Horsing Around

by MM

disclaimer: The characters of Emergency do not belong to me. You're never too old (or young) to learn a new trick. As always I'll help 'em up, dust them off, give 'em a smooch and send them back when I'm done.

rating: K

note: follows "Arteries".

With the wild fire season in full swing, Station 51 found themselves covering a wider area in the city. They'd been pulled for the lines the previous two shifts and now were assigned to the city runs. So far they'd gone out on a garage fire and two different rescues: a heart attack and a broken leg when a woman fell off her roof.

"That was... different," Gage said to his partner. Roy nodded his agreement.

"Yeah, usually we get kids and guys falling off roofs," he said.

"I think she'd have been ok if her husband hadn't insisted on telling her what to do," Gage added.

"I sure didn't like having him over my shoulder telling me how to splint her leg!" DeSoto grumped.

"He was a bit over the top," Johnny agreed. "I nearly wrapped one of the rolls of tape around his mouth." This elicited a laugh from his partner as he contemplated the image in his mind.

"At least we didn't have ta stay in the ER," Gage continued. "I bet Brackett blows a gasket."

"Personally, I'd have had Doc Early in there. He'd do a lot better with that kind of personality," Roy said seriously.

"Least it wasn't Morton," his partner countered. Again, Roy laughed.

"Yeah, that would have been gas on the fire alright!" he agreed. They made it back to the station and Gage backed them in.

"Wow! Roy must be sick," Chet Kelly remarked as the two paramedics got out of the squad.

"Why?" Marco asked with a grin.

"Gage drove," Chet said. "I bet Roy was hurt on that last run!" Hank Stanley heard the last of the comment and hurried out into the apparatus bay.

"Roy? You ok?" he asked full of concern. The senior paramedic looked at his superior completely confused.

"Sure, I'm fine," he responded.

"Kelly said you were hurt," Cap rejoined. Chet and Marco quickly slipped into the kitchen trying to quell their snickers.

"He wasn't hurt," Gage said, just as confused.

"I want to log the last two runs while we can," Roy said dismissing Hank's concern. He walked into the office followed by Johnny leaving a confused Cap.

Going into the kitchen Stanley took one look at his crew and knew he'd been hoodwinked. Giving them a glare he poured out coffee and snagged a cookie. Of all people Johnny had brought in a large bag of homemade cookies. There had been some ribbing about being the dutiful little missus, but then the men had discovered the cookies were quite good. Every time they entered the kitchen they'd bee-line for the jar to get another.

Cap moved over to the table and sat down by his engineer. Stoker smiled and passed him a section of the paper. Another snicker came from the sink area.

"I think the latrines need to be cleaned," Hank grouched.

"Johnny did 'em, Cap," Marco managed without a giggle.

"Of course, Chet's had the most experience," Mike pondered. "He really should go touch 'em up." The seated men looked over at the goofy duo.

"I think I'll go check out the dorm," Chet said. "Be sure I got all the beds made."

"I'll help you, amigo!" Marco added and the two men scooted out of the room. Hank sighed then took a bite of cookie.

"That Kelly will be the death of me yet!" he grumbled.

"Do I want to know?" Stoker asked as he sipped at his cup.

"Said Roy was injured on the last run," Cap said then thought a moment before slumping in disgust.

"What?" the engineer prodded.

"Gage drove back," Hank said. "I know he drives to Rampart when DeSoto rides in with the patient, but he rarely drives the squad when it's the two of them."

"And Chet decided Roy must have been hurt or sick," Mike completed the thought.''

"I overheard the last comment, I guess," Cap grumbled, "and leapt to the conclusion Roy was hurt."

"You worry too much," Mike said sympathetically.

"Given those two," Hank said, "especially Gage, it's a safe assumption!" He took another bite of cookie and then sipped coffee through it. The coffee and chocolate chips melded together and enhanced the flavor. Trust the younger paramedic to come up with that eating suggestion.

About a half hour later Johnny and Roy entered the kitchen. DeSoto was the chef of the day and went to the fridge to pull out his version of lunch: hot dogs with chile or sauerkraut. He started everything heating on the stove and then swiped a cookie while his partner picked up the front section of the Times.

"Man, Junior, I'm gonna put on ten pounds this shift alone!" he complained around a mouthful of cookie. This elicited a snicker from behind the newspaper.

"Who made the cookies?" Mike asked. The paper went up higher.

"Uh, me and Rose and Drew," Johnny said very quickly. Roy shot a slight glare. He didn't approve of the friendship; she had been a patient! But for some reason Cap had no problem with it.

"You tell her they're great!" Hank remarked. "You know that Emily and the kids loved the pool cook-out as well." This caused both Roy and Mike to look at the captain. He'd gone over for dinner? Gage's paper shook slightly as he hid. Roy refused to come over for the get-together, but Hank accepted.

Fortunately the chile started to hiss drawing the senior paramedic's attention away from the conversation. He missed Cap pulling Johnny's paper down and give him an encouraging smile. Johnny returned a lopsided grin. Mike watched the exchange without comment. Soon the dorm room duo joined them and lunch was served.

Conversation revolved around the ongoing wild fires. The smoke hung over the mountains and ash was falling onto the cars' windshields. Containment had finally reached over 75% and there was a good chance full containment would happen by the weekend.

Then the tones sounded. "Squad 51, man injured on hiking trail. Report to the Angeles Ranger's station at Chantry Flats. Cross street, Santa Anita Avenue. Time out, 12:55."

"Squad 51, KMG, 365," Stanley noted and handed the slip to Roy. Gage was tracing out the map as it was out of their response area.

"Looks like a 30 minute drive," Mike commented as he checked the route with the paramedic.

"Yep, guess the other stations are on the line or busy," he replied as he moved off to his side of the squad. Soon the paramedic duo were traveling quickly across the freeway to Santa Anita Avenue. Fortunately, the drivers responded quickly and moved to the right clearing the way.

As they pulled up to the ranger's station Roy noted several horses saddled and waiting by a trailer. He was not a big fan of horses and skirted well around them to get to the beckoning ranger. Johnny, on the other hand, passed closer and patted each animal talking in a low, calm voice.

"Know your way around horses?" the ranger sounded hopeful.

"Yeah, grew up around them," Johnny said. "Did some rodeo riding back in the day."

"Great! I was worried I'd get greenhorns," he said happily. "I'm Pete Greer." Roy glanced at the horses and then back at the ranger.

"Problem is we have a hiking victim and all helicopters are tied up at the fire. The ETA was two hours when we called you," he explained. "I don't know how serious the injury, but there was mention of at least a broken leg. We'll need to carry your equipment up with us on horseback." Roy paled.

"I, uh, I," he stuttered. Johnny immediately put a calming hand on his friend.

"Hey, it's going to be fine," he said.

"No, it's not. I can't ride," Roy said. "I've never ridden. Not even one of those electric horses out in front of the market!

"We'll work it out, pally," the younger paramedic said soothingly. "Let me go check out the animals while you pull out the equipment we'll need."

"I can do that," Roy turned towards the safety of his squad. Johnny looked at the horses.

"Looks like that one can carry two men," he pointed to the largest, heaviest horse.

"Yea, Belle is part clydesdale, nice long back and even gait," Pete agreed. "She'll easily carry you and your partner." Johnny grinned.

"If we can get him on board!" he said tersely.

"No problem. We can put an extra blanket over the end of the saddle for him to sit on and he can hold on to you," the ranger suggested.

"That'll free up the third horse to carry the equipment," John added. Quickly the two men worked with Belle to get the blanket in place. Next they tied the med box, biophone and stokes to the second horse. Splints were added and they debated bringing the cardiac monitor. This was added and the load was rechecked to make sure it was balanced.

"Belle is rein trained," Pete told the younger paramedic. "Very calm as well. I'll ride Buck and bring Casper along behind me." Roy looked at the arrangement.

"And, um, me?" he asked nervously.

"You'll ride with me, pally!" Johnny said with a smile. "I'm definitely going to need you for the victim." Roy did not look at all pleased with the arrangement, but he watched as Johnny climbed easily into the saddle. Then he moved over to the squad bumper.

"If you stand up here," Pete said, "you'll have an easier time getting on. I'll be on the other side to make sure you're settled." Swallowing, Roy did as he was directed and was soon behind Johnny holding on for dear life.

"I do need to breath, pally!" Johnny teased, although he was pleased when the iron grip loosened slightly.

"We'll take it slow for now," Pete said. "It's about a twenty minute ride and the terrain is pretty easy."

Roy was not at all happy at first. But his partner, knowing how scared he was, kept up a constant chatter explaining everything that was happening on the ride. By doing this the senior paramedic knew every jostle, dip and rise on the trail. Once they were out of the more congested camping area the speed picked up slightly and they were jogging along the dirt track along a dry creek bed.

"They were rock climbing as far as I could figure," Pete called back. "I can't figure how they could fall and get hurt, the rocks are pretty low and there're plenty of handholds."

"Hey, if there's even a slight possibility, then someone will get hurt," Johnny said. "Just takes one mis-step."

"Yeah," Roy decided he could talk and hold on at the same time. "It's amazing just what can happen. Johnny, here, managed to crack a rib getting out of the squad."

"Hey!" Johnny snapped. "It was raining and I slipped on the running board!"

"As you said," Roy returned smugly, "just one mis-step." Gage did not retort, although he let out a huffy breath. He was pleased that Roy was relaxing.

"Ok, just over this rise, then another quarter mile or so," Pete said.

"Lean forward a little," Johnny directed. "It'll help Belle go up hill."

"You know a lot about horses," Roy commented, knowing he sounded lame.

"Well, horses and humans are alike," Johnny said. "We both go uphill better if we lean forward a bit. You seem to be doing better," he let that dangle.

"Yeah, not as bad as I thought," Roy admitted. "I guess I was always really concerned because they're so tall! And big! And..." Johnny chuckled.

"Yeah, they are," he agreed. "But when they're raised kindly and trained they're wonderful animals. Intelligent, gentle, loyal..."

"Like a dog?" Roy teased.

"Better, they can carry you when you're hurt and their poop is good for the garden and doesn't stink," Johnny teased right back. Roy chuckled and his grip loosened a bit more. They continued up the rise and then together leaned back as Belle moved down hill. Once they reached the flats they broke into a canter.

Roy was thrilled. He'd never felt so free as the air moved through his hair and his body synced with the horse's movements. Maybe he should reconsider riding. All too soon they arrived at the accident site.

Gage swung his partner down and pushed him towards the victim. He slipped off and handed the rein to Pete as he moved to Casper and started to gather their equipment.

The victim, a young man named Craig, had a severe compound fracture. His climbing buddies had done a good job of keeping him calm and covering the wound, but now the paramedics would be required to splint it.

That was gonna hurt!

As Roy took vitals Johnny tried the biophone. He couldn't raise the hospital. Pete then tried the HT and established communication with the nearby ranger's station. He was able to set up a relay to Rampart.

"Chantry Flats Ranger Station, this is Rampart," Kel Brackett's no-nonsense voice could just be heard. The ranger at the station began giving vitals.

"HT 51, start an IV with D5W, open wide. 5 mg morphine push," the ranger relayed. "Then splint and transport as soon as possible."

"IV, D5W, 5 mg morphine push, splint and transport," Johnny repeated. "Inform Rampart helicopter transport is at least an hour out." This information was repeated to Brackett.

"HT 51, Rampart requests vitals every 10 minutes and continue IV," the ranger reported.

"HT 51, 10-4," Gage responded and set the HT down. Soon Craig was drifting on morphine and the two paramedics were able to carefully splint the broken leg. Roy sorted through the drug box.

"We have two more bags of D5W and three of normal saline," he said. "Four more doses of morphine." Johnny nodded as he propped the splinted limb up on the cardiac monitor. At least it had a job to do! While he was tending to their patient, and Pete was talking with the other two rock climbers, Roy dared to approach Belle.

The horse was big, no doubt about that! But she bobbed her head down to him and allowed the senior paramedic to rub her nose then behind her ears. When he didn't quite managed to scratch her itch, she rubbed against him. With a laugh he moved his fingers and attacked the itchy spot on her forehead under the bridle.

From his vantage point Johnny monitored his partner. Belle was a very calm animal and he could tell Roy felt comfortable with her. Maybe with this experience he could get his reluctant partner to take some lessons with him. Horses opened up a lot of camping that was inaccessible to hiking. Plus, you could carry more food and equipment to make a comfortable camp.

"Hey, John," Pete sidled up to him. "Looks like that partner of yours might get over his fear."

"Might," Gage agreed. "Just need to find some good horses for him to learn to ride." Pete grinned.

"We-ell," he drawled, "as you know the rangers keep a couple stables. One at the LA equestrian stables. Then two smaller stables. I work out of the LA stables."

"That's great, you people definitely need good horses," Johnny stated.

"Well, Belle is kept at the LA facility," Pete offered. "If you want, you could bring Roy out there a few times a month and teach him. It'd be free since you're part of the department."

"Really?" Johnny looked surprised. "I thought you'd have more than enough people wanting to ride 'em."

"Well, lots of people want to ride," Pete allowed, "but few of them know what it takes to care for horses. If you came, then I know Belle and any other animal you rode would be brushed out and cooled properly." Johnny nodded.

"You're right about that!" he agreed. "Most people seem to think horses are like cars. Fill 'em up and take 'em out. Nothing else needed unless a visit to the vet/mechanic."

"I knew you'd understand," Pete smiled as he adjusted the blanked under Craig's sleeping head. "I'm there on most Fridays. I'll give you my card when we get back and you are more than welcome to call and see when I'm on. I'd be glad to keep Belle aside for Roy." Johnny gave him the full lop-sided smile.

"Great!" he agreed. "I might just come out by myself. Working around horses is very relaxing."

"And I'll have another paramedic team available for wilderness rescues," Pete grin grew. "Can't tell you how few teams are trained." They turned their attention to the senior paramedic who was laughing as Belle hooked her head over his shoulder and pulled him towards her. Another itch had presented itself and Roy was more than willing to scratch it.