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John Gage gazed upon the woman as she clung tightly onto her daughter, the pair of them disconsolate, their sobs echoing down the corridor. The image of the dead man lying lifeless on the gurney was burned into Johnny’s memory, as was the frustration he had felt when he had learned that all of his efforts to save the man had been for naught.
Casting one final glance at the weeping mother and child, he heaved a heavy sigh of frustration and stalked toward the bay doors, pushing them open with such force that they slammed back against the wall as he stormed through them and out into the ambulance bay.
He made it as far as the rescue squad before he finally stopped and took a deep breath in an effort to calm his churning emotions. He leaned against the squad, his right hand resting on the open window frame. His mouth was drawn down into a frown and his jaw was clenched tight, his body tense. Standing there, his eyes wandered down to the bold yellow lettering on the side of the vehicle: RESCUE. The word seemed to be mocking him… laughing at the futility of his last attempted rescue. Standing there in the ambulance bay, his anger finally got the better of him, and he slammed his fist down against the door.
“Rescue hell,” he spat out bitterly. “All we rescued was a corpse.”***
“Hey, man… is everything okay?” his partner of eight months asked.
“No Tony,” Johnny answered angrily. “Everything is definitely not okay… That,” he said gesturing to the weeping woman and child, “is not okay… I’m not okay,” he said flinging the door of the squad open, climbing inside and then pulling the door closed behind him with a bang.
Back at the stationhouse that evening, Johnny barely touched his food and he blew off the card game that the rest of the men traditionally played after supper. He continued to brood, his disposition still set on a slow boil. Brackett referring to him as being nothing but an amateur had done nothing to ease his sour mood.
What bothered Johnny most was the realization that Brackett had been right. He might as well have been a five year old school boy out there today, for all the good he’d done. That man had been critically injured and in desperate need of definitive medical care and the only thing he had been able to render was some basic first aid and a little oxygen. What that man had really needed today was someone with the right equipment, the training and the know-how on how to use it. Johnny continued to sit sullenly on the couch in the dayroom pretending to read his magazine. Every few minutes he would forcefully turn another page with an angry sigh of disgust.
Finally, Cap came over and sat beside him on the couch. “Okay, Gage, out with it… what have you got stuck in your craw this evening?” he demanded.
“What do you mean?” Johnny asked, doing a lousy job of feigning ignorance.
“Come on, Gage,” the older man said. “You’ve been walking around this stationhouse with a dark thundercloud over your head ever since you got back from that last run. I know it’s tough to lose a victim… but you’ve lost victims before. What is it about this last one that’s got you so busy tying yourself up in knots?” he asked.
Johnny met his Captain’s gaze, his dark eyes flashing with an intensity the older man had never seen before.
Finally, Johnny lowered his gaze and his posture deflated… almost as if someone had let all the air out of his body.
“I dunno, Cap. I guess I’m just thinking,” Johnny muttered.
“About what?” the older man asked.
“About that Para….Para-medicine thing the Chief was asking me about earlier.”
“Paramedics,” the Captain corrected.
“I was just thinkin’ … maybe if I had been trained… you know, taken that course … maybe I would have been able to do more to save that man’s life out there today… you know?” he replied.
“I don’t know, John, maybe you would have. Have you changed your mind about taking the course?”
Johnny shrugged his shoulders dismissively. “I dunno… maybe… I’m kinda thinking about it,” he admitted.
“Well,” said the Captain as he stood up. “There is supposed to be some guy that took the course over at Harbor General down at HQ all this week answering questions and signing guys up. That is, if you are really interested.”
“I’m not really sure what it is I want to do, Cap,” the young man said dejectedly. “The only thing I do know; is that I don’t want to have to stand in the halls of Rampart and watch another wife and child cry because I didn’t have enough skills to save their loved one.”
Johnny looked down at the magazine in his hands and sighed in frustration. “Hell, I dunno, Cap. Maybe I’m just overtired. Maybe things will look different to me in the morning.” Tossing the magazine onto the couch, Johnny stood up and stretched. “I think I’m just gonna go hit the sack…good night, Cap,” he said as he strode out of the room.
Watching the young man exit from the room, the older man knew in his heart that something about the younger man had changed that afternoon. Something had definitely lit a fire under his butt and he had the distinct feeling that he was about to lose one of his best rescue men to the new Paramedic program.
It was two days later when Johnny Gage finally decided to go down to Headquarters and talk to the guy who had already gone through the first training session, and was now busy trying to recruit new members to the program. As he approached the end of the hall, he saw an 8.5x11 piece of note paper taped to the outside of a small office door. Scrawled in red letters across the sheet was written:
Paramedic Questions Answered Here… Last Day Today R. DeSoto FM
Once inside, he was met by a fair haired man who was a few years older than himself. Johnny was still unsure if this was the choice for him. He’d heard through the grapevine that the Paramedic program could end up being dead in the water.
According to the scuttlebutt, there was serious doubt that the Paramedic bill was even going to get past legislature. If that was the case, taking the course would be a waste of his time. Consequently he hadn’t signed his application.
He had to admit he was impressed by this man, DeSoto. He knew certainly his stuff, and he had a drive that matched Johnny’s own. Johnny had done his own homework before he had arrived at Headquarters that day and if what they were trying to do with the Paramedic program actually passed legislature, it could potentially save the lives of thousands of accident victims every year. No more would Johnny have to hold a patient’s hand with no real idea or advanced training about what to do for their more serious injuries.
Still, Johnny wasn’t completely convinced that they would ever really be allowed to practice. From what he had heard, Kelly Brackett was dead set against the program… and Kelly Brackett’s word carried a lot of weight in the medical profession. But for every reason Johnny fired at DeSoto as to why he shouldn’t sign up, Roy DeSoto had come back with an even better reason why he should. In the end Roy convinced him that if the bill did pass, it would be the most important advancement in emergency medicine in several decades. It was because of Roy’s convictions that Johnny had eventually signed his application form… besides even if they didn’t let him officially use his skills, he’d still have the added knowledge of what to do for a victim on the scene…knowledge he didn’t have today.
~ ~ ~
Two weeks later, Roy stood in treatment room two at Rampart General Hospital, listening to Kelly Brackett explain how to use a defibrillator. Crowded in beside him was John Gage, the bright young recruit he’d had to work so hard to convince to sign up for the program.
As the session progressed, Roy watched each of the new recruits from a distance.
One man in particular stuck out above the rest… it was the same man that had drilled him so relentlessly with questions when he had come in to sign up on the last day of recruitment...John Gage, the last man to sign up for this session.
From the very first day, Gage had approached the classes with that same relentless intensity, that same dogged determination to learn everything there was to possibly learn, that he had displayed down at Headquarters. It seemed as if the young man breathed, ate, slept and dreamed about paramedic procedures.
There was no doubt this young was not only eager, but he was very serious about getting the information right. Something deep inside John Gage’s soul was driving him to save people’s lives…He was bright, quick to learn and seemed to possess an endless supply of energy. But there was also something else… something that Roy was drawn to … something deep inside his own soul had told him that, despite their obvious differences in temperament, he had just met a kindred spirit. And like a bolt of lightning out of the blue, a new thought struck him.
Somehow he knew, without a doubt, that he had just met his new best friend… and paramedic partner. Sure the kid was young…only twenty years old, and six years his junior, but those six years didn’t matter. Johnny had a presence about him that let Roy know that he was wise beyond his years… and although he was physically young in years… emotionally he was a man of hidden depth and character.
As the days went by, Johnny showed himself to be a natural Paramedic. And even though Roy could sense some obvious tension between John and Dr. Brackett, he didn’t let that get in the way of his learning. Roy had taken to eating his lunch and spending his coffee breaks with the dark haired man. After all, if he was going to ask him to be his partner, he might as well build up a repoire with him now.
Surprisingly, he found talking to John… or Johnny as his close friends called him… to be effortless. For some reason the two of them just seemed to connect and Roy found himself looking forward to lunch time each day, just so the two of them could have a chance to spend time together talking.
The weeks seemed to fly by and it was no surprise when the test scores came back that John had finished at the top of the class with a nearly flawless test score. It was while they were celebrating with coffee and cake that Roy finally brought up the subject of Johnny becoming his partner full time at a new Fire Station that had just been built out of Carson… Station 51.
Johnny had never even blinked when Roy had jokingly told him that if he played his cards right, he would ask him to be his partner. In fact his only retort was to proclaim to Dixie that Roy ‘needed him’. And as much as he had been joking… Roy also knew Johnny had been right. Roy did need him, but more than that… he wanted him for his partner. Roy just instinctively knew that with Johnny Gage as his partner, he would never have to watch his back… he knew that Johnny would always be there to cover his back.
~ ~ ~
Johnny Gage sat on his motorcycle in the parking lot of Station 51 and looked over at the brand new building before him. This was to be his new home. It was vastly different from Station 10… but then again, he was a vastly different man to the one he had been just a few short months ago. Back then he had been a rescue man and content to be so. But things had changed…he had changed. He had found his new purpose in life… his new passion. He had also found his new best friend and partner.
Walking into that tiny office down at Headquarters, he never would have guessed the fair haired man on the other side of that table would end up being his new best friend. But there was just something about him. Something honest…something trustworthy… something that told Johnny that saving lives was just as important to Roy DeSoto as it was to him. That being a Paramedic was more than just a job… more than just a title…it was his passion.
Johnny looked down at his uniform and the new name plate pinned to his shirt. He reached down and gave it a quick polish before he turned around and reached into the saddlebag on the back of his bike, pulling out a rolled up piece of paper.
“Well, Smokey,” Johnny said to the poster in his hand. “Welcome to the first day of the rest of our lives. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” And without any further hesitation, he made his way over to the door and stepped inside the station, ready to start the next chapter of his life.
*** quote taken from the Pilot episode EMERGENCY! a.k.a. - The Wedworth-Townsend Act. Written by Harold Jack Bloom and R.A. Cinader.
Posted to Site 03/28/13
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