Disclaimers: All characters referenced in this story are mine and mine alone. Any similarities between them and anyone else living, dead, or fictional, is purely accidental/coincidental. Basically, hands off without my permission-pretty please.
If you like them, feel free to let me know about it at Jeaninehemailfirstname.lastname@example.org if you don’t, please don’t be mean.
Warnings: This story will depict relationships between women. If that bothers you, I’m sorry for your narrow-minded approach but please leave now and come back when you come out. If it is illegal for you to view this type of story due to age or location then please come back when you age or move. There will at times be somewhat graphic descriptions of medical events, nothing too graphic but not for those who faint at the mention of an IV. With that said, I hope you enjoy!
I’d like to thank Vic and Trish, the two people that encouraged me to put this out to let others decide its fate.
Also, for Sue, the reason I want to do my best is to be the woman you deserve-I’m always on call for you!
It took about a week, but life was starting to settle down again. We had another new medic at the station to fill Pauly’s spot. We got lucky and they sent someone with some experience as a medic who had relocated for her family.
Bran Weber, a thirty two year old from Chicago who moved to the area to care for her aging parents. She had a muscular build, swimmer’s shoulders, and a casual head of wavy black hair, with a touch of grey starting to show through. Her light blue eyes looked almost grey at times, especially when troubled by her patient’s condition. I didn’t know much else about her, but as her supervisor, I was about to learn more. I had a twelve-hour shift with her and I was curious to see how it would go. It was the first time I was riding with her as a partner instead of as a third.
I arrived at the station a little early and decided to get the rig checked out. I walked in, tossed my gear bag down, and stopped. “What are you doing here already?” I asked Bran.
She shrugged, “Couldn’t sleep so I decided to come in a little early. I made some fresh coffee too,” she said as she handed me a mug.
“Thanks! You know you don’t have to cater to me, right?” I wasn’t sure if she was telling the truth about not being able to sleep or if she was attempting to suck up to me. I hated suck ups but she didn’t really strike me as the type. Maybe she thought it was the way up the ladder faster than normal. On the other hand, I also didn’t want her nervous about running with me.
She gave me a puzzled look at first, then comprehension swept across her face. “Donny, I’m able to tell you this only because you are my supervisor. Been there, done that, and I don’t want to move up again. I have way too much going on in my life to take on that task. I haven’t let it get out that I was a Captain in Chicago. I don’t want anyone to think I’m stepping on toes or trying to be the boss. Are we cool?”
“Uh, yeah, sure. Look, I didn’t mean to imply that you were trying to get my job…I just didn’t want you thinking I want you to do all the work as the new person here either. You were a Captain? Really? And you left?”
“I had my reasons. One of which was taking care of my folks. My brother couldn’t move back and they wouldn’t move from their home. I didn’t want some stranger helping them out, so I decided it was time to move back here.” I saw a sad smile cross her face then leave as quickly as it came. “Being a Captain wasn’t all it was cracked up to be for me either. I didn’t get much field time and I was buried in politics and paperwork. I love being back in the field, treating real people, not tending to politicians’ egos.”
I laughed. I had heard that complaint from more than one Captain or higher during my service. “Got it. Leave you in the field to keep you happy. Hell, if that’s all it takes, you’ll be ecstatic around here.”
I pushed off from the side of the rig I had been leaning against, tossed in my turnout gear, and turned around to look at Bran. “Wanna grab breakfast? I’m going to see if the other morning crew wants to go out.”
“Sure thing, you round them up, I’ll put the mugs in the kitchen. Meet you back here in five.”
Whistling, I headed into the lounged to grab the other crew. I found Gina and Tony lying on the floor, reading the paper. “What’s this? A sudden interest in current events? Something happen of interest?”
Tony groaned and rolled onto his back to look up at me. “Mornin’ Donny. Gina here needs to find a new place to live. She just found out her apartment building is going condo.”
Gina grimaced. “I not only can’t afford the rates they want, but I don’t really want to buy an apartment. Why would I buy walls that aren’t really mine? I’d still have a million fees, rules, and regulations, for what? The same place I have now? Doesn’t make sense to buy it.” She sighed, “So, now I have to find a place to live, and Tony was kind enough to help me look.”
Sensing the sarcasm with her emphasis on the word “kind,” I suspected some arm-twisting and bargaining had gone on before I arrived. “Well, if you can leave your invigorating hunt for housing behind, we’re going to grab some breakfast. Interested?”
Tony jumped to his feet and practically ran me over to get out to their rig. With a sigh of exasperation, Gina got to her feet, kicked the newspapers scattered across the floor, and trudged behind him. I chuckled to myself and followed them both to the bay.
I decided to let Bran drive I still believe that there is no better way to learn the area than to drive it for a week or two. Besides, I knew her medic skills were top notch, so I didn’t have to worry about her getting the time in the back. “To breakfast driver, and step on it!” I joked, as Bran climbed behind the wheel.
She flashed a bemused look in my direction as she started the engine and gently eased us out into the sunlight. I gave her directions to the diner and relaxed back into my seat, ready for breakfast and some fellowship. The steady hum of the big diesel engine, along with the steady background chatter on the county radio, was lulling me to sleep. As we pulled in to the diner’s parking lot, I was awakened by the sound of the engine shifting into reverse and the back up siren beeping out it’s warning.
As Bran shut down the engine she cleared her throat and looked over at me. “Hey Donny? Can we keep that talk earlier between us please? I don’t want other people thinking things because I was a Captain and now I’m a front-line crewperson again. You know how the rumors get.”
“No problem, I won’t say anything to anyone. Does the Cap know though? He might be upset if he finds out later.”
“Yeah, he knows and agreed to keep it quiet. He was the one that suggested I fill you in. I just want to do my time and go home, ya know?”
“Got it, no worries Bran. We all have a right to make our career calls.” I switched gears then, “Ready to get some food? I’m starving.”
Tones dropped just as we finished our breakfast. Tossing some money on the table, Bran and I hurried out to the rig. “County, Medic Two Two Three, responding Fourteen South Tenth Street.”
“Medic Two Two Three, your patient is a forty five year old male with chest pain and difficulty breathing. No known history of cardiac events.”
“County, copy that.”
I started reviewing ACLS protocols in my head, the steps I would follow in the event that this was a cardiac issue. We pulled up to the scene three minutes later and saw that a patrol car was already on location.
“County, Medic Two Two Three is on location.”
Bran and I got out, grabbed our gear and headed into the residence. The front door was open but I knocked on the doorframe just to be safe.
“Ambulance! Did someone call for help?”
A voice called from upstairs, “We’re up here. Second door on the left!”
Shouldering our gear, we headed upstairs to find out what was going on. When we found the room, the scene before me was unexpected. An elderly woman was leaning over the male patient yelling at him.
“Stop faking this Harold! It isn’t funny! I told you to stop eating that chili stuff!” She was shrieking and crying.
The officer on scene looked up at us with a grimace. He had set up an oxygen mask but had yet to apply it. It looked as if he simply couldn’t get close enough to the patient without encountering the elderly woman.
I motioned to Bran to maneuver the older woman away from the patient. She approached slowly and was able to distract her by asking for a list of medications and other pertinent data we would need. I knelt down next to the patient, who was propped up against his headboard on the bed.
“Harold, I’m Donny, can you tell me what happened?” I was taking his pressure and pulse as I spoke to him. His skin was pale and diaphoretic, his breathing labored and shallow, and his pulse was racing.
“I don’t know. I was getting ready for breakfast when I felt like something hit me in the chest. I can’t breathe right either.”
“Harold, I’m going to have the officer put this mask on you face. It will help you breathe better and make sure you get enough oxygen while I check you out, okay?”
He nodded and the officer did as I asked, turning up the oxygen to high flow and putting the canister on the bed next to the patient. I put my monitor leads on the patient and watched the rhythm come to life on the screen. I ran a quick tape, looked it over, then decided to start a line and get moving. I didn’t like the look of the complexes I saw on the tape and decided he needed definitive care rapidly.
“Harold, I’m going to start an IV so that we can give you some medication.” He nodded at me, but remained focused on his breathing. I got the line in, started a run of saline, and decided to give him a dose of nitroglycerin spray to help lower his high blood pressure and hopefully, ease some of his pain.
“Bran, can you get the litter set up at the bottom of the stairs and bring up the chair please? I want to get rolling here.”
“Got it Donny!”
Bran arrived with the Stair Chair, a contraption much like a regular folding chair with the addition of handles at the feet and at the back by the head, wheels on the rear legs, and straps to help keep patients safely in place. We transferred the patient to the chair, strapped him in, and prepared to move him.
“Harold, I need you to hold this tank on your lap. No matter what happens, do not reach for the railing or let go of that tank. Got it?”
I looked over his head at Bran and nodded. On a soft count of three, I tilted the chair back towards myself and used the wheels to maneuver it to the top step. At the top of the steps, Bran took her position two-steps down and grabbed the chair’s lower handles. The cop stood behind Bran, guiding her down backwards as we lifted and carried Harold down the staircase.
At the bottom, we set the chair down and transferred Harold to the litter. After loading the patient and our gear, we headed towards the closest hospital. I called report in while monitoring Harold.
“ER, this is Medic Two Two Three. We’re inbound with a forty five year old Caucasian male. Initial complaint of chest pain and difficulty breathing. After initial vitals and a review of monitor, one dose of nitro was administered sublingual, high flow O2 by non-rebreather. Patient reported pain reduction from an eight to a four with nitro. We have IV access on TKO, no cardiac history, no medications, no allergies, ETA to ramp three minutes.”
“Medic Two Two Three, ER, we copy your report, keep monitoring and see you in three.”
We typically didn’t give specific data on patients who were awake so that we didn’t worry them. There was an abnormality in Harold’s EKG but telling him about it now wouldn’t do him any good. It was a judgment call, but the SOP in our department dictated that we do the best we could to limit traumatic information to patients outside of the hospital setting. The ER would get the rest of the report when we arrived.
After we moved the patient to cubicle, I gave report and transferred care to the ER. I was grateful to head back to station after that call and get some paperwork done.
I heard a knock on the door of the office and I groaned at yet another interruption. “Come!”
I changed my mind and smiled when Kristy walked in carrying a cardboard box. “Hey buddy! What are you doing here?”
“I just came to get my stuff out of your way. I figured I could unclutter part of your clutter.” She tossed a box onto the floor and sat down in one of the extra chairs. “How’s business?”
I sighed heavily. “Too damn busy as always. I need another medic who can do some paperwork! Or at least, another medic in the rotation so I can get more office hours to handle the paperwork. I don’t know how you did all this before I was promoted!”
Kristy rolled her eyes at me. “Drama queen! It isn’t that bad, is it? Besides, it increased slowly for me, as we grew busier over time. You had to leap right into it. What did the Captain say about more help?”
I shrugged. “He doesn’t have anyone senior enough that he wants to promote up yet but he’s trying to get me another medic for now. It means I spend less time on the street but maybe that will be a good thing.”
Kristy didn’t say anything. She just raised her eyebrows at me. I knew what she was thinking and she was right. “Yeah, I know, I’m going to hate less time on the streets to do more paperwork. But, I can schedule myself for a full day of office time and then maybe another half-day. At least I’ll have some steady, normal hours I can count on.”
Kristy still didn’t look like she believed me. “I’m really sorry if my leaving is screwing with your schedule. I figured they would find another person to promote or transfer in here for you.”
I shrugged, “They actually did send someone who could be a help with the paperwork. Problem is, she is here to avoid it instead of taking on that kind of responsibility again.”
“I’m not following you. You have a senior medic who is promotable, but she doesn’t want it?”
“Yup! She’s here to take care of her folks. She has officer experience. Hell, she was a Captain back in Chicago. She said she doesn’t miss the hassles and I can’t say I blame her. Taking care of two elderly parents has to be a lot of work and stress. Why add to it there is no need?”
“Makes sense I suppose. I can respect a choice like that and her need to stick by her folks. Sounds like a good person and a good crew addition.”
“Yeah, she’s got a lot of knowledge and really good hands.”
“At least you have someone to work with the junior medics in the field. Want to help me carry my crap out?”
“Yeah, might as well. I’m about done here anyway. I need to get home.”
“Great, you finish your stuff, I’ll load my little box, and we can head out.”
I finished putting away my files and clearing the desk while Kristy pulled together the mementos of her service in the station. When we were done, we each had a box to carry out to her car. “When did you get so much crap?” I teased her.
Her eyes twinkled, “I did practically live here since the stone age, what did you expect? Besides, it wouldn’t have been this much if it weren’t for that extra turnout gear I had in the office. I forgot about it.”
I teased her some more as we walked through the bay, stopping when a rig started backing in. We stood out of the way so the driver could get a good line of sight on the guideline painted on the floor. As the rig shut down, a crewmember jumped out of the rear of the rig. It was Bran.
“What are you doing on a rig? I thought you left an hour ago?” I knew she had since she stuck her head in the office before leaving.
She grinned, “Yeah, but a good call came in as the other crew was still checking in gear. I decided to ride along just in case.”
I shook my head, “Whack job! You didn’t get enough today? Oh hey, let me introduce you to our newest instructor at the Academy, this is Kristy. Kristy this is—“
“Bran? Is that really you?” Kristy was looking at her as if she had seen a ghost.
“Hey Kris, yeah, it’s me. Congratulations on the Academy gig.”
“When did you get back? Why the hell didn’t you call me?”
I took a step back. “I take it you two know each other?”
Kristy still stood with her box cradled in her arms, her head slowly moving from side to side. “I can’t believe you’re here Bran.” She dropped her box suddenly and glued herself to Bran in a full body hug.
I started feeling very uncomfortable and I didn’t have anyone to stick with since the rest of the crew had headed for the kitchen as soon as they got out of the rig.
I tried again, “So, how do you two know each other?”
Kristy pulled herself away but I noticed she kept a hand on Bran’s arm. “We met in college. In fact, we were just down the hall from each other for two years in the dorm. Our last two years of school, we shared a house with two other girls. We went to the Fire Academy together too.”
I was a little confused. “Bran, I didn’t know you were a graduate from our Academy! Why’d you leave the system for Chicago?”
She shrugged nonchalantly, “For a girl, why else?”
“Bran, get over there and take the second car. I’ve got two in this one.” I gained access, black tagged the driver, and started caring for the passenger. I pulled an EMT over to take C-spine while I completed a trauma assessment and started a line. As soon as the Rescue crew popped the door, we extricated the patient onto a backboard and got ready to roll. I looked over to the second car and saw that Bran and her crew had just finished securing two patients to backboards. They also looked ready to transport.
A voice interrupted my train of thought. “Any questions for the crew or patients?” Kristy turned towards the ring of Fire Academy Paramedic students, looking for raised hands. Kristy nodded at the first hand that went up.
A guy stood up, “How did you know to black tag the driver?”
I thought about how to respond, as the students knew that the patient had a pulse when we got to him. “This scene was designed as a small look inside a larger incident. In such a case we would triage and work the salvageable cases first. The driver had extensive injuries, almost no pulse or respirations, and was elderly. Therefore, he met the criteria for a black tag. If time allowed and resources were available, we would have worked him, and he probably still would have died. Does that answer your question?”
He shook his head. “No, I mean, in the scenario, how did you know his vitals and stuff for the scenario?”
I chuckled, realizing what he was asking. “We pin notes to the victims in scenarios to give vitals and other important data. The other option is having the patient or an instructor standing by to give that data as it is discovered or asked for by the participating crew.”
He thanked me and sat down. We took a few more questions before Kristy dismissed the class for the afternoon. She came over to us as Bran and I continued to stow gear. “Great job guys, thanks for helping out.” She clapped a hand on each of our shoulder and continued. “Who’s up for dinner? I’m buying!”
“Sure, do I have time to ditch the turnout gear or are you too hungry?” queried Bran.
I chuckled, “No can do, I have a mountain of work waiting for me at the station. Bran, you go ahead, I’ll take the rig back, and Kristy can drop you off for your car later.”
“Thanks Donny, I’ll bring her home nice and safe.” Kristy gave me a wink and a smile as Bran shed her gear, and I loaded it into the rig for her.
I silently marveled at the changes in Kristy over the past two months of teaching at the academy. She had started going out socially again, her sense of humor was certainly back, and she seemed to be more comfortable in her own skin. All of which was good of course, but some things she was still keeping quiet about and it confused me.
I thought about things as I drove back to the station and unloaded the extra gear we had used. After setting things back to standards in the rig, I headed for my office. As I opened my door, I saw a shadow behind the frosted glass window.
“Hey honey! How was the training class?” Caty moved closer to me and threw her arms around my neck.
Surprised but delighted, I wrapped her up in a hug and gave her a kiss. “It went well. Kristy is a good instructor. Bran and I have been able to get into a good groove and hardly need to talk during a rescue anymore. It’s a good feeling. I haven’t had that communication with anyone other than Spi— I mean Kristy.”
She gave me another quick hug before leaning back on the edge of my desk. “I’m glad you have a good partner to run with at least. It makes it easier knowing she has your back. So, it has been a month or so of you two being pretty regular partners. When is she coming to dinner?”
I flopped into a chair and rubbed my face with my hands. “I hadn’t planned on anything, but sure, we can have her over. Let me know your schedule and I’ll work it out. Does this mean you’re cooking?”
“Brat! Now, are you coming home with me or are you staying here?”
“I’m sorry baby. I should stay a little longer and do some paperwork. Do you mind?”
“Tell you what, make it up to me when you get home and you’re off the hook. Two hours, no more, and you come home. Deal?”
I grinned, “You’re the best, thanks baby. I’ll leave in two hours, I promise!”
Exactly one hour and forty-five minutes after Caty left the station, I was unlocking my car. I had ordered flowers for Caty and had to pick them up on my way home. I made it just before the shop closed, paid for the flowers, and was on my way in plenty of time. When I arrived at home, I was surprised to see that the house was dark. I didn’t see Caty’s car in the driveway but I thought that she might have pulled it into the garage. I grabbed the flowers from the back seat and unlocked the front door. The strangest feeling crept over me and I decided to slip off my boots and leave the flowers in the table in the hall. I carefully looked through the downstairs, showing no sign of Caty anywhere.
Now, I was starting to get worried. I pulled my telephone out just in case, and slipped it to vibrate mode. I skipped the step that always let out a creak, easing my way up the staircase. I looked in the various rooms on my way back towards our bedroom. Still, no sign of Caty, no noises, and I was starting to feel foolish. She must have been caught running some errand for dinner and I was earlier than she expected. Yet, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was someone in the house.
I took a deep breath before opening the door to the master bedroom. Inside the door, I stopped and stood, immobilized with shock. All around me were candles, lit and casting a gentle glow. The cd player had a soft, soothing song playing, and the bed had been turned down with a figuring reclining on the pillows. I took another look and felt the pain stab through me as well as flames of anger.
Continued in Part 17
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