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It was a sunny Saturday morning when Station 51 was called out to an early morning structure fire at an office building. Johnny squinted against the sunlight as he got his bearings to give Roy directions.
“Take Elm onto Brewster. It should be 3 blocks down.”
Roy nodded as he led the way in the squad, with big red following behind, sirens blaring.
As they approached the structure, they could see thick black smoke coming from one end of the building.
The men quickly put on their gear and approached the chief, who was already there with other crews.
“Hank, some people said that there might be some workers still in the building putting in some overtime. Have your men do a search of the west side of the building and get some hoses on the east side on the 3rd floor. We already have men on the floors below.”
“Johnny, Roy, search the west side. There might be workers inside. Make it quick. I heard there might be explosive material inside. Marco, Chet, get a hose on the East side,” Cap ordered.
Johnny and Roy nodded as they jogged towards the building, putting their masks and helmets in place.
“I think we should stay on the same floor, but split up to cover more area,” Roy suggested. Johnny nodded in agreement. The fire was starting to spread to the area that they were searching and the smoke was getting thicker.
It wasn’t long before Roy came out of an office, several feet down the hallway, assisting a worker who was coughing harshly.
“Johnny,” Roy hollered through his mask, “I am going to take this guy out. I’ll be back in a minute.”
Johnny gave a thumbs up. “I am going to go to the end of this hall and see if there is anyone.”
Roy nodded and started to make his way out of the building with his victim.
Johnny moved towards the last doorway at the end of the hall. He noticed it was made of glass and so was most of the wall, which he found odd.
Even though the door was made of glass it was still difficult to see through the smoke. He pushed open the door.
“Hello?” He called behind his mask, “Anyone in here?”
“Yes, over here,” came a soft reply from the corner of the room. “I’m scared. I wasn’t sure what to do.”
Johnny entered the room to see an attractive young woman with long black hair step from behind a filing cabinet.
“The smoke was getting so thick, I was afraid,” she coughed.
Johnny moved closer to her.
“It’s ok, but we need to get out of here. This building is not stable.”
Just as those words were out of his mouth, they heard an ominous rumbling, then an explosion. Johnny knew they were in trouble. As he felt the air being sucked out of the room he grabbed the young woman and dove to the floor, trying to protect her as much as he could. In that instant, the glass door and wall behind them shattered, sending shards of glass flying at them. Beams from the ceiling above came crashing down, slamming Johnny in the side, as well as pinning his leg, thigh level. Another beam sent a glancing blow against his temple, throwing the helmet off of his head and knocking him out cold. Dust and debris showered down upon them, until it was finally silent.
The young woman opened her eyes and coughed. She groaned as she realized what had happened. She wasn’t sure how long she had been lying there. She didn’t appear to be hurt too badly, except for a pounding headache, but she was pinned beneath the fireman who had probably saved her life.
“Hey, are you ok?” she asked as she tried to squirm out from under him. Suddenly she noticed that he was not moving and she felt something slippery and sticky all over her and on the floor as she struggled to free herself. Glass crunched against the bottom of her shoes as she managed to stand up.
“Oh my God!” She gasped. In the dim light she could see it now. It was blood and a lot of it. She looked down at her white shirt and saw that it was soaked with it, as well as all over her hands.
She looked around, panicked, not sure how to help the brave fireman. She noticed the beams and wall had them trapped and there was no way out. There didn’t seem to be as much smoke now but the room was filled with thick dust. Sunlight filtered in through the cracks in the wall so she was able to see, but not much. She realized the blood must be from the glass that was all over the floor. He had used his body to shield her from it and he had paid the price. She wondered if he was dead. How could she get out without him?
At that moment, she heard Johnny’s radio.
“Ht 51, Johnny where are you? Johnny come in!”
Coughing lightly, she scrambled to locate it under one of the fallen beams and picked it up.
“Help! We are trapped. He is hurt badly. I don’t even know if he’s alive! There is so much blood I don’t know what to do!”
“Who is this? Where is Johnny?”
“My name is Amanda. He found me, then there was an explosion and he is unconscious and there is so much blood, you have to help us!”
Cap responded, “Ok listen Amanda, tell us where you are and we will get you out.”
Amanda did her best to describe their location. Now Roy came on, “Amanda, this is Roy. I am Johnny’s partner and a paramedic. Are you injured?”
“No I don’t think so... but he is not moving and his head is bleeding a lot. In fact he is bleeding all over. The glass wall shattered and...” she started sobbing, unable to continue.
“Ok, we will find you. Did you check for a pulse? Right now you need to try to find some kind of bandages to try to stop as much of the bleeding as you can. Ok? “
Putting the radio down, she gently shook him, then tried to find a pulse at his neck. She thought she felt a faint one but she wasn’t sure. She gently took off his air mask, which was pretty much knocked off anyway. Blood streamed down his face from a large gash on his temple and forehead. She scanned the rest of his body with her eyes. It seemed like he was bleeding from everywhere. He was laying on his right side but as she looked at his back, she could see shards of glass sticking out of his turnout coat. She took off her blouse and tore a piece of cloth to wrap around his head. At least she had a tank top underneath it. As she tied off the bandage he groaned.
“Hey, take it easy. My name is Amanda. They are coming for us soon.”
Johnny tried to open his eyes but he felt as if his head was splitting in two. Finally, he managed to open them slightly. He felt the blood caked to his eyelashes as he tried to wipe it away with back of his gloved hand. His vision was clouded and blurry. He wasn’t sure if it was from the blood in his eyes or the killer of a headache that he had.
“Are you ok?” He gasped.
“Yes, thanks to you.”
“Good...I don’t think I can move. Do you think you can try to help move... this beam off of me?” He panted out.
His whole body hurt. He felt his ribs shift as he tried to turn onto his back. His head throbbed and the room was spinning wildly.
“Oh shit!” He heard the crunching of glass as he tried to turn his body. The shards of glass cutting further into his back as he put weight on them. He felt wet, sticky, and cold. He knew he was bleeding, and bleeding a lot.
Then there was his leg. The left leg was still pinned by the beam and the pain was immense. But he thought if he could get free, he might be able to find a way for her to get out.
“I’ll try, but I don’t know if I can lift it.”
Amanda stood up and braced herself to lift the beam. She was in pretty good shape and ran often, but she was unsure if she would have enough strength.
As she grabbed it, Johnny tried to help her by pushing it with his hands, but the bending motion caused his ribs to move and the glass shards to cut deeper into him. He fell back in agony, panting. Blood and sweat streamed down his face. His head throbbed and he felt bile rising in his throat.
“I’m sorry,” Amanda sighed, “ I can’t move it. There is a lot of blood over here too. I think it is coming from your leg.
What can I do to help you?”
“I think...you’re right.” Johnny panted. “Do you have a belt on?” Amanda nodded.
“Ok, can you try to wrap it around my upper leg? Do you think you can reach? I think the blood is coming from my left leg.” Johnny groaned.
“Yes, I think I can.” With shaking hands, Amanda removed her belt and knelt beside Johnny.
“Try to tie it as tight as you can. It will help with the bleeding.”
Amanda tightened the belt as Johnny gritted his teeth, trying not to cry out.
Just then the radio came to life again.
“Amanda, we think we know your location but it will be awhile before we can get to you. There is too much debris.”
“Let me see it.” Johnny wheezed. Amanda handed him the radio.
“Roy,” he said weakly.
“Johnny, thank God...what are your injuries? Are you ok?”
“I’m pinned...by a beam...it’s too heavy to move...I don’t know about my leg...probably broken” he was becoming short of breath. “I think I have some busted ribs and I’m cut...shit...all over...bleeding like a stuck pig.. man and it’s cold... you need to hurry man.”
“We’ll get to you as fast as we can. Hang in there Junior.”
Johnny knew that he was losing a lot of blood. He was growing weaker and he was so cold. He started to shiver.
Amanda noticed him shivering. She looked at him with big blue eyes, filled with concern. Johnny noticed how beautiful she was, even with blood and dirt smeared all over her. He tried to give her a grin, but it probably looked more like a grimace.
“I don’t know what to do to help you.” She said with tears filling her eyes. “ I can try to keep you warm. Maybe I can lay beside you?” She suggested.
“You don’t have to do that,” he said weakly. “Besides, there is so much glass. I don’t want you to get hurt worse.”
“Worse?” She asked. He weakly pointed to her arm, where blood was slowing trickling from a cut.
She hadn’t even felt it.
“I am not worried about a little cut. Let me help you.”
She brushed the glass away as best she could and settled down beside him. She could see he had the most beautiful gentle brown eyes, even though when of them was beginning to swell. She pushed herself up against him and he grunted in pain.
“I’m sorry, I am trying to be careful,” she explained.
“It’s fine,” he whispered. “This is nice but you don’t have to do this.”
He could feel the warmth from her body as she tired to get as close to him as possible. She put her head gently on his shoulder. She realized she was laying in a pool of his blood and he would probably die in her arms, but she wanted to give him that last moment of comfort.
Tears slid down her cheeks as she spoke to him.
“Thank you for saving me. I just hope they get here soon but it sounds like it might be awhile...”
“Yeah, I guess. I’m sorry... I couldn’t get you out sooner.”
“What? Don’t even say that? You saved my life and now you are here hurt and bleeding because I was too scared to leave the building. I was afraid of the fire.”
“You did the right thing... You might have made it out but you didn’t know for sure where...the fire was. What do you do here?”
Johnny was trying to talk to her but the pain was intense. He tried to keep his voice level but he really wanted to scream.
“ I am one of the secretaries here. I usually don’t come in on Saturday but I needed to get caught up on things. I was going to leave when the fire alarm went off but I smelled and saw smoke and didn’t dare to.”
Johnny didn’t respond and for a moment she thought he had passed out. She looked up at his face to see that he had his eyes squeezed tightly shut and seemed to be holding his breath.
“Johnny? Are you ok?”
“Uhhh...” he puffed out, “yeah, just hurts... a lot.”
“Where does it hurt the most?”
“Well,” Johnny began, “that’s a tough one since I hurt pretty much everywhere...but my leg is really killing me.
So, talk to me some more... helps to try to think of something else.”
“How long have you been a fireman?”
“Eight years but a... paramedic for the past six. Roy is my partner. He is one of them looking for us. He is my... best friend. Great guy. His family... means the world to me.”
“Oh, aren’t you married? Do you have a family of your own?”
“No, haven’t found anyone special yet.”
Amanda pushed herself up and looked into his eyes then, finding it hard to believe no one had snatched up this incredibly good looking fireman. He looked back at her, noticing how blue her eyes were, such a contrast to her black hair. She was so beautiful.
“ I find that hard to believe. You seem like such an amazing guy...I’m sorry, that was probably too bold of me,” she said as she quickly looked away.
“No, that is very... nice of you. Thanks. I don’t feel... too amazing right now,” he chuckled lightly and groaned in pain. He was feeling more and more light headed.
“You must have someone special?” he asked weakly.
“No, I had a relationship awhile ago that didn’t work out and just haven’t met anyone that interested me...yet anyway.” She could feel her face become warm with embarrassment.
Johnny didn’t know if he was going to make it out of this building alive or not, but he did know if he died today, it would be with a beautiful woman by his side.
Both Johnny and Amanda were unsure how long they talked. It came so easily to both of them. As if they had known each other for a long time, instead of having just met a few hours ago. Johnny was trying to follow the conversation but was having more and more trouble doing so. He knew he would not be able to stay awake much longer.
“...Sorry Amanda.. I don’t know how much longer I can talk...I am trying so hard... to stay awake...just so cold..”
“Johnny! Please! Stay with me!!” She sobbed as he lost consciousness.
Suddenly she heard the rescue men coming closer and she knew they were almost there.
“Johnny, they are coming!” There was no response.
At last they broke through. No one could have prepared them for the sight that they saw before them. Johnny was lying in a pool of blood with glass littered around him. His lower body still pinned by the beam. His face covered in blood, soot and dirt, with the makeshift blood soaked bandage wrapped around his head. What little skin they could see was ghastly white. Amanda stood shivering beside him, her long black hair matted in clumps of dried blood. Tears streamed down her face leaving a clean trail from the soot and filth.
Chet placed a blanket around her as Roy raced to Johnny, his feet slipping in the blood surrounding him.
“Jesus Johnny,” he said quietly as he felt for a pulse.
“He has a pulse, but it is weak. We need to get him out of here fast.”
The men worked together to move the beam off of Johnny. As they did, they could see the gaping wound in his leg and the femur out of place. The tourniquet had helped some, but the wound was still oozing blood. Roy felt down his extremities and gently probed his back, noticing the numerous shards of glass sticking into him.
“I don’t think he has any breaks, besides his leg and maybe his ribs, but we need to try to leave him on his side as much as we can. There is glass all over his back and some pieces look pretty big,” Roy stated.
Marco and Chet grabbed the stokes and carefully laid Johnny on his side the best that they could. Then they carefully made their way out of the building.
Once they got him out of the building the men carefully placed him on the ground by the squad.
“Chet, see if you can at least cut the sleeves off of his turnout coat. I don’t dare to take it off and move that glass around but I need to get a BP.”
“Ok,” Chet answered as the began cutting through the thick material.
Marco began to cut away most of Johnny’s pants to better treat the leg. Once the material was removed they could get a clearer view of the fracture and the large gash across his thigh.
“Jesus Roy,” Cap groaned.
“I know Cap,” Roy agreed grimly. With shaking hands he placed a bp cuff around Johnny’s arm, trying to find some place that wasn’t cut. Chet and Marco packed the leg wound with bandages and began to splint the leg. Roy grimaced at the low blood pressure....he wasn’t sure how much longer Johnny could hang on.
“Rampart, this is Squad 51. How do you read?”
“We read you 51. Has Johnny been taken out of the building?” Dr. Brackett questioned. They knew of the circumstances and were waiting for him to be freed.
“Affirmative Rampart. He has a large gash to the temple, swelling in the face, multiple contusions and cuts on his back and back of arms, ranging from mild to severe. Some glass is still embedded in the cuts. He also has a femur fracture as well as possible rib fractures. He has lost an immense volume of blood and is currently unconscious. He also has a large gash in the thigh near the break. Vitals are bp 50/33, respiration 14 and shallow, pulse 120 weak and thready.”
Dr. Brackett scowled at the radio as he ordered Roy to start two IVS. Johnny needed fluids and he needed them fast.
Once the IVs were started Johnny was placed on O2 and wrapped in blankets. Amanda sat on the seat opposite him in the ambulance, shivering even with the blankets around her. She said she was not hurt and wanted them to treat Johnny but she agreed to get checked at Rampart. She watched him, praying he would be ok. He looked so helpless, his face and hair covered in blood.
Suddenly he began groaning. His eyes opening to slits. Instantly he thought of Amanda. He frantically grabbed at the mask and began calling weakly to her, not fully realizing where he was.
“Johnny, it’s ok,” Roy soothed, “you are on the way to Rampart. Amanda is here too. She is fine.” He positioned the oxygen mask back on his face as Johnny saw Amanda on the seat across from him. She gave him a warm smile, tears in her eyes.
Johnny relaxed a little, realizing she was ok but then felt the sway of the ambulance and saw the flashing of the lights. It was too much for his pounding head. He began to retch.
Johnny felt his ribs move as he emptied what little was in his stomach. He felt a stabbing pain in his side and began struggling to breath. Roy realized he had probably punctured his lung. Luckily the ambulance was backing into the bay as this was happening. Johnny’s lips were turning blue as his eyes rolled back in his head and he passed out, not breathing.
Roy flung open the ambulance door shouting, “He’s not breathing! We need to move, NOW!”
The attendants dropped down the gurney and they all ran along side the gurney into the treatment room that was prepared for them with the doctors waiting.
Once inside the treatment room they had no choice but to lay him on his back to insert a chest tube. They had to get him breathing again. Dr. Brackett tore open his turnout coat and shirts underneath while Dixie prepared to clean the area before the tube was inserted. Roy winced at the thought of the glass being pushed further into Johnny’s back.
Dr. Brackett was ready with a chest tube tray and as soon as Dixie had cleaned the area, inserted the chest tube. Air gushed out of the tube as it was inserted and the lung able to inflate once again. Johnny began to breathe on his own. Roy sighed in relief as he stood by Johnny’s side, ready to lend a hand if needed.
The team of doctors and nurses then began to remove his turnout coat, cutting it away carefully. Some of the glass was still embedded in his skin and would need to be removed surgically. Blood slowly trickled around the glass, sending rivulets onto table beneath him. Dixie did her best to gently dab the wounds clean without disturbing the glass.
Dr. Brackett then carefully unwrapped his head wound and gently probed it with is fingers. Then he unwrapped the splint on the leg and examined the gaping wound. Johnny would need surgery to fixate the bone as well as clean and stitch the wound. He would also need surgery to remove the glass still embedded throughout the cuts. But first they had to get him stable enough to make it through the surgery. They began blood transfusions and had x-rays taken.
As Dr. Brackett was examining his leg, Johnny once again began to regain consciousness.
“Ahhh...” he groaned weakly and opened his eyes to see blurry visions in white working on him. He felt the tightness of the blood pressure cuff, the probing of his leg, which felt like it was on fire, the burning of the chest tube and the crushing pain of his broken ribs. Add to that, the splitting pain in his head and the stinging pain all over his back and arms from the cuts and glass.
“Johnny,” Dr. Brackett began hovering near his face. “We will need to take you to surgery but you are not stable enough yet. We are going to give you some transfusions of blood and fluids to get your blood pressure up. I am also going to give you something for the pain. Hang in there. I know it hurts.”
Roy moved in beside him and grabbed his hand.
Johnny groaned and squeezed his eyes shut as he weakly hung onto Roy’s hand. He had never hurt everywhere as much as he did now. He felt Dixie’s cool hand on his cheek as she began to clean away the blood and grime.
“Hey Tiger,” she soothed, “ I heard you were trapped with quite the beauty. That must have helped ease the pain some.”
Johnny tried to grin but he hurt too much.
Roy stayed with Johnny while his vitals were being monitored. As soon as he was stable, they began getting him ready to bring him to the OR.
“Roy?” Johnny asked in a weak whisper, “Check on Amanda for me please. I want to make sure she is ok.”
“I think she is fine, but I will. I will be waiting for you when you come out of surgery. Take it easy Junior.”
Roy gave Johnny’s hand a final squeeze before they wheeled him out of the treatment room toward the OR.
Roy ran his shaky hand through his hair and looked down at himself. He was covered in Johnny’s blood and filthy from the fire. Dixie noticed him grimace and gently laid a hand on his shoulder.
“Roy, let’s get you cleaned up. Why don’t you use the doctor’s shower and I can find some clean scrubs for you.”
“Thanks Dix. How is Amanda?”
“She is fine. She has a small cut on her arm and a very mild concussion. We are keeping her here for observation for awhile and she is really worried about Johnny. You can see her once you clean up.”
“Ok, I need to tell the guys how Johnny is. They are in the waiting room.”
“Why don’t I do that while you get cleaned up?” Dix suggested.
“Sounds good. Thanks Dix.” Roy wearily made his way to the locker room, praying Johnny would be ok.
Once Dixie had notified the crew, they knew they had nothing else to do but wait. The chief had called in B shift a few hours early so they could be with their fallen man. Luckily, there were no other injuries from the fire and the victims had been taken out safely.
“I think you should all get yourselves cleaned up and come back later.” Dixie announced. “ I know you are worried, but it’s going to be a long surgery.”
Reluctantly, the men agreed and slowly made their way to the exit. They each said a silent prayer for Johnny, who was their little brother, at least in their hearts.
Roy gently opened the door to Amanda’s room. He peeked around the door to make sure he was not disturbing her. She was sitting up, gazing out the window in deep thought.
“Hey Amanda?” Roy questioned.
Upon seeing him she perked up and smiled. She had showered and looked quite different from the last time that he had seen her. Her raven hair was still damp and cascaded around her shoulders. She had a small bandage on her arm and seemed to be comfortable. She had the most stunning blue eyes he had ever seen.
“Roy! I’m so glad you stopped by. Do you know how Johnny is?” She asked hopefully.
“Sorry, he is still in surgery. How are YOU doing?”
“I’m fine. Just exhausted but so worried I can’t sleep. I really don’t need to be taking up a hospital bed!”
“Now you are sounding like Johnny!” Roy grinned.
“He was so brave,” she began,“he pushed me down so fast before I even knew what was going on and then he covered me with his body. He got hurt like that because of me.” Tears began to form in her eyes.
“That is Johnny’s job. And he is good at it. We put our lives in danger every day but that is the profession that we have chosen. It is not your fault.”
Amanda nodded. She knew he was right but she couldn’t help but feel guilty.
“Is there anyone I can call for you?” Roy asked.
“No, I am not from around here and I don’t want to worry my parents. They said I should be released later today. I’m fine. Thanks Roy and please, if you hear anything about Johnny, will you let me know?”
“Of course. Take care.”
Roy waved gently as he left the room. He knew she was hooked on Johnny. He chuckled thinking that even injured Johnny could attract the ladies.
Several hours later found Roy in the waiting room with the rest of the crew of station 51. They had all cleaned up and had tried to eat something, although none of them had an appetite.
Finally, Dr. Brackett emerged in sweat soaked scrubs. He looked grim.
The men stood, stone faced and rigid, each holding their breath.
“He is out of surgery. He is still alive, but I have to say I am amazed. We lost him on the table twice. I don’t know how much more his body can take. We managed to clean and suture all of the cuts. I lost track of how many stitches we put in. We were able to stabilize the fracture but we need to leave the wound open to drain for now. He will need more surgery on that later. We have him on a strong antibiotic. He is in recovery. We just have to wait and see now.”
The men let out a shaky breath. They were relieved and worried at the same time.
“Can we see him?” Cap asked.
“Not right now. He will need to be in recovery for some time, then will be moved to ICU,” Brackett replied.
Chet ran his hand through his curly hair and sighed .
“ Man,when I saw him in that pool of blood, I thought he was dead. How can anyone bleed that much and survive?”
“It is amazing the volume of blood that the human body has,” Brackett admitted. “Johnny made it this far, let’s just hope he can keep fighting.”
The men thanked the doctor as he wearily made his way to the break room for some coffee.
“I guess there is not much more for us to do tonight,” Roy suggested to the men. “I am going to stick around. I already told Joanne and she doesn’t expect me home for awhile. Why don’t you guys head home and I can call you if I hear anything?”
The men agreed. They had the following day off so they told Roy that they would stop by as soon as they could and to keep them posted on Johnny’s condition.
Roy sat in the waiting room thinking of Johnny and how much he meant to him. He was like a brother, heck, even closer than that. He couldn’t describe it. They would do anything for each other. That’s what best friends do.
Suddenly he felt someone gently shaking his shoulder. He hadn’t even realized he had fallen asleep.
“Roy,” Dixie began,“Dr. Brackett said that you could see Johnny now. He is in ICU.”
“What? Oh...I guess I fell asleep...” he ran his hand across his face, feeling the grit in his eyes from lack of sleep.
“Come on,” she coaxed, “I’ll go with you.”
When they arrived at the ICU cubicle Johnny was in, Roy’s heart sank at what he saw before him. Johnny was still on the ventilator from the surgery. His hair, still damp from being cleaned, was stuck up in every direction. Black stitches on purple swollen skin stood out against the white pallor of his face. The stitches began at his temple and made their way up across to the middle of his forehead. His left eye was swollen shut, puffy and black.
The ventilator whooshed and clicked as he made his way to his bed, with Dixie on the other side. He was still receiving blood transfusions, as well as fluids and antibiotics.
The heart monitor beeped slowly. Johnny had numerous tubes and wires coming out from under sheet. Roy sighed.
“Dixie, he looks so white. I think the sheets are even darker than he is. I’m not used to seeing him this way. God, we almost lost him. Is he going to be ok?” Roy looked at Dixie with tears in his eyes, as he gently placed his hand on Johnny’s arm.
“Roy, we just have to wait and pray. He made it this far. He is strong and he knows a lot of people love him. He will fight. Kel wants to keep him sedated for a few days to rest and recover some and then we’ll see how he does. We are worried most about infection. He was in the building a long time with open wounds.”
Roy nodded. “Can I sit with him awhile?”
“I think that would be ok. I need to head home, but I’ll be back by later this afternoon. Try to get some rest Roy. You’ve been through a lot too.”
“Ok thanks Dix. I know it’s the middle of the night so I won’t call the guys yet. I’m sure they’ll be here in the morning...Oh Dix...do you happen to know if Amanda was discharged?”
“Yes, she stopped by the desk to ask about Johnny but I couldn’t tell her much. He was still in surgery and besides, she isn’t family. She said she would stop by tomorrow, well I guess that is later today by now... She will probably try to find you then.”
“Ok. Thanks Dix.”
Dix nodded and made her way out of the room leaving Johnny with Roy. Roy pulled up a chair and rested his hand once again on Johnny’s arm. He could see the nurses station close by, knowing that they would be monitoring Johnny closely.
“Hey Junior, I have to say, I’ve seen you look better. All the guys want to come see you too and Amanda is still worried about you. She sure has fallen for you. Hang in there and get better.”
Roy leaned his head against his arm and closed his eyes, just for a minute...leaving his hand resting lightly on Johnny’s arm.
It was a short time later that one of the ICU nurses, Ronda, came in to take Johnny’s vitals. She tried to move quietly so not disturb Roy. She knew the men were close and he was probably exhausted. She quietly finished and made her way out of the room.
The next time the nurse came in, Roy began to stir. He rubbed his stiff neck and slowly sat up. She grinned at him.
“You know, you would get more rest in the doctor’s lounge. He is sedated and won’t be waking up. I can find you if something changes.”
“I guess...I just wanted to stay with him. I know he can’t hear me, but I guess it just makes ME feel better, you know?”
“Yes, well it’s almost 7:00 and the doctor should be in to check on him. Do you want to go get some coffee or something?”
Roy looked down at himself and realized he was still wearing the scrubs Dix had given him the day before. He could use a change of clothes and probably should eat something. He decided to call Joanne.
“I think I’ll wait and see Dr. Brackett and then I’ll get myself cleaned up some. Thanks for letting me stay here.”
She smiled as she left the cubicle.
Not long after, Dr. Brackett entered to find Roy sitting in the chair, gazing at Johnny, deep in thought.
“Looks like he’s doing pretty well Roy,” Brackett began gazing at his chart. “His vitals were pretty good throughout the night. Temp is a little elevated, and blood pressure still on the low side, but considering what he has been through, I’m happy with that. I plan to leave him on the ventilator a couple more days, then we’ll see how he is doing.”
“Thanks Doc. I guess I should get myself into some real clothes and get a bite to eat. The other guys should be here soon. Can they come see him too?”
“ I don’t see why not, as long as it is no more than 2 at a time. Go ahead Roy. I will find you if anything changes.”
By early afternoon all of the guys from the station had stopped to see Johnny. They had made their way into the ICU, two at a time, as instructed by the doctors and nurses. Each man found himself stunned to see Johnny so pale and lifeless but grateful that he was still alive.
Amanda had also gone to check on Johnny. She was not allowed in the ICU but she had found Roy sipping a cup of coffee at the desk talking to Dixie.
“Roy, I’m so happy to see you. I really wish I could see Johnny but I understand. Can I give you my phone number so you can tell me how he is doing?”
“Sure. I know he would want you to know. I will call you if anything changes, one way or another.”
“Thank-you so much. I really appreciate it.” She gave him a warm smile and turned and walked toward the door.
“Wow,” Dixie exclaimed, “she really is a pretty girl.”
“Yeah,” Roy smiled, “and she has fallen for Johnny hard.”
Two days later Johnny was ready to be woken up and taken off the vent. Dr. Brackett, Dixie and Ronda were there to assist. Roy was also there, anxious to see Johnny awake.
The sedative had started to wear off and Johnny was starting to come around. He started to gag on the vent as Dr. Brackett began giving instructions.
“Johnny, we are going to remove the vent. You need to cough as hard as you can as I pull it out. Ok?”
Johnny nodded weakly and Dr. Brackett removed the tube. Johnny coughed as best he could, which was pretty feeble. The pain in his ribs flared as he tried to catch his breath.
“Ok, just breath slow..try to take deep breaths,” Brackett said gently.
Once Johnny’s breathing was under control the doctor asked how he was feeling.
Johnny didn’t know where to begin. His head pounded, his throat was sore, his leg throbbed, his ribs ached and he was sore all over.
“Hurts...” he croaked. “Water?”
Dixie gave him a drink of water through a straw and he
managed to take a couple of sips.
“Ronda, let’s give him some pain meds. His vitals look pretty good so we need to let him rest,” Brackett ordered.
Roy waited on the side of the bed until the orders were given then he made his way to Johnny’s side once again.
“Hey there Junior, good to see you awake.”
“Hey Roy,” Johnny rasped weakly, “thanks Pally for being there for me...again.”
Roy smiled as Ronda came in and inserted the pain meds into Johnny’s IV port.
Almost instantly Johnny began to close his eyes, the pain meds quickly taking effect.
Roy couldn’t wait to tell the guys, Amanda and Joanne that Johnny had woken up and was off the vent. He made his way to the nearest phone to begin making calls.
After getting off the phone Roy once again checked on Johnny and found him in a deep sleep. He decided to go home and see his wife and kids for awhile. He hated to leave Johnny, but he missed his family.
Opening the door to his house he was greeted with a loud squeal of delight from Jennifer. Even though she was now 8, she was not afraid to show her affection for her Dad.
“Daddy!” She ran into his waiting arms.
“Hey Jen, I missed you!” He said giving her a big hug. “Where’s your Mom and Chris?”
“I think Mom is in the kitchen and Chris is doing his homework in his room.”
Chris came down the stairs when he heard his Dad.
“Hey Dad, how is Johnny doing?” The eleven year old asked with concern.
“He is doing ok. He woke up for awhile. I think he’s on the mend.”
“That is great to hear honey,” Joanne commented as she made her way from the kitchen into the living room. “ I was so worried about him. And I know you were too. I was just making a roast for dinner. Are you able to stay here for awhile?”
“Yes, I plan to eat dinner and sleep here tonight. I’m supposed to work tomorrow but I really think I will take a vacation day and spend the day with Johnny. He will probably be more awake by then. Are you able to come by for a visit once the kids go to school?”
“Sure... I would love to see him.” She smiled.
It was shortly after 3 am when Roy was woken by the phone ringing on his nightstand.
“Hello??” He asked feeling his heart beating wildly in his chest. No good news ever came at 3 am.
“Roy? This is Dr. Brackett. I’m sorry to call you so late but Johnny has taken a turn for the worse. He has a high fever and I know you are his next of kin.”
“Yes, no problem.. I will be there as soon as I can.” He hung up.
“Roy?” Joanne groggily asked from the bed. “Is it Johnny?”
“Yes” Roy replied as he slid on some sweatpants and t-shirt. “He has a high fever. It sounds bad. I will call you when I know something.” He gave her a quick kiss and practically ran out of the house to his car.
“The fever came on very suddenly,” Dr. Brackett explained to Roy outside of the ICU cubicle. “I told them to notify me if anything changed, so they contacted me at around 1. When I got here he was becoming combative because his high fever was causing hallucinations. He kept saying something about ‘Get out! Now! It’s going to blow!’ Sounds like he was re-playing the explosion in his mind. Anyway, I sedated him again. The last thing we need is for him to rip out all of those stitches. We are administering cooling measures. There might be an infection that we can’t see. Sometimes with deeper puncture wounds they might be infected deeper in the tissue but look okay on the outside. I suspect that is what is happening. I gave him stronger antibiotics. Now we wait.”
Roy nodded grimly. He was so hopeful when he saw Johnny earlier in the day, now this. He was not looking forward to calling the guys or Amanda. He glanced at his watch: 4:12 am. He would give the guys a call when they got to the station by 8. He didn’t want to wake them any earlier than he had to.
Johnny walked quietly beside Johnny’s bed. His hair was plastered to his face, which was beaded with sweat. On top of the thin sheet were cooling blankets. Ronda brought in a cool basin of water and began gently wiping down Johnny’s face and arms.
“He was asking for you, you know... well, more like yelling for you. He kept talking about how it was going to blow and then about how he didn’t want to die and that you needed to hurry.”
“Yeah,” Roy replied sadly, “we couldn’t get to them for a few hours because there was so much debris that we had to go through. I thought he was going to die before we got to him and I guess he did too.”
A few hours later, Roy made the grim call to the station.
“Cap, it’s Roy...Johnny took a turn for the worse. His fever is real high and they think there is an infection somewhere. I’m going to stay here for the day so I’ll keep you posted.”
“Sorry to hear that Roy. You know we are all praying for him. Let us know, ok pal?”
“Sure thing Cap.”
Next he knew he had to call Amanda.
“Amanda, it’s Roy.”
Roy explained the whole situation to her and told her he would call her as soon as anything changed.
“Thanks so much Roy. I appreciate you keeping me informed. He is such a great guy.”
“Yes he is.” He hung up and wearily walked back to the ICU, hoping there would be some improvement.
Two more days passed with Johnny fighting the infection. Finally, on the 3rd day, his fever broke and they once again stopped the sedation.
He slowly opened his eyes to see a haggard looking Roy asleep in the chair next to him. Roy’s hair was unkept, clothes wrinkled and it was obvious he had not shaven in awhile.
Ronda had notified Dr. Brackett that Johnny was beginning to awaken and he walked in as Johnny was gazing at Roy. A smile spread on the doctor’s face.
“Roy looks almost as bad as you, don’t you think?” Dr. Brackett chuckled lightly. He was relieved that Johnny’s fever had finally broken and that he was awake.
Roy stirred and cleared his throat. “What??” he asked groggily.
“How are you Johnny?” Dr. Brackett asked.
“Really tired. How long have I been out? I don’t even know what day it is,” he responded weakly.
“We had you sedated for several days, so in all you came in here a week ago. Hopefully you are finally on the mend and we can get you to a regular room soon.”
“Yeah and Roy can take a shower,” Johnny weakly replied with a grin.
He was still in pain but not nearly as much as when he had woken up the first time. Now he was more exhausted than anything. He felt so weak he didn’t even think he could hold a glass of water if he had to.
“I just wanted to make sure you were going to be okay,” Roy said, a little embarrassed. “ I wanted to be here if, well, I wanted to be here.”
“Ok Pally, I think I’ll be okay now. Go home and rest and see your family. I’m sure they miss you. Besides, I just want to sleep.” He said, as his eyes began to droop.
Roy sighed happily and promised to return after he was rested and showered.
A few days later, Johnny was strong enough to have the wound closed on his leg. After his surgery, he was moved to recovery, then to a regular room.
When he was settled in his new room he was happy to see a fresh and clean Roy enter along with Amanda. She looked beautiful with her hair pulled back into a long braid.
He had not seen her since the day of the fire.
“Johnny!” She smiled sweetly as she came closer to him. “I am so happy you are doing better. I couldn’t wait to see you. How are you feeling?”
Roy stood off to the side, a wide grin on his face.
“Pretty sore right now...but doing better every day. So good to see you. Are you doing ok?” Johnny asked.
“Yes. We started to move into a new office building and we are getting settled in.”
“Great to hear.” Johnny grinned. Amanda had never seen him smile before and it caused her to have butterflies in her stomach. She felt like a 12 year old with a crush.
“Well,” Roy said as he cleared his throat, “I will let the two of you catch up, so Johnny I’ll stop by later. Take care. See ya Amanda.”
“Ok... bye Roy.”
“See ya Pally.”
As Roy stepped out of the room, he glanced back and grinned. His best friend was going to be alright.
Posted To Site 11/29/16
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