That’s the Breaks

By Audrey W.




When the call for an MVA came into Station 8, the firemen never expected what was waiting for them at the scene.


Pulling overtime away from his usual station, John Gage climbed out of Squad 8, his lower jaw dropped at the rush of water shooting high into the air from a broken fire hydrant. His gaze traveled to the crumpled front end of the station wagon that had plowed into it.


Johnny quickly hurried to gather equipment from the compartments on the passenger side of the squad, his current partner there to assist. Both men took another glance at the sight before them.


“Man, I wonder how the driver managed that,” Johnny remarked. 


“Probably got run off the road.”


The two trotted toward police officer Vince Howard, who was waving them over to his car parked away from the flow of water in the street.


In the meantime, Captain Stone directed one of his engine crew members to grab the shut-off key from the engine to turn off the water at a street valve a half block away. The other two firemen with him stood by, waiting until they could gain access to the car without getting drenched, while he went to see what the paramedics were facing on the other side of the police car.


Stone knew John Gage from when they went through paramedic training in the beginning of the program and had been a captain at Station 8 for several months.




Johnny’s eyes widened as he and his temporary partner came around the rear bumper of the police car and saw who was seated on the sidewalk.




The dark-blond off-duty paramedic gave a wan smile and a brief wave with his right hand.


“Wha. . .how. . .why. . .” Johnny pointed in the direction of the wrecked, soaked car. “Did you. . .?”


“I’m afraid so.”


“Well, are ya all right? Did ya get hurt?”


“He says he’s okay, but I thought it would be better to have him checked out in case,” Vince explained.


“Well, sure,” Johnny agreed. “Sure. What in the world happened?” he asked as he set the biophone and drug box down near DeSoto.


“You won’t believe it. I still don’t believe it.”


“Try me.”


The other on-duty paramedic set the trauma box down near Roy as well and waited as Johnny did a careful thorough once over to check for any sign of injury.


“You know how Joanne’s been telling me the brakes in her car felt funny. . .and I kept telling you I thought she was just imagining things because I didn’t notice anything different when I drove it. And when I took it in to be looked at, the mechanic couldn’t find anything wrong. Then you drove it around awhile back and couldn’t feel anything different either.”


Johnny had nodded after each mention, but verbally acknowledged the last statement.


“Uh huh.”


How could he forget? Roy just about drove him crazy when he came into work at Station 51, frustrated because his wife swore there was something wrong with her car many times over and he couldn’t figure out what she was referring to; thus why Johnny had finally offered to check into it as well.  


Gage stopped what he was doing to listen to the rest of what Roy had to say.


“Turns out, she was right.”


The dark-haired paramedic pulled back, a puzzled expression on his face. “You mean. . .?”


“There was something wrong, alright. And what ever it was finally came to a head while I was driving. The brakes went out on me.”


“Went out?” he looked up at the police car roof where the fountain of water shooting up from the hydrant had been visible. It was gone now, the water having been shut off.


Stoney had come around to check on his two men, but instead ended up just listening to what Roy had to say. With a pause in the explanation, he inquired, “Are we going to need an ambulance?”


“I believe so,” Johnny said, which drew a surprised look from Roy. He quickly offered an explanation to the patient. “You can’t hide stuff from someone with a trained eye. You should know that from when I discovered you had tonsillitis again. Remember when Early backed up my diagnosis?”


Roy only wished he could forget that over the past few years. Although even Johnny was surprised at being right once Roy informed him he’d had his tonsils out as a child. Who knew they could grow back?


“You grimaced when I palpated your neck,” Gage was explaining as Roy came out of his thoughts. “It’s very possible you have whiplash.”


Roy frowned. Vince and Johnny exchanged knowing glances. The other paramedic on duty opened the trauma box to get the c-collar he knew they’d need.


“So how did you end up head-on into a fire hydrant?” Johnny wondered. “Did the steering go out, too?”


“No, the car ahead of me suddenly stopped, I had to swerve to miss it. That’s when I found out my brakes were gone. I didn’t even have time to try the emergency brake.”


“Well, look at it this way, Roy,” he said as he sat back on his heels.


“What’s that?”


Gage snorted a laugh. “You won’t have Joanne complaining there’s something wrong with the station wagon’s brakes anymore.”


Roy rolled his eyes at the comment. Somehow he had a feeling he’d be wishing for those days again once his wife started on the ‘I told you so’ phase, which was sure to come next and hang around for awhile.



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