"What? Why Me?"
By Wanda C.
Spring had sprung in L.A. County. Not that the weather was all that different, but one certainty was clear. Easter would soon arrive. Sometimes Station 51’s A-Shift had the holiday off, but most of the time they ended up working. This year was special in that they had a long Easter weekend off to themselves. The Desoto’s and the Stanley’s planned Easter festivities together this year. The children were beginning to grow up, and they all knew that this would be one of the last years they would have Easter Bunny fun with them. Of course, John Gage was invited, and he assumed that all the guys would be there. He didn’t have a date, but this was for the kids, so he didn’t feel he needed one to show off to Chet Kelly.
But first things first, and now John had to get through another shift. Just as the young paramedic got dressed, the klaxons rang out, and he dashed to the squad.
“Station 51, man trapped, 1700 Lightview, 1700Lightview, cross street Gardner. Time out, 8:10.”
Captain Stanley answered with the usual. “Station 51, 10-4. KMG365.”
The squad and engine hurried off to the scene, sirens blaring. When they got there, the crew could hardly believe their eyes.
As the men glanced up in the tree, eyes wide and mouths dropped, they saw a four hundred pound man balancing on a limb that seemed only sturdy enough to hold John.
“Uh, Cap? You want me to go up there and see what I can do?” John Gage was the climber of the crew. He could go places that most wouldn’t attempt.
“Yes, get your gear and go up, I’ll see if I can find anyone to tell us how he got up there.”
The dark haired paramedic ran to the squad, assisted by his fair-haired partner. Roy couldn’t help but giggle under his breath when he asked his fellow paramedic what he was going to do once he reached the man.
“Good question, Roy. I hope I can talk him down. If we have to use ropes to get him down, it’s gonna take everybody just to hang onto him.” The famous crooked smile surfaced and the men enjoyed the laugh.
Hank returned with an extremely embarrassed lady. The victim was her husband and she had sent him scurrying up the tree (as best he could) because she thought the cat was trapped up there. When he managed to climb the tree, he ended up totally freezing. She had no idea that he was afraid of heights, and neither did he, until now. The captain’s major concern was the size of the limb holding this big man up, and how sturdy it was.
“Be careful up there, John. We don’t need two patients.”
As he made his way up the tree, the thin paramedic was concerned because he could hear the branch creaking and was afraid that it was going to break at any minute.
“Okay, take it easy. I’m gonna help ya. What’s your name?”
“Joooooooe” About the time the man told Johnny his name, the branch snapped, and everyone on the ground ran for cover. All Johnny could do was hold his breath and hope for the best, as Joe latched onto him as he was falling.
BOOM! They hit the ground at lightening speed, and unfortunately for young John, he broke Joe’s fall.
Roy ran over to see if they were okay, and he couldn’t see Johnny anywhere. Soon the entire crew, including Mike Stoker, was standing close by, ready to help and hoping for the best.
“Sir, are you hurt?” Roy asked Joe as he was attempting to move the man and find his partner.
“No, but the little guy might be.” Although the situation seemed serious, the men couldn’t help but grin when they thought of what Johnny’s reaction to being called a ‘little guy’ would be.
“Johnny? Can you hear me?” Roy was concerned at this point and having a very hard time removing Joe. Hank noticed the paramedic’s ploy, and had Chet and Marco help.
Finally, they got Joe to
his feet. He was unharmed, but very shaken. Hank took him over to the engine and
calmed him while the rest of the crew began to see how Johnny faired in this
The young man was unconscious. Roy, Chet, and Marco were checking his limbs for any possible breaks. Soon Roy began getting vitals and they all seemed okay.
“Is it bad, Roy?” Chet never wanted to admit it to anyone, but he loved Johnny like a brother and couldn’t stand the thought of anything happening to his friend.
“I don’t know yet; we need to get him conscious.”
Roy relayed the vitals to Rampart, which Dixie took down as Kel stood by her side. Everything seemed in order, BP 120/68, pulse 70, respiration 20. Roy shook his head, not knowing what to do and asked Rampart if he could use “smelling salts” to attempt to wake his partner. Kel gave the okay and Roy broke open a packet, and maneuvered it under Johnny’s nose.
“Wha? Roy?” After a bit of coughing, the paramedic was at least conscious.
“Don’t try to sit up. You’ve taken quite a fall. Does anything hurt?”
“Yea, everything. Did Joe fall on me?” Roy allowed himself an inward chuckle at Johnny’s expression. He didn’t know if or how badly his partner might be injured, but the look in John’s eyes when he asked that question was a once in a lifetime look.
“He sure did. Can you tell me where, and how badly you’re hurting, Junior?”
“Uh, well, uh, my back hurts a little. My side hurts, and it hurts to breathe.”
Roy could tell that his partner was struggling to answer so he nodded and Johnny lost consciousness again.
“Rampart, this is Squad 51. How do you read?”
“Go ahead, 51” Kel couldn’t imagine what had happened now. Close to holidays odd things seemed to happen, but this one took them all.
“Rampart, patient is complaining of back pain, pain around the rib area, and pain when he breathes. Also, patients has lapsed into unconsciousness. New vitals are, BP 110/65, pulse 90, and respiration 25 and shallow.”
“10-4, 51. Start an IV with ringers, and continue to monitor vitals, especially respiration. Put patient on O2, a backboard, and a C collar. Transport as soon as possible.”
“10-4, Rampart. We have the O2 going and are packaging patient now. Ambulance is on the scene.”
Roy was now worried about his younger partner. His color wasn’t good and Roy suspected that he had broken ribs, possibly puncturing his lung. He would keep a close eye on Johnny until they got him to the hospital. He looked over at Hank, who motioned him on, signaling that Joe was fine.
The ride to Rampart seemed to take forever. When they arrived, Kel and Dixie were waiting in Exam 3. A series of x-rays were taken, and shortly after Kel began examining the handsome paramedic, he had to put in a chest tube. John was definitely on his way to surgery, and never regained consciousness until he was in the recovery room. He was dazed and still groggy from the anesthesia.
“John, can you hear me?” Joe Early was happy with the surgery, and knew that his friend would make a speedy recovery.
“John, you’re at Rampart; just out of surgery. We had to repair a tear in your left lung, but you will be just fine.”
“Don’t try to talk now, Johnny. You were on the vent for a while, but now you’re breathing on your own. Don’t jinx it, okay? You wouldn’t want to be intubated again, would you? My guess is you don’t remember what happened.”
Gage nodded yes.
“Do you remember climbing a tree to help out a, well, a rather large man named Joe?”
John’s eyes brightened as he remembered. “Did he land on me?”
The gleam in Early’s eyes told Johnny that indeed the man had landed on him, and that’s why he felt like he did.
“Doc, was Joe okay?”
“He’s fine. Didn’t even have to come to the hospital.”
The groggy paramedic shot the doctor a semi smile and drifted off to sleep.
After getting the news that their coworker was going to be fine after a few days in the hospital, Hank motioned for Roy to come over and talk with him privately.
“I’m really glad that John’s gonna be okay, but what are we gonna do now, Pal?”
“What do you mean, Cap?”
“Well, you did ask John to wear the Easter Bunny costume for the kids, didn’t you?”
“Cap, I didn’t exactly get to that point. I knew it was gonna be hard to talk him into it, and I was thinking of the right words. I suppose they just never came to me.”
“So he has no clue?”
“None, but you do have a good question, what are we gonna do now?”
“I don’t know, Pal, but we’ll come up with something. We can’t let the kids down.”
Easter morning was as beautiful as a day could be. The Stanleys drove over to the DeSotos’ and everyone knew they were going to have fun. They also knew that they would miss Johnny, but Hank had asked Mike if he would be the Easter Bunny, and he reluctantly agreed.
The hidden eggs had all been found, and the gang was ready to sit down to a feast prepared by JoAnne and Pat Stanley. Hank looked at Roy and nodded.
“Hey kids, I think we have another visitor!”
“Is it Uncle Johnny, Dad?” Christopher so wanted to see him, and that would be a wonderful Easter surprise.
Just as the words came out of Christopher’s mouth, in walked Mike Stoker, aka, the Easter Bunny. The ladies had to giggle since the costume didn’t fit properly, but thought that Mike was such a good sport to do this for their children. He did look funny in that white suit, those big, floppy ears, and that cotton ball tail. Mike felt ridiculous, but knew it was all for a good cause. The children were all amazed, and each one had to sit on the bunny’s lap and have his or her photo taken with the real Easter Bunny. It was a very magical time for them all.
“Pal, I really appreciate this.” Hank managed to whisper to his engineer.
“It’s okay Cap, but I really wish Gage could have done this.”
“Daddy, let’s take the real Easter Bunny to see Uncle Johnny.”
Roy had to chuckle at Christopher’s latest idea, but thought it would likely make for an Easter his partner would never forget.
“Well, Chris, you’ll have to ask the Easter Bunny if he has time to go visit your Uncle Johnny.”
“Please, please Mr. Bunny! You see, my Uncle Johnny is in the hospital and he needs cheering up.” With that the other children began making pleads also. Mike really would rather be trapped in a burning building than do this, but under this costume, who would recognize him? He agreed, and everyone piled into his or her vehicle for a trip to Rampart.
“Happy Easter Johnny!” Dixie had a pleasant smile for her favorite patient this morning.
“Thanks, Dix. Ya know it doesn’t feel like Easter. I was supposed to be at Roy’s today, and havin a good time with the kids. Cap and his family were gonna be there too, and I’m not sure who else.”
“Well, we’ll make your stay here as comfortable as possible. You will get to go home soon. Maybe they will all have a cook out or something for ya!”
“Yea, maybe they would do that.” Johnny grinned that crooked grin at the thought of a cook out for him. Dixie exited the room and he had just fallen asleep when he was awakened by a knock at the door.
“Come in.” He didn’t care who it was because he was still half asleep.
When the door opened, the DeSoto family and the Stanley family came bursting in. Naturally all the kids ran to Johnny. He had a way with children and Roy’s children were almost like his own.
“Uncle Johnny! We have a big surprise for you.” Chris could hardly contain himself, so Johnny knew he needed to at least act like the surprise was the best thing that could possibly happen to him.
“We hated to have ya in the hospital without bringing ya something, Pal.” Hank Stanley hated to have any of his crew injured, but an injury around the holidays was even worse.
“I’m glad ya thought of me, now where’s that surprise?”
All the children ran to the door and introduced the injured paramedic to the real Easter Bunny. Johnny began laughing, and then grabbed his side in pain. That was the most ridiculous costume he had ever seen. He really felt for the poor guy they hired to wear it.
“Wow! The real Easter Bunny!” As the bunny moved closer, Johnny smelled a familiar scent. Could it be?
Leaning over the bed as best he could, he whispered, “Stoker?”
Mike acknowledged himself and John had to fight to keep back the laughter. When Stoker realized what a kick the patient was getting out of this, he let him know that the reason the costume didn’t fit properly was because they had ordered it for him.
“What? Why me?” Johnny was stunned. Why did they think for a second that he would put on that ridiculous costume? Okay, sure he would have done it for the kids. However, he was glad for once that he was in Rampart and Mike did the honors.
“So did we make your Easter special? Chris was determined to do just that for the man he loved so much.
“I’d say it’s one I’ll never forget!”
With that reply everyone in the room began to laugh, and they all were sure that John Gage would be back in the station dodging Chet’s water bombs very soon.
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