Chapter 35

Just as Captain Stanley was dismissing roll call Tuesday morning the tones dropped for a multi-car wreck on the 405. Station 51, Station 110, Station 18 were dispatched to handle the early morning rush hour collision and traffic jam.

When Roy pulled up to the accident, he and Brice observed the tangled mass of crumpled metal. At least ten vehicles had to have been involved as each driver had been in their own hurry to get where they were headed. It was the same ole, same ole - someone had gotten a bit over eager or over aggressive, then the rest had been a chain reaction on the crowded highway. Roy jumped out of the Squad, unlocked the compartment where his turnout gear was, grabbed his turnout coat and headed toward the closest vehicles to him to begin checking for patients. Brice did the same on his side of the Squad and pocketed his Squad keys.

Mike set up the Engine as Chet and Marco pulled a couple of inch and a halfs and began hosing down the vehicles and spills. Hank went to where Roy was checking a car, "What do you have?"

Roy advised, "Driver is gonna need transported. Complaining of leg pain. I'm trying to see if his foot is trapped but this door is too dented to get open."

Hank advised, "I'll check the other side." Sure enough Captain Stanley was able to get the door open.

As Roy changed sides to check the patient he heard Captain Stanley radio for additional ambulances to their location, then he advised that he'd send Roy the needed stabilization equipment from the squad. Hank went over to Chet, "Roy is going to need splints, back board, C-collar, ..."

Chet nodded, shut his hose down and replied even before his Captain finished his sentence, "Got it Cap." Kelly hurried to the Squad's back compartment and hurriedly twisted the handle to open the compartment only to be stopped dead, nearly breaking his hand. Chet glared at the offending latch on the compartment door and tried once more open it but found it locked. Chet frowned and went to the passenger side of the Squad to get the splint box out again finding the compartment locked up tight. "Cap! The compartments are LOCKED!"

For the first time today, Captain Hank Stanley looked heavenward for just a split second wondering what had possessed him to take the Captain's exam and what he'd done to deserved Brice, the walking rule book on his crew. Then he went into action and dashed to the Paramedic responsible for the delay in equipment getting to the patient, "Brice where are your keys?"

Brice was currently holding spinal alignment of his patient's neck and head. "In my pocket. I'm gonna need a neck brace over here too."

Hank frowned, "They are in your turnout coat pocket?"

Brice looked perplexed but replied, "No, they are in my blue under jacket pocket."

Captain Stanley couldn't help but swear just under his breath as he turned to see Squad 18 pull up just behind him. He went to the back of their Squad opened the unlocked compartment and grabbed the back board. "We're going to need a C-Collar at both those vehicles as well as the splint box.

Squad 18's crew nodded to Station 51's Captain and began getting their equipment to Roy and Brice. Luckily most of the other drivers were now out of the cars with minor cuts, scrapes and bruises. After getting their patients out of the vehicles and calling in their assessments, Roy and Brice were off to Rampart with their patients in separate ambulances.

Captain Stanley advised Chet to take the Squad and follow the ambulances to Rampart. As Chet walked around the drivers side of the Squad only then did he see a set of compartment keys hanging in the open compartment door. Putting the keys in his jacket pocket, Chet shut the compartment door and got in the Squad heading to Rampart.

Johnny had been listening to Station 51's traffic from the time they were paged out on Dee Dee's 204 radio. He had checked the time and figured that Dee Dee hadn't had time to even get on the 405 which was normally her quickest route to work, when the wreck happened and Station 51 was paged out by the night shift dispatcher. Still Johnny couldn't help but to be concerned for Dee Dee and would be until he either heard her on the radio or the phone rang telling him that she had been involved in the accident.

Those thoughts set him thinking - anyone who knew Dee Dee was his, ... his, ... what? Girlfriend? or What? 'Girlfriend' just didn't seem to actually cover what he felt for Dee Dee or the several nights he'd spent in her company both at Black Bear Lake and at her apartment. Letting that thought drop for the moment and going back to his original thoughts, ...anyone looking for him would call his house. Most everyone in the emergency services field knew how to get in touch with him. Most knew his home number by heart or knew someone that did, but Johnny only now realized that no one but Dixie, Cap and Roy had Dee Dee's home number. He had given it to Cap and Roy thinking that they may need to call Dee Dee if something happened to him at work. Now here he was worried about Dee Dee and not sure if anyone would think to call him, ... here, if something happened to her.

Dee Dee had gotten on the 405 when she noticed traffic backing up more than usual. Since she was late even before she left her apartment Dee Dee had no time to spare. When she saw the next exit coming into view, Dee Dee took the exit deciding to take inner city roads to the dispatch center. Once in the parking lot and through the door she took the stairs two at a time heading for her locker and headset. Once in the main dispatch room, Dee Dee tapped the night shift dispatcher on the shoulder to let her know that she was there.

The night shift dispatcher nodded and kept talking to her caller.

Dee Dee took the next couple of minutes to listen to the call that was coming in as well as to check the board for the ongoing calls. She now saw why she had ran into traffic on the 405. From what she saw Squad 51 and Squad 110 were heading to Rampart while Squad 18 was still on scene taking care of the 'walking wounded' there.

Once the night shift dispatcher had her call dispatched, she turned over her station to Dee Dee, who said, "Sorry about being late this morning. The clock was acting stupid, then I ran into traffic on the 405 so I jumped off and took another way here."

"I'm glad you did. Looks like the CHP will be out there awhile trying to sort traffic out." the dispatcher said, then brought Dee Dee up to speed on the on going calls.

"Thanks. See you in the morning. I'll try to be a little early." Dee Dee said as another line rang, "911 what is your emergency?" Dee said professionally. The caller advised her of a dumpster fire. Dee Dee dropped tones for Engine 8 in place of Engine 110 who was still on the call out on the 405.

Hearing Dee Dee's voice on the radio, back at Dee Dee's apartment John Gage let out a breath he'd been holding since Station 51 had been called out on the MVA. Dee Dee was at work and safe. Of course Johnny had told himself that she had just been caught in traffic for the last half hour but he couldn't allow himself not to worry until he heard her voice on the radio.

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At Rampart, Chet backed Squad 51 into it's normal place near the ambulance parking at the Emergency Room doors, then headed up the hall hoping to bum a cup of coffee from Nurse Dixie McCall while he waited on Roy and Brice. As Chet went up the hall he noticed that the Emergency department of Rampart was hopping this morning, so he wasn't really surprised to not see Nurse McCall at her desk. Chet saw the full pot of coffee and cups on the counter so he helped himself to a cup of coffee. Not wanting to be in the way Chet headed down the hall to the lounge since there was no sign of either Paramedic. Once in the lounge, Chet took a seat in the far corner, picked up a magazine and began thumbing through it as he sipped his coffee.

When Kim seen Sandy in the hall she couldn't help herself, "Do you have a minute?"

Sandy nodded, "Sure, ... all the 'real' nurses are handling this mad house right now."

Kim steered Sandy toward the lounge, "Last night Jean, Erin and I went out to that new Italian place that just opened."

Sandy cut in, "Really? Is it any good?"

Kim shushed her, "Yes, but that's not the point. While we were there Miss McCall's niece and John Gage showed up too." She opened the lounge door, "From what I heard Gage was driving them 'home' and it's a good thing since Miss McCall's niece seemed more than a bit tipsy after THREE glasses of wine but who was counting."

Sandy replied, "I've heard here and there that he's been hard to get in contact with lately."

Neither noticed the Irishman sitting in the corner behind the magazine he was no longer reading. In fact Chet was fully tuned in to the conversation.

"Well, all I know is that they looked real chummy." Kim said being careful to not mention the names of the parties she was talking about again just in case Miss McCall happened to walk in on the conversation again, "They were cuddled up together on the same side of the table and then when they left he seemed to have a pretty tight hold on her even though it looked like his hand was hurt, of course she was doing a bit of leaning on him, too."

Sandy was soaking up all the information like a spounge. "I knew he'd been seen in the ER but I wasn't sure why. Wonder what happened to his hand?"

Chet Kelly being who he was could not take not being in this conversation any longer. He layed the magazine down and replied from his seat, "The way I heard it is that Gage responded with a volunteer department on a call and got cut getting a patient out of a vehicle. Cap said he'd at least be off until Thursday."

Sandy smiled at the fireman and nearly gushed, "What are you doing here, handsome?"

"I drove the Squad in. Roy and Brice both had patients." Chet said as he finished his coffee and joined the Candy Stripers.

"Kim here was just telling me that it seems that Gage is sure enjoying his little 'vacation' off from work. It seems he and his date were having a real good time last night, well at least his date was after three glasses of wine." Sandy said.

Chet's mouth was in gear before his mind engage the clutch, "Well, if that's the case it ain't no wonder he hasn't been home in days."

Sandy couldn't help but ask, "What do you mean he hasn't been home in days?"

"I know Roy has been trying to call him and hasn't gotten an answer. I've tried to call myself a couple of times and even swung by there when Gage should be home but there was no sign of him. The other night I took different route and could have sworn I seen Johnny's ride parked at another apartment complex really late. I tried to find out for sure from Roy where Dee Dee lives but he 'said' he didn't know. Well, today we were on a call in the same neighborhood and I know for sure it's Johnny's ride. I saw his County ID hanging on the mirror."

Kim asked, "Well, could he have moved?"

Chet shook his head 'no', "There is no way, even unhurt, that Gage would move and not call us all for help."

Sandy gave Kim a look that said, 'I told you so!'

Just then Brice stuck his head in the door, "Kelly we're ready. The Engine cleared up and should be outside when we get there."

Chet frowned at the Paramedics rush but said, "Well, ladies have a good day. I got to go."

Sandy called out behind him, "You too. Call me sometime."

"I will." Chet called behind him and he was actually considering doing just that since he'd learned a lot of valuable information in the few minutes he'd spent with the two women. Chet knew that if Johnny was released for work on Thursday he'd be able to have a lot of fun with his favorite pigeon come Friday morning. A mischievous grin came across the fireman's face as he made his way to the Engine.

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Ok, now be honest with yourself and me - how many of you thought that I was going to have Dee Dee involved and injured (following the old cliche) of having Johnny's partners injured or killed off? Well surprise, I didn't go there! Hope you all liked it. Please review and let me know how you like it.