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++I don’t own the guys at Station 51, never did, never will, but oh how I enjoy inviting them out to play from time to time.
This is a sequel to ‘the size of a Hero’, and ‘the lesson’, you don’t have to read them first but you might want to if you haven’t done so already.
John Gage pulled up to the home of his best friend and partner and immediately laughed at all the bikes scattered on the front lawn.
John had agreed to help Roy install a new automatic dishwasher for JoAnne in exchange for a couple of free meals. He was early and could tell by the number of bikes on the front lawn that Roy was working with Chris’s Boy Scout troop again.
With a lot of curiosity Johnny made his way to the front door wandering what his partner was teaching the boys and if by any chance he could be of help.
JoAnne saw him coming and had the door open before he reached it inviting him in.
“What’s Roy teaching the boys today?” Johnny jerked his head toward the bikes.
“Knots.” Jo answered, “Last I looked they were all tied up,” She chuckled at her own joke and led the way to the back door.
From the inside of the sliding glass door Johnny counted eleven boys and four adults. The boys were teamed up in groups of two with Roy teaming up with his son Chris, and the groups were repeating a competition to see which group could tie a bowline knot around their waist and lean back the fastest. While Roy and his son were finishing well ahead of the rest of the groups the other three Adults wandered around making pointers and giving advice.
Then Johnny noticed Jennifer sitting on the grass in the shade of the garage. She was watching intently the instructions that were given and trying to tie the knot being practiced using one of her many flowered triangular bandages that had been made out of a retired bed sheet. Her frustration was growing as her knot was continuing to pull loose. Even from across the yard through the glare of the sun on the window John could see the simple mistake she was continuing to make.
John slipped out onto the deck and scooped up two pieces of rope from a pile on the grass and went to Jennifer’s side.
“Here, it will be easier if you use one of these.” John held out one of the ropes and Jennifer looked up with a blushing and timid smile. John then sat on the grass next to her and showed her what she was doing wrong and within minutes she was able to tie the knot perfectly. Jennifer had no sooner began to feel comfortable with her knot tying when Joanne called her in the house and Johnny noticed the boys were making their way to their bikes to leave.
Roy walked up to his partner and offered him a hand up from the ground he was sitting on. “I wish you wouldn’t encourage Jennifer like that,” Roy revealed he had been watching his partner teach his daughter the knots they had been working on. “Remember what happened last spring?”
Johnny wasn’t sure what to say, He did remember the incident his friend was talking about. Jennifer had climbed under a rickety old shed to hold tight a lacerated femoral artery on a new friend of hers. In doing so she had saved his life and his leg but she had also put herself in a position of danger where no adult could get to her and exposed herself to some rather dangerous chemicals leaking from the shed above them.
“Sorry Roy,” Johnny responded, “I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong she just looked so frustrated.”
“I understand, Junior,” Roy gave his friend a pat on the shoulder, “Just be careful what you teach her.”
As the two men walked around the side of the house to wave goodbye to their guests Johnny noticed Jennifer at the house next door. She was running out of the front door with a phone held to her ear and once she was off the porch she turned around and looked at the house numbers over the porch cover before going back in the house without closing the door behind her.
“Roy,” Johnny touched his friends shoulder to get his attention, “I think your daughter is in trouble.”
Johnny started to move toward the neighbors house with a confused Roy on his heals when Jennifer came running out the front door as fast as her little feet could carry her.
“Daddy, Daddy, Uncle Johnny!” Mrs. Canton needs your help, her is on the floor in the kitchen and I can’t wake her up.” She took hold of her Uncle Johnny’s hand and began to pull him back toward the house as he picked up speed and soon over took her. “I called for an ambulance and they asked me to check and see if her was breathing and if she had a heart beat,” Jennifer continued as she did her best to keep up with her father and his partner, “she does but she’s real sick or something she won’t wake up even when I shake her.”
Johnny was the first to the front door and could see into the kitchen where a woman in her late fifties was sprawled out on the floor covered with a knitted blanket. Johnny hurried to her side in full paramedic mode and began an assessment as Roy picked up the phone from the floor and found dispatch still on the line.
“This is Roy DeSoto, off duty fireman/Paramedic we’re going to need a squad on this one.” Roy was assured that one was on the way and told they ETA was around five minutes.
Jenny was sent for Daddy’s first aid box and left the house as fast as her feet could carry her. When she returned with her brother and Mother at her side Roy was on the phone with Rampart and telling the Doctor what he and his partner were finding. JoAnne was able to add that she had been sick for a while and had just been back to the doctor that morning where he gave her a new antibiotic.
When Squad 16 arrived Roy grabbed for their drug box and gave the prescribed Epinephrine and before they had her packaged and ready to lift to the stretcher she was starting to come around.
“Don’t worry about anything Holly,” JoAnne spoke as she moved along with the stretcher as they made their way to the ambulance. “I’ll make sure everything is locked up and give your daughter a call.”
As the ambulance drove out of sight Johnny helped load the rest of the equipment back in the squad and watched as he pulled out to follow the ambulance. Roy had his arm around his wife’s shoulders and could see the worry on her face.
“Johnny could you watch my kids for us while Jo and I run to the hospital and make sure our friend is all right?” Roy asked pulling his wife closer.
“I don’t know, do you kids promise to behave for me?” Johnny gave them both a playful glare that they both saw right through.
“Of Course Uncle Johnny,” Chris rolled his eyes.
“I’ll be good,” Jenny added as she wrapped her arms around John’s leg.
Roy led his wife back in the house and while he made sure all the doors and windows were locked up JoAnne sat down on the phone and made a call to her neighbor’s daughter who lived in San Diego.
Roy then guided his wife to the car and climbed in behind the wheel giving his kids and Johnny a wave as he backed out of the driveway.
The first thing Johnny did when the car was out of sight was look at the kids in his charge. “What do you say we go to McDonalds for lunch?”
The kids agreed and hurried to climb in John’s Rover while he went back to lock the door and make sure he had a key to get back in.
At the diner the kids ordered happy meals and were thrilled that the prize inside was a watch. Both kids were thrilled that they had second hands and both were quick to set them and put them on their wrists.
“This is great Uncle Johnny I really needed one of these,” Chris exclaimed. “We’re going to start working on our personal fitness merit badge and we need to learn how to count our pulse so that we can tell if we’re exercising right.”
“Well maybe I can show you a thing or two to get you started,” Johnny offered and started teaching Chris the fine points of counting a pulse and how to multiply by four the count at fifteen seconds. He was so involved in teaching Chris that he didn’t notice Jennifer hiding her hands under the table but going through every step Johnny was teaching Chris.
When Holly Canton’s daughter had arrived at the hospital Roy and JoAnne found their way home to find Chris and Jennifer helping Johnny install the new dishwasher and that pizza had been ordered for dinner.
JoAnne paid for the Pizza as John and Roy secured the new dishwasher in place and made sure it worked, after dinner John headed home having no idea that Jenny was in Chris’s room begging him to teach her how to multiply so that she could count a pulse too.
Teaching a kindergartener how to multiply was no small task especially when you’re only in the third grade yourself. Chris had given up on his sister three times only to start again after she pleaded with her puppy dog eyes, “Now I know why Uncle Johnny never says no.”
“Look Jenny in order for you to understand this stuff there are just some things you need to learn first.” Chris finally sighed in resignation.
“Then teach me,” Jenny responded, “please.”
Before they were told to get ready for bed Chris had explained how to add and subtract and wrote a whole bunch of problems on a piece of his notebook paper and told her to work on those and when she got them all right he would teach her the next step.
After she was tucked into bed for the night and the lights turned out Jenny reached under her bed and pulled out the box where her flashlight was held and pulled the flashlight, a pencil, and the paper her brother had given her under the covers and working by flashlight she finished the problems before she went to sleep.
The next morning on the bus Jenny made sure to sit next to her brother and showed him her work. It took the whole bus ride to school for Chris to check all of the answers and he was surprised that they were all right.
Knowing his sister was going to make him keep his promise Chris sought out a trusted male teacher who just happened to be on playground duty during lunch and acquired his advice.
“Mr. Brown,” Chris tentatively grabbed the teacher’s attention. “I ah, have a friend, well sort of a friend that is, and this person wants to learn how to multiply but um, they’re a lot younger and just learned how to add and I ah, was wondering um, if you could tell me how to teach her.”
It was all Mr. Brown could do to keep from laughing, especially when the ‘her’ slipped out, Chris wouldn’t be the first boy in this age group to start developing a crush on a girl, “Give me just a moment to think on that,” he said then had a wrestling match to break up.
When he returned to the questioning student there was very little time left during lunch recess so he tried to simplify his explanation as much as he could. “What you have to remember is each level of Math you learn is just a short cut for the level before. Adding is just a faster way of counting and Multiplying is just a faster way to add lots of the same numbers. So a good way to start is to teach her, or this person how to add columns of numbers. Do you think you can do that?”
Chris thought for a moment then looked up at his respected mentor. “Yea I think I can do that.”
“Great,” Mr. Brown exclaimed as the bell rang calling all of the children in. “If you need any more help you could bring them to my class after school.”
Chris lined up with his class and walked in the building feeling relieved that he wouldn’t have to take his sister to Mr. Brown’s class room because she only spent half a day in Kindergarten and was already home when school let out for him.
When Jenny got off the bus she found her mother talking with the other mothers who were waiting and while Jenny stood at her mother’s side patiently listening in on the gossip about Mrs. Canton, the neighbor she had helped, Other of the children were pulling at their mother’s arms trying to get them to take them home.
As the other mothers gave in to their children and headed for their homes JoAnne turned and looked down at her daughter. “Thank you for waiting so patiently how was your day at school?”
“It was okay, my teacher let me look at her flashcards on multiply but I don’t think I understand them.” Jenny reveled with a frown.
“Well what do you say we go make some cookies and three times the recipe so we can share with some of our friends?” JoAnne offered wondering why on earth her kindergartner was learning Multiplication.
“Ok!,” Jenny quickly found a smile and then turned to deep thought, “ Mom, could we make four times and let Daddy take some to work to share with Uncle Johnny?”
“I think you should study persuasive arguments young lady because you’re already quite good at it.” JoAnne grinned at her daughter
“I’m sorry mommy,” Jenny’s face turned frightened, “I didn’t know I was arguing.”
Jo noticed the panicked look on her daughter’s face and knelt down on the ground in front of her. “It’s okay honey you didn’t do anything wrong, you just convinced me to make more cookies than I was planning on. In the case of Uncle Johnny that’s a good thing.”
After a quick hug mother and daughter walked the rest of the way home as JoAnne wondered why her daughter had gotten so upset.
Roy returned from a training session at Rampart to find his Wife sitting at the kitchen table with his daughter, She had a recipe book and a note book out and was showing his daughter how to increase the recipe by four. The last two ingredients Jenny figured out all by herself and Roy walked over while she was doing her calculations on the notebook paper and gave his wife a kiss.
“We’re learning how to make more cookies.” JoAnne informed her husband proudly.
“Is the cookie monster coming for dinner?” Roy asked as he turned a smile to his daughter.
“Daddy, Cookie Monster is for little kids,” Jenny frowned at her father who then took a moment to look at her math work.
“That’s an interesting way you’re figuring that out why don’t you tell me about it.” Roy placed his hand on his daughter’s shoulder.
Jenny looked up and smiled at her father and then began to explain. “We’re going to make four times cookies. But since I don’t know times tables yet Mommy showed me to do it this way. I add this much and this much and I have to make sure I carry the one then I take the answer and add it to itself and that gives me four times.”
“Well that’s very smart of you,” Roy kissed his daughter on her head. “I’m going to go mow the lawn so that I can help Chris practice throwing his base ball when he gets home so he’ll be ready for tryouts next week.” With that Roy ran up the stairs to change into some old jeans and a t-shirt and then back out to get the lawn mowed.
Jenny proceeded to help her mother dump the ingredients in the mixer and then spoon the dough on the cookie sheets. When the first three cookie sheets were done, JoAnne put a couple of plates together and let Jenny take them to the neighbors. When Jenny returned her brother was home and in the back yard throwing a ball back and forth with their dad.
Jenny watched through the sliding door for a while then went upstairs to practice counting a pulse for fifteen seconds and then using what her mother had taught her to multiply it by four.
When night had finally come and the kids were tucked into bed JoAnne climbed in bed with her husband. Roy was comfortable and almost ready to doze off as she pulled the covers over her and rolled over to put her arm around her husband’s waist.
“Roy,” She said softly for if he was asleep she didn’t want to wake him up.
“Yeah,” Roy answered wondering if he should have or not.
“I think our daughter has her first real crush,” JoAnne informed her husband.
Roy rolled over and looked at his wife to see if she was serious and when he decided that she was he settled in so he could face her. “Oh yeah, do you know who?”
“I’m pretty sure it’s that partner of yours.” JoAnne grinned and grimaced at the same time.
“Johnny? Don’t you think he’s a little old for her?”
“Yes I do but I don’t think she does.” JoAnne added.
“So what are we supposed to do about it?” Roy asked rubbing his eyes.
“I don’t know,” JoAnne admitted, “I’ve never dealt with this before. She might just grow out of it in a couple of days.”
“I’ll say something to Johnny in the morning he probably knows just how to handle it.” Roy whispered and then did his best to convince his wife he was asleep.
The following morning Johnny walked in the locker room whistling a tune and pulling off his shirt as he walked. By the time Johnny was sitting down on the bench to tie his shoes Roy was completely dressed and pulled a box from his locker and pushed it across the bench to his partner.
“What’s that?” Johnny asked looking at it but continuing to tie his shoes.
“A gift from a very avid admirer,” Roy responded with a hint of a smile.
Johnny looked at him in total confusion. “So why are you giving it to me?”
“Because your avid admirer just happens to be my not quite six year old Daughter.” Roy added a slight glare to his face as he talked to his partner.
John’s eyes grew large as he studied his partner’s face. In the back ground Chet Kelly let out a cackling howl. “Leave it to Gage to hook a five year old, the only girl that will have him.”
Chet and Marco continued to laugh and slap each other on the back until Captain Hank Stanley entered the locker room to check out all the noise. “Sounds like a party in here.” Cap commented as he took in the glare on Roy’s face the total stunned expression on John’s face and the other two yacking it up at their expense.
“Johnny here is taking advantage of Roy’s five year old daughter,” Kelly continued to crow until Hank gave him a stern stare, “Come on Marco let’s go get some coffee,” Chet found a reason to leave the area.
Hank watched the two cacklers shut the door behind them and turned his attention back to his paramedics, the charge of taking advantage of a very young child was a serious one in the Captain’s eyes and he intended to find out a few more details.
“Care to fill me in here,” Hank started then added, “do I need to call in a replacement for one of you.”
“Cap, I didn’t do anything wrong, honest,” John immediately started to defend himself. “All I did was show her how to tie a bowline knot and then take her and Chris out for something to eat.”
Roy’s glare softened but he was still had his partner on a hook and he was playing it for all it was worth.
“I understand there was some jewelry involved” Roy teased.
“It was a watch that came in the kid’s meal they wanted.” Johnny continued to defend his actions, “It wasn’t even a sparkly one just a light blue band with some cartoon princess on the face. Chris got one too, his was dark blue with some kind of a robot on the face plate.”
“Well that doesn’t sound too horribly bad,” Hank picked up on the change in Roy’s demeanor, “I think we can forgo filing a formal complaint with the police, how about you Roy?”
“Yeah you’re right Cap, I can see now that he didn’t realize he was leading my daughter along.” Roy actually cracked a slight grin. “But I do want to know what he intends to do about it.”
“Do about it?” Johnny exclaimed and then held his breath. “I, I don’t know, what do you want me to do about it. I guess I could not come over when the kids are there for a while.”
“What’s in the box?” Hank asked before Roy could possibly respond.
“Cookies,” Roy answered, “Great big cookies.”
“Would you two accept some advice from a father who has been through this before?” Hank led in hoping he could stop any problems between his paramedics before they started and planning to give them the advice whether they wanted it or not.
“Yes Cap, Please,” Johnny was the first to reply.
“Sure Cap, I’ve never gone through this before.” Roy agreed much more calmly.
“Don’t worry about it, just be aware that she’s a little gaga eyed toward you and treat her like you always have. Within a couple of weeks she will have found someone else to be gaga over and you’ll be back to being her father’s partner.” Hank advised, “It would be very appropriate to tell her thank you for the cookies it will help her feel important and do wonders for her self esteem for years to come.”
“A thank you note,” Johnny seemed just as stunned as before, “Yeah I guess I can do that. I’ll tell you what, I’ll call her as soon as we’re done with roll call.”
“No you won’t…” Roy snickered. “She’s in school and won’t be home till around lunch time.”
On the bus Chris leaned over and whispered to his sister. “Mr. Brown told me how you can do what you’re trying to do using addition.” Chris then looked up to make sure no one was watching him whisper in his sister’s ear, “Since dad’s at work tonight I can show you how after dinner.”
“That’s okay,” Jenny whispered back, but she didn’t look extra carefully to make sure no one was watching, “Mommy showed me how to do it last night. So we can do what you want to do tonight”
“Chrissy’s got a girl friend, Chrissy’s got a girl friend,” started echoing around the bus as the bus bully caught sight of Jenny whispering in her brother’s ear. Every head on the bus turned in his directions and saw the young girl sitting next to him. If they didn’t join in to the chant they were giggling.
Both Chris and Jenny started turning red watching eagerly for their stop. There was no use disputing the taunting because they never would have been heard.
Jenny leaned into her brother’s side for protection making the taunting even louder. The bus driver pulled over to the curb and stopped before standing up and telling everyone to be quiet. The volume dropped but the taunting continued.
When the bus pulled up at the school the bus driver didn’t open up the door for the kids to get out until the principal and vice principal came out to the bus. The bus driver then opened the bus briefly to let two officials enter and then closed it again behind them. The three of them spoke for a brief moment and then the Principle stood at the head of the isle and raised his hand pulling each finger down one at a time. Every student on that bus knew what his signal meant so by the time he had all his fingers pulled in to a loose fist the bus was silent except for a frightened sigh from Jenny.
As the Principle began to speak Chris took a hold of his frightened sister’s hand but hid the fact with his math book.
“I’m sorry to hear that we have been misbehaving on the bus this morning.” The principal began only being as stern as he felt he needed to be. “Now we will all line up and exit this bus one at a time and gather together on the lawn, where we will find out exactly what happened here.”
As the students slowly came to their feet and started moving off the bus Chris chose to wait until the bus cleared out a little before he made a move and Jenny was following his lead. Chris looked out the window and noticed several more teachers arriving to help with crowd control and then his attention was drawn back on the bus.
“You better keep your mouth shut little Chrissy poo, Or else.” The bus bully threatened.
Chris remained silent and turned only slightly in preparation of protecting his sister when someone else called out, “Or else what?”
The red haired fifth grader who was taller and heavier than most his age turned and launched himself in Chris’s direction. Chris quickly placed his arm across his sister and moved her into the corner of their seat and protected her with his body.
The boy missed by a mile but managed to hit another boy in the face, splitting his lip and bloodying his nose. Another boy was knocked to the floor of the bus and several students trying to get out of the way stepped on his arm and shoulder.
“Make a path…Out of my way.” The Principle who had seen everything made his way down the aisle to take control of the bus bully and pull him from the bus. Before he was all the way off the bus Jenny reached into her shoulder bag, that she never went anywhere without, and pulled out her only real bandage gauze and gave it to her brother before nodding to the boy with the bloody face.
Once the aisle cleared Jenny moved to the boy on the floor and there were more treasures in her bag that she put to use on him.
He screamed when she touched his arm so she pulled out a roll of month old newspaper and began to unroll it. She had borrowed an arm splint from a friend who hurt her wrist in gymnastics class and traced the outline on the paper before cutting it out. She then traced the outline on a brown shopping bag and placed that in her pants drawer so she could make a new one if she ever used this one.
Jenny had also taken a thin piece of wood that had been used to protect the neighbor’s new barbeque and had it slipped inside the several layers of news papers. Carefully placing the newspaper splint around the boy’s arm she used scotch tape in all the places her friends splint had Velcro she added another section of newspaper to the boy’s upper arm and applied several more pieces of scotch tape.
Next Jenny pulled out two of her flowered triangular bandages and put the arm in a sling being careful to put the knot to the side of his neck so it wouldn’t hurt his neck. Her Uncle Johnny had told her about that trick when her daddy hurt his head.
She then worked very carefully to slide the other flowered triangular bandage behind his back and by moving it back and forth managed to slide it down so that she could tie it around his upper arm and chest. Before she had the second knot tied the emergency entrance on the bus was opened up and the vice principal could see the injured students as well as the two students trying to help them. Pulling a walkie talkie to his mouth he told someone to call an ambulance and the parent’s of. . . . the list was long and to Jenny and Chris’s dismay included their mom.
JoAnne responded to the call from the school and when she arrived she was led to the nurse’s office to find two frightened children sitting on a bench and Chris with blood all over his shirt.
“What’s going on here?” JoAnne nearly screeched after she looked her son over and was sure the blood on his shirt was not his. “What have you two been doing?”
“Absolutely nothing you should be ashamed of,” The vice principle stepped into the doorway behind JoAnne. “In fact you can be quite proud of your two children here.” He then proceeded to explain the incident that had occurred on the bus and how the school officials had reviewed the security tape from the bus proving they were not the instigators. He then went in to great detail about how her two children did a wonderful job of taking care of the two children who were injured explaining how Chris got blood on his shirt.
Chris and Jenny were given a free day out of school for their good deeds and the Vice Principal promised the teaching team would be informing all of the students that Chris and Jenny were brother and Sister not boyfriend Girlfriend.
When the two students were wheeled into the Emergency Department at Rampart both Dixie and Dr. Bracket quickly recognized the flowered triangular bandages on their patients. After finishing a preliminary exam and ordering x-rays the two shared a grin as their patients were wheeled into treatment rooms.
Roy and Johnny had just finished up at a warehouse fire and brought in two firefighters who were suffering minor burns and smoke inhalation. While the nurse at the desk was filling their supplies John and Roy stepped into the men’s room and washed up a little.
When they returned to the desk to get their supplies they noticed Dixie and Carol each pushing a wheelchair with a young boy in them. They were surrounded by two sets of parents and a police officer.
Noticing the paramedics Dixie steered her wheelchair toward the desk and motioned for Carol to follow her.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I’d like you to meet two of our paramedics, John Gage and Roy Desoto.” Dixie announced then watched what happened next.
“Desoto?” one of the father’s attention was peaked.
“Are you Chris and Jenny’s dad?” The boy with the cast on his arm asked.
“Why yes I am,” Roy admitted but was wondering if he should.
“You have two fine young kids there,” the boy’s father spoke. “The Doctor here said my son’s fractures could have gotten really ugly if he hadn’t have gotten such fine first aid when he was hurt.
“And my son has nothing but praise for the way your son Chris took care of him and stopped his nose bleed.”
“Yeah,” the young boy with the broken arm responded. What Jenny did for me really made my arm feel better but can you tell her for me that she needs to get some bandages that don’t have flowers all over them.”
“Hey everybody, Roy’s two kids were heroes at school today,” Johnny crowed as he entered the day room a head of his partner when they returned to the station. Roy blushed at the attention as Johnny told the whole story of meeting the two boys in the hospital.
“Sounds like we’re going to have another award ceremony,” Cap offered his excitement to the mix. “If they do it here everyone remember to lock the compartment doors.” He joked remembering the first time Jenny was presented and award at the station.
Johnny looked at his watch and realized it was time his partner’s daughter should be home from school and went to the pay phone and dialed the number he knew by heart. As soon as he heard “Hello, Desoto residence,” Johnny asked for Jenny, He started by telling her thank you for the cookies then started telling her about the boy’s she and her brother had helped, Leaving out the part about the flowered triangular bandages.
Before he was through telling the young girl how proud of her he was and listening to her giggle on the other end the operator was asking for more money which he quickly dropped in the phone. When he was done talking to Jenny, JoAnne took the phone from her daughter and asked to speak with her husband.
Johnny handed the phone over to Roy and looked to his Captain to see if he did all right.
“You laid it on a little thick there but other than that you did alright.” Cap responded to the questioning look on his youngest paramedic’s face.
On the phone JoAnne repeated everything she was told at the school and that Chris was a little worried about how his class mates were going to respond to him when he went back to school. Roy listened to all that was said and felt pride as he heard how his son protected his little sister and since Johnny had already praised Jenny for her efforts. Roy asked to speak to his son and proceeded to praise him for his actions when the going was tough and promised things would be alright at school before too long just to continue doing what he had done.
When the tones sounded calling them to a traffic accident with injuries Roy quickly said good-bye to his son and promised to see him when he got home from school the next day.
Later that afternoon there was a knock at the Desoto’s door and when JoAnne opened it she was surprised to see Dixie McCall and Dr. Brackett at the door.
Seeing their relaxed and cheerful manner JoAnne realized quickly this was just a social call and guided them into the family room and encouraged them to sit on the sofa. “Can I get you some coffee or Ice tea?” Jo offered her guests.
“Ice Tea sounds wonderful,” Dixie accepted.
“Same for me,” Dr. Bracket spoke, “And I’d like a moment with the two caregivers that go with these.”
Dr. Brackett held up the newspaper splint and remains of one flowered triangular bandage.
JoAnne smiled with pride at her guests, “they’re in the back yard playing I’ll go get them.”
Moments later Jo was coming back in the room with a tray of ice tea and two children bashfully following behind. Chris had his Boy Scout book in his hands with his finger marking his place and Jenny was holding a rather worn looking rag doll which had been well splinted, both arms and legs, using Popsicle sticks and miniature flowered triangular bandages as well as rolled bandages made from the same flowered sheet.
“I see you keep in practice.” Kel Brackett responded with a smile as he took in the young children of one of his best paramedics. Of course they would be well trained.
“My, Dad says you have to keep working on your skills so you can be sure you remember what to do when you need to.” Chris responded as if he were an adult squashed into a boy’s body.
“Yeah that’s what daddy says. Even he has’ta pwactice,” Jenny agreed holding her doll tightly in her hands as if it were a security blanket.
“Even Doctors have to practice,” Kel smiled trying to put the children at ease.
“That’s why they call it a medical practice.” Chris remembered a joke he’d heard but didn’t quite understand at the time.
“That’s why,” Kel shook his head remembering the joke as well.
“The reason I’m here is that I know that you make your own first aid supplies so I wanted to bring this back to you,” Kel Bracket held up the splint that had been made from newspaper. “I was really impressed with it can you tell me who told you to make it this way.”
Chris looked to his sister, this was her idea. Finally Jenny stepped forward and took the splint in her hand.
“My friend Amy is in gym class and she hurts her wrist lots of times so her doctor gave her one to keep and use when she needs it. I just borrowed it and traced it.”
“That is very ingenious of you,” Kel praised and Dixie smiled silently at his side.
“What does that word mean?” Jenny whispered to her brother, still everyone heard.
“I don’t know for sure,” Chris whispered back, “But I think it’s somethin good”
“It means that was a very smart idea,” JoAnne interpreted.
“Would you mind if I showed you something to make it a little bit better?” Kel continued cautiously.
“Yeah,” Jenny bounced her head up and down with such enthusiasm they could feel the floor move.
Kel chocked back a chuckle and picked up the splint and in the next few minutes he showed both children how to stuff a wad of something in the palm of the hand inside the splint to help put the hand and fingers in a better position. “I also noticed that the scotch tape didn’t stick very good so I brought you some medical tape.”
Kel reached into his pocket and pulled out two rolls of tape for each child and both children accepted the tape willingly but the most excited was Jenny.
“Mommy, Mommy looky I got some real live doctor tape.” Jenny ran the three feet to her mother’s side.
JoAnne pulled her daughter close in a hug to hide her silent giggle and as soon as she gained control of her face. “That’s great honey.”
“I also know that we cut your bandages up when we see them at the hospital because that’s the best way to keep from hurting the patients, So I thought you could use some more sheets to make some more.” Kel pulled a plastic bag from behind his back, “I hope you’re okay with stripes.”
Chris accepted the sheets while Jenny turned to her mother. “Mommy are stripes for boy broken arms or girl broken arms?”
“Well honey,” JoAnne again fought a full out laugh, “Stripes will work for either one.”
Jenny then looked to Dr. Brackett and Dixie with the same excitement. “Jason’s dad, Jason is the one who hurt his arm, anyway his dad came to say thank you and he brought us some sheets with cars on em and a sheet with baseball peoples.”
“Looks like your going to be cutting bandages for a while,” Dixie spoke to JoAnne while she discreetly tucked her bag of white sheets back in her large purse.
“Can I ask you a question?” Jenny felt empowered.
“Of course,” Dixie and Dr. Brackett answered together.
“Last year Jodi, her fell out of the swing and broke both of her arms and had to have casts on them.” Jenny started the story.
“We have that happen sometimes,” Dixie encouraged her on. They had clearly broken through her shyness.
“How can you take a pulse on a person like that? You can’t feel the pulse through the cast, I tried, I even tried to push my fingers under the cast but it didn’t work.”
Kel closed his eyes imagining the girl trying to get a pulse through a cast but Dixie was quick to reply. “That’s easier than you think.”
Dixie and Dr. Bracket spent the next five minutes teaching both kids how to check for a carotid pulse and practicing on each other.
They had just finished when there was another knock on the door. Chris opened it to see his friends from Scouts all wanting to know if he was in trouble after what happened on the bus, When he assured them that he wasn’t he was invited to go play ball with them.
JoAnne was relieved to see that he had friends who were willing to rally around him and willingly let him go play telling him to be home in time for dinner.
When her son left with his friends JoAnne turned to her lonely daughter, “You know you can help me make some finger Jello for you to take over to Jaime, She just got home from the hospital today after having her tonsils out and that would feel really good on her throat”
“Okay can we make some to share with Chris when he gets home?” Jenny asked.
“You bet we can,” JoAnne assured.
“Then after dinner can we make some more banages? My bag is getting empty,” Jenny asked.
“Sounds like a good idea to me,” JoAnne agreed.
Dixie and Kel turned down the offer of joining them for dinner and were guided to the door before JoAnne turned to go help her daughter make finger Jello.
At Station 51, the men had returned from an apartment explosion with lots of victims. Fortunately most were minor to moderate injuries and no one died but the squad and the first aid supplies on the engine were all used up. Supplies had been acquired and taken back to the station and now the men were working together putting each item in it’s place.
Marco was in the kitchen expediting an early dinner to make up for their missed lunch when the phone rang.
“LA county Fire, Station 51, Marco Lopez speaking.”
“I got’a talk to Uncle Johnny quick It’s a mergency!!!”
“Gage!” Marco swung out the kitchen door still holding onto the phone. “It’s for you, sounds like a young girl asking for her Uncle Johnny and say’s it an emergency”
Johnny and Roy shared stunned glances with each other before responding in Unison, “Jenny!”
Both paramedics raced to the phone but because John was the track star he made it first.
“Okay Jenny what’s wrong?” John asked not even taking time to say hello.
“Is it JoAnne or Chris?” Roy asked in panic at his partner’s side.
“Okay, okay, Jenny slow down take a breath,” Johnny was coaxing as Captain Stanley came through the door ready to call in a silent alarm and head out where they were needed.
“What’s happened?” Roy demanded reaching for the phone as Cap placed a hand on his shoulder and pulled him away.
“Let your partner get her settled down and then you’ll both know.” Cap spoke in a calm professional but commanding voice before motioning for Mike to take over holding Roy back and stepped closer to the other paramedic who was listening very closely and looked very confused.
“There’s a hairy bump where?” Johnny questioned. “Oh, Oh, Okay Kiddles run and get about three towels out of the bathroom and hurry back I’ll be right here.”
Johnny looked at his partner, “Does the name Jamie sound familiar to you?”
“Yeah she’s one of Jenny’s friends about four houses down the street,” Roy started to calm a little but was still worried. “She just got her tonsils out.”
“Is her mother by any chance pregnant?” Johnny jumped to the point.
“Yeah, she’s due sometime next month.”
“Tell cap where to send a squad and ambulance. I think that kid’s coming right now.” Johnny emphasized by pointing his finger.
“You can’t possibly be planning to tell Jenny how to deliver it are you!?” Roy’s eyes were as big around as dinner plates and more filled with panic than John had ever seen them. “She doesn’t even know where babies come from.”
John gave his partner a strait calm look, “If I understand half of what she’s telling me we don’t have a choice.”
“Well I guess she’s about to see firsthand where babies come from,” Cap took hold of one of Roy’s arms and clapped his other hand on Roy’s other shoulder before pulling him toward the door in route to the radio. “Come on let’s get her some help.”
As Cap dragged Roy to the radio Roy was mentally stammering through his memory of his neighborhood mentally remembering each house number. By the time Cap, and taken the squad out of service, explaining that his paramedics were talking a young girl through the delivery, and ordered a squad and ambulance Roy was able to supply the house number.
“I’m going to go call my wife,” Roy jerked his thumb over his shoulder while Cap waited for confirmation from dispatch.
“Use another line and call your wife to go over and give your daughter a hand,” Cap finished Roy’s request as his senior paramedic raced for the commanding office. Roy had to dial the phone twice before he got the number right with his nerves.
“Jo, get over to Jamie’s house quick Jenny’s delivering a baby and needs some help. Take my first aid kit you’ll need the bulb syringe in it.” Roy didn’t even allow his wife to say a word before he hung up. At least she had been through child birth a couple of times and knew what to expect as long as there were no complications.
When Roy returned to his partner’s side, Cap had managed to put the call on speaker phone and coming over the speaker was the sound of an infants cry followed immediately by Jenny’s panicked cry.
“I hurted it! I hurted it! It’s crying!” Jenny’s cries were heard over the speaker and Roy could hear the tender tears in her voice as his station mates slapped his shoulders as if it was his child that had just been delivered, each one wearing big smiles at the sound of new life.
“It’s okay Jenny, It’s okay, it’s good for babies to cry when they’re first born, it helps their lungs fill with air.” Johnny quickly calmed, there were still worries to deal with and he was talking fast. “Now Jenny you need to keep the baby warm, wrap it up in the towels you got earlier… be sure to cover her head.”
“But there is a rope stuck to the tummy and how is it going to get air in if I cover its face?” Jenny questioned.
“Don’t worry about the rope that’s supposed to be there. Just wrap the towels around her the best you can and don’t cover her face just the back and top of her head.” Johnny clarified and coached.
“it’s not a girl Uncle Johnny it has boy parts,” Jenny corrected her Uncle before adding, “it’s real messy here the towels will get all dirty.”
Everyone in the station heard the mother tell young Jenny it was alright she had new towels as John turned to face his partner with horror in his eyes. “I swear Roy I didn’t teach her anything about boy parts, you’ve got to believe me, I’d never do that to her…To any little girl ever, honest.”
Roy smirked and took a deep breath while swatting the air with his hand, “We had to explain that to her a couple of months ago when she accidently walked into the bathroom on her grandfather the last time we visited.”
Johnny sighed in relief and leaned against the fridge while Cap placed a hand on each of his paramedics’ shoulders and gave gentle shakes. All of their attentions were drawn back to the speaker phone when Jenny announced. “Mommy’s here.”
“Does she have your daddy’s first aid box with her?” Johnny asked turning all of his attention back to Jenny and talking her through her emergency.
“Yeah, her does,” Jenny answered still sobbing.
“Tell her to get the bulb syringe out and use it to clear out the baby’s mouth and nose,” Johnny instructed.
“Mommy get the bob hinge out of daddy’s box and clean out the baby’s mouth and nose.” Everyone in the station snickered as the young girl relayed the message.
“I got it sweetheart,” the station heard JoAnne reply; “Daddy already told me we were going to need it.”
They all listened as JoAnne fussed with the baby listening to the healthy cries, joyous calls and the tender sobs in the background. “Do I need to cut this cord and how do I do it? What do I use?” JoAnne took the phone from her daughter.
“No, that’s okay for right now,” Johnny answered, “I can hear the sirens in the back ground they can take care of the cord when they get there, Just keep the baby warm.”
The station remained quiet as they listened to the sounds of cooing and cries, they all snickered when Jenny said the baby looked yucky, and the sounds of sirens getting louder and then turning off. Then they all heard, “Fire Department!” Being called from a distance and they knew their part of this run was completed. Little Jenny was a hero again for the second time in one day.
“Alright Mike will you call us available,” Cap directed as he gave each of his paramedics another slap on the back.
Roy talked to his wife for a moment and was about the talk to Jenny when they were called out on a possible heart attack and had to run.
As the new mother and her son were being loaded in the back of the ambulance JoAnne checked on Jamie who somehow managed to sleep through all of the excitement. JoAnne hurried back to her daughter and glanced up to see the women of the neighborhood gathering to get a look at the new baby.
JoAnne remembered the day her husband had surprised her by taking her for a drive that ended up at an open house. The two of them took a tour through the house and out into the back yard falling in love with the place only to find out it had already been sold. It was Roy who found out when he returned to work that his partner had bought it and proceeded to convince him to sell it to the Desoto’s but with all the work he put into helping Roy keep the place up there were some wonders if he really ever gave it up.
Once they moved in Jo fell in love with the neighbors they were well mixed with mother’s like herself families where both parents worked, Stay at home grandmothers, a couple of great grandmothers and even one great-great- grandmother whom Jenny loved to help plant flowers so that she could listen to the stories she would tell of when she was a girl Jenny’s age.
It was two happy grandmothers that came into the house as the ambulance drove off and seeing the mess at hand and a little girl covered with what the medical personnel would refer to as products of conception. They quickly volunteered to mop up the kitchen floor and watch out for young Jamie till her father came home.
“It looks to me,” one of the grandmothers commented to JoAnne at the sight of her stunned daughter, “Like that one is ready for that little birds and bees talk parents try and put off as long as possible.”
“I’m afraid you’re right,” JoAnne responded with a cringe as she scooped up her overly quiet, very pale daughter and carried her out the door and home for a bath.
Jenny didn’t say a word as her mother bathed her and washed her hair. She remained quiet and withdrawn as JoAnne slipped her into her favorite comfy pajamas and as she was wrapping Jenny up in her favorite blanket and sitting in the rocking chair to snuggle her and hopefully get her to talk, Chris came home from playing ball.
“Mom! Mom!” Chris called as he slammed the door running into the house looking for his mother. “Turner’s had their baby, on their kitchen floor and everyone’s saying Jenny delivered it.”
Chris slid to a stop in front of his mother who was snuggling his sister, his very pale sister. “Wow it must have been something really horrible for Jenny to look like that.”
JoAnne was very aware that it would soon be time for dinner and she hadn’t started anything for her children to eat. It was the comment that Chris had made about his sister that forced Jo to make a snap decision. “Let’s go out to get something for dinner and then we can stop in and say hi to your father.”
Scooping her daughter up in her arms and heading for the door JoAnne called to her son, “Chris would you please get my purse and the keys?”
JoAnne quickly buckled her daughter in the back seat of the station wagon and dinner turned out to be drive threw taco’s because that was the first drive up window that didn’t have a waiting line. The food was handed to Chris and another quick glance at Jenny and then she was on her way to the station.
At the station Hank was looking over the map in the bay and making sure all the construction detours were well marked when he heard the doorbell ringing.
“I’ll get it,” he called and moved toward the door where he saw JoAnne Desoto carrying one child wrapped in a blanket and her son Chris at her side.
“I’m sorry to bother you Hank,” JoAnne started when he opened up the door, “I just don’t know if I have a problem or whether I should take Jenny to the doctor.” Jo’s voice was panicked and young Jenny’s face was quite pale.
“Gage, Desoto break out the equipment!” Hank called as he placed an arm around JoAnne’s shoulders and hurried her to the squad where little Jenny could be looked over.
As Roy stepped to the back of the squad with the drug box in hand to see his wife and Daughter being seated on the bumper of the squad he paused in shock.
“I didn’t know what to do for sure,” JoAnne started when she looked up at her husband, “She hasn’t been hurt or anything but she hasn’t said anything since the paramedics arrived after she delivered Mandy’s baby. I took her home and gave her a warm bath but she’s just continued to look like she does now. I knew you could tell me if she needed to be taken to the doctor or not.”
“Jenny honey,” Roy set the drug box down and knelt next to his wife and daughter, he pulled out his pen light and started looking in her eyes as John reached around his partner to grab a wrist and check a pulse.
“Daddy,” Jenny called softly and turned her head when her father flashed his light in her eyes, then she sniffled and threw her arms around her father’s neck and started crying uncontrollably.
Roy wrapped his arms around his daughter and held her tight looking to Johnny till he finished a pulse and respirations. John just gave his worried partner a nod of his head then turned to Marco asking for a pediatric cuff.
“I do somethin wrong,” Jenny sobbed into her father’s shoulder, “the baby cried, it just kept crying and crying.”
“Shhhh,” Roy calmed as he rubbed his daughter’s back. “Can you hold real still while Uncle Johnny checks your blood pressure? That’s my girl.” Roy crooned and once his partner had the cuff wrapped around his daughter’s arm he stopped rubbing her back so that he could get an accurate reading.
“80 over 60,” John reported and Roy pulled the blanket around his daughter’s shoulders and started rubbing her back again. “Has she lost consciousness at all Jo?” Johnny asked.
“No,” JoAnne reported, “She just got sort of dazed and pale and wouldn’t talk to me.”
“I think she’s going to be okay,” Johnny diagnosed.
“Just recheck her vitals in a few minutes?” Roy consulted with his partner.
“Probably,” John agreed, “But what do ya say I give Rampart a call and see if they agree?”
Roy nod his head then rested his cheek on his daughter’s golden locks of hair continuing to rub her back While his wife sat next to him and rested her head on her husband’s shoulder adding her soothing coos and rubbing her daughter’s head.
Chet and Marco responded to their captain’s subtle nod and offered to show Chris the engine but once they made it to the back bumper the three of them really just sat down and talked about how scary delivering a baby has to be. While Chet pulled a fire helmet on Chris’s head and he and Marco reassured the boy that his sister would be alright.
After apprising Dr. Early of the situation Mike was handed the phone while John returned to get the next set of vitals to find that Jennifer had been turned around on her father’s lap and both he and JoAnne were explaining that when the baby cried it was the first time his little lungs had filled with air and that crying helped the air get in faster.
“If the baby cries then you know you’ve done things right.” Roy continued to explain, “It’s when they don’t cry you have problems.”
John took another set of vitals and Roy could tell by the look on his partner’s face that they were much better, Jenny’s color was improving too.
John returned from the phone with an agreement that all was well and the suggestion of a few over the counter remedies that would help young Jenny sleep when she got home, by which time Jenny was calmed down enough to ask a question or two.
“Did Mommy have to have a big bad tummy ache when I was born or did you bring me home from work Daddy?”
Everyone at the station had their eyes watering as they fought with everything they had not to laugh at an honest question. When it was explained that her mother had given birth to both her and Chris the same way as Mrs. Turner gave birth to her baby both kids apologized for causing so much pain but Jenny was most emphatic in her apology.
JoAnne just pulled her daughter close and placed her arm around her son’s shoulder declaring both were worth it and that she’d do it again.
After a few more minutes of hugs and back rubs and JoAnne admitting she had never been at that end of a delivery before and everyone involved were calmed down and the Crew of station 51 walked Roy’s family to their car as Roy carried his daughter.
After a kiss and telling each other to be safe Roy stood and watched his wife drive off with his crewmates close by.
“Well partner,” Roy sighed, “She might have a crush on you, but she’s still Daddy’s little girl.”
JoAnne stopped at the local drug store on her way home to pick up the over the counter meds that Dr. Early recommended and while she was looking for them Jenny slipped a few isles over returning with a bulb syringe.
“I think I better have one of these in my bag,” Jenny declared. JoAnne looked at her daughter and her first thoughts were that she never wanted to go through that again. Then she thought it was more secure to feel prepared so she agreed.
“I think you’re right and while we’re at it we better get a new one for Daddy’s box.” JoAnne agreed and her daughter who was now back to being herself ran to get a second one for her mother to buy.
JoAnne took her children home and while Chris was taking a shower, since he was too old for a bath, Jo pulled her little girl in to her lap with her blanky and began to rock her as they watched TV together. When Chris returned pajama clad, JoAnne inquired if her children would like some ice-cream Sundays for a bedtime snack and the cheers rang out.
After the snack Jo gave her daughter the medication Dr. Early had recommended and after sending Chris to bed JoAnne again snuggled her daughter in her arms and rocked her. As the medication started to take affect Jenny’s eyes would droop and slowly close but just as JoAnne moved to carry her to bed her eye’s would fly open again and though she looked sleepy she also looked panicked. After the fifth time her daughter had opened her eyes JoAnne decided to take her to bed with her.
Roy saw the school bus in route as he turned onto his street. Letting himself in the house he walked up behind his wife and slipped his arms around her and nuzzled her neck. After a deep sigh of contentment he asked, “How’s Jenny this morning?”
“She’s her old self this morning.” Jo reported, “DR. Early called around 7 to check on her, he said he had a couple of patients that kept him hopping all night and was going to hang around the hospital until Dr. Brackett came on to take over.”
“Yeah he did,” Roy commented as he stretched his neck and shoulders, “Johnny and I brought em in, it was real touch and go.” Roy didn’t say any more on the subject.
“Anyway he suggested I just send her to school and get her back in her normal routine, he said that would be the best thing for her.” JoAnne turned in her husband’s arms to face him and wrapped her arms around his waist resting her head on his chest. “Thank you for being there for me last night I just wasn’t sure what to do or if there was anything to really worry about.”
Roy leaned back just enough to look into his wife’s eyes, “if that ever happens again just call a squad You can never be sure I’ll be at the station, but I’m sure glad I was last night. I might be mistaken but I think Jenny needed her daddy.”
“You’re right, she did. You look exhausted; do you need some breakfast before I snuggle you into bed?” Jo looked at the bags under her husband’s eyes.
“I’m not really hungry,” Roy responded, “The last guy we hauled in this morning puked his guts up the whole way in, even after a shower I can’t get that smell out of my nostrils.”
JoAnne more than understood and stepped out of her husband’s embrace pulling him toward the bedroom. They were just snuggled in when the phone rang.
Joe Early, Kel Brackett, and Dixie McCall were all setting in the doctor’s lounge trying to decide if either of them had the will to get up and get coffee for the group.
When Kel and Dixie walked in that morning they found Joe and several security officers in a stand of with a patient in the thralls of a hallucination. Not knowing what was causing the hallucination made it unwise to sedate him but he was welding a knife and once they managed to subdue him and get him in restraints it was learned that four nurses and three other patients had been cut by his knife.
Two hours later everyone was stitched up and it was learned that the patient was a diagnosed mental patient who had had his medications stolen at the homeless shelter and came to Rampart to get some more to tide him over till he could get in to his doctor. Only he was frightened of strangers and waited too long to come in and then there was something they hadn’t figured out yet that triggered an episode.
But now everything was under control and the Doctor’s and head nurse were catching their breath.
Kel finally got up and poured coffee for the group and returned the cups to the table before sitting down. Dixie took a sip of her coffee then reached into her purse and pulled out a bag of white sheets in order to find her compact to see if she needed to fix her hair or touch up her makeup.
“What’s with the sheets Dix,” Joe joked, “You starting to bring your laundry to work with you.”
“No,” Dixie smiled back realizing what it looked like. “They’re torn sheets from the hospital. We had a patient yesterday that Jenny Desoto had taken care of at school and he was complaining about her flowered triangular bandages, seems they were not very boyish. So I thought I’d take her some white ones that could be used for either boys or girls but I couldn’t compete with stripes and baseball peoples.”
Kel giggled across the table from her, “You forget about the ones with cars on them.” Kel laughed at himself and looked at his friends again. “I think we really made her day with a couple of rolls of ‘real live Dr. Tape.”
Everyone giggled softly they had all been involved in taking care of Jenny’s patients, “For as young as she is it’s amazing how much she knows and how good she is. I think her printed triangular bandages are her trade mark though I don’t think white ones would suit her in the least.” Joe added and a giggling shake of his head. “From what I heard last night you should have taken her an OB kit.”
“You’re kidding,” Kel looked stunned at his colleague, but he didn’t have to look long to know this was not a joke.
“According to Johnny she was taking some treats to a friend who had just got home from having her tonsils out and found the mother on the kitchen floor in heavy labor and crowning.”
“They were talking about making treats for that friend when we left yesterday,” Dixie added in surprise.
“So you’re saying she had to deliver the baby all by herself?”
“The information I got was that she called her Uncle Johnny to tell her what to do and Roy called his wife and told her to get over there but she didn’t arrive until after the child was delivered and crying. I guess it was young Jenny’s first understanding of where babies come from.”
“Oh, I bet JoAnne had some interesting questions to answer last night,” Dixie scoffed as she gained her composure.
“Actually our young rescuer went into a mild shock. Seems she thought she had done something wrong and hurt the baby because he cried. Her mother took her to the station to have Roy and Johnny look her over, they got her crying and talking it out and her vital signs came back to normal. I called and checked on her this morning and her mother said she was back to her old self so I recommended getting her back to her routine,” Joe informed the group.
The three friends sat at the table shaking their heads in silent wonder when Dr. Brackett broke the silence. “I have no idea what that child is going to be when she grows up but I bet it has something to do with medicine, And whatever it is she’ll be good at it.”
Back in the Desoto’s master bedroom Roy groaned at the sound of the phone while JoAnne sighed. “I wonder who that could be?” she asked as she rolled over to answer the phone. “Hello… Ok, Ok Chris calm down I can’t understand a word your saying.”
“What it is?!” Roy rose up on his elbow, when Jo put her hand up so she could listen to her son he climbed out of bed and pulled his pants on.
“Okay Chris your father and I will be there as soon as we can.” JoAnne answered and threw her covers off racing to grab clothes for herself as she explained to her husband what she knew. “Chris said the school is being inundated with news reporters and cameras wanting to get the information about the bus brawl yesterday and the kids who gave first aid to the wounded. Some of them are claiming the school isn’t safe and that the kids shouldn’t have been treated by other children. There are enough kids that want their moment of fame in front of a news camera and they’re telling them about how Jenny helped Madge Fulmer when she was choking and the boy she climbed under the shed to help and delivering the baby last night along with several other things that we probably don’t even know about. And according to Chris it’s all getting blown out of proportion.”
“The School’s not letting them harass our kids are they?” Roy was rapidly tying his shoes.
“Chris said, they’re both in the Principles office and Jenny is hiding under the desk,” JoAnne gave what information she had.
Roy stood up and while buttoning his shirt with one hand reached out to his wife with the other pulling her toward the door. Jo picked up a pair of shoes as they made their way to the car and put them on as they drove.
Twice Jo had to remind her husband that he didn’t have lights and sirens on the family car and when they arrived, it was indeed a mad house at the school as all kinds of TV crews and other adults were gathering around the front entrance of the school. Roy again took JoAnne by the hand and led her to another entrance and was grateful that there was a school administrator there who knew them and was willing to let them in.
“We’re waiting for a spokesman from the school district to come and deal with the reporters.” The Secretary reported as she let Roy and Jo in. “Those reporters are getting everything and everyone all riled up.”
Roy continued to hold his wife’s hand as he made his way for the Principles office, when he got there he found the vice principle on the phone, Hello Mr. and Mrs. Desoto, I’m glad you made it, I just called in the police to help get this crowed under control. We finally have all the students in their classrooms and away from the reporters. That is except your two, they’re both in the Principles office I think we might need some help to get your daughter out from under the desk. She doesn’t seem to like being a celebrity.”
“No she doesn’t,” Roy acknowledged as he made his way to the door holding the label of principle on it.
There was no knocking done, Roy just took hold of the doorknob with his free hand and entered pulling his wife in after him and shutting the door behind them.
Chris looked up at the sound of the door with a gaze of panic but once he saw his parents he sighed in relief and hurried toward them.
Roy quickly placed on hand on the side of his son’s head and the other on his shoulder looking him over quickly. “Are you alright son?”
“Yeah Dad,” Chris answered then turned to look at the desk, “They didn’t want to talk to me as much as they wanted to talk to Jen. They’re really making it sound like the two of us are trying to be our own doctor’s office.”
“I know Chris we’ll figure this out somehow.” Roy gave his son a pat on the shoulder then moved toward the front of the desk and knelt down next to the knee hole. There he could see his daughter pressed tight into a corner with her arms around her knees hiding. “It’s okay sweetheart you can come out from under there now.” Roy coaxed motioning with his fingers.
At first Jenny didn’t move but as Roy began to climb under the desk with her she started to sob. “All those people are strangers and I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”
“That’s right sweetheart,” Roy responded as he took hold of her wrist to count a pulse, it felt normal only a little fast, “You don’t have to talk to them if you don’t want to.”
When his daughter didn’t climb out from under the desk Roy reached in and took a hold of her pulling her into his arms. As he leaned back against the wall he soon found his wife and son on either side of him and they were all huddled together when a knock came at the door and then it opened as the vice principle stuck his head in the door.
“We have two men here who say they are friends, a Mr. Gage and a Mr. Stoker, is it alright if we let—“
Johnny pushed the man out of the way and Mike followed him in the room shutting the door behind them with the vice principle inside the room.
“How did you guys know!” Roy sat stunned on the floor leaning against the wall holding his daughter, his wife hanging onto him and his son letting go and launching toward Johnny.
“It’s all over the news,” Johnny answered as he pulled his so called nephew to his side and put his arms around him.
“I called Cap,” Mike spoke up while he looked around the room, “He’s going to have a spokesman from the department get here as soon as he can. Laura’s in the hall trying to figure out just exactly what is going on and trying to come up with a plan.”
“What can she do?” Roy questioned as his daughter snuggled in tighter.
“Don’t ask me,” Mike shrugged his shoulders, “We haven’t been married nearly long enough for me to be able to read her mind yet. But she was on duty last night with Dr. Early so she knows about—“Mike didn’t say more he just nod his head toward the frightened girl in Roy’s arms.
A few short minutes later someone stuck their head in the room to inform the vice principle that the district spokesperson had arrived and needed his assistance. He left the room leaving the Desoto family and friends alone.
Knowing the media savvy cavalry was gathering brought a sense of calm to the room as Mike paced slightly, Chris stayed close to Johnny and Roy and his wife remained on the floor cuddling Jenny. Johnny managed to bend down and check Jenny’s pulse twice to make sure they didn’t have a repeat for the night before on their hands.
The next time there was a knock at the door it was opened slightly and the principle asked if they could come in. Roy gave a nod of his head and the door opened wider and several people came through it making the room very claustrophobic.
Roy accepted Mike’s helping hand to his feet still holding on to his frightened daughter and Johnny was quick to help JoAnne to her feet. Once he was standing tall Roy noticed Laura Stoker in the back of the room as well as the familiar face of Dick Friend the department Public Relations person. All other faces were total strangers especially the one who started talking first.
“We’ve all discussed this situation and we’ve decided the best way to proceed is to go out in force. Mr. Friend and I will field some of their questions and you and your family can stay in the middle and towards the back. If your children want to make a statement they can but they don’t have to.” The man looked at all in the room and not seeing his answer in their eyes he asked, “Is that all right with you?”
Roy looked to Dick Friend and then at his family and his firefighting family and gave a subtle and insecure nod.
“That’s great, I’ll go first,” Laura Elmer Stoker spoke up.
“And just who are you representing?” Dick Friend asked in surprise of her stand.
“Everybody,” Laura answered and left the room before anyone could stop her.
As Roy and his hesitant family were guided into the hallway they found themselves surrounded by police officers being led by the familiar face of Vince Howard. “We’re here to cover you, if things get out of hand just stay behind us and will get you to your cars if we can if not there’s a police van out there where you’ll be safe.
Roy noticed that Mike and Johnny took a place in the circle around them and then their attention was drawn to the crowd outside the door as they heard.
“Oh how nice, a bouquet of microphones. Just what I’ve always wanted.” Roy looked up to see Laura taking a hold of all the microphones held in her face to catch her words and holding them together in her hands twisting the cords together in the process.
The tension was lessoned and a couple of smirks could be heard as they noticed how Laura was taking control of the crowd.
“Now let me start by making sure we all have the same understanding here. From some of the questions I’ve been asked to answer I believe there are a few misconceptions out there. First of all the teachers and administrative staff did not leave the injured alone to be treated by two other students. The administrative staff was busy getting the situation under control and two students with basic first aid training did what they could do for the injured students until the adults could clear the way to get in and take over the situation.
Both boys who were injured were watched by administrative staff members as well as the two students who were able to keep the boys calm until emergency personnel arrived and took over. At which point both boys were taken to Rampart Emergency Department where they were treated by licensed doctors. I want to reemphasis that the care given by the two students was just first responder training that kept the patients calm and as pain free as possible until more professional personnel arrived, their care never was intended to be instead of professional care. I do want to add that the two students that stepped forward were very proficient in their skills and gave appropriate care that saved the patients from further injury or complications.”
“But is it appropriate for children of that age to know this stuff?” a question was fielded in the back of the group.
Laura tried to scratch the side of her head but her hands were so full of microphones she just used one of them to sooth her itch. “Why wouldn’t it be? We teach them the ABC’s up to Z in kindergarten why not teach them the ABC’s of first aid too?”
“And what are the ABC’s of first aid?” questioned another in the group.
“You mean you don’t know what the ABC’s of first aid are?” Laura acted appalled. “You mean to tell me if in all the pushing and shoving you’re doing out there if someone were to get hit in the head with those shoulder mounted camera’s and fell down unconscious that the only thing any of you could do would be to make sure you caught the two students inside on film as they took care of your victim?” Laura let the silence linger for a moment before she spoke again. “Isn’t that the same behavior you’re here complaining about? This all sounds rather hypocritical if you ask me.”
There was a moment of non understandable mumbling in the group before another tried once more to ask a question. “Where did the students learn their first aid skills?”
“Well now that is indeed a very good question, Unfortunately this mob scene out here has frightened the two children near to death it might be kind of hard to get them to tell us.” Laura paused and looked back over her shoulder to see the children calm in the protection of their parents and friends.
Young Chris even had a smile on his face, he was quite enjoying what the newest member of the station 51’s extended family was doing to the reporters at hand, and since they lived so close to his family and Mike was always borrowing his dad’s tools to fix his place up, so they got to see them more often than the rest of the crew except for Uncle Johnny that is.
Laura held the microphones as far away from her face as she could and whispered to Chris. “Would you like to tell them where you learned?”
Chris thought about it for a moment and then hesitantly nodded his head and Laura turned back around.
“Well now I’ve consulted with the children and maybe, just maybe if you’ll all behave yourselves the way these children are expected to behave in the class room they might tell you where they learned their first aid skills.”
Laura waited for them to quiet down some and when they didn’t do the job she just gave them all glares until they got the message. When they were finally as quiet as she thought they were going to get Laura glanced over her shoulder again and Chris carefully stepped forward and stood next to her shoulder as she sat on the raised cement that housed the hand rail.
There was a moment of quiet as Laura gave Chris all the time he needed to get comfortable Roy stepped up and placed on hand on his son’s shoulder while both JoAnne and Johnny offered to take Jenny from his arms but Jenny just tightened her hold around her father’s neck. With his father’s hand on his shoulder Chris took a breath, leaned forward and blurted out. “We learned in Boy Scouts.”
“Boy Scouts!” Laura acted surprised, “That’s a good American institution, now does that mean that you have to know how to start IV’s and do surgery before you can get your Eagle Scout rank?”
“No!” Chris laughed at Laura’s remark. “We just learn the basic stuff to do until we can get help. Like stopping bleeding, splints and bandages. Mostly we learn how to used triangular bandages because boy scouts wear a neckerchief that is shaped in a triangle. We’re supposed to have those with us when we go camping so we learn how to use them.”
“So what do you do if you’re not wearing your neckerchief?” Laura kept him talking.
“Well there’re lots of things we can do but at our house we cut up an old sheet and made triangular bandages. I usually have one in my pocket but Jenny always carries at least four of ‘em in her bag just in case we need to use em.”
“That sounds like a great way to do it and it doesn’t cost a lot of money does it?” Laura crooned, “One more question, your sister’s not a boy so she’s not a boy scout how did she learn first aid?”
Laura offered the microphone’s to Jenny who just turned her face into her dads shoulder and shook her head. “Guess you guys out there are still too scary.” Laura turned her glare to the gathered reporters and spectators. “Maybe her brother knows and will tell us.”
“My sister learned by watching my dad teach me and the rest of the guys in my troop. She’s had to use what she’s learned a couple of times so she’s started practicing on one of her dolls so she doesn’t forget how to do things.”
“Yeah well I’m a scout leader and I know there is nothing in the scout handbook about delivering babies.” Someone else in the crowd hollered.
Laura just looked at Chris and pulled the microphones closer to her mouth. “Didn’t they agree to behave the way you are expected to in class? Now what would your teacher do if you asked a question out loud without raising your hand and waiting to be called on?”
“The teacher would remind us to raise our hand and then wait till they do to call on them and let them ask her question again.” Chris answered and Laura heard Jenny giggle into her father’s shoulder.
With that Laura turned with a very patronizing voice. “Now people remember to raise your hands if you want to ask a question. Now are there any questions out there?”
A man near the back sheepishly raised his hand, “Yes the gentleman in the red shirt.”
“The scout handbook doesn’t have any information about childbirth where did they learn to do that?”
“Do you care to answer that question Chris?” Laura turned to him and held the microphones next to her shoulder twisting them once again.
“I don’t know anything about helping a baby being born,” Chris said without leaning forward this time he then turned to look at his sister in his father’s arms “Jenny was the one who delivered the baby last night not me.”
“Where did she learn to deliver babies?”
“I don’t think they’ve learned how to raise their hands yet,” Laura countered and both Jenny and Chris giggled again. Roy rested his cheek on his daughters head and offered up a slight smirk.
Instantly several hands went in the air and to teach the person who blurted out the question she called on someone toward the front of the group, who just repeated the same question.
Laura again held the microphones away from her and juggled them together a little more as she looked over her other shoulder to whisper to Jennifer. “I can tell them they scared you too much or I could bring the microphones to where you are now what do you want me to do?”
Jenny remained quiet but looked up to her father she could have only seen the underside of his chin as tightly as she was tucked into his shoulder.
Roy pulled back just a little and looked down at his daughter, “It’s up to you honey; you don’t have to talk to them if you don’t want to.”
Jenny looked at Laura for a while to think then she timidly nodded her head. Laura spoke into the microphones again. “You’re going to have to be real quiet because her big voice is too scared but her quiet voice is a little braver.”
Laura then moved the microphones bouquet closer to Jennifer and juggled them a little more so that she could hold them in one hand while she placed a finger over her lips to remind all those gathered to be quiet.
“He telled me what to do til Mommy got there.” Jenny spoke in little more than a whisper.
“Who told you what to do, Your daddy?” Laura asked the question she new someone wanted to know.
“No, Uncle Johnny,” Jenny said in the same soft voice moving just a little closer to the microphones.
“Daddy worries bout me getting hurt and if I big enough but Uncle Johnny just tells me what to do till grownups get there.”
Roy was stunned by his daughter’s words but the worst of all was the realization that she was right.
“What was it like delivering a baby,” Someone asked out of turn again.
“Berry messy,” Jenny answered in her loudest voice yet.
Chuckles filled the air and the next questions, asked out of turn, were more directed to the PR people at hand so Laura divided the tangled microphones in her hand and handed one handful to each person behind her who had to stand closer together than they wanted to because the cords were so tangled. Once the microphones were handed over Laura and the Desoto family and friends left by way of the wheelchair ramp surrounded by their friends and guards till they reached their cars.
“You did that on purpose,” Mike chided as they cleared the crowd.
“What?” Laura responded in mock innocence.
The press conference continued as the Desoto family and friends made it to their cars without trouble. Once at their cars however it was decided that they switch cars and Roy took his family in Johnny’s Rover while Johnny drove JoAnne’s station wagon. Mike and Laura climbed into Mike’s truck and they all took the scenic route back to the Desoto house, each car going in a different direction.
Once they all converged at the Desoto house Johnny ushered everyone inside and shut the door. Taking a moment to pull the drapes back and look out the window before turning and leaning on the door and sharing eye contact with his partner.
Roy wrapped both arms around his daughter, who was back in his arms, and let out a sigh, “Well so much for getting back to a normal routine.”
Laura made quick work of checking both children and their parents over to find they were calming down well. Johnny and Mike worked together to temporarily dismantle the doorbell and place a ‘please do not disturb’ sign on the door. Since all of the firemen and the Medics had had a long night and were tired and Jenny was ready for a nap it was decided that Mike and Laura would go home and Johnny would crash on the sofa as the first line of defense while Roy and JoAnne took Jenny to bed, and Chris was content to sit in the living room near Johnny and read a book.
After getting her husband and daughter settled in and sleeping JoAnne slipped out of bed to check on her son and guest.
A blanket was thrown over Johnny and Chris’s hair was ruffled before she carefully parted the curtains to see three unfamiliar cars parked across the street with people sitting in them.
She wondered if she should call the police but decided to wait till her husband woke up and instead turned to the laundry. While doing this chore she noticed her daughter’s first aid bag and that it was filthy so she proceeded to empty the contents into a plastic container in preparing to wash it. As she did so she noticed that there was no real organization possible in the simple square bag with a shoulder strap and started thinking about a new bag with pockets for things to keep them organized. Her Daughter’s birthday was just four weeks away that’s what she would give her.
Roy woke up to the sensation of someone alternately checking his pulse in his wrist and his carotid artery. When he was finally able to convince his eyes to open he found his daughter kneeling on the bed at his side. He remained quiet while Jenny wrote the numbers down on her folded up piece of paper and did her special math, and realized that the four batches of cookies had been her way to learn how to calculate a pulse all along. Maybe she didn’t have a crush on his partner after all. Then he thought again, well maybe she did.
When Roy was aware that she had finished her calculations he broke his silence, “Am I going to live medic Desoto?”
“Daddy!” Jenny spoke excitedly as she studied her paper, “Your throat pulse and your arm pulse are the same numbers.”
“That’s because their attached to the same heart.” Roy explained before going into detail about the job of arteries and getting into a tickling match in the process. When the tickling stopped and Roy sat in
bed hugging his daughter, Jenny’s words at the press conference echoed in his mind, ‘Daddy worries bout me getting hurt and if I big enough but Uncle Johnny just tells me what to do till grownups get there.’
What was he going to do? What should he do?
After sending his daughter to ask when lunch would be ready Roy quickly dressed and headed down the stairs to find his partner awake but resting with his arm over his eyes on the sofa.
Roy walked up and touched his arm, “you get any sleep junior?”
“Yeah, some,” Johnny sat up and parted the curtains as Roy walked over to see what he was looking at.
“How long has that car been out there?” Roy sounded just as angry as he looked.
“Since shortly after you went to bed,” Johnny answered, “But I think things are starting to blow over because there were three of them the last time I looked.”
After lunch Roy convinced Johnny to lay down in the guest room and get some quality sleep while he took the next watch. During the afternoon Roy peaked out the window often between playing board games with his children and watched TV. JoAnne made contact with the school and it was determined since there was only one more school day before a three day weekend they would keep the children home. Roy was talking about taking a shift off and taking his family away somewhere but no decisions were made.
When it was time for the five o’clock news everyone wanted to see themselves on TV so Johnny was woke up and they all gathered around the TV. Their story was the third one on the broadcast and they only showed part of what Laura had to say with the Desoto family and friends in the back ground and part of what Chris said, the things Jenny had said were repeated but not shown probably because their recordings were not of high enough quality for broadcast.
After showing some of the things the two PR people has said, somehow managing not to show the tangled microphone cords, they ended the story by showing two shots, one of the school and one of the Desoto house. In Front of both entrances were piles of old sheets, to be used for training purposes according to the news reporter.
After checking out the window to find that the last car had gone his way Roy carefully opened his front door to find a three foot pile of old sheets of all prints and colors on his front porch. Thinking back on the pictures on the news the pile at the school was significantly higher.
When the news cast was over the phone started ringing as friends and crewmates called to let them know they had seen them on the news and making sure everyone was alright. Cap offered his home if they needed a place to escape and so did both grandmothers.
The rest of the night was quiet so as Jo was getting her children bathed and ready for bed, Johnny fixed the doorbell and headed home to his own bed for the night.
Roy and JoAnne sat up watching the late news and the rebroadcast of the news conference as well as a few debates on the subject when one of the reporter gave information that at least a dozen times a year on the average a child under the age of six was required to deliver a baby while waiting for emergency personnel.
In the comfort of his bed with his wife sleeping peacefully at his side Roy lay awake thinking again about his daughters words, ‘Daddy worries bout me getting hurt and if I big enough but Uncle Johnny just tells me what to do till grownups get there.’
What was he going to do? Just what was his daughter big enough for?
When Roy woke up the next morning the first thing he did was gently pull the curtains aside and check for strange cars. He then cautiously stepped out to get the paper and found several more old sheets on the porch, after walking out to get the paper and returning without hearing a camera shutter Roy let out a sigh.
When the news paper focused more on the policies of the school concerning bullies and the fire department’s willingness to instruct a person on the phone until help arrived with only a paragraph and one picture about his children he turned on the TV. When the morning news didn’t repeat the story of his children Roy made the decision to head for the beach for the day and started getting ready to go.
JoAnne was a little skeptical but was easily convinced and at the end of a fun filled, reporter free day Roy was carrying his sleeping daughter into the house having to step over another pile of old sheets on the porch.
After gently setting his daughter on her bed Roy returned to the car to get his sleeping son and carry him in before unloading the picnic and beach supplies.
JoAnne finished putting the leftover food in the fridge and the dirty dishes in the dishwasher then she went looking for her husband. She found him standing in the hallway outside of Jenny’s room leaning on the door frame in such deep thought that he didn’t hear her coming up behind him.
Without startling him JoAnne managed to slip her arms under his arms and around his chest resting her head on his back as she rubbed. Jo knew her husband had issues with their daughter learning first aid and had ever since she climbed under a shed and saved the life of a boy who managed to cut the main artery in his leg.
She also knew how hard it was for her husband that he had to take said boy and race off to the hospital before his daughter was rescued. JoAnne understood how the boy’s life depended on her husband’s quick move and felt no ill will toward him for his actions. She was also sure that her husband was aware that things were much riskier for their daughter than she could ever imagine.
For her part JoAnne choose not to think about what could have happened but just feel pride in her daughter’s actions and share the other mother’s joy that her son lived and was able to keep his leg.
“She’s her father’s daughter,” JoAnne spoke softly when her husband remained silent.
Without taking his eyes from his daughter Roy reached around with one arm and managed to get it around his wife’s shoulders pulling her next to him. “She’s given me a taste of what you must go through every time I head out that door to go to work.”
Carefully JoAnne managed to pull her husband toward their bedroom where once the door was shut they could speak freely. As they sat on the bed next to each other Jo took one of her husband’s hands in both of hers and gently rubbed.
“I really am proud of the way she’s learned how to handle triangular bandages and basic splints.” Roy began to open up to his wife, “I just can’t get over the fear that she’ll try and run into a burning building to drag someone out or any other number of risky behaviors she’s not big enough for.” “I don’t know how much more I dare teacher her. She’s nowhere near big enough to do CPR unless it’s on a baby.” “I’m afraid of making her the person people go to for help because she’ll wind up getting into something she can’t handle.”
As JoAnne listened she also understood her husband’s concerns, “I’m glad she doesn’t go looking for someone to do first aid on, and very proud that she is confident enough in herself and what she knows to act when accidents happen around her. Maybe what we should do next is teach her who to call and where to go for help, Make her understand that even you have to take your patients to the hospital.”
“That would be a good start alright, when she called to have Johnny explain what to do to deliver that baby we could have been out on a run, she really needs to know some alternative phone numbers.” Roy felt better finding words for some of his fears especially when JoAnne didn’t tell him he was crazy for thinking the way he did.
“Do you need me to lay off shift tomorrow and hang around in case something happens here?” Roy asked as his wife moved one of her hands to his back and started rubbing.
“I think the reporter frenzy has blown over I’m sure I can handle an avalanche of old sheets while your away,” Jo ensured. “And if we do have any trouble I know the number to dispatch and the station and the hospital and the police station.”
With that they both laughed and Roy reached over and kissed his wife. “I love you.”
When Roy reported for shift the next morning he was met at his car by Captain Stanley who invited him into his office while he was still locking up. Setting his duffle bag on the floor next to the desk Roy accepted the offered chair and held his breath.
“Relax Roy it’s not serious I just wanted to give you a heads up.” Cap started causing Roy to worry that something had happened to his partner while he was at the beach. “I got a call from headquarters yesterday and I thought you should know that the phone call where John talked your daughter through the delivery of the baby was originated from dispatch. It was a new dispatcher and he couldn’t understand a word she was saying so when she said to just let her talk to her uncle at station 51 he patched her along. Well anyway the whole conversation was recorded including some of the back ground talk and in light of the media’s interest in the matter they’re going to release the tape to the press sometime today.”
“Oh great!” Roy exclaimed, “Another media frenzy around my house.”
“It just so happens that Emily is planning on your wife and children joining her and my bunch for some fun and games in the back yard at our house, including if needed a sleep over.” Hank calmed his senior paramedic. “Also Dick Friend from public relations is going to address the need to respect your family’s privacy with the media, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll listen.”
Roy let out a deep sigh of resignation and studied the floor for a moment, “Thanks Cap, I guess I better call JoAnne and give her the news.”
“You’re welcome to use the phone in the dorm for some privacy,” Cap offered, “And if you see that partner of yours before I do will you tell him I need to talk to him.”
“Sure Cap and thanks again.”
Johnny actually got his time in the Captain’s office after roll call and stepped out with a dumb struck look on his face. JoAnne and the kids accepted the offer to spend the day at the Stanley’s and JoAnne enjoyed being able to talk with another adult for a while as they watched the kids play together.
Roy’s shift was a busy one with run after run that kept them away from the station most of the day. When he arrived home after shift he was relieved to see his wife’s car in the garage. Entering in the front door he found three more sheets on the front porch and several business cards from Reporters stuffed in the door but all was calm.
JoAnne took the kids to church while Roy crashed and slept for six hours. He would have to go back on shift in the morning and he needed to do all he could to recover from the last shift.
Monday morning a rejuvenated Roy kissed his wife good-bye and accepted her wish for him to have a safe shift as he ran for his truck. Not too long after JoAnne drove her children to school and as they went to play with their friends Jo went inside to talk with the principle to make sure her children would be looked after during the day and given the help they needed to make up any work they missed while out of school.
Once home JoAnne called the Stokers expecting to leave a message and was surprised when Laura answered the phone. Once JoAnne explained she was planning to make her daughter a new first Aid bag for her upcoming birthday and wanted some advice, Laura just told her to come on over.
Knowing that Laura had just gotten off shift and was likely ready for bed JoAnne hurried the two blocks to her house and found her waiting at the door for her. Once inside Jo was led to a basement storage room where Laura pulled a large plastic container from a stack of shelves.
“What color does your daughter like?” Laura asked as she pulled the lid off the box.
“She’s partial to a light blue,” JoAnne admitted and quickly received a light blue canvas bag still in the protective plastic.
“I get them at conventions all the time,” Laura explained, “It’s a miniature version of the ones I carried in the field when I worked disasters. They hand them out hoping we’ll use them as purses and give them some advertizing. But I’m not much into purses.”
JoAnne quickly looked it over and realized it was just perfect for her daughter and then started catching as Laura tossed several other things her way to help stock it. Including a pen light, several decorative pens, even one that looked like a shot needle and wrote in red ink, some clamps, “great for pulling slivers,” she said, and several packages of small plastic bags just the right size for a triangular bandage to keep it clean while in storage.
“They got those for us saying we could save the organization money by buying the bandage material in bulk and packaging them our selves but there was never any time for anything like that,” Laura explained. “Besides we used them up so fast once the box was opened there was no need to repackage them anyway.”
Seeing that her host was tired after working all night, JoAnne thanked her profusely and made her way for home with her treasures. Excited to show her husband what she had acquired when he got home JoAnne busied herself cleaning house until it was time to pick her daughter up at the bus stop.
After a skipping walk home JoAnne and her daughter had a conversationally packed lunch as Jenny told her about all the band-aids she put on at school, “I even put one on my teacher after she scratched her leg on her desk.”
JoAnne was enjoying her daughter’s happy chatter when he heard the doorbell ring.
Going to the door JoAnne took a moment to look through the peep hole before opening up the door to find a police officer standing on the other side of the door.
JoAnne’s first fears were for the safety of her husband as she carefully opened the door to see four police officers one of them being a female.
“Excuse me Mrs. Desoto?” the lead officer asked quickly.
“Yes, how may I help you?”
“Do you know where your daughter is?”
“Yes she’s in the kitchen finishing her lunch.” JoAnne reported and Jenny came running to her mother’s side having heard her name called.
The police officer quickly pulled the radio to his mouth, “Unit Adam 23 to watchman.”
“Go ahead 23”
“The Girl is at home with her mother safe and sound.” The officer reported before turning to JoAnne, “May we please come in I need some information from you to complete a report.”
Nervously JoAnne stepped back and motioned for the officer to enter as she placed her other hand on her daughter’s shoulder and held her close to her leg. The lead officer and the female officer entered the house as the other two turned and stood guard at the doorway.
It was learned that a man had approached the school grounds during lunch recess and asked for the girl who did first aid. One of the students he had approached was frightened by him and ran to the recess duty and told her and the police were called. He was picked up a few blocks away from the school and it turned out he was a known pedophile and they needed to know for sure that the child he was looking for was indeed safe and sound.
While the lead officer finished writing his report the female officer moved over to the sofa next to Jenny and after trying to put her at ease she began to talk to the young girl about the danger of strangers and telling her that grownups don’t come to children when they need help.”
But Mrs. Fulmer and Mrs. Connor are grown ups,” Jenny responded in confusion, “I helped them.”
The police officer had been briefed well and was very able to deal with the young girls confusion, “yes but they didn’t come to you asking for help you found them and knew they needed help that’s a big difference, also you know them so they were not strangers.” “Do you understand the difference?”
Jenny thought for a moment then turned to the female officer and nod her head. When everything was done JoAnne was informed that the officers on duty would be watching the neighborhood carefully for the next few days and advised that Jenny be kept in close adult supervision.
When the officers left JoAnne was still stunned and frightened, but instead of letting her daughter see her fear Jo, called her husband at work. He was on a run at the moment so all she could do was leave a message for him to call home when he got a chance.
When it was time for Chris’s bus to arrive JoAnne didn’t dare let him walk home alone this time. Something she had never thought about before. Carrying her daughter to the bus stop Jenny was confused but could tell that her mommy was frightened about something so she just held her as reassuringly as she knew how.
Chris could tell by the look on his mother’s face that something was wrong and he asked the first thing he thought of, “Did dad get hurt at work?”
“No, no your father is fine, nothing happened to him.”
“He’s fine too, I’ll explain as soon as we get home.” JoAnne bought time as she took her children and hurried home locking the door and the dead bolt as soon as she was in the house. Leaning her head against the door and taking a moment to control her breathing JoAnne finally turned to face her worried children to find that her daughter had run to the kitchen and returned with a cold bottle of beer.
“You look like you need this,” Jenny said as she held the bottle out with one hand and the bottle opener in the other.
That was just what JoAnne needed, not so much the drink but something to lift the mood a little. Jo took the bottle and the opener from her daughter and bending down gave her a hug before herding her children toward the sofa. Setting the bottle and opener on the coffee table she then put an arm around both children and pulled them close. After taking a deep breath she somehow managed to talk.
“Today at school some man came to the playground asking for the girl that had been in the news for helping people,” JoAnne started.
“Yeah, I know all about it,” Chris took over the conversation and JoAnne gave him her attention.
“Jeremy came to me thinking maybe I could help him but it felt kind a wired if you know what I mean.”
“I’m not sure what you’re saying Chris.” JoAnne coaxed more from her son.
“Well why would a grownup who could walk by himself come to a kids school to get help, he should have gone to his doctor or an emergency room or something like that it just didn’t make sense to me and it clearly wasn’t a life threatening injury or anything so I told the playground duty. I’m just glad she had a walkie talkie today and didn’t have to leave us to go get help. The man sure ran fast when he saw the police car coming.”
JoAnne sighed in great relief and fear as she pulled both of her children even closer. “You did the right thing Chris, you did the right thing,” JoAnne took another breath and filled in the rest of the story. “It turns out that the police did get him and he’s now in Jail but he is a man who has hurt children before so they want both of you and all of your friends to be real careful and not go near anyone like that. You were right when you said that if he could walk and drive and it wasn’t life threatening that he should have gone to anyone but someone in the elementary school for help. You did the right thing son.”
Feeling better knowing her son had been the wise one to talk to a grown up JoAnne managed to find some milk and cookies for her two children and get them started on the schoolwork they were behind on.
She was just starting to fix dinner when Roy returned her call and she managed to pull the phone cord as far away from the children as she could but still sat where she could see them at all times as she cried quietly into the phone telling her husband everything including the two times she watched a police car drive by their house while she was on the phone.
Mike was beginning to get concerned at the length of time Roy was spending on the phone. The engine had been out on a call when the squad got back then the squad was called out again before they got back so it took quite a while for Roy to get the message to call home.
Even though Roy kept his face to the corner there was something about his posture and soft spoken words that caused concern. Three times he reached into his pocket to pull out more change for the phone. Twice he was heard to ask if he needed to call in a replacement and come home. By the time Roy hung up the phone the rest of the crew was trying to mind their own business but seriously wondering what was going on with their friend.
When Roy turned around and leaned against the wall there was no question that something was wrong only a question of whether or not Roy could make it to a chair without help.
Not wanting to find out both Johnny and Cap hurried over and each took a hold of one of Roy’s arms guiding him to a chair at the table as Marco placed a cup of coffee in front of him.
“What’s wrong Roy,” Johnny inquired as he grabbed a wrist to count a pulse, “More reporters bothering the kids?”
Roy felt the supportive hand of his captain on his shoulder and the concern of each of his crew mates. After a deep sigh he was able and willing to talk. “A known sex offender showed up at the school today looking for Jenny,” “he said he needed some first aid.”
“Is she alright, he didn’t get her did he?” Johnny now looked as bad as his partner as he slowly slid into the next chair his full attention hanging on Roy’s answer.
“Sh- she’s fine,” Roy responded to put his partner at ease but there was no obvious relief he needed to tell more, “she didn’t even know about it until the police caught the guy and then showed up at the house to make sure Jenny was safe and sound. Apparently one of the kids on the playground went to Chris to see if he could help him but Chris thought it was a bit strange that a grown man who could clearly walk on his own would come to a school playground to look for help and told the teacher on playground duty who called the police.”
“Good for him,” Cap shared an understanding of his paramedic’s feelings, “that son of yours has a good head on his shoulders. Do you need me to get you a replacement so you can go home?”
Roy took in and let out another deep breath and looked around before answering, “JoAnne’s beside herself but she’s afraid if I come home from work it will upset the children more than they already are.”
“She said the police are keeping an eye on the neighborhood and have driven by several times there’s really nothing more I can do.” “Apparently Chris and Jenny are talking among themselves and they both agree that the situation looked fishy and that as long as the guy was breathing and standing he could wait for a grown up to take care of him and they don’t need to worry about it. That’s good to hear, but it’s still enough to scare their dad half to death.”
“Oh man Roy that’s too close for comfort, what you gonna do?” Johnny asked feeling very protective of the children who called him Uncle.
Just then the tones sounded and Roy felt a surge of adrenaline in his system. “Go on this run,” he answered as he pushed himself out of his chair and headed for the squad.
“Are you alright to drive?” Cap asked before he headed for the radio to confirm the call.
“I think so,” Roy answered.
“Wrong answer,” Cap replied, “I think we better let Johnny take the wheel on this one.”
Nothing more was said as Roy walked quickly to the passenger side and Johnny slipped behind the steering wheel accepting the call slip and handing it over to Roy.
The call was an unknown rescue with instructions to meet the man at the fire phone on a back road. Johnny made good time getting there to find the man they were meeting was really a boy about 12 to 13 in age. He was quickly pulled into the cab as he directed the way to his other friends while telling the paramedics that they had been trying to take this old rusty car apart to make a sled affair when all the parts fell on one of the boys.
The only other information they were able to get out of the boy was that the injured boy was bleeding a lot and that he had to walk two miles to get to the phone feeling now he should have gone to the motor bike shop in the other direction. Even if the guy that worked there was scary it was a lot closer.
When they arrived on scene the boys had managed to lift all the debris off of their friend but all they knew to do next was hold his hand and talk to him. It took less than a second for both paramedics to see that he had a lacerated brachial artery, had lost a lot of blood and was deep into shock. A tourniquet was applied Rampart contacted and two IV’s started, and when the police arrived to investigate the boy was wrapped up in a blanket and loaded in the back seat of the police car and hauled out. There wasn’t time to wait for an ambulance, not if they wanted to keep the boy alive.
Brackett and Morton were set up with replacement blood and everything they would need to operate right in the treatment room when Roy was helped out of the police car with the boy in his arms. In spite the tourniquet and IV’s his vital signs were not responding and his breathing was growing shallower. The police officer grabbed the oxygen tank and fallowed the paramedic through the doors where a gurney was waiting and then raced to the treatment room once the boy was laid on it. Since Roy wasn’t scrubbed for surgery he was relieved of his patient at the door and noticing the color of his face Dixie was quick to lead him to the lounge and a hot cup of coffee.
“You did all you could Roy and now the Doctor’s will do all they can,” Dixie assured.
When Johnny arrived he filled Dixie in on the phone call Roy had just before the run and before they were through talking that out Dr. Bracket and Dr. Morton were walking into the lounge with looks on their faces that told everyone what they didn’t want to know.
To delay the inevitable Dixie filled mugs with coffee for the two doctors before filling them in on Roy’s bad news.
After a moment of silence Bracket spoke, “It’s a messed up world we live in its true, but one thing for sure, even as young as they are, if either of your children had been with that boy he would still be alive. If only one of his friends had held pressure on that wound before you got there he’d have had an honest chance.”
Neither Roy nor Johnny could say a word because they both knew he was right, but where was the balance of keeping the children safe and letting them save the world.
As soon as his paramedics pulled out of the station Hank went to the phone and called his wife. Mike waited until the bay doors were closed and checked his watch before he went to the dayroom and called his wife.
As a result of the two phone calls JoAnne was the recipient of two visitors that evening, one who gave her a quick check up and advised her to calm down because her blood pressure was quite high. After a back rub and coaching her patient in some relaxation exercises Laura turned her attention to the children. Both were much more worried about their mother than what happened at school and Jenny was ready and willing to take on her mother’s care until her daddy got home.
“Can you teach me how to take blood pressures,” Jenny asked, “So I can make sure mommy’s going to be okay?”
“That would take a couple of hours and I have to go to work,” Laura explained as she playfully pinched the young girl’s nose. “But I’ll show you a trick that will help you know if things are okay.”
Laura then showed each child how to check for a temporal pulse. The pulse that can be felt at the temples of the head if it is high enough to ensure blood is reaching the brain. After the children had checked her temporal pulse and each other’s Laura explained that if they couldn’t feel that pulse at all they should check the pulse in the neck to make sure the person’s heart was beating but if there was no temporal pulse their patient was probably going into shock. “Do you children know how to treat for shock?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Chris answered somewhat hesitantly, “You cover them with a blanket and raise their feet.”
“That’s right,” Laura praised. “There are more things people like your dad and me can do after that but that’s what you can do while you’re waiting for someone like us to get to you and help you. Now feel your Mommy’s temporal pulse,” Laura coaxed.
Timidly first Chris then Jenny touched their mother’s head with their fingers. “Mommy’s temple pulse feels really loud,” Jenny described what she was feeling.
“That means her blood pressure is still really high doesn’t it?” Chris asked.
“A little bit,” Laura agreed after checking it herself. “I think what your mom needs now is a foot massage. Do either of you know where any lotion is?”
Jenny knew right where to look and soon Laura was showing them the art of giving a foot massage, when the children took over Laura checked her patient’s blood pressure one more time then checked her watch. “Well I have to get to work but I can tell that you’re doing a good job because your mother’s blood pressure is a lot closer to normal.”
As Laura was on her way out Emily Stanley was on her way in.
The two old friends talked the evening away about this and that and anything else they could think of as the two children sat on the floor in front of them playing with their feet.
As the children were tucked into their beds Jenny gave her mother’s temporal pulse one more check and declared it wasn’t nearly so loud as it had been. Then before Emily left she helped JoAnne double check that every window and door was securely locked.
Try as she might JoAnne could not sleep that night, she couldn’t even stand to be in her own bed. It wasn’t until she pulled her pillow and blanket off the bed and lay on the floor in the hall between the two children’s room that she was able to relax at least a little.
In the field Roy and Johnny had had another close one, an elderly couple were eating at their home when the gentleman’s false teeth slipped and blocked his airway. The wife was totally beside herself and in truth the only thing that saved her husband since she didn’t know what to do was the fact that their children had bought them a new phone and programmed one of the buttons so that all they had to do was push it and it automatically dialed the Emergency dispatcher.
A police officer was sent out too and arrived about thirty seconds before John and Roy, he was able to perform the Heimlich maneuver and had the man starting to breathe before they had got there. If it wasn’t for that the man would have had irreparable brain damage.
The ride back to the station was a somber one, Johnny was still behind the wheel and he knew that both he and his partner were reliving little Jenny explaining that she had pushed her baby sitter off the chair because she couldn’t do the Heimlich maneuver in the position she was in. The woman had sustained a mild concussion but she was alive thanks to what Jenny had done.
“That was a good thing their kids did for them,” Johnny tired to break through the stiff silence, “Getting them that phone and programming it for them.”
“Yeah,” Roy responded somewhat grateful for something to take his mind off his daughter, “Yeah, it probably saved that guy’s live back there.” “They say those new programmable phones are going to be the thing of the future.”
“Maybe we can get the department to make some kind of suggestion that every one program a button to call us, it would sure safe a lot of time from having to look the number up in the phone book.” Johnny tired to keep the conversation going.
“Yeah, yeah, that would be a good idea.” Roy responded but Johnny knew his partner was still thinking about his kids and not yet fully recovered from his call home.
After an eternal night with only a few minor calls the shift was over and Roy headed home as quickly as he could not even taking time to change out of his uniform. As he drove up to the street to his home he saw his wife and children waiting at the bus stop but he also saw two uniformed police officers standing at the edge of the gathered group. Roy parked behind the police car and watched for a moment before getting out. It was apparent by the tired look on his wife’s face that she had gotten as much sleep last night as he had.
Roy got out of the car hoping to give his children a quick hug before the bus arrived but as he approached the police officer closest to him stopped him and asked what he wanted.
Roy’s first response was anger at being kept from his children but within seconds that anger melted in to relief that they were looking out for his children. Roy pulled his wallet out of his pocket and opened it up to show his ID, “I’m Roy Desoto, I just got off shift, my wife and children are over there and I just wanted to give the kids a hug before they head off to school.”
Just then Jenny saw her father and broke away from her mother running with her arms open and screaming, “Daddy!”
Roy scooped his daughter up in his arms and gave her a good looking over before he hugged her tight, the police officer smiled and handed him back his wallet as Chris moved in for a quick hug as the school bus was seen turning the corner. Before Roy let his children go to board the bus he extended his hand to the police officer, “Thank you for everything you’re doing here,” he said with a warm moist smile.
“We’re just doing our job,” the police officer responded with a similar smile, knowing full well the little girl in his arms was the one they were watching out for.
Roy led his children to the bus door and watched as they climbed aboard, his daughter still had her first aid bag on her shoulder and he could tell by the bulge in his son’s pocket that he still had at least one triangular bandage tucked inside. His children were more prepared than most for the world they lived in but Roy knew full well that was both a good and a bad thing.
As the bus pulled out Roy had his arms around his wife’s shoulders and waved at his children, relieved to see the police officers climb in their car and follow the bus Roy called out, “Thanks again,” and waived as they pulled out. He then led his wife to his truck and drove the half block to their home where they went inside and melted into each other’s arms.
After they managed to comfort each other Roy led his exhausted wife to their room where she stepped out of her shoes just inside the door. Roy instantly noticed the colorations on her toes and gave them a questioning look.
“Oh that,” Jo responded to his puzzled gaze, “Laura Stoker showed the kids how to give me a foot massage last night and when Emily Stanley arrived she suggested the kids paint my toe nails. She had several bottles of nail polish in her purse and Jenny found what we had around the house, and well both Emily and I got pedicures while we talked last night.”
“Let me guess, Chris painted that foot and Jenny painted that one.” Roy pointed to the two different feet that had nothing in common as far as coloring with each other.
“Yep,” Jo confirmed and they both laughed a little and hugged again.
Later that morning the school had an assembly where the police came in and taught the children about avoiding strangers and later that evening Johnny and Mike came by to watch the kids while Jo and Roy attended a parents meeting to learn what was being done to keep their children safe.
Roy had four days off shift and found that he wanted to do nothing more than hold his family, especially his children, in his arms and never let go. He was quick to join his wife at the bus stop both to send his children to school and to greet them when they arrived home. In the afternoons while they waited for Chris to get out of school Roy was frequently found with Jenny either in his lap or sitting next to him while he read a book.
One afternoon it was Jenny’s baby book that came off the shelf as they looked at pictures starting with how JoAnne had looked when she was pregnant with her. The next pages were of her just after she was born.
“Boy I sure looked ugly,” Jenny commented, “Did I make as big of a mess as Jamie’s baby brother did when he was born?”
Roy smiled, “All babies look pretty much the same and yes being born is a messy job.” Roy then turned the page and showed pictures of him giving his newborn daughter her first bath. “See all we have to do is wash the messy stuff off and we have a cute adorable baby.” They were looking at a picture of JoAnne holding her daughter all wrapped up in a blanket with a pink bow glued to her head.
“Daddy, will you ever love me as much as you love Chris?” Jenny asked out of the blue. Roy was totally stunned and could find no words for a moment as he looked at his daughter.
With tears in her eyes little Jenny responded to her father’s ill understood silence. “I try to make you proud of me, and not to make any mistakes. I work real hard to be good at first aid and learn all the right knots.”
Roy quickly set the book aside and lifted his daughter into his arms, “honey, sweetheart, yes I love you, I love you just as much as I love your brother, why would you think I don’t love you?”
It was the last day before Roy had to go back on shift before JoAnne learned of the boy who could have been saved if only he had had some basic first aid before her husband arrived but there was something more bothering him and she had waited long enough before prying to get it out of him.
Setting next to him on the deck after the children had gone to bed Jo pushed all the right buttons and with a bottle of beer in his hands Roy began to talk.
“She just wanted me to love her,” he said staring at the deck or some random star in the sky, “That’s why she learned all that first aid, She just wanted me to love her.” “She thought because I spent all that time teaching Chris and not her that I loved him more and she wanted me to be proud of her too.”
JoAnne was also stunned by this revelation and could only listen and rub her husband’s back as he let it out.
“I had no idea she felt that way, I thought she knew I loved her and that I was proud of her.” After several sobbing sighs Roy turned to face his wife for the first time. “I don’t tell you I love you nearly often enough I guess I need to make some changes in my life.” Roy then wrapped his arms around his wife and pulled her close and held her tight.
When Roy reported for duty the next morning everyone at the station could tell that something was bothering him. Quickly assuming that he was still bugged by what happened to him the last time he was on shift he was bombarded with questions from all directions as he changed into his uniform.
“How are the kids?”
“They’re fine; they think we’re making a big deal out of nothing.”
“She still wants to keep the kids in her sight 24-7, but she’s calming down some.”
“What are the police saying?”
“They’re just saying that they caught the guy dead to right and that he was in violation of his parole even being near that school. He’s headed back to prison for sure and they don’t think the kids will have to testify, definitely not Jenny since she wasn’t even aware of anything till the police checked on her at home. It’s unlikely Chris will have to testify either because he never got close enough to the guy to positively identify him.”
Before lunch time it was clear to everyone that something else was bothering the senior paramedic and Johnny was doing everything he knew to get him to open up.
“You wouldn’t understand,” Roy kept responding, “It’s a parent thing.”
Roy did need to talk; he also needed some seasoned advice. He had made two attempts to talk with his Captain, whose children were older than his, the first time he was on the phone with headquarters, the second time the tones sounded as soon as he tapped on the door frame.
It was another accident that had Roy wishing his children had been there, this one wasn’t life threatening but a simple arm fracture was made worse because it wasn’t handled properly before they arrived. As he waited for his partner to pick him up at the hospital Roy had to admit to himself that it was a good thing that his children knew some basic first aid. He also had to admit that his young daughter was a little better at it than his son. It was the reason she had worked so hard on her proficiency that still hounded him and left him unsure how to proceed.
After dinner Roy made a call to his family and made sure to talk with both of his children and tell each one that he loved them and was proud of them. Then while the rest of the crew started to watch a movie Roy wandered out back and found himself leaning against the wall looking into space in deep thought, so deep in thought that he nearly jumped out of his shoes when Cap walked up behind him with two cups of coffee in his hands.
“Everything alright at home?’ Cap asked once Roy calmed down and took the offered cup of coffee.
“The kids are feeling a little caged and smothered but neither Jo nor I are ready to let them run off without adult supervision,” Roy revealed.
“I think I kept my crew a little closer than they liked the last few days. We all know that there are some kooks out there but it’s another thing to know they’re looking for one of our own.”
The two friends moved over to a bench next to the back wall and sat down to finish their coffee.
“Have one of your kids ever told you that they thought you loved one of the others more than them?” Roy asked the question he’d been wanting to all day long.
Cap smiled and took another sip of brew before answering his friend, there was no rank involved in this conversation just two friends talking. “As a parent I can say that at least 60% of the conversations I’ve had with them have included a statement about my partiality to one child over the others. I can also say that for the most part it was just their way to get me to give in to them.”
“That’s not the case with Jenny,” Roy sighed, “She really feels I love her brother more than her, mostly because of the time I spend helping with the Scouts and helping him practice for little league tryouts.” “That’s why she’s worked so hard to learn all the first aid she knows so that I’d love her and be proud of her like I am her brother.” “I don’t really love my son more than my daughter but I do relate to my son more. JoAnne usually has her helping to bake cookies or girl stuff like that I just don’t know how to do little girl things.”
“There are two things I’ve learned as a parent, one, is that in this day and age there is no such thing as boy activities and girl activities. I have a son who is very comfortable in the kitchen and can prepare a meal almost as well as my wife. I also have a daughter who can tackle her brothers in football better than they can tackle her. Even my daughter who’s in to ballet likes to work on the cars with me. And second, each child needs some one on one time with each parent to know they’re loved and to be able to open up and talk. They need to know you believe in them and approve of them for who they are. They need to know they are a person first and a boy or girl later.”
“I guess I never thought of it that way,” Roy admitted. “I didn’t think Jenny was old enough to be interested in anything more than just doing things with her mother. I guess I’m the old fashioned type that believes a women’s place is in the home.”
“Trust me that’s not the case anymore, the day will come, you can count on it, when there will be women firefighters and paramedics. They are not happy with being kept in the kitchen just because of their gender.”
It was a call to check on a gas leak that brought the conversation to an end as Roy returned the coffee cups to the kitchen before climbing in the squad, the conversation he had with Cap had really helped and his partner could tell he was feeling better.
A string of trash fires, a heart attack, and a fire in an old rundown hotel stretched the evening into morning making Roy late getting home and dead tired. Jo lay next to him for a while but then left him to sleep and took care of some house hold chores. It was a work related bad dream that woke him just after Jenny got home from school and Roy really needed to unwind. Still half asleep Roy stumbled out to the garage and his pottery wheel to take out some of his frustrations on a lump of clay.
About the time he had aggressively beat up and softened his clay Roy had a feeling of eyes watching him. Turning around he had to look hard to see a little girl in the shadows of the car watching every move he made. Motioning her toward him he stopped her at arm’s length. “Would you like to make something with me?” Jenny nodded her head with cautious excitement. “Okay go change into some clothes that are okay to get dirty in and we’ll build something together.”
The little girl ran to the house as fast as her little legs could carry her and Roy actually smiled when he heard the door slam. Roy pulled out a smaller piece of clay and started to soften it while he waited for his daughter to change her clothes but before he was finished both of his girls were back the shorter one wearing an older pair of jeans and a t-shirt that was covered with paint from some project she did with her mother.
JoAnne stood behind her daughter with a questioning smile as Roy held his arm out in a gesture for his daughter to come to him. Pulling her up on his lap Roy proceeded to show her how to finish softening the clay and what needed to be done to center the clay on the potter’s wheel. They started making a vase because Jenny thought her mother would like one but Jenny wasn’t tall enough to stretch the clay upward and the vase collapsed.
Crying in fear, Roy thought his daughter was hurt but after checking her over he learned she was afraid he’d be mad because she ruined the vase. Roy just gave his daughter a kiss on the only clean spot he could find on her face then pulled her back on his lap and started working with the same lump of clay all over again.
Because of Jenny’s height they ended up making a serving platter probably bigger than was practical but they had fun doing it. Roy was just showing Jenny how to cut the platter off of the wheel when JoAnne showed up with Chris.
“You’ve never shown me how to use the potter’s wheel.” Chris declared as he stood there with his back pack hanging from his hands.
Roy was stunned and didn’t know what to say for a moment then he responded, “I didn’t know you wanted to learn.”
“Well I don’t really but I thought since I was the oldest you would always teach me everything first.”
Chris responded and Roy hung his head to hide his laugh.
Since the project was as done as it could be before the clay dried, something that would take a couple of weeks, father and daughter cleaned up and joined Chris at the dining room table where he was working on his home work while Jo started dinner.
“You know your dad kind of needs you kids to tell him if you guys want to learn something, I don’t do very good at reading minds.” Roy told his two children together. “What kind of things would you two like me to teach you how to do?”
Jenny started nervously chewing on her fingers as Chris piped up. “I wanna learn how to start a fire without matches like Uncle Johnny did the last time he took us camping.”
“Okay, well I’m going to have to get Uncle Johnny to teach me how first but I guess we can do that just as long as you promise me you’ll always be careful with fire and until I tell you otherwise only start a fire if there is a grown up with you.”
“That’s not hard, I don’t think I’m ever going to be anywhere without a grown up again.” Chris answered again expressing his dislike about not being able to go bike riding or just off to play with his friends.
“Give your parents a little while to recover and I’m sure you’ll be allowed to go with your friends again.” Roy promised after a knowing glance between him and his wife.
“Now what about you young lady,” Roy picked his daughter up and bounced her on his knee, “What do you want to learn next?”
She spoke something but Roy couldn’t understand because she had her fingers in her mouth so he leaned closer and asked her to repeat it again.
“I wanna learn how to check blood pressures.” She finely whispered once her father held her hands away from her mouth.
Again Roy was dumbstruck, “Ah, is it okay if I take a few days to think about that?” Roy asked then remembering what Cap said about how kids need to know their parents believe in them he added. “There’s some special equipment I need to get to teach that.”
As Jenny and Chris set the table for Dinner Roy watched his very young daughter, Okay she had learned first aid to earn his love. Not that she needed to but she felt like she did, now that he knew she needed more one on one time with him didn’t change the fact that she was good at what she knew and there was no going back, no unlearning what was done.
After Dinner Roy gathered his family around the cleared table and proceeded to work on ID cards to carry with them as well as ID kits for the parents to hold onto at home. Each child was presented with a simple wallet to hold the cards and next they worked on filling out a card that had all the emergency phone numbers Roy could possibly think of to add. This card of phone numbers was glued to the back of a slightly stiffer card that had several holes cut in it and when the glue was dried, Roy supplied each child with dimes for each hole on the back of their card. This too was added to their wallets. The two children fell asleep in their father’s arms while he explained why these two cards were important but Roy felt they got the most important part of his lecture before they dozed off.
After JoAnne showed him what she was working on for their daughter for her birthday and asked for advice on what to add Roy realized once again there was no turning back. But he slept well that night knowing they were just a little better prepared.
It was another week before JoAnne was able to let Chris go bike riding with his friends, wouldn’t you know it twenty minutes after they left there was sirens heard a block away. Roy dropped the hedge trimmers and ran toward the sound only to find another boy, not one of Chris’s group had crashed his bike doing some sort of stunt, As the responding paramedics did their primary evaluation Roy noticed his son was holding pressure to a head wound as well as proper spinal immobilization, as soon as the paramedics were able to take over Roy pulled Chris and his group, all Scouts, together and after praising them for proper first aid and treatment for shock began to teach them about the importance of helmets which the patient had not been wearing.
It took Roy longer than he wanted but he was finally able to get to sleep without dreams of his last big fire raiding his sleep. Once he did get to sleep he slept well and JoAnne knowing he had tossed and turned the first half of the night let him sleep in while she got their children off to school for the day. It was after ten in the morning when Roy woke up feeling well rested and ready to take on his wife’s honey do list but most of all grateful that his wife had let him sleep when he finally could.
The first item on JoAnne’s list was talking with her husband about what to put in their daughters first aid bag for her birthday.
“Half a dozen triangular bandages for sure,” Roy started as he was in contemplation and sipping his fresh coffee, “some band aids and gauze. I can think of a lot of things but we need to make sure we keep it light and easy to carry and not too bulky. We also have to remember that she’s just a five year old girl.”
“By the time she get’s this she’ll be six,” JoAnne teased her husband.
“Going on 25,” Roy smiled back.
“Only in some ways,” JoAnne still thought of her daughter as her baby.
Using the pad his wife set next to him Roy listed about six things he thought should go in the bag he then realized that they would need compact items that wouldn’t be available at the corner drug store. Reaching up behind him Roy grabbed the headset from the phone and dialed Rampart. Dr. Bracket was busy but Roy left a message for him to call when he had a moment and made sure they knew it wasn’t an emergency.
Over the next couple of weeks While JoAnne gradually cut up old sheets, Dr. Bracket introduced Roy to several Medical supply reps and offered advice as to what a six year old or rather young Jenny was capable of using. The reps were so impressed with the stories that the Doctors told on the young girl and having seen her on the news threw in several free samples.
Dr. Brackett, Dr, Morton, Dr. Early, Dixie and Medics Laura all asked to be able to get some of the things they were looking at as their gift to Jenny and all it took was a quick look at the running tab and Roy agreed, “Just remember she has to be able to carry this thing when we get it packed,” he added.
On the day of her birthday JoAnne hosted a party for several of Jenny’s school friends in the early afternoon. They presented her with gifts of a toy ambulance, a doll that was a nurse, a shirt with a nurse on it, a shirt with bandages all over it, a shirt that said M.A.S.H. on it and four boxes of band-aids with cartoon pictures on them.
Later that evening the extended station 51 family gathered for a pitch in barbeque in the back yard to offer up their gifts to the young girl. After the hot dogs and hamburgers were devoured young Jennifer was placed on a chair in the middle of everyone else.
Chris came forward with his gift first. It was something he had made himself with the help of his scout master, a simple tool to help Jenny roll up strips of sheets for use as dressings, complete with several strips of old sheets to start rolling. JoAnne came next with the new shoulder pack and Jenny started to squeal in excitement.
One by one gifts were opened to reveal supplies and tools to fill the pack, Laura knowing how big the pack was gave her a clear box with dividers in it to store her replacement supplies in. By the time Jenny had opened all of her gifts she had a pediatric sized blood pressure cuff, a new light blue stethoscope much nicer than the one Roy was planning to buy, disposable thermometers, compactly packaged blankets and several different bandaging supplies. Dr. Brackett covertly slipped Roy a special stethoscope with two sets of ear pieces to use in teaching his daughter how to use her new toy ear piece of equipment.
Johnny gave her a blaze orange safety vest with reflective tape and a bouquet of six pink roses for her sixth birthday. Cap carefully informed him that the flowers were just a little over board.
Long after the rest of the guests had gone Roy and Johnny with Jenny between them packed and repacked the small bag till they felt the bag was packed the most efficiently with the most important tools and supplies.
Jenny coaxed Uncle Johnny to tuck her in bed and tell her a story but she was well asleep before the story was over it had been a big day for her.
During the next few weeks while Roy was teaching his daughter how to check blood pressures and learned how to start a fire without matches along with his son, an older Boy Scout tackled the task of taking the sheets that had been donated to the school and cut them into triangular bandages and dressings for each one of the classrooms. Then several scout groups came together along with a couple of off duty paramedics to teach all the teachers how to use the supplies that were to be placed in their class rooms. No one said a thing about the honorary Boy Scout with the blond pony tail bouncing around her brother’s hat, in less it was to comment on how well she understood the uses of a triangular bandage. Jenny was growing more confident everyday at least when it came to demonstrating first aid skills.
In time life at the Desoto residence seemed to return to the old comfortable normal. Friends were allowed to come to the door and receive permission for Chris and Jenny to come with them to play without an adult accompanying them.
Jenny was allowed to help her favorite ‘super great grandma’, plant her flowers without her mother at her side. Both Children still jumped and squealed for joy when Uncle Johnny came to visit, Jenny would nearly always knock him off his feet with a hug and a kiss on his cheek with in steps inside the door.
Somehow Roy managed to come to terms with his daughter’s crush. It was yet to be seen if she felt she could ask him what to do in a crisis yet, she hadn’t needed to call out for instructions since that one fateful day she delivered a baby. There was something in Roy that hoped she’d never need to ask for help again, but he also wanted to know if she felt she could ask him for help if she needed it.
Even that question was nowhere near his mind the day the station was called out on an unknown type rescue at an area supermarket. When the squad had pulled up and stopped Johnny jumped out to get equipment while Roy ran around the squad to help, Captain Stanley told the rest of the crew to stay put until they knew what they were dealing with.
The store manager met them on the sidewalk, “We’ve had a bit of a mishap with a shopping cart but it must not be too bad there’s some little girl in there fixing them up with old newspapers and shredded sheets.”
Johnny and Cap gave Roy a knowing look as they each took something and followed the manager to the cereal aisle of the store where they saw a shopping cart turned over with one child pinned under it and another half in and half out of the child seat with his legs tangled up in the basket and bending in unnatural ways.
To the side of the basket was another child laying on the floor with a newspaper splint on his left arm and a cut on his head, his mother, a neighbor of Roy’s, holding pressure over a gauze pad, “It’s going to be alright Jason, keep your eyes open for momma,” she called as Roy hurried in and squatted down next to the first responder while Johnny started evaluating the boy on the floor.
“I don’t know how to get Tony out without hurting his leg more,” Jenny told her father at her side, He then noticed that she had used several sections of newspaper to support the obviously broken leg the best she could. “His pulse in 150 and his breathing is 20, I haven’t checked his blood pressure yet but he has a kind of loud temple pulse.” Jenny gave her report.
“You did good Jenny it’s just going to take more than one person here.” Roy responded before calling out. “Johnny, Cap I need a hand here.”
Together Roy and John held the child and the leg stable while Captain Stanley and the manager helped to lift the cart off of the third victim While Jenny made sure nothing more fell out of the cart on her friend. Once little Tony was on the floor Roy called out, “Cap we’re going to need some splints and blankets in here.”
“And a back board and a C collar,” Jenny added, “Pammy hurt her neck when her pulled the cart over on top of her.” That’s when Roy noticed that the two cans on either side of the girls head were not just scattered cart contents like he had first thought. They were both large coffee cans that had been carefully placed on either side of the girls head to keep it still and immobilized.
“Cap,” Roy started to add.
“I heard,” Cap stopped his paramedic in mid sentence before pulling the HT to his mouth and making the order for all the needed supplies.
While they waited for the rest of the crew, Jenny picked her small notebook up from the floor and gave her report. “Pammy’s pulse is 88, and her breathing 18, her said her legs hurt down by her feet and the back of her head and her neck. Jason’s pulse was 80 and breathing 10, he was asleep for a while but he’s awake now but he doesn’t look like he knows where he is and he won’t talk to anyone. But then he doesn’t talk much anyway. I can check blood pressures now if you want me too.”
“That’s okay honey,” Cap spoke up, for which Roy was glad, “We’ve got it now and we’re paid to take care of things, You did a real good job of taking care of everyone before we got here though.” Captain Stanley carefully lifted the girl out of the way of his men and accepted her medical bag that was handed to him from one of the box boys. Once they were out of the road Cap knelt down next to the young girl, “did you get hurt when the cart tipped over?”
“No I wasn’t hanging on the side of the cart trying to make it turn like Pammy was.” Jenny reported and Hank got the complete picture of what had happened.
Roy and John were working on Pammy and Tony and taking turns talking on the biophone to Rampart when John lifted his head and asked, “Can someone get a blood pressure on the head injury?” Jenny responded to the call and moments later called out, “98 on top of 60”.
By the time the ambulance arrived all three children were stable and because they were so small they were able to put the two boys on the gurney and Pammy was loaded onto the bench back board and all. Their mother was placed up front with the driver and Johnny assured his partner he could handle them all on the ride in. Roy was left to deal with his daughter.
“So where’s your mother?” Roy asked as he squatted down in front of his daughter.
“She’s at home,” Jenny answered, “She let me go to the movies with Pammy and her brothers we just stopped by the grocery store on the way home.”
“I see,” Roy responded with a smile and a playful pretend punch to her chin. He then looked up at his captain with an idea. “I guess I could take her with me to the hospital and call JoAnne to pick her up there.”
“I don’t know, do you think you can get parental consent for her to ride in the squad?” Cap teased.
“It might be difficult but I think I can manage that.” Roy smiled before helping Jenny repack her bag and then taking her by the hand and leading her to the squad. Each step they got closer he could feel his daughter’s pulse get faster and her step more and more giddy and her hands more and more sweaty and he was almost as excited as she was.
As the rest of the fire crew loaded the remaining boxes in the compartments Roy lifted his daughter into the passenger seat of the squad and made sure her seatbelt was fastened tight. As he walked around to the driver’s side Captain Stanley gave him a slap on the back along with a smile.
As they drove down the road Jenny stretched her head to be able to see over the dash board and her eyes were so full of wonder Roy could only smile.
“Daddy what are pubils?” Jenny asked somewhat hesitantly.
“Pubils?” Roy was confused and needed more from his daughter to know what she was asking.
“Yeah, Uncle Johnny said Pammy’s were equal and reactive but Jason’s left one was dilibated.
“The word is Pupils and it refers to the black dot in the center of your eye. Everyone has them and they’re effected by a lot of things, like medicine and chemicals and head injuries.” Roy began to explain with a smile “the other term you used is dilated not dilibated. It means that one of the black dots is bigger than the other one.” Roy explained turning to glance at his daughter as often as he dared while he drove.
“Can you teach me how to check pu-pills?” Jenny asked being careful to pronounce it properly this time.
“That could be kind of hard honey,” Roy began to explain shifting his eyes between his daughter and the road, “I can only show you a normal set of pupils you kind of have to work in a hospital or in the field to see what they look like ---“ just then there was a squeal of tires and the sound of crashing fenders as Roy threw his right arm across his daughter’s chest as he controlled the steering with his left hand and applying the break as two other cars connected at the side were skidding toward the squad.
Before all motion stopped there was a jolt in the squad and the sound of shattering glass but when Roy let his held breath out the squad around him looked good it was two shattered windshields out his windshield that drew his attention and his adrenaline.
“You okay honey?” Roy asked as he looked his daughter over.
“I’m not hurt are you daddy?”
“No I’m fine but we need to get some help for those other people.” Roy then picked up the radio mike, “LA this is Squad 51 reporting a traffic accident near the intersection of Mapleview and Vine. This unit is involved we’re going to need another squad, two ambulances and an engine we have three vehicles involved, We also need police assistance.”
“10-4 51 can you tell us how many victims you have?”
“Not yet LA but I’ll have that information soon.” Roy then turned to his daughter, “Honey I need you to stay right here where it’s safe okay.” He then tried to open his door but before he could get it six inches opened the door banged into the car at his side and that was not enough room to squeeze out. Rather than try to climb out the window Roy decided to slide out the passenger door which meant that Jenny would have to get out first.
His daughter quickly got down and Roy climbed out after her then pulled the compartment doors open to retrieve the trauma box. He was just shutting the door again when he heard, “Hold still mister we’re going to take care of you. Try not to move until you’ve been checked out.”
Roy’s Eyes followed the sound of the voice to see his daughter talking through the broken side window of the car closest to them to the man behind the wheel. She was reaching into her bag with one hand and pulled out a gauze pad and was starting to put her hand through the small hole in the window.
“Jenny don’t do that,” Roy called out and hurried to her side where with gloves on he was able to pull the rest of the window towards himself and out of the window frame, Making it safer to examine the driver. “Sir is there anyone else in the car with you?”
“M My, my son, he’s in the back seat.” The man informed and then a boy about ten years of age slowly pulled himself up from the floor of the back seat with a lump on his head and a slight cut on his arm. “I’ve told that boy a thou- thousand times to leave his seatbelt on while the car is moving.” The man groaned, “I was yelling at him to put it back on when I looked forward and saw the other car. I couldn’t stop in time.”
Roy did a quick assessment of the occupants of the car and declared there was nothing immediately life threatening. “It looks to me like you’re going to be alright I need you to stay still and not move around while I go see how the people in the other car are doing.”
Roy started to move for the other car noticing out of the corner of his eye how his daughter placed her gauze on the man’s head and asked him to hold it. Then he heard, “Daddy can I bandage this man’s head and splint this boys arm?”
“Honey I don’t know if they need it yet, and I don’t want you running around in traffic. The other cars of the road might not be able to see you.”
“I be careful daddy.” Jenny answered and when Roy looked up he saw her pulling her safety vest out of her bag and pull it on over the top of her shoulder strap before she pulled her tape out and applied the first strip to the bandage to hold it in place on the drivers head. He had to admit it was cute watching her stretch up on her tip toes to be able to reach the man’s head but he had other things to worry about, like getting into the station wagon.
“I don’t want you to go on the other side of either of these cars. Okay Jenny,” Roy called realizing she was going to help and that he needed an extra set of hands until the troops arrived.
Roy pulled at the doors of the other car but they wouldn’t budge so he ran around to the passenger side where the back door was open just a smidge and he was able to force it the rest of the way open to find six girls in scout uniforms and two unconscious adults in the front seat with another girl between them. With eleven victims Roy knew he was going to need his daughter’s help so the gears in his brain started turning.
When Engine 51 pulled up behind the squad Hank could see a six year old girl in a safety vest grabbing blankets out of the compartments with several cardboard splints tucked under her arm. Hank first fear was that his medic and the girls father was injured so he swung out of the engine before it came to a complete stop and followed Jenny to the corral made by the wrecked cars where a police officer was laying down young girls from the station wagon as Jenny was handing supplies to her father through a broken window before moving in with blankets for the extricated girls.
“Roy,” Cap called out as he stuck his head in the window Jenny had been handing supplies. “Are you alright?”
“Yeah Cap I’m fine. We’ve got 11 patients total and a gas leak on the wagon, I’ve pulled the battery cable on the wagon but I haven’t on the sedan, I need a connection with Rampart and a couple of IV set ups Stat and some extra hands. Oh and Cap can you get the rest of these doors opened?”
“Kelly, give Roy a hand, Lopez get a pry bar and see if you can get these doors open. Mike pull the reel hose and wash down this gas he then pulled the HT to his mouth. LA this is engine 51 we are at scene and have 11 victims. Send a total of three ambulances and set up relay with Rampart General for Vitals.
Hank then knelt down next to young Jenny, “How are things going here?”
“I runned out of splints in my bag, and triangle bandages too, but daddy told me where to find more on the squad. That man over there is getting a tummy ache and he’s breathing faster but I need a big people’s blood pressure cuff to check his blood pressure. His temple pulse is getting softer.”
“Do you think you can handle things here?” Cap ran his finger in a horizontal circle indicating the girls on the blanket as Chet delivered one more, “While I go check on the man and his son.”
“Yes sir,” Jenny answered and straightened up a little taller before turning to the new patient and making sure she got a blanket around her too.
One of the girls complained her arm hurt so Jenny splinted it and carefully bandaged the head of the girl who had a cut she then set out to get vitals on each of the seven girls writing them down on the inside of the blankets. There was a soft flannel like surface on the inside part that she could write on, the outside was slippery and the pen wouldn’t write there. “Now nobody trade blanket or you’ll mess up the doctors.” Jenny advised as she tried to determine which person she should check next.
When the next squad arrived Captain Stanley quickly waved Brice and Bellingham over to the sedan where the driver was going into shock and the son was complaining of being dizzy.
Brice went right to work on the driver and Bellingham took in the scene stopping to watch Jenny take the next blood pressure. “Let me guess,” Bellingham spoke to no one in particular, “She’s trying to earn her first aid merit badge.”
“Isn’t there a protocol against using children to assist in treatment?” Brice asked as he turned to see what his partner was commenting on.
“I’m sure she already has, and not when we’re this shorthanded,” Captain Stanley commented before he finally popped the hood of the sedan and pulled the battery cables before helping Roy and Chet slide their patients onto back boards and in into the first ambulance that arrived.
“Cap,” Roy pointed in the direction his daughter was at, “Would you---“
“I’ll see to it she stays out of traffic and makes it to Rampart, and by the way the damage to the squad doesn’t look too bad I don’t think we’ll have to take it out of service.” Cap assured his paramedic before shutting the ambulance door on him and giving the ready to go slap.
At Rampart Roy managed to ask Johnny to call his wife as he raced through the halls with his patient while the second one followed behind. He was relieved from the treatment room in time to help unload the last ambulance loaded with little girls only to find his daughter was not among them. JoAnne managed to find him at the nurses desk where he was trying to figure out where Jenny was only to hear Chet’s voice come over the scanner, “Squad 51 10-8 to Rampart with passenger.”
“She’ll be here in just a minute,” Roy sighed and put his arm around his wife’s shoulder before filling her in on their daughters evening activities.
It was Johnny that nudged his shoulder and directed his gaze toward the entrance. Chet was walking in holding Jenny’s hand she was wearing her father’s jacket complete with a Desoto name tag and paramedic pin, with the sleeves rolled up so her hands weren’t buried and the coat came down around her knees. On her head was one of the paramedic helmets so big on her head that she had to hold the brim with her other hand to keep it from sliding down over her eyes. And under the brim was the biggest and most contagious smile Roy had ever seen as every member of the ER staff had to stop and smile back at her as she walked past them.
Three doctors and the head nurse of ER paused for a moment to take in the sight and share a smile of their own. When she was next to him Roy reached down and took his daughter under her arms and lifter her into his.
“Are you proud of me daddy?” Jenny asked bringing tears to her father’s eyes.
“Yes Sweetheart, Daddy’s very proud of you.” Roy pulled her tight for a hug getting gonked in the head by his own helmet.
“So, Desoto, when are you going to sign her up at the paramedic academy?” Dr. Morton asked in jest.
The once enormous grin grew even bigger and the girl straightened even taller in her father’s arms. “Can I?”
Two doctors gave the third a slap on the shoulders and walked away letting him know with certainty that he was going to have to get out of this one himself. “Well, um, a, they usually want you to graduate from high school first.” Dr. Morton stammered, “How many years before you graduate?”
“At the rate she’s going,” Dixie whispered to JoAnne, “She’ll be teaching the academy before that happens.”
Roy just lowered his head and shook in against his daughter’s chest. “A few more years punkin, a few more years.”
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