laid up, ready to climb the walls.”


“So how’d this happen again?” the doctor asked as he stood up.


“A dog. It was a dog,” Johnny informed him. “Roy doesn’t seem to always have luck on his side with dogs on rescues,” he added, remembering his partner taking an unplanned ‘dive’ into a swimming pool while chasing after a victim’s dog that had taken their bp cuff. He’d tripped on lawn furniture and fallen in. “Only this time, the dog had booby traps and Roy here found one of ‘um.”


“In other words, I stepped in a hole this dog dug that was hidden by grass. Before I knew it, I was on my way to the ground, but my foot stayed planted.”


“That’ll do it.”


Station 51’s crew had arrived at a structure fire, a two story house, and immediately were informed the family German Shepard was still inside. Both paramedics had donned their SCBA gear and turnouts, then headed in for a quick sweep of the home in search of the animal while the engine crew and those from other stations battled the flames.


While searching, they were informed that the dog had been seen in the back yard, apparently having found his way out the open screen door. But he appeared to not be feeling good. Johnny and Roy rushed out the open back door as well, but as they headed for the not-so-okay canine, Roy had gone down when he tripped.


The dog, in the meantime, improved on his own with fresh air.




It wasn’t long before an x-ray technician showed up with a portable unit. The others would need to leave the room so he could get the pictures of the wounded paramedic’s ankle.


“I’ll be back in as soon as he’s done, Roy.”


“I’ll be here,” he assured Early with sarcasm and a wan grin.


Johnny followed the doctor out of the room, with one more worried glance over his shoulder at Roy, who was in the process of getting situated for the pictures. He sure hoped he was wrong about the possible fracture.




Johnny came back into the room to wait with Roy while Doctor Early had gone to get the results of the x-rays. This time head nurse Dixie McCall joined them as well.


“At least you didn’t do it kicking a shopping cart,” she said, recalling how she’d broken her toe once doing just that. Both Doctor Early and Brackett had given her a hard time about it, though all in fun.


“Well, now, there’s a bright side,” Johnny agreed with a lopsided grin. “Just imagine the razzing you’d get if you’da done that!”


Dixie shot him a warning look, one eyebrow raised.


Roy shook his head. “I think you just stuck your foot in a deeper hole than I did.”


The dark-haired paramedic quickly switched to a more serious facial expression. With a hand splayed on his chest, he assured Roy and Dixie, “ ‘Course, I wouldn’t be one of ‘em doing the razzin’.”


The nurse gave one nod in approval, a smile on her face. She enjoyed joking around with Gage and DeSoto. They were her two favorite paramedics in L.A. County.


“If only I could recover that fast,” Roy muttered.


Johnny smirked, then frowned when he reminded himself that Roy not being able to recover so fast could be worse for him than his regular partner!




“You want the good news or the bad news first?” Doctor Early wondered.


“How about we start off good.”


“Okay.” He put the pictures from the x-ray up on the viewing screen then flicked on the light behind them. “Though you’ll see here that you did indeed fracture the talus bone, you won’t need surgery because it’s a nondisplaced fracture. You’re very fortunate.”


“What’s the bad news?”


“Well, you’re still going to have to be in a cast and avoid putting weight on your foot for at least six weeks, maybe eight. After that, you’ll have to have some physical therapy to restore the strength and range of motion of your foot and ankle.”


“So how long do you think I’ll be out of commission?”


“If all goes well, about ten weeks. If not, could be twelve or more.”


“I guess there’s one more brightside, and I believe this one is safe to say,” Johnny remarked with a brief glance Dixie’s way.


They all waited for him to elaborate.


“At least this way, you can’t get taken down by another dog for awhile.”


True, it was a brightside, but not bright enough to make up for the rest. Roy couldn’t wait for the next three months to be over with.




Roy made a slightly quicker recovery than anticipated, and was ready to return to rescue work after just nine weeks. The only problem that created was that Gage’s temporary partner, Tony Hartford, was a newer paramedic who was gaining better skills working alongside Johnny, and the department wanted him to finish out the month there. That meant two more weeks.


With that plan in place, Tony’s captain from his station had planned on not having him back until at least then. So if the captains involved adjusted to fit the new situation, Roy’s early return would mean some jostling around of personnel and schedules.


Thus to make things easier, the blond paramedic agreed and was assigned to fill in for an engine crew member at Station 45 while that fire fighter went on a ten day vacation.


Though he’d enjoyed being the primary driver of the squad while Roy was out, Johnny was more than ready to work with his regular partner again. But, like Roy, he understood that they weren’t in control, and they’d just have to wait the extra time to be side-by-side again. The most important thing was that Roy was healed and back on duty. . .period.


Gage and DeSoto would soon find out, though, that even while working apart, there were some ties that just couldn’t be disconnected.




A few hours into their next to last shift together, Johnny and Tony were dispatched to a residential address for an unknown–type rescue.  When they arrived, they found out that the call was for an elderly lady who was distressed over a high utility bill. She was so stressed out, that she was having difficulty breathing.


“Did you call the public service company ta see if they can work out a payment schedule for ‘er?” Johnny asked the woman’s daughter and son-in-law. “Maybe that would help ease some of ‘er worry.”


He had Tony administering oxygen to the victim while he tried to find a helpful solution to the overall problem. Otherwise the woman might continue to have health issues and they or another squad would likely be making regular visits.


“No. . .” the daughter responded. “I guess we never thought of that.”


“Maybe it’s a mistake in her bill,” Tony offered.


“He could be right,” Johnny told them. “Can’t hurt to call and check on any of the stuff we thought of.”


The middle-aged couple agreed and the son-in-law went to use the telephone in the kitchen.


In the meantime, Johnny contacted Rampart for a second time to let them know the victim’s vitals were now within normal limits, though she still was on the oxygen.




It wasn’t long before the son-in-law returned with good news.


“Mom, you aren’t going to believe this, but they did make an error with your bill. You only owe half of what it said you owed.”


Still seated on a couch in the livingroom, the elderly lady pulled the oxygen mask from her face. “Just half?”


“That’s what they said. And when I explained to them that the mistake had made you sick, they apologized and took another ten percent off.”


“Oh my goodness,” she said, a smile now on her face. She immediately had calmed down.


Johnny and Tony grinned as well. It looked to be a happy ending for everyone.  


However, the happy moment didn’t last for long. Because just as the paramedics were gathering up the equipment to leave, there was a sudden knock on the door, a frantic yell for help on the other side followed.


Johnny and Tony exchanged brief glances as the daughter hurried to the foyer and opened the front door. There was a middle aged woman who looked very distraught.


“I saw the fire truck out in front of your house. We need their help! There’s a house fire down the street!”


Johnny was to the door in an instant, Tony close behind. Once they got there, both could smell the smoke already in the air.


“Did you call the fire department?” The dark-haired paramedic asked as he followed the lady outside.


“Yes, yes. . .but there might be someone inside! I don’t think there’s time to wait!”


With that, the men dashed to their truck. Johnny called them in as being at the scene on the street, then drove the squad down a block to where the small two-story structure was already very involved in flames downstairs.


He quickly put on his turnouts and grabbed his SCBA gear while he had Tony grab a rope.


“C’mon,” he said as he motioned with his right hand.


As soon as they were just outside the house, Johnny pointed to the rope still in Tony’s hands.


“Lemme have that.”


He tied it around his waist with a knot.


“Stay out here and keep feeding the line in. When the rest of the company gets here, tell ‘um I’m doin’ a sweep, that we may have a victim inside!”


The younger paramedic gave a nod, then watched as Gage climbed in through a window he'd just broken to gain entrance. He handed Johnny the SCBA gear once he was inside.




Johnny had taken the HT with him, but for now it wouldn’t do much good. Tony didn’t have another, so they couldn’t communicate anyway. The only thing in his hand that was useful was the flashlight he carried.


He’d been told another elderly lady lived in the house alone and it was possible she was home and couldn’t get out.


“Fire department!” He called from behind his air mask. “Anyone in here? Mrs. Bruins! I’m here to help you!”


But there was no answer, not a sound of a voice anywhere.


After covering what little he safely could downstairs, he headed for the second floor. He could hear sirens outside approaching. That was a relief, as the downstairs was well engulfed now and he’d have to make his exit from the second floor once he found the victim, if she was in there.




Gage didn’t find anyone in the two bedrooms and bathroom upstairs. It was apparent that no one had been inside as feared. He then crawled for a window in one of the bedrooms through the dark smoky haze after untying the rope from his waist. He was careful but quick as he made his way. There was no telling how much the floor was compromised by the fire below and he knew he could go through at any moment.


That wasn’t the only immediate danger. The flames had reached the second floor and were licking the sides of the doorframe of the room he was in.


Just before Johnny reached the window, the HT in his turnout coat pocket crackled with static, then Captain Stanley’s voice could be heard. Tony had filled them in on the situation immediately.


“HT 51, Engine 51.”


Johnny pulled the radio out. “Engine 51, this is HT 51. Cap, I’m in a bedroom I think is on the south end of the house,” he communicated through his air mask. “I’m gonna need a ladder at the window.”


“10-4. Do you have a victim with you?”




With that, the formalities were dropped by the captain.


“Ladder’s on the way, pal. Hang in there.”




Johnny knew once he opened the window, the chances of a flash fire were going to be great. He’d only have seconds if that happened. He wasn’t going to be able to ‘hang in there’ very long.




Another engine arrived just before Johnny and Hank had ended their communication. It was 45. Hank immediately briefed that captain, and Roy and another fireman were given the direction to carry a ladder to Johnny’s location at the side of the house.


Roy led the way as he and his current shiftmate scrambled toward their destination with the ladder.




Now standing, Johnny heard the creaking of the floor beneath him. He could feel it starting to buckle.


He had no choice but to open the window and get up on the sill before the ladder was there.


Darker grey smoke had filled the room and plumes of it came out as soon as the window was open, temporarily engulfing the trapped paramedic. 


Johnny saw that it was Roy and another fireman headed his way with a ladder. At the same time he felt the heat behind him build.






They were almost to their destination when Roy’s right foot slid out from under him and the next thing he knew, he was on the grassy ground. His right wrist twisted as he fell awkwardly, the ladder still in his grasp.




Johnny saw his best friend go down. In that same instant, he made the only choice for survival he could.  He jumped just as the fire flashed.




Roy shoved his end of the ladder away and tried to get up. But he couldn’t use his right hand for support. Even the slightest pressure on his right wrist caused a sharp pain to shoot up his arm.  


The fireman with him was there in an instant to help. But before Roy was off the ground, both glanced over and saw that Gage was already on their level.






Gage had hoped he’d land okay. But the pain that shot through his left foot and leg on impact told him otherwise. He immediately crumpled to the ground on his left side. He could hear the alarm going off on his air tank as he tried to gather his wits together.


Captain Stanley and Tony raced over to help, scrambling over one of the charged fire hoses that snaked across the yard from Engine 51.


Johnny threw off his helmet, then Roy helped with one hand to get off the air mask. Sweaty and clearly in agony, Johnny remained on his side as the air mask hung loosely from his chest.


“Can you stand?”


The younger paramedic glanced at the other’s already swollen wrist.


“Not with. . . your help.”


Roy followed his gaze. Johnny was probably right.




“Good Lord, are you okay?” Captain Stanley asked as soon as he reached his men.


“Which one. . . of us.. .are ya asking?” Johnny quipped.


The captain eyed him and Roy. “Both.”




Hank  called in the Code I multiplied by two.  Tony could treat both paramedics sufficiently, so there was no need to request an additional squad. However, an ambulance was on the way to the scene.




Roy was able to walk to a yellow safety blanket spread out on the ground by the squad, but Johnny had to be carried between two men, each of his arms over a shoulder. There was no way he could put any weight on his left foot, not even to limp while being helped.


When they reached the blanket, they eased him down.


The dark-haired paramedic immediately crinkled his nose in disgust.


“What is that smell?”


Tony and Hank were busy getting the supplies gathered and set up, so they hadn’t had time to notice what Johnny was referring to. However, Roy did and he slowly rolled over his right foot to display a two-toned brown glob still stuck to it, bits of grass mixed in.


Johnny grimaced. “Don’t tell me. . .”


Roy didn’t have to. It was more than obvious. DeSoto had once again been brought down by a dog. He had but one thing to say.


“Crap. . .”




Johnny lay on the exam table as he waited for Doctor Early to come in with the results of the x-rays that had been taken of his foot and ankle. With enormous pain, swelling and bruising already having been in play, it was likely he’d fractured something.


He eyed the IV that snaked into his left arm. He’d needed that for both dehydration and for Tony to administer some MS.


He thought about Tony, who was already on his way back to Station 51. The ‘kid’ was going to need another partner since he was out now. Squad 51’s A-Shift duty would be out of the hands of its usual crew for awhile longer.


Thinking of partners, he wondered how Roy was fairing in the next room over, where Doctor Morton was taking care of his wrist.


Man, I hope it’s just a sprain. . .


There’d been a few times that he’d just gotten back to work after time off duty to recover, only to be right back in a similar situation again. It wasn’t fun.


Suddenly the door opened and Doctor Early entered with a yellow manila envelope in hand.


“Well, Doc?”


“You remember how Roy was fortunate to have a clean fracture of the talus bone?”


Johnny gave a slight nod.


Early pulled out the x-rays and placed them up on the viewing screen, then flicked on the light behind them. He pointed to the obvious break in Johnny’s foot.


“You weren’t so lucky.”


The paramedic looked on, his mouth open and head turned enough so he could see what the doctor was referring to. 


 “You’ve got a displaced fracture of the talus bone. It isn’t common in drops like you took, but it happens.  I’m afraid you’re going to need surgery to repair the damage.”


“Doc,__about how long . . .?”


“I’d say about eight weeks in a cast. You won’t be able to put any weight on your foot for at least another four or five weeks after that. Then there’ll need to be some physical therapy. All in all, plan on about five to six months out of the squad.”


Gage frowned. That wasn’t the news he’d hoped for, but it wasn’t unexpected.




Just before Johnny was sent up to the OR, Dixie came into the treatment room with Roy, his right forearm and wrist in a sling. He had a moderately sprained wrist and was going to be recovering again for at least six weeks, maybe a little longer. He was also minus one shoe. Johnny braced himself for the playful lines the head nurse might give them concerning what had caused both of them to get hurt.


“I'm not going to say a thing about it,” she assured.


“Ah, c'mon, Dix. Jus' get it outta the way.”


“Nope. Not a chance. I'm still trying to live down my mishap after all this time, remember?”


“She means it,” Roy assured. “I tried, too. She won't crack.”


Johnny sighed. Well, that was a small relief, because really he kind of owed her one chance at a wise crack.




Dixie gave the two wounded men a sympathetic look. “At least one of you will be walking out of here today.” She then glanced down at Roy’s socked foot. “Although partially in stocking feet.”


Someone was attempting to clean up the shoe for him, but the doggy poop was proving to be a potent adversary. However, his wife Joanne was on her way over with his tennis shoes and a ride home.


Johnny just gave a wan smile and nod. He wasn’t happy about being the one to stay, but at the same time wouldn’t wish his misfortune on Roy.


“I guess we really stepped in it this time,” Gage said with a lopsided grin at his play on words.


Roy just nodded in return. He certainly had.


If anyone was keeping score, the dogs would have four points while he was still at zero.



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