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Dixie's Day Off by Patti Keiper. (Anotherjaneway)
(Cameo by "wone3"<firstname.lastname@example.org> Used with permission)
Dixie McCall stretched languidly on her raft just soaking in
the southern Californian sunshine. ::It's just been far...too... long.::
she sighed, listening to the birds nearby playing in her apartment
complex's birdbath. Max, the caretaker's cat, seemed to agree with
her, stretching a single paw down from his perch on the poolside
Children's laughter rang like belltones in her ears as she dozed
under her sunhat and occasionally, the yips of the excited dogs
watching the other tenants sharing the same pool, splashed and
played on the sidelines. Sighing, Dixie let the sun fry out her aches,
one by one. ::If I ever work another double shift like the one I had last
night, may monkeys fly out of my butt.:: she thought. "Ohhh, I hate
head colds." Dixie sniffed, ignoring yet another tickle running down
her throat. She shifted on her inflatable, easing a sudden gut cramp.
The tired nurse let the noonish summer's day work its magic, and
ignored it. "Guess what, Kel?" she mumbled to herself, still quite
alone on her side of the pool. "I'm cancelling dinner plans. This
day is gonna be just ..for......ZZzzzzz...zzz.."
The lulling waves returned her to a state of blissful somnolence.
Dixie didn't know how long she had drifted, when an uneasy pup's
whine sliced through her dreams. McCall made a face.
Then the kids started screaming. Dixie shot up onto her hands, blinking
in the torrid sun's glare, her eyes tearing. She cast her head about towards
the frightened children, shouting in alarm. "What's the problem here?!"
One petrified boy pointed to someplace behind Dixie. McCall turned.
One of the Miller dogs was still whining, standing rigid on a second
floating rubber raft, looking at something down under the water.
Dixie saw a wavering form shimmer, sprouting legs
and motionless, drifting arms.
"Mr. Miller!" she gasped, twisting off the raft. Dixie swam as
fast as she could across the pool, shouting as she went, "Call
the Fire Department Rescue Squad! My patio door's open!"
she told the children. One of the oldest started running for
Dixie plunged into the pool's depths, opening her eyes. It was
deep at that end and Gerald Miller was no tiny teenager
when she finally reached him and started hauling his spasming
lanky body to the surface. She kicked through a plume of red.
::He's hit his head?:: McCall analyzed.
The side cramp biting her earlier made a comeback. Dixie
grunted bubbles, cursing. But then her hand caught the edge
of the pool's rim and her chin broke into the air. The stench of
chlorine poured into Dixie's stuffy nose and she opened her mouth,
spitting out luke warm water.
"Is my brother ok?" asked a tiny blond girl in active horror.
Dixie threw an arm over Ger's shoulder and rolled his slack
face out of the water, taking care to not jar his spine. The
teenager was unconscious now and he fountained water out
his nose and mouth when she turned him. ::Drowning.:: she
thought. Holding him still, the nurse beckoned to the kids.
"Push something over to me!" she ordered, treading water. "I need
a support surface to lie him on. Even a lounger will work."
But the chairs along the sunning area were chained to the fence.
Dixie swore. "There! Use that." and she jerked her head towards
the blue raft from which the frantic dog was barking.
Two young boys leaped in and shoved it close.
Dixie managed to get it floating perpendicular under
Ger's chest with his head splinted level in both her hands.
She didn't bother to drain him further and started right in
with a breath attempt. Ger gurgled, but his chest rose.
McCall's fingers found the groove in his neck.
::Sh*t. His pulse's almost gone.:: Dixie kept holding
the teenager's head in alignment around her jaw thrust.
She lifted rushing eyes to the panicking children surrounding
her."Kids, we gotta get him out. Now. Remember how to
do that? Like I showed ya in kidscouts.. We're gonna make
a ramp out of the pump pipe cover by the shed. All right?
Go get it! I gotta keep helping him." she said, blowing another
breath through the suffocating man's chest water.
Ger's color had grayed before her eyes by the time they
got back. "No, Ger. Keep fighting!" Dixie hissed into his ear
as she pushed air into his lungs.
The oldest boy ran back outside."The operator said that
they're on their way! I got through!"
"Terrific.." McCall grinned up at him.
She used the other children swimming around
her to keep Miller's head and back unjostled.
Between the five of them, the slippery teen slid off
the long piece of plastic onto the deck quickly. "Watch his
head. Don't move his neck around..." Dixie told the older
"He's bleeding!" cried the youngest.
"It's not real bad. Head cuts are just messy." Dixie said
"His neck beat's gone! His neck beat's gone!" shouted
Ger's brother, knowing enough to check.
"I know. He's just gone out. Don't be scared. Now. He'll need
that CPR stuff I taught you all, so girls, dry him off your beach towels,
especially around his chest. Then nest them about him to soak up
all of this water." Dixie said rapidly, thinking ahead for future
Hauling on a rope of floats, McCall flung herself out of
the pool. She scrambled over to the teen's head and
reopened an airway by lifting his jaw bone. "Michael, now take
over here. Hold his chin just like this when you give your
breaths, ok? Move nothing else. I'll start here." Dixie told the
boy, beginning compressions. "Don't be alarmed if water
squirts out after a bit. Let it come. The more of it, the better."
Dixie's cramp was a vice now, and her nose ran, so she
lifted one leg and crouched on her right foot to ease it. Already,
McCall was sweating and beads of it stung her eyes. She
glanced up as Ger's brother delivered another breath mouth
to nose. "That's fine, Mike. Give those a little deeper. Keep
going. Good job." McCall panted, keeping up her CPR.
After each pulse check, Dixie lifted her head toward the
veranda's main gate listening acutely for the sound of sirens.
Dixie McCall reached down yet again to the drowned teenager's
throat after another long minute. Her chilled fingers found a thready
carotid. "Michael! Trade places with me. He's got a pulse.
Hold his head still, in between your knees, as I keep ventilating
him." she requested, keeping in line stabilization with her hold
on his airway. "Keep talking to him, hon. He's in trouble but he can
still hear us."
Stuttering nervously, Michael leaned down to his brother's ear.
"Ger. I promise I won't tell anyone what you did in the house.
Just wake up, ok? Dad's gonna be so mad you jumped head
first into the shallow end like we're not supposed to."
McCall looked up at the nine year old, about to ask him what
that house comment had meant, when the wail of sirens and
squealing tires heralded a paramedic squad's arrival.
It was 51's.
"Johnny! Roy! Non-breathing, but with a pulse now!
He was under, I'm guessing,.. less than two minutes."
DeSoto and Gage flew into the yard, 02 tank clattering, with a
police officer in tow, lugging the defibrillator and a backboard.
"Officer, set those by his head." Johnny ordered. Then he
wrapped a thick cervical collar around Ger's neck without
getting in the way of Dixie's mouth to mouth resuscitation.
Roy moved immediately to kick the drying blankets the children
had used out of the way. "Dixie? We thought the address was
"Sorry for scaring you fellas but this was pressing.." she replied,
delivering another breath to the boy carefully.
Johnny felt the teen's distended stomach. "This getting in
"More and more."
Gage got busy setting up the demand valve to take
over for the nearly exhausted nurse.
Roy finished hooking up the EKG monitor and he put the
defibrillator on charged standby. Then he set up the
biophone's antennae and began a hail. "Rampart, this
is Rescue 5..1.."
##Go ahead, 51## answered Brackett over the line.
"Rampart, we have a male approximately fourteen
years of age. Victim of an apparent diving accident."
Dix waggled her head in agreement at Roy's guess
at mechanism of injury as she accepted the positive
pressure mask from Gage and began using it.
Johnny flung open the I.V. box and grabbed out what
he needed rapidly.
Roy continued his report. "...He's been under active
resuscitation, non-breathing now, but with a regained
pulse following CPR. He's on 15 liters of assisted O2.
Spinal precautions have been taken. Please stand by
for the vital signs." He set the phone onto his shoulder
as he tore pieces of IV tape off a dispenser to stick
in rows onto his leg.
##Standing by, 51.##
McCall rattled off Ger's pulse and its quality, and
his consciousness level."120 and thready. No reaction
to pain. Pupils, reactive, but sluggish."
DeSoto nodded, getting a quick B/P while Johnny
did a rapid head to toe survey after listening to
the boy's breath sounds via scope. "I'm getting rales
bilaterally." he said.
"He took in a lot of water.." Dixie confirmed catching
her breath back as she used the ventilator on their
Gage went on. "Negative Babinski's." he said after
he ran a pair of forceps points up the bottom's
of both of the teenager's feet.
Dixie sighed in relief. "One point in his favor.."
Gage rewrapped the stethoscope around his neck. He
peered at the blood oozing from the boy's temple.
"This looks minor. There's no depression." Then he
looked for cerebral spinal fluid out the ears and nose.
"No CSF, Roy."
"Ok, Johnny. Better call out for the engine. His B/P's
sixty over P."
Gage jerked his head in affirmation and grabbed
his walkie talkie. "L.A., This is Squad 51."
"Respond Engine 51 for medical assistance to
## 10-4, Squad 51. Time out, 12:51.##
Everyone ignored the broadcast tones over the
frequency, double echoed through the squad's
Motorola Converta-com and the HT as Captain
Stanley acknowledged the run and gave an ETA.
Dixie felt a wave of fatigue. "Johnny, I'm tired." she
shivered. "I gotta give it up."
"All right." Gage said, eyeing her up, a little
self conscious because of Dixie's skimpy
made-for-the-sun, two piece bikini. "Rescuing's
hard work. Why don't you..uh,, wrap up, sit
down and rest a while. We got it."
The motorcop smoothly took over teenager's
Dixie barely felt the kids throw a flannel quilt over
her shoulders, offering her their gratitude with timid
pats and hugs as she parked on a lounger by
the edge of the swimming pool. McCall shook her
head, thinking out loud. Then she snapped her
fingers. " Amy Miller, can you go get that consent
form your mother's got hanging on the frig? These
firemen are gonna need it to give Ger some
"Ok, Dixie. I'll be right back, Ger!" cried the tiny
child before she ran off.
DeSoto got his first orders.
##51, Start an I.V. Normal Saline with an insulin
drip. I'm gonna assume he was coding longer than
two minutes. I want to terminate any catecholamine
release effects before they complicate things for us.
Go ahead and administer 1.0 mg Lidocaine IV push
to control any intracranial pressure he might have from
that possible head injury. Prepare to insert an esophageal
airway and send me a strip. Add 1 mg Sodium Bicarb,
then turn his drip to TKO. Let me know when you've
secured your airway. ##
"10-4, Rampart. I.V. Normal Saline with insulin, Lidocaine
and Sodium Bicarb. This'll be lead 2."
The reassuring sound of the Ward Pumper's deeper siren grew
then fell away with the bark of her airhorn.
##L.A. Engine 51's on scene.## came Stoker's transmission.
##10-4, Engine 51. Time is 12:55.## replied L.A. Dispatch.
The pool kids, except Michael, went running to fetch the
other firemen to show them the way.
Roy lifted his HT. "Cap, we'll need all hands and
the spare O2. Active resus."
##10-4, HT 51.##
Ger suddenly started to seize and his stomach rippled.
Gage startled. "Is he vomiting?" he asked the police
man, with his hands full of supplies.
"No, there's nothing here yet. ....But.."
"But what?" Roy asked, impatient.
"I..don't think I'm getting a chest rise anymore.." the
officer admitted. "Just started happening."
"D*mn!" Johnny swore, feeling Gerald's throat for
the beat and double checking the jaw lift. "Try
another vent again."
The cop triggered the thumb button. Despite a
tight seal over skin, the demand valve failed
to accomplish a finished breath. The officer
shook his head. "See? Just like I told ya."
Johnny flew into action. "Roy, ask for a nasogastric
tube. He's really blocked and in a convulsion from
hypoxia. His gums are blue. I wanna drain that
Roy hurried and updated Dr. Brackett about
the new developments.
## I confirm rising tachycardia on the scope, 51.
Relieve that intragastric pressure with an NG tube
and watch for signs of an obstructed airway..##
Kel snapped crisply.
Working together, Roy and Johnny inserted a well
lubricated catheter into the teen's unbloodied
nostril and got it down past a sudden odd resistance.
Frothy pink emesis welled out of the tube's end and
onto the concrete in a noisy involuntary belch. Then
Ger's bulging stomach fell flatter than it had been.
"Ok, try him now." Gage told the policeman as
he quickly drew the tube back out again and suctioned
out the boy's nose and mouth. Difficult breaths went
Stoker, Chet and Lopez immediately knew what
to do at a mere glance of the area. They shifted the
backboard until it lay flush with Ger's back as Johnny
and Roy log rolled him onto his side for more
active suctioning. Swiftly, the head block, chest, waist
and leg straps were settled and tightened into place.
Leaning down, Johnny examined the stain on the pavement.
It was sweet smelling. "Roy, he's been drinking...." he
said flatly, not happy.
DeSoto's face tightened. "He's just a kid."
Roy picked up the phone again. "Rampart, we've
positive evidence of ETOH ingestion."
Brackett returned a long sigh of resignation
and sadness. ##10-4, Roy. Then we're all the better
for that insulin drip counteracting things."
Roy had the advanced airway prepped and gelled. "I'm
gonna need one of you for a Sellick's maneuver."
he told the gang.
"Me." Marco volunteered and he peeled off his coat
and gloves and kneeled down.
DeSoto had foregone the EOA for an endotracheal tube.
"Stoker, why don't you take over on the O2? Thanks,
Officer Palmer.." he read from the man's name tag.
"No problem." The officer stood back to begin his
incident report, allowing the more experienced firefighter
engineer to take over the task.
Hank noticed Dixie McCall bundled up on her chair.
"So much for the day off, eh?" he grinned for her benefit.
"Nothing like a little excitement to liven up an afternoon."
Dixie just coughed at Stanley's encouraging humor
while avoiding the bright sun beating down on
her from his direction.
She felt a glove on her shoulder that made her jump.
"You ok there, Dixie?" Cap asked. "Sorry. I didn't
mean to startle you."
Dixie afforded the helmeted captain a smile.
"I'm fine. Just a little worried."
"About him." she gestured with her head.
"If we can't get that airway in......"
A weak, choking jolt upset Roy's positioned
laryngoscope and the paramedic yanked it out
to prevent a sudden mouth injury. "Marco, keep
up that cricoid pressure, whatever you do. Johnny!"
"I'm on it! Rampart, our victim's seizures are worsening.
So's his color."
##Have you established that ET tube yet?##
"That's negative, doc. We're experiencing some jaw
clenching." Johnny sighed in frustration.
##Knock him out, 51, for a rapid sequence induction.
Point one mg's of Vecuronium IV push. That'll paralyze him
enough for you to get one inserted. Know that you'll be
completely responsible afterwards for maintaining his
airway with adequate ventilations.##
Roy, next to Johnny, gulped.
"10-- uh, 10-4, Rampart." Gage affirmed. "RSI
with .1 mg's Vecuronium IVP."
Stoker spoke up suddenly. "Gage! Laryngospasm!
I'm getting in nothing now."
"What?!" Johnny felt around Marco's Sellick hold.
He felt a foreboding rock stiff hardness surrounding
Ger's adam's apple. "Roy, ...positive on that...
"Rampart, standby... We've a fully obstructed airway."
DeSoto dropped the phone.
##Push the Vecuronium, now! Double it if you have to!##
commanded Kel. ## The increase may help your clearing
Johnny straddled the dripping immobilized teen while Kelly
hastily undid just the abdominal straps of the longboard,
allowing Gage access to Ger's lower abdomen. The paramedic
delivered four sharp upward thrusts under the teenager's diaphragm
with both hands while Stoker and Chet pinned the boy's head
and neck still.
Roy sent the muscle paralyzer into Ger's high flowing I.V.
and hung it dangling on the fence. "It's in. Is it working?"
he looked to Mike Stoker.
The engineer shook his head and demonstrated the 02
gushing out around the mask quickly with some triggering.
Johnny tried a few more abdominal thrusts. Then he
scrambled to Ger's head with a long shafted pair of
Magil forceps in his teeth. He used a jaw screw to open
the shaking teen's mouth to get at the deeper part of his
throat. The lengthy, scissors like instrument was guided
down, but stopped short only along half its usable length.
Gage grimaced as he probed, biting onto a pen light
so he could see what he was doing. "There's nothing
here, Roy. I'm not seeing any vocal cords. It's gotta
be just a laryngospasm. These aren't threading down."
he said of his Magil forceps.
DeSoto nodded, licking dry lips. "Second dose then,
Gage nodded, backing off so Stoker could use
the demand valve yet again.
Roy injected a small orange labelled syringe into
the rubber intravenous delivery port deftly. "It's in!"
Stoker and Johnny struggled to offset the teenager's
cyanosis with some chest rise, but they were
unsuccessful, no matter what they thought to try.
In the base station, Brackett eyed the running EKG strip
and became ansy. He had to force himself not to interrupt
his hard-at-work men just for an update.
A dragging minute passed under the firemen's
sweaty exertions. Then Stoker detected a relaxing
jaw. "He's loose.." and then he started to force as many
feebly reaching ventilations as he could into the boy's
lungs. He kept it up until the ominous dark blue began to
fade from Ger's face and lower extremities.
Johnny snatched up the abandoned endotracheal tube
that Roy had left on the teenager's chest and said,
"Hyperventilate him a minute more, Mike. Then move
Roy lifted the phone. "Rampart, our victim's still
partially obstructed and we can't find what it is.
The paralytic agent's beginning to work, but we're getting
vents into him only with difficulty. Johnny's attempting
another intubation. Both the boy's work of breathing and
his seizures, are now absent." Roy reported, seeing
a quiet, fully drugged stillness, settle over his patient.
Kel let out the breath he was holding. ##Avoid any
stimulus that'll trigger V-fib. He's sensitive to that
Gage accidently poked the back of Ger's soft palate
with the ET tube as he was visualizing for his vocal
Roy's head shot up when the EKG monitor warbled
an arrythmia alarm. "Brady! Back off, Johnny!"
Gage froze and yanked out the tube, digging for
a carotid artery in the boy's neck with his other hand.
"...Stupid! ..I'm ...stupid...." he grunted.
DeSoto flew to the open drug case when the
boy's cardiac rate continued to sink into the forties.
## I see it, 51. Point five milligrams Atropine. Speed
him back up again. What I'm seeing here, is vaso vagal
in origin. It's not an adverse Vecuronium reaction.##
The betablocker soon boosted Ger's heartrate back up
into the low, irregular seventies. Everyone sighed in relief.
## D/C trying the endotrach. I'm authorizing an immediate
needle cricothyrotomy.## Brackett went on..
Gage tossed the ET tube aside.
##....Set up your supplies. Have your head man keep
hyperventilating your victim as best he can. Roy,
you've told me in the past that you've done one of
these before ..in Nam. You've got the ball once again.##
"10-4, Rampart." Roy replied back, wiping sweat off his lip.
Johnny was a pure professional. He wasn't offended in
the least for being asked to step down during a primary
treatment action. He wanted a resolution to the problem
too badly to even care. He un-papered an adapter to a
7.5 mm sized ET tube, a 10 ml syringe, and a 14 gauge
Reaching down, he slid a finger on a free hand over the hard
thyroid cartilage running down the midline of Ger's throat until
he found the soft depression of the cricoid membrane. "Ok,
Marco. Keep his trachea from moving around and put
one fingertip,.....here.." And he guided Marco's index finger
to a precise spot on the teenager's sweaty skin. "Mark
that landmark and don't lose it.."
"Believe me, I won't..." Lopez admitted eagerly.
"Ok, Roy. We're ready for you." Johnny said looking
up, screwing together the puncture lancet."Lopez has
got the trachea splinted." Then Gage handed the whole
rigging over to his much calmer partner.
DeSoto spoke. "Johnny, could you draw up a mil of
water into the syringe for me, please? I gotta trick
I like to use."
Johnny nodded. "Stoker, is he adequately oxygenated yet?"
he said, filling Roy's needle with a pull of its plunger into
another unused, sterile IV bag.
"As best as he's able. His pupils are still reacting but he's
a little too cold now to judge by his color."
Gage fitted the syringe back into place into the guiding
shaft, curious as to what purpose Roy was going to use
it for. ::Not for med absorption into the lungs, Kel hasn't
ordered any ET drugs yet.:: he thought.
DeSoto took over pressing a finger on the landmark Marco
was guarding. Then he moved his fingertip just enough to
place the point of the needle directly over the membrane
he could feel. He angled the syringe, end down at
a forty five towards Ger's feet, and advanced the needle
into the skin, all the while aspirating the plunger upwards
with his pinky and ring fingers. He stopped instantly when
the upward welling suctioning drew up pearling air bubbles.
He smiled. "I'm in the trachea.." he announced.
Roy slid a 3mm endo tube catheter inside the syringe and
threaded it until it was well into the air passage below,
angled downwards. He withdrew the long needle, passing
it off to Cap to dispose of into the sharps bin.
Johnny flew into action once again. "Ah, now I see what the
water was for.." he said, listening to the teen's chest as
DeSoto fitted the ET adapter's syringe and catheter's end
onto a high flow oxygen circulating ambu bag. "A better visual."
"Yep." DeSoto blinked.
Lopez helped Roy tape the inserted tenuous airway to
Ger's throat amply and then he took sole charge of
stabilizing it with both hands so that it didn't budge
a single centimeter out of place.
"You're pure cement, Marco." Gage ordered.
"Solid, man. This is going nowhere." he said,
watching Stoker rapidly make up for lost
ventilating time. "How's he doing now?" the
hispanic fireman asked, marveling at the heavy
bag's ability to work through such a slender tube.
Johnny took the listening ports of the stethoscope
out of his ears. "He's got minimal chest rise. But it's
enough to keep him alive until we get to the hospital.
Nice work, pal." he grinned. "Thanks everyone."
"Mike, I'll break you." Roy said. "I know just how
to get the most inside without distension happening.
It's a narrow band force of pressure with this sized catheter.
It's just like a newborn's.."
"I'll learn it for next time.." said Stoker as he traded places
Johnny picked up the phone. "Rampart, we have an airway.."
##Congratulations, guys. Now get him in here. I want a vitals
set every five minutes in route. Keep vigilant for good or bad
lung sounds, any sign of expanding hematomas, or subcutaneous
air under the skin. ##
"10-4. We're on our way, Rampart. The ambulance has just
arrived.." Gage said with a smile.
That smile fell away when Dixie McCall suddenly sagged
backwards from where she was seated out of her blanket.
She tumbled limply into the pool when Hank Stanley failed
to catch her in time. "Dixie?!" Johnny yelled.
Cap started to get out of his turnout and helmet to go
after her when Gage shouted. "I got her!" He swan dived
into the shallows.
Very quickly, Dixie McCall was conveyed to the surface
and to the edge by many hands. She was lifted up, set
onto the ground and rolled onto her back.
"Dix?" Johnny shook her firmly, monitoring her carotid.
He wiped streaming water away from her nose and
mouth as she began coughing and moaning.
McCall was almost as white as her alabaster swimsuit.
"She's ok.." Gage told the others. Stoker jogged over
with the engine's O2 apparatus. "I think this's just an
episode of syncope, she's waking up already." he
said. "Let's move her to one of those chairs and
get her wrapped up before you start her on that Mike."
Roy looked up from where he and Marco were
still watching and working on Ger. "Johnny?! What's
"I don't know yet!" he shouted, letting Stoker, Cap
and Kelly transfer Dixie from the concrete to a
head raised sunchair. "Let me check her out."
he coughed. "Keep packaging him for transport.
I'll call a second ambulance for her if I have to."
Cap reaffirmed Johnny's plan, setting an oxygen
mask over McCall's nose and mouth. "That's
gonna be the call." He waved on Stoker to notify
L.A. of their need for an additional Mayfair or
Cadillac. "I don't like her breathing rate. It's labored."
"Umm hmm, something's definitely going on here.."
Johnny agreed. "Dix, can you hear me?"
She didn't answer past a few groans.
Chet Kelly continued to try to get a legible verbal
response out of the nurse while Johnny got a B/P
off her arm.
The children were scared but they stayed out of the
way, remaining maturely silent.
Gage saw that Roy was ready to go. "You keep
"Yeah. Her B/P's no longer low. Take Marco with you for
that airway support. Kelly can follow me in the squad
later after the other ambulance gets here."
Roy was a bulldog. "Use a landline, ok? The kids can
bring out a phone to you for you to use for her." DeSoto
said, shuffling along behind the gurney leading attendants,
carrying the defibrillator and the drug box.
"I know. I know.. Just go already. The sooner you leave,
the sooner I'll find out some answers on her. Don't
worry...I'll contact ya on HT as soon as I find out anything."
"No, I'll do that.." Cap promised.
"All right." Roy replied, waving the ambulance men
on again. "I'm going..."
Johnny paid no more attention to him as Ger was carted
off Code Three to Rampart Hospital.
Cap and Johnny turned back from watching Roy
hustle away to find Chet inexplicably armed with a mug
of steaming coffee, which he was waving underneath Dixie's
nose near the O2 mask on blow by so that she could
Dixie sputtered, shifting her head from side to side.
"Kelly, cut that out this instant!" Hank boomed.
Gage gave out an exasperated shout of mild disgust and he grabbed
the cup away from Kelly. "Chet, would you knock it off!? Where did you
get such a crazy idea in the first place?!" he demanded, gently
replacing the mask as McCall's eyes fluttered open.
"From them.." Chet shrugged.
"Yeah," said the oldest child standing nearby. "It was my idea.
We do this coffee trick all the time when Miss McCall won't wake
up after sunbathing. She told us to so she wouldn't ever be late
"Well kids, I hate to break it to ya, but today is Dixie's DAY ..OFF!
Thanks for all your help. We got it from here. Now, sCRAMMM!"
The children, all three dogs,..and the caretaker's cat, took fright
and all of them ran away as fast as they could with screams, barks
and a yowl.
"That wasn't very smart." Hank interjected when the noise died away.
"Huh?" Gage double taked. "Why not? They're out of our hair..Unlike
some people.." he glared at Chet.
"We don't have our outside phone yet, you twit." Cap said, smacking
Johnny lightly on the back of the head for emphasis on the word, "twit."
"I'll get it." said Stoker. "I think I remember a phone being in the pool
party hut from last year. It most likely has a cord on it long enough to
Johnny didn't even hear him. "I'm not the twit. Chet's the twit.. Geesh,
Cap. Think about it. Reviving someone with coffee fumes? Now I've
seen it all." He kept glaring at Kelly. "Just what were you thinking?"
he asked Chet sarcastically.
"It worked, didn't it? She's almost speaking." Chet countered.
"At least java's kinder on the old nostrils than an ammonia capsule.
I should know. You've used enough of em on me as the Phantom
in the middle of the night when I was still sleeping..."
Hank just rolled his eyes and asked L.A. for the ETA on Dixie's
"No...ambulance.." coughed Dixie, sitting a little straighter in
her chair. A flush of growing embarrassment was staining her cheeks
and erasing all of her remaining questionable clinical signs red tagging
problems. "I'm......fine, fellas. Really!" she protested, peeling off her
oxygen firmly. 'I'm awake, I'm aware.. I know who I am, where I am and
what happened....I'm not going anywhere.." she hissed with a little of
her normal heavy guns tone. "If I see that hospital one more time this
week, I'll rip all my hair out for sure.." she promised.
Johnny tossed his paramedic's notepad that he had been
writing in over a shoulder and threw his hands up, rubbing his face
in exasperation. "I don't believe this is happening, Cap.." he whined.
"We gotta get her t--"
Hank held up his palms. "Now, Gage, you know the law as well as
I do. The little lady's obviously fully cognizant enough, legally, to decide
what's best for hers----"
"Little lady?!" Dixie fumed.
Hank shrank in his overcoat. "Sorry. Poor choice of words? To me,
everybody's little." commented the lanky fire captain sheepishly.
"I apologize if I offended you but the important thing right now
is finding out whether or not you're really ok. We can hash over
how this is being handled afterwards, all right?"
Dixie drew up a glare. "Cancel that Mayfair, Hank. I have a cold....
That's all." she said dangerously.
Cap felt the back of his neck smoking from the strength of her
ire. "Ok.. canceling. ." he said reasonably and fully respectful
of her wish to end the medical call. "Gage, she's allllll yoourrsss."
"Thanks, Cap.." Johnny was thrilled. Not.
"Kelly," Cap barked. "...let's give them a little earshot distance.
Come on, pal.."
"Aww, Cap. I wanna stay and help out.." Chet whined.
"Now, Chet!" Stanley snapped.
"...coming..." Kelly peeped.
The two firemen packed up the O2 and turned for the direction
of the Ward just as Mike Stoker came panting up with the private
phone rigged onto a bright orange extension cord. "I got it..
Hang on while I dial o--"
Stanley didn't even bother to turn around. "Jolly well. The
gang's all here. Now put it back. I guess she's a refusal, Stoker."
"Is there something wrong with your ears or mine, Mike." Cap
"Mine, Cap." Stoker bellied up.
"Fine. Clean up this mess around here and cancel the second
ambulance while you're at it." He began to tromp away. "Oh,"
he said, retracing his tracks. "You're deaf to those two for the
next minute or so.." he said tossing a hand at Dixie and Gage.
"I sure will be.." chirped Stoker, recognizing a pending bit of
paramedic hardball to come when he saw it. He stooped only
long enough to use a water puddle to wash off some blood
after he had policed the area free of medical run fallout. Then
he was gone, with Cap being his bigger shadow.
Gage willfully stopped drumming his frustrated fingernails on the
arm of Dixie's poolside chair. He laced his hands together in an
unconvincing show of amenability. "Ok.." he smiled, falsely fake.
"Now where were we?" he purred, ..tightly.
"Talking about how normal I am right now.." Dixie said, crossing
her arms together.
"I wouldn't call keeling over backwards into a swimming
pool in a dead faint, quite normal, Dixie. Quite the opposite."
"Look..." Dixie purred, just as deadly serious. "I just got
done with twenty five solid minutes of aggressive, rapid CPR."
Would you still be normal after doing that?" she fired back at him.
Johnny gaped like a fish, then he pursed his lips, scratching
his head. "Well...." he admitted, his voice sliding up a few notes
on a scale. 'I-- uh, I'll give you that...... particular point."
"Good! Then go away cause I'm telling you, I'm perfectly--"
Dixie sneezed and immediately, she gasped, grabbing
"Oh, really?" Gage moved in for the kill. "That was normal,
eh?.. Come on, Dix. Let me see your stomach!" Johnny said,
reaching out for palpating check.
McCall whipped up the blanket to her chin, deflecting
Johnny's hands as she resumed her angry stare.
"Touch me, and I swear I'll bite your hand off!
Today is gonna be all MINE!" she yelled, barely
keeping it below a quiet roar.
"Is there a problem here?" came an authoritative
Both the battling Dixie and Gage looked up, kinda
startled for a moment. They had forgotten about
the cop being there. And his report.
"Nope. Not at all." they both stuttered.
"We're through.." said Dixie firmly.
Johnny said the same words, meekly obedient. "We're through,
officer.. uh,...I guess.."
"Okay, then you wouldn't mind if I go over a few
details with Miss McCall here about the Miller boy.
That's if.. you found that she's still medically ABLE to.."
the police officer hinted.
"I AM." Dixie punctuated, dismissing Johnny with
Johnny cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Go right
ahead, officer." Gage postured, backing away and
wrapping up his stethoscope.
He fired off one last glare at her when the cop wasn't looking.
"You call us back if ANY of those symptoms return. Understood?!"
he hissed, stabbing down a finger at the air. That gesture
immediately turned into a farewell wave when the police man
glanced up at Johnny with a disapproving raised eyebrow.
Dixie celebrated. "Mother's keeper.." And then she stuck out
her tongue at him. "In...your....dreams..."
So, having chalked up one save and another one as unresolved,
Station 51 tucked their tails back between their legs and
left the neighborhood. The engine returned to base as unavailable
and the squad remained 10-7 to Rampart until everyone was
freed up from their mutual responsibilities.
Gage continued to pore over Dixie's symptoms.
"Maybe I should let one of the docs know about her." he mumbled
to Chet on the way back.
"I wouldn't if I were you. You still have to WORK with Dixie later on,
man. Do you really want to face her once she's over that cold
It was an hour later, not long after the Miller boy had been
stabilized cardiac wise from respiratory acidosis. He had gone
on to Broncoscopy for a thorough check on the extent of the
alveoli damage that he sustained from his aspiration of
chlorinated pool water into both his lungs.
Kel was very happy with the teenager's labwork, C spine
and chest x-ray films. He was being kept under the paralytic
agent to thwart another surprise occurance of intubation
laryngospasm. The boy had been reunited with his family
and things looked good on the EEG. Dr. Brackett was almost
certain that no brain damage took place while he had been
arrested. ::Helps that someone was there to work on his resuscitation
so quickly.:: he theorized. ::My gut feeling on his neurological status
will just be confirmed when he wakes up tomorrow morning.::
That line of thinking reminded Kel yet again of his short,
revealing conversation with Roy DeSoto about Dixie McCall.
The four firemen from 51's had gone back to the station as soon
as they were freed from the Miller kid's care and paperwork,
jammed together in the rescue squad. He had wished that
he could've talked to Johnny Gage directly about his head nurse's
symptomatic findings, but he had been too tied up with his
teenaged patient's surgical intubation procedure.
Kelly Brackett excused himself from the Emergency Department
floor, letting Carol know that he'd be in his office for a few minutes.
His simple nod and gesture toward its ornately polished dark oaken
door guaranteed that Carol would indeed notify him the moment
another patient case announced itself either by paramedic biophone
or via the waiting room.
The babble of hospital activity was mercifully muffled when he
shut the door behind himself. Kel Brackett immediately went
to the olive green phone on the desk.
His fingers danced over a familar sequence of numbers on
the rotary dial and he impatiently sat through four telephone
rings before he finally heard a sleepy voice pick up. "Dix?
It's Kel." he began. "Talk to me."
He heard a tired groan on the other end of the line followed by
a tight cough and a rustling of blankets when McCall's gravelly
voice finally addressed him. "...hmm. Kel? For Pete's sake, what
time is it?"
"Time for your attending physician to get some answers pronto."
he said firmly. "Just what were you thinking when you sent the
paramedics away following your little stunt nose diving into
your apartment complex's swimming pool?"
In a point assuredly in her favor in Dr. Brackett's book, Dixie
McCall immediately got angry. "Give me one good reason why
I shouldn't hang up on you right now, Kel Brackett. I was sleeping
soundly for the first time in..."
"Roy DeSoto. He was worried enough about you to let me know
what had happened to you in the Treatment Room after your neighbor
was brought in." Brackett fired back.
"That b*st*rd!" and there was a silence on the other end of the phone.
" Whatever happened to patient/paramedic confidentiality?! I didn't know
Johnny Gage was such an irritating example of a gossiping SOB!"
"Pipe down! He only did his job like any paramedic worth his salt
should've done. He notified his attending medical director of a potential
medical problem. The fact that he did it through his partner's a moot point
and you know it."
Dixie quieted down, thinking of her unexpected rescue victim. "How's
Ger doing?" she asked, sitting up in bed, smothering up a wince so
it wouldn't be apparent vocally.
The lamp turning on in her darkened bedroom did more than just stab into her eyes.
It brought on the mother of all headaches and a wave of unexpected
deep nausea which the nurse fought down by putting a hand to her mouth.
She bore through Kel's ire bravely.
"I'll get to Gerald Miller as soon as I know that YOU'RE all right. If you
were symptomatic enough to red flag Roy and Johnny, you automatically
red flag me. So again, I say, talk to me.." he said no nonsense.
Dixie sighed, pulling a waste can full of used tissue and half eaten cough
drops into her lap. "There isn't much to say, Kel. What's so unusual about
having a stomach virus?"
"When did that come on?"
"Yesterday morning at work."
"What are your symptoms and vital signs?"
"Oh come off it, Kel. Quit being a mother hen. I'm not a hypochondriac
to take notes on every little incidence of the sniffles."
"Kel....no." she spat tightly. "This is my day off, and it's gonna stay that way.
We're not going to be getting together over dinner tonight. No police officer's
gonna stop by for more details on Ger's drowning. And no pesky off duty
paramedic is gonna come calling to my front door. Nada. End of story.
I know my rights as an ex-emergency medical patient."
"What about my rights as your closest friend? Does that matter any?
Forget about my white coat, Dix. That and my stethoscope are still
hanging up on the hat rack across the room!" he boomed.
McCall sighed, resting her head onto her bare knees. "I'm sorry, Kel.
I get cranky with colds. When I get them.." she bemoaned.
"Oh, so now you're telling me that you've got a cold and not a stomach
bug. Which is it?"
"I don't know.. and I don't care. All I want is twenty four hours uninterrupted
down time as is due me on my off day. Is that such an unreasonable request?
The fact that Ger Miller's accident interceded has absolutely no bearing on
"You're right, Dix. It doesn't." Kel agreed rapidly, toning down the frustration
in his voice. "And thank you for being there. He's gonna make it with flying
"None. His films are clear."
"There're no signs. You guys were absolutely amazing with keeping him
one hundred percent oxygenated. Just be grateful to Brantigan and Grow for
Roy's military needle cric technique that he so kindly shared with me during
the last paramedics meeting. Miller's already been decannulated and
there's no indication of any subglottic stenosis at all. Now enough about him."
"Kel, read my lips, or at least listen to them. Go away. I'm fine. I'll call
you after sundown in an update. Just keep Johnny and Roy outta my hair
tonight and I'll think about staying your best friend. Good night or good
afternoon and good riddance!" and she slammed her elegant white and
gold Victorian phone receiver down and cut off the connection.
Kel Brackett winced at the vigorous slam of noise into his ear. He
held the phone in his palm for a few seconds, half considering calling
Dixie back again. :: Do I have the right to bother her any more? She
sounds like she knows what she's doing. And I'll get my second phone
call in five hours.:: he thought, looking at his watch.
McCall barely made it to the bathroom in time before vomiting and
suffering a bout of miserable diarrhea. "Oh, god I hate the flu bug.."
she groaned. Long minutes later, wet from the shower and naked,
Dixie crawled back into bed and pulled the covers over her head.
Making a decision, Dr. Brackett decided candor was the better part of
valor and he dialed the number out to Station 51.
"Los Angeles County Fire Department, this is Fireman Mike Stoker.
Can I help you?" Mike glanced up, "Gage. It's for you. It's Brackett."
"It is?" he said, his mouth full of burger. "It's about time I heard from
him. Roy, did I ever tell you I love you for spilling the beans about Dix's
little fainting stunt to him?"
"No. But I think you can refrain from expressing yourself. Joanne
might get a little jealous." DeSoto quipped.
Johnny jogged to the phone, dodging around all the gangs' shoulders
in his hurry to cut physical corners to reach the doctor. "Dr. Brackett?
"Gage. I talked with her."
"And...there's nothing more I can do at the moment. She's adamant about
refusing to see me or any other doctor for her illness."
"That's sheer craziness, doc." Johnny said, spitting out his mouthful of
burger into a napkin. "She's gotta be seen sometime. You weren't there.
I was. She was paler than anything once I rolled her face out of the
"Did she breathe any of that in?"
"No. She woke up too fast for that."
"Did her BP stay bottomed out?"
"No. It got back up into the low hundreds."
"And that was sitting up, right?"
"Yeah, doc. Look. Now you know as much as I do. So
bottom line. Are ya gonna do anything about her?"
"I can't. Not by law."
"I'm going over there."
"No you aren't. You'll only get hauled off for
trespassing. Dixie mentioned something to that effect."
Gage threw up his hands. "Wonderful. Now how are we gonna
have any guarantees that she's all right?"
"I sort of got one."
"How...?" Gage asked sarcastically.
"She's gonna call me at sundown with an update."
"Fair enough. I'll call off Roy, too, from going over there only so
long as we hear from you as soon as you hear from her."
"Consider that a promise."
"No problem. I'll hear from you next rescue call. I got
the floor from lunch time through the rest of the night."
"Bye, Doctor Brackett. Talk to you then."
Johnny hung up the phone.
He wandered back over to his chair and sat down,
ignoring the bowl of potato salad that Chet pushed over
to his end of the table to cheer him up.
Cap inquired finally. "So, how's she doing? Is she gonna
get checked out?"
Roy looked up from his lunch. "You're kidding."
"Wish I was, pally. Kel just made me promise that
you and I won't stop by over there in between calls."
"On the strength of what guarantee?!" Chet whined.
"On the fact that Dixie's promised to keep phone tabs with
him every couple of hours."
"And Kel Brackett bought that line of malarkey?" Cap
"Yep." Johnny said, balling up his napkin and tossing
it onto his plate in irritation.
Roy had some input. "You know, fellas, this could be a case of
personal feelings getting in the way. Those two did date once
you know. Maybe they're dating again. It could explain the doc's
lack of medical bulldog tenacity because it concerns someone
he truly cares about. He doesn't want to offend her."
"That's just stupid, Roy. If you were Dixie right now, being sick
and all, stepping on eggshells is the last thing I'd be doing
about you. I'd be busting down your door with a full med kit."
Johnny interjected loudly.
"I don't think it'll come to that." DeSoto grinned reasonably.
"After all, Dixie's a veteran registered nurse of twenty years.
She'd never let an illness go on untreated if it were truly serious."
"I'm still not comfortable." Gage said, narrowing his eyes.
"Neither am I." said Chet, fully in agreement. "I think we should
go around the both of them and let Joe Early in on this. No one
will be held accountable if he's the one who suddenly shows up
on Dixie's doorstep. He's gotta go over there tonight anyway."
"How so, Kelly?" Marco asked.
"To deliver a box of tickets for the Fireman's Annual Picnic
Event. Dixie's one of the primary sellers this year since Gage
didn't come forward and volunteer himself for it like he did
for last year's."
"Why should I have? I'm a rotten seller." Johnny defended.
"Ummm hmm, but you're too good a paramedic not to
meddle with a friend who might be in trouble and I'm too
good a fireman to let someone burn themselves unnecessarily.
I'm gonna go call Joe right now." he said, getting up. "Look, you
two have done your job, and so has Dr. Brackett. It's now my
turn to go to bat. Calling Joe'll only take a minute. Excuse me.
And Gage, if you touch my burger, you're dead meat.."
Chet warned as he dialed the phone without turning around.
The others laughed when Johnny snatched his creeping hand
back into his lap.
Roy leaned over the table. "This sorta compromises the patient
paramedic confidentiality thing. You feel good about Chet
getting Dr. Early involved, Cap?"
"You bet your *ss I do. Somebody's gotta take a stand. Cause who's
gonna watch out for Dixie's, if we don't?" Hank replied, biting into a
Dixie McCall awoke to a full darkness, broken
only by the pale moonlight streaming in through
the lacy curtains of her bedroom window. Her bleary
fever dry eyes, made out the time on her nightstand
clock. 00:38. She tried to move, in a reach for a
half full, luke warm water glass, when the sharp belly pain
doubled her up making her grab around both knees,
in a surge of choking nausea.
"Owww..." she moaned. "Ok, enough's enough.." she
grunted, half sobbing. She hugged herself under the
blankets in suffering, burning agony. "I give up. I give in.
I'm going to see a doctor. I promise....Just...just
ease up and let me dress." she said to her stomach.
Her belly pain, had moved. It was now pinpointed, in a
spot between her right hip bone and her navel.
She frowned, unable to make the significant connection
with that new finding. Her mind was too muddled.
Dixie had pulled on pants over her pajama shorts and had
snatched up her car keys from the dresser,
when the pain toppled her onto the rug.
She lay there, curled in a ball, soundless, as wave after
wave of pure agony swept over her. Her bedroom
furniture and the moonlit ceiling blurred. "No, not gonna
black out. Oh, boy. Kel's never gonna forgive me for
trying to wait it out." she cried, leaking tears of misery.
Dixie crawled trembling fingers across the rug until they
reached the phone cord trailing from the Victorian receiver on
her nightstand. With a jerk, she pulled the phone down
from the table. It clattered in a tangle of cord around
her head. "...ohhh..hhh..." McCall moaned, dragging
the phone and its hand held receiver to her face.
She dialed seven numbers, leaving the phone tipped
over sideways, out to the only number she could remember
A male voice came on the other end of the line, questioning,
and concerned, when Dixie didn't answer.
Dixie passed out close to the receiver, where her strained
breathing could be heard clearly, in fevered distress.
The time was 00:51.
Date: Wed Oct 27, 2004 1:40 pm
Subject: The Call out
The number Dixie remembered and dialed was Station 51 and
she had been really lucky as the whole station was just returning
from a vacant house fire with no injuries to be transported that had
occupied all of them for the last hour or so.
Mike Stoker had just pulled the engine in place and raced to pick up
the phone beating Captain Stanley to it.
He heard the distressed breathing on the other end and when he tried
to get the person to talk, he received no answer from the other
end. "Can you please tell me who you are? " he said into the phone.
Suddenly, Johnny realized that they hadn't heard anything about Dixie
since being called out for the coaster incident. "Do you think it is
her?" he said aloud. "Ask the person if it is Dixie." he said.
Mike called into the phone, "Dixie, Miss McCall is that you?" He
heard a quiet groan on the other end.
Roy, who was right beside the receiver heard the groan, too, and grew
concerned that it might be Dixie.
Roy called over to the Captain, "Cap, can you call us in a silent
alarm for Dixie's place? We should go check it out to be sure. Could
you also call over to the hospital? Doctors Brackett and Early will
want to know what's going on, we promised to keep them in the loop as
they promised us."
Cap reassured them that the docs would be called as he hurried to
call the alarm into dispatch. "Dispatch this is Station 51, calling
in a silent alarm for squad 51 to 213 Elm Street, Apartment 6."
Dispatch answered, ##10-4…. Squad 51, time out, 00:51.##
Captain answered, "10-4, KMG 365." He went over to the squad with
the call slip as the guys were waiting in it. Marco ran over to open the
bay door for the squad to exit.
Cap told the guys, "Be careful, but get there quickly. We'll make the
call. If you need to take her in, you can stay available from the
hospital. Call us once you find out anything though, OK?"
Both Johnny and Roy echoed, "We will, Cap, and thanks." They
then sped out of the bay on a speed trip to Dixie's apartment.
From: "Patti Keiper"
On the way, with lights and siren running, Roy DeSoto
had a thought. "Johnny, do you think we'll need PD for
this call? We might freak out a lot of Dixie's neighbors
if we force our way into her place without alerting em
ahead of time."
Johnny let out a big sigh, crumpling up the address slip.
"It is the middle of the night, and you know how we need
the police for most of our other calls like this. I'll raise em
on the horn." said Gage with a nod. He lifted the mic,
"L.A., this is Squad 51."
##Go ahead, 51.##
"Send out a squad car to our silent alarm's location. We may
need official authorization for a break in." he said and then he
hung up the microphone head onto its spigot.
##10-4, 51. LAPD says their ETA is fifteen minutes.##
"What?!" Johnny said in exclamation. "That's sheer craziness!
What if Dixie's condition's serious? We can't wait that long just
hanging about outside her patio...." he empathized out loud
as he listened to L.A. notifiy a police patrol car about their
medical emergency private home entry request.
Roy said. "If we can't see her in the window, that's what
we're gonna haveta do, junior. A phone line with a history
of heavy breathing doesn't mean a life or death situation."
"But it doesn't negate it either." Gage said, very unhappy,
as he clunked a jacketted elbow down on the open edge
of his passenger window. "You told me you and Stoker
definitely heard a groan on that line."
"It IS near Halloween, Johnny."
"Yeah, but why would kids prank call a firehouse? Usually
kids think we're really cool and...leave us alone." Gage
"I can think of half a dozen crank calls B shift's had over the
last two months that started up just like this one."
Roy just shrugged. "We'll have at least some answers
in...." he looked at his watch in the glow of the bar lights
reflecting off the squad's hood. "....four minutes....."
"I got a better idea....." Johnny said with a finger snap.
"What?" Roy asked, glancing away from the road.
Johnny picked up the radio mic again.
Engine 51 roared off the freeway ramp and pulled up behind
the squad in front of Dixie's apartment complex. The noise
of her arriving Code Three woke up everyone within ear shot
to a distance of two hundred yards.
"Is this your idea of a brilliant idea?" DeSoto asked Gage
while they wound through the night clothed crowd of people,
now milling about the pool area, fully loaded with gear.
"Yeah..." Johnny grinned. "Now we have witnesses..."
"And Cap's just as concerned about that phone call
as we are. He's not gonna yell. Not in the slightest."
"You're right about that." Roy considered. "It's not like
it's a busy night for firehouse calls. Being available here
or at the station's pretty much the same thing I guess."
"Exactly.." Johnny said.
As they neared apartment six, the gang piled out
and went immediately to the front entryway to ring
the doorbell while Roy and Johnny covered the back
patio facing the moonlit pool to see what they could see.
Johnny upped his ante. "Would someone turn on the lights
out here? We gotta see what we're doing!" he shouted to
the babbling, gossiping crowd of residents around them.
The off hours overhead suddenly kicked on over the
party hut at the far end of the pool, lighting their way
through the thick palms and bushes surrounding Dixie's
"Thank you!" shouted Roy. Then he mumbled. "Geesh,
talk about an abundance of bystander help."
Johnny's HT came to life in his jacket pocket. He
pulled it out. It was Cap. ##No answer at the front door
at the bell or with the knocker. And we've no windows
to look inside. How about on your end?##
"Still getting there. I wouldn't say Dixie's a premiere..."
he grunted as he forced O2 tank and com box through
the hedges.." gardening type. It's a sheer jungle over
here, but we're getting there." Johnny told Hank.
"She does like her privacy.." Roy grinned.
Gage sighed and finally his shoes reached the concrete
slab of her patio. "You know, there's another reason
why I used the engine to wake everybody up."
"Why's that?" Roy asked as he, too, fought through
the bushes to join his grinning partner on Dixie's
back yard landing.
A commotion on the sidewalk of fast stepping slippers got
their attention and a thick, hidden ivy covered gate
that neither Roy nor Johnny knew was there, suddenly swung
open onto the patio where they were, revealing a woman in a
robe of quilted pastels with a thick ring of keys in her hand.
"That's why.." Gage pointed at her. "I figured one of these
crowd folks just had to be the land lady.." Johnny said, tilting
his head. "Dragging out the Ward, too, just bettered our
chances in finding her.."
"Will wonders never cease.." Roy sighed with a half smile,
pulling off his helmet. He quickly explained the situation to
the land lady about Dixie McCall.
"Oh, sure.. Here, let me let you in. The poor dear. We all
thought she was just tired from saving Gerald Miller. The
kids saw her go back inside right after you fellas left."
Johnny was still peeking through the windows, shining his
flashlight. He couldn't see anything. "Thanks, Ma'am, for
coming. You see, the cops are delayed a bit. And this can't
"No, of course it can't.." said the landlady. "Here you go boys.
Can I come in? I'll be your entry witness.." she volunteered.
"That's what we had in mind, Ma'am.." Johnny said as
the landlady opened the glass patio door with a flick of
a long skeleton key.
Roy and Johnny immediately went inside, shouting Dixie's
name. The landlady trailed behind and turned on the lights
"She's not in here.." said Roy, leaving the bathroom.
"Looks like she's been vomiting." he said about an
unflushed toilet. "Some diarrhea, too." He flushed it
away after Johnny had a look at it.
Johnny let in Cap and the others through the front door
and quickly, the gang cased the living room, den,
the closest bedroom....
Finally, they found her on the carpetting, face down with a
phone receiver in her hand, in the farther one.
"Cap, we'll need an ambulance.." Roy said.
"You got it, pal. I'll be right back."
Johnny unwrapped the phone cord from around Dixie's
body and hung up the phone into its cradle, setting the whole
thing back on the nightstand while DeSoto knelt down, feeling
for a carotid. "Dixie? Can you hear me?"
Together, he and Johnny gently rolled her over onto her left
side from off of her stomach, supporting her head and neck in
a line, carefully, leaving her legs bent up to her stomach as they
checked to see if she was breathing. She was, shallowly.
Dixie just moaned at an arm pinch. "Altered level, Johnny.
Marco," he asked looking up. "..can you get her on some O2?"
"Make it high flow."
Hank returned after his HT call outside and
crouched down, "Can we move her to the bed? It
might make it easier for you two to work."
Johnny got done sweeping Dixie's head, neck and back
for any blood or misalignment. "Yeah, I'm not finding anything
here. She didn't hurt herself falling at least. Her c-spine's clear."
The gang lifted her to the bed with a sheet, leaving
the others pulled down. She was placed onto her back and
Roy and Johnny piled the gear around her after the O2 was
set over her face.
Stoker thought ahead and placed pillows under
Dixie's knees to keep them bent, remembering her
unexpressed pain from earlier in the afternoon.
Cap began a hail out to Rampart while Johnny loosened
Dixie's clothes and pants for breathing's sake and got an initial
set of vital signs. "Chet, see if you can wake her past groaning.
I don't know why she's not conscious yet. The oxygen should've
helped her regain more awareness a full minute ago."
"That's if this is just another syncopal episode." DeSoto said
as he got a blood pressure off of her. His expression changed
into a more serious frown. "78/52. She's real warm, too."
"Sepsis?" Johnny guessed.
"Maybe. Check her abdomen. You remember what happened
to her this afternoon better than I do." DeSoto admitted.
"Not really. She wasn't very revealing." But Johnny checked.
He found mild rigidity in the lower right quadrant and
he heard noisy bowel sounds through his stethoscope.
"Ok." Kelly began talking to McCall loudly. "Come on. Dixie,
can you open your eyes for me? It's Chet Kelly from Station
51. We got your call ok. Everyone's here. Hey, open those
gorgeous peepers of yours and say hello to your house guests.
Millie the land lady's here, too. Johnny, hand me your penlight.
I'll check out her pupils for you."
Gage tossed Chet his light. "What'dya got?"
Kelly reported a finding after a few seconds. "P.e.a.r.l."
"Figures." Johnny huffed in frustration. "Keep at it.
We'll need her talkin to learn anything more."
"And... she's starting to flinch." Chet continued.
"That's a little better. Just don't kiss her. She may get
mad at ya." Johnny said with volume, trying a bad
joke to get any kind of a cognitive reaction out of
the sick nurse.
"Why not? She's pretty enough.." Kelly quipped,
going along, equally loud.
Dixie blinked and then she coughed. And then the
pain returned, full blown. "Oh, guys. I ..thu you'd nev ...here.."
she moaned, drawing her knees up even higher than
the pillows. "Oh ..gaa ..make it sto-- p p.." she sobbed,
with the emotions hardly reaching her features as much as
it did in her voice.
"Dix?" Johnny asked, "Open your eyes.." he said,
shaking her. "Tell us what's happening.." he
She just made a non-sensical noise and shuddered
in a fever chill.
Hank got a reply on the biophone. It was Dr. Morton.
"Stand by, Rampart. I'll pass you off to one of
the paramedics now. We've got a thirty two year old
female with an acute abdomen, non traumatic." he
informed. Then he mouthed the word "Morton" at
his men when they looked up from getting a Normal
Saline I.V. ready.
Roy took the phone. "Rampart. Our victim's semi-conscious.
Non responsive to verbal commands. B/P's 78/52, Pulse's 90.
Her respirations are 20 and shallow and both pupils are equal
and reactive. There's no signs of falling injury but there is evidence
of gastric and intestinal upset with a fever. We found mild guarding
in her lower right quadrant. She's on fifteen liters of O2."
Morton nodded his head and then he pressed the talk button
in the base station. ##Maintain her O2. Start an I.V., 51. Normal
Saline. Administer a 250 to 500 cc's bolus and titrate until her
pressure's at least 90 or better systolic. Then turn it TKO.
Conduct a head to toe survey and get a better neurological
assessment. Look for any abdominal distension or signs
of pulsatile masses. Palpate her flank on the effected side for
any CVA tenderness. Also, draw a red top for analysis. She's
been vomiting and losing digestive material intestinally, so I'm
gonna assume it's been a while since she's eaten anything. Give
her some Dextrose at 50%. 25 gms in an I.V. push. Let's hope her
stuporous state's due to hypoglycemia and that it isn't septic
involvement. 100 mgs Thiamine won't hurt either. In fact, give her
some. And get an oral temperature for me if you can, 51. Monitor
her on EKG for any altered rhythm. Report back to me in two
minutes with any new details. If not, transport her as soon as
"10-4, I.V. Normal Saline titrated to the hemodynamic status
margin minimum. A red top followed by 25 gms Dex50 I.V.,
and 100 mgs Thiamine. EKG check followed by a condition
update and immediate transport."
Millie wanted to know. "What's all that stuff?"
Cap answered, "Salt water and sugar, with one of the B vitamins,
a heartbeat reading, and then a fast ticket outta here."
"Huh...Whatever happened to the good ol smelling salts and
patting the wrists routine? That worked fine in reviving folks
awake in my day.." Millie interjected.
Johnny and Roy just smiled.
They got down to business re-examining Dixie for problems
visually and by feel and found only a few bruises on her palms
from the CPR she had given Ger and a few minor scrapes
on her hips from when she dragged the boy out of the pool.
No masses or pulsations were found anywhere in her abdomen
beyond the rigidity that was just starting to become apparent.
After they had given her a good once over and had connected
Dixie to the heart monitor, they covered her up with a sheet
A minute later, following the energizing Thiamine,
all the sugar and the actively pushed fluid bolus, Dixie finally showed
some mental life. Her eyes fluttered open. For good measure,
she jerked her hand out of Kelly's concerned one." I heard that
joke, you two nutcases. I just couldn't answer.." she growled.
"Not yet, anyway. Just how much is all this attention gonna cost
me? I've never needed an ambulance before.."
"Hardly anything and ...we're glad you liked it.." Johnny said.
"And everybody ELSE'S glad that you're conscious. Now you
know the routine. Quit griping and answer my questions already."
Dixie sighed under her O2 mask and lifted her knees a little
higher at a particularly viscious pain stab. "Go.."
"What are your symptoms? We already know about
the fever, diarrhea and the vomiting."
"Abdominal pain. Surprise!"
Roy and Johnny made a face. Chet just laughed.
"Do you have any allergies?"
"Are you on any medications or have you taken anything
"None and no."
"What kind of abdominal history do you have? Anything like a
past incarcerated hernia, intussuception, cholecystitis, cystitis,
duodenal ulcers, diverticulitis, abdominal aortic aneurysm,
kidney infections, kidney stones, pancreatitis,
pelvic inflammatory disease...."
Dixie just rolled her eyes at the last one.
"Sorry.. And I know you haven't had any kids recently.."
She glared at Gage indignantly.
"..ever.." he amended self consciously, clearing his throat.
Dixie let him off the look-that-could-kill hook.
"None on all counts, Johnny. All I know is that I hurt.
Horribly. And I'm so hot I feel like I'm gonna die." she
"No you're not. Your pressure's sitting at an even 100
now. Up twenty millibars." Roy grinned.
"Speak for yourself. You aren't hurting." she snivelled.
"He could be if you punch him one.." Chet suggested.
"Don't tempt me.." she spat.
Right then, Johnny tested for rebound tenderness over
her stomach and found a definite positive finding
when she shoved his hand away with a sharp intake of
breath and suddenly grew five shades paler. " Uh huh..
And right over McBurney's point, Roy.."
Dixie met both the paramedics' eyes with a blank stare.
"You've got to be kidding. Appendicitis?" she pegged.
"We don't know that and none of us will. Not until after a
battery of testing.." Roy admitted.
"Cap, how long on that ambulance? She's.. VERY..
stabilized now." Gage asked, putting a bored chin into a
hand on an elbow lean.
"Let ME find out for ya, Cap." and Kelly neatly exited the
apartment to avoid the storm to come. "I'll....just.. show them
the way through darkest Africa out here..." he said.
"My garden's not THAT bad! Oww.." Dixie fired back,
doubling over when her shouting irritated her side again.
Gage returned to his questioning. "Last oral intake?"
"Uhh,, I don't remember.." she sighed weakily from the pillows.
Roy rubbed his nose. "Morton called her diminished
LOC right on the nose. Hypoglycemia.."
"Not him, too...?! Ughh!" Dixie denied. "It's bad enough having Kel
and Joe snooping around and finding out about this.." she winced.
"But to have that beside mannerless automaton knowing
"Shall I relay that message?" Johnny quirked, holding out
the biophone receiver. "He's listening.."
Dixie paled even further.
"No, he's not. I covered the phone when you started up
about him. Aren't I nice?" Gage sniffed. "Events leading
to your illness?" he continued, scribbling into his note pad.
Dixie sputtered, recovering on all tracks but the physical.
"Let's see, over work, under pay.." she ticked off on her
fingers.. " a tiny head cold and now I've got a big problem
with a certain bunch of real pesky firemen.." she blathered.
Johnny ignored her. "When was the onset of your pain?"
Dixie finally got intimated by the proceedings and started
answering without bristling. "Started mid line bilaterally
around 11 am, right after work, yesterday."
"What provoked it?"
"Moving." she snapped.
"What does it feel like?"
Now it was Roy's turn to roll his eyes.
Now Gage poured on the purest kind of paramedic mule headed
cussedness. "Does it radiate anywhere?" he asked through gritted
teeth, staying outwardly professional beyond that one anomaly.
"Not anymore. You found the X that marks the spot."
Johnny bit his lip. "How severe is it?"
Cap started chuckling and had to amble away.
"Does anything make it better?" Roy tried when
Johnny began boiling.
"Unconsciousness did, Roy, and I got you two to
thank for dragging me kicking and screaming out of it."
Dixie said quite honestly, ripping off her oxygen mask.
"Excuse me, I'm going to go puke.." and she started
to get up.
Both Johnny and Roy.... and Cap... stopped her by
grabbing and laying across her chest, knees and
legs. "You're not going anywhere, Dixie! You've lost
your right to make a judgement call." Hank thundered.
"We all do!" Gage shouted. Then he narrowed his eyes
in a challenge. "Let her go, Cap. Roy, you too."
Reaching over, he shut down Dixie's running I.V. to TKO.
"Ok. Prove it."
Dixie eyed Johnny suspiciously. "Prove what?"
"Prove that you're fully medically competent to handle
this health matter..." he said firmly stabbing a finger
down on the bed sheets in between them. "If you can
stand up on your own two feet, without blacking out,"
he said waggling a finger in her face."...all of us will just
pack up.....and we'll leave..."
The silence in the room was palpable.
Dixie's hand snaked over and dialed up the I.V. to a fast
gush in the drip chamber.
"Ah, ah ah.." Johnny said, jerking the tubing out of her hand
and he redialed it back down to TKO. "Without any outside help
or adjunct." he clarified.
Then he pulled her sheets down and invited her to swing her legs
over the side of the bed.
Dixie froze like a deer in the headlights.
Then her jaw clamped shut and the insult she was about to
hurl died aborning. She yanked the covers back up to her chin
and her teeth started to chatter. "You boys make sure neither Kel
nor Joe does my surgery.."
Johnny relaxed his finger pointing stare and he planted the
abandoned O2 mask that was hissing around her neck to back
over her face.
She didn't protest. "Promise me..." she asked of her two hands on
hips posturing paramedics.
"Ok.." Roy shrugged and he turned up her I.V. to a shock fighting
Feeling a bit like the devil, Johnny added, "We'll let Morton do it."
Dixie nearly levitated off the bed.
Right then the elegant Victorian phone on Dixie's nightstand
"Uh oh." trickled Cap.
Johnny picked it up, reluctantly, after it rang six times. "Oh, hiya doc.
Uh, what do you mean what am I still doing over here? Uh, that's kind
of a long story. You see...."
Just as Johnny hung up the phone, Dixie's eyes rolled back and she
blacked out dissolving into unconsciousness once again.
Johnny Gage noticed, "Dixie? Hey--" and he reached
out to touch her chin when Roy DeSoto stopped him.
"Why don't we let her be, Johnny?" he smiled. "Looks
like she's finally given in to that long rest her body's been
demanding that she'd better have. She's comfortable
enough and breathing fine on her side just as she is without
us messing around with an oral airway. We'd be disturbing
her if we did any further monkeying."
"But--" he bit his lip, considering, and checking a sudden retort.
"Ok, convince me. What's her pressure now?" checking McCall's
pupils again in a search for how far down she'd gone.
"116/72.." he said pointedly amused. "The I.V.'s HAS done its work.
And see? On the monitor...." Roy invited with an eye glance.
Johnny studied Dixie's tracing EKG reading on the scope and his
critical analyzing frown slowly turned into a light smile. "Sinus rhythm...
finally." he sighed.
"Yeah, her rate's about 58." Roy agreed. "Not stressed any longer
"Now that's what I call sleeping.." Kelly remarked.
"Chet, how would you know?" Gage commented. "You're not a paramedic
like us." The irritation on giving into his partner's low impact patient care
plan was still festering a bit under the skin. He liked his victims awake
and talking when they didn't have vitals that disfavored maintaining that status.
"No, but I know good vital signs notes when I hear them." he said, unoffended.
"I got the smarts when I need em, Don't you worry yourself about that, pally." he
said, winking at Roy to let him know he was in a needle Johnny Gage
mode again now that all the excitement was over.
Gage rapidly starting cleaning up and tidying while Roy readied
Dixie's apparatus for gurney loading. "No, you're definitely pumpkin positive,
Chet..." he mumbled.
"What? I didn't quite hear ya, Johnny? What the heck's pumpkin positive
mean?" he grinned, giving motions of a gimme more gesture behind Gage's
back where the dark haired paramedic couldn't see it.
The gang just folded arms together to watch the verbal tennis match with
the same grins on their faces.
And Johnny walked right into the baiting, hook, line and sinker. "If a doctor
writes 'Pumpkin Positive' on your notes, Chet, they mean if they shine a penlight
into your mouth, they would encounter a brain so small that your whole head
would light up."
"Oh, uh huh." Kelly said, mildly, completely unruffled. "Gee, that's really interesting,
Gage. But what IQ scale fits your place at the shallow end of the gene pool...?
You didn't even see that Dixie's just snoozing right now until Roy here, pointed
it out to you."
"Ok, enough's enough." Cap intervened, chuckling. "If you two carry on in here
much longer, you just might DO what Roy says not to do and you'll wake her up.
You guys can go play debate team after the call's over. Come on, Kelly. Back
to the engine. Stoker and Marco are already waiting for ya. "
"But nothin, I'm only lagging behind because I wanna make sure that Dixie's
place get's locked up again once the PD gets here. You know my signature's
needed on the house entry form. "
"That's all right, sir. I can take care of that.." said Millie the land lady..
Cap blinked and her comment didn't register under the hard thinking and
disciplining he was still embarking upon. " I'll take the squad in so Roy and
John can fuss over her at much as they'd like on the way in. Now, shoo.."
Hank said, jerking up his chin in a firm, I'm the captain look.
"Cappp..." Chet whined. "Are you gonna let Johnny keep
picking on me?" he said in jest.
"No, I'm gonna let YOU take a time out on HIM. That wasn't
a request, Kelly.."
"No, it was an order, I know.. I know." and he trudged out the door,
putting on his helmet again over his smoky curls. "Why spoil my fun? I was
just trying to lighten the tense mood radiating out from a certain someone
still leaning over the bed. And Dixie hasn't been disturbed. She
hasn't moved since Roy tipped her head back."
"Go.." Cap pointed, his stenorous baritone cracking out.
"Yes, sir.." Kelly said automatically at the undeniable
tone of command. He snapped his fingers in self chiding
annoyance when he realized that he was still so well
conditioned, that he actually jumped to attention at it.
"Weellll, maybe there's a few seeds in the jack o lantern
after all." Gage shot back after him. "You understood
All the firemen raised their heads when the sound of
the Mayfair responding to their rescue call appeared
and finally pulled up just outside.
"Gage, zip it." Cap coughed, trying to hide a smile.
"You're falling behind. DeSoto's got the I.V. box
already put back together and the attendants are
only seconds away."
Millie rubbed her chin. "I guess all the acid banter means
that Dixie's really ok?" she asked with a knowing smile.
"It sure does.." Roy said, standing up from one last
check on Dixie's respirations. "I'll leave a note with
her about your involvement in resecuring the apartment.
The policeman coming is just a formality. Cap's only
got a few lines to fill out on the officer's report."
"All right. Thank you, gentlemen, for helping Dixie like
you have. It really was sitting in the back of my mind, that
something wasn't right. I was just too timid to inquire and
intrude, you know?"
"Yeah, we know." Johnny said. "It's a trait of being
American, that respect for any individual's home privacy.
No harm's done, ma'am."
Dixie.. Can you hear me? Look what I brought..." said firm
but quiet male voice.
Dixie opened her eyes and peered around a flowing oxygen
And saw a grotesque swollen pink and purple worm, floating
in a jar of preserving fluid..
"GahHH!" she jerked, throwing her hands up. "Get that thing
away from me." and she immediately winced when stitches,
external and internal, snagged on her innards. "Ooo.."
"What? It's not a prop from the little shop of horrors, Dixie."
said Joe Early with a chuckle. "This was part of you fifteen
"I know what it is, Joe. It's just so... yyuck.." she shuddered, coughing
up a plume of anesthetic gas from her chest as she got a radar
on how truly awake she was becoming. Her nursing side finally
got the better of her. "Ok, so what did ya find?" she gave in.
Kel Brackett, to Joe's left, also seated on the bed, answered her.
"Well, your appendicitis was uncomplicated. We found no fecaliths, lymph
node involvements, or any signs of appendiceal perforation. You just had
some moderate suprefaction of the mesentery that didn't effect the
peritoneum. We did a WBC and a flat plate, which was negative
along with a UA for blood which came completely clear of red cells.
Your kidneys,..are fine."
Dixie blinked, still very groggy. "Would you explain that in plain
english? I think I'm still a little hollow in the head right now."
"Rest, Dix." Kel said, getting up. "We'll just leave your souvenir
on the bedstand for you to analyze later."
"Don't forget to use a pillow on your abdomen when
you have to cough up some of that phlegm. And yes, we
made sure the incision was made below the bikini line." Joe added.
"You're all heart." she grumbled, rolling over to sleep some
more. "And if I hear one crack about the mickey mouse shaped
beauty mark I know you saw down there coming from the nursing staff,
I'll personally feed you both halves of my appendix floating around
in that specimen jar."
"She's awake, Kel. I think we can leave now. No one who's too
sleepy to breathe ever musters up a threat."
"You're right, Joe. Sweet dreams, Dix, and get better fast.."
The only reply was a blissful mumble followed by a rub of
a few fingers on her nose.
The two Rampart doctors left the recovery room on scrub paper
covered shoes, gingerly.
These excerpts of Dixie scenes are from
Emergency Theater Live
Guest Writer; J. Wilds **Her section noted by author's nick**
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