It was another sunny day in Los Angeles when Squad 51 arrived at Rampart Emergency with an elderly lady who had fallen down the stairs and fractured her hip. Fortunately the morning had been quiet and calm which was a much needed respite for the weary paramedic team and the staff at the hospital alike. After tending to their fall victim paramedics Roy DeSoto and Johnny Gage took the opportunity to restock their dwindling supplies and chat with head nurse Dixie McCall.
Dixie was sitting behind her desk at the bay station with a clipboard in one hand and a blue pen in the other. As she began filling out the form Ray walked in along the gurney with their elderly patient resting somewhat comfortably.
"Take her into four." Dixie directed by motioning to the vacant room with her pen. "Joe is all set up and ready for her."
Roy stepped up to the desk and leaned down toward Dixie. "Morning Dix."
"Good morning. How's everything going?"
"Pretty good." Roy shrugged a little. "A lot better than the police department anyway."
"Oh? Something I should know?" She set aside her pen and gave Roy her full attention.
"Well, maybe. When me and Johnny went to our victim's address we had to drive through one of the... 'seedier' blocks in the area and there was a police cruiser parked in front of a house."
"Sounds pretty routine to me."
"Uh huh." Roy gave Dixie and uneasy smile. "And on the way back through there were two more cruisers at the same address and there was a large group of people under arrest. I think the police found and busted a drug den."
Dixie shook her head with disappointment. "That's good for the city but bad for everyone else in the neighborhood."
"Yeah. I can't imagine things are going to be calm for much longer. Once their customers find out their seller is out of business we might end up with a few crazies trying to raid the pharmacy again."
"Thanks for letting me know, Roy. I'll have hospital security babysit our pharmacy and medicine cabinets."
Johnny had pulled into the parking lot of the hospital with the Squad and strolled over to the desk where Roy and Dixie were chatting. Leaning against the desk Johnny greeted Dixie with his usual cheesy charm. "G'morning Dix."
"Good morning Johnny." She returned the silly grin he flashed her. "Roy tells me you two went to a dangerous neighbor just to save a sweet little old lady."
"Oh yeah, poor thing." Johnny was truly sympathetic toward the helpless woman. "She used to live in a nicer neighborhood, but when things started to go down hill she just couldn't leave her home behind. You know, it's where her family was born and raised."
"Sentimentality." Dixie nodded slightly in agreement. "I don't blame her. It'd be so hard to say goodbye to a family home."
"Anyway," Johnny pulled a notepad from his shirt pocket and went through the supplies written down in the green ink of his favorite pen. "we need a few supplies and I think you're just the person to help us out."
Dixie shook her head. "Flattery will get you nowhere Johnny Gage."
"What?" He feigned innocence as Dixie took the notepad from his hand.
Dr. Joe Early opened the door of room four and waved Roy over. "Roy, could you give me a hand for just moment?"
"Sure, doc." Roy walked over to the room at a brisk pace. "Something wrong?"
"I just need a second set of hands to help me keep her hip stationary."
As Roy slipped into the room Johnny waited patiently while Dixie gathered the necessary supplies required to properly restock the squad. From the waiting room just across the room a few people were awaiting their turn to see a doctor when an impatient man barged into the area in a bitter huff. Slamming his hands down on the desk in front of the admitting nurse he began to whimper and beg for help.
Dixie had heard the commotion at the same time as Johnny. Her instincts as a nurse kicked in and she went to the aid of her frightened nurse who was trying to remain calm behind her desk.
"Can we help you?"
"I... I need..." The man was tall and disheveled in appearance. Aside from his rotten, yellow and decaying teeth he had dark unkempt hair down to his shoulders, his locks unwashed and tangled. A layer of grim covered his skin where his tattered red flannel shirt, dirty white tank top and muddy jeans didn't cover. He was wearing messy tennis shoes that looked too big for his feet and the sleeves of the flannel shirt ran down over his hands as well. "I'm in PAIN..."
"Okay," Dixie talked in soothing tone. "why don't you have a seat and-"
"NO!" The man yelled loudly and angrily as he began slapping his hand down impatiently on the desk top. "I need medicine! NOW!"
The outburst caused the few people in the waiting room to discreetly leave the area, not wanting to bear witness to the extreme reaction of the extremely unsettling man. Just as quickly as the people dispersed from the waiting room Johnny made his way over to ensure that the man didn't try to do anything regrettable to either Dixie or the second nurse.
"Hey man, take it easy." Johnny urged in a tone just as calm as Dixie. "We're going to help you, alright?"
Dixie silently motioned for the nurse to leave the area while she and Johnny dealt with the disgruntled man. "Just tell us where your pain is and we'll-"
"SHUT UP!" The man screamed as he began running his hands through his hair and pulling at impatiently. He was shaking, sweating and on the verge of tears. Years of training told both Johnny and Dixie that this man was a junkie now detoxing and going through withdrawal. "JUST GIVE ME MEDICINE! I'M IN PAIN!"
"Okay, okay!" Johnny tried to keep the peace as much as possible. Putting himself between Dixie and the man he continued to attempt to reason with the man and prevent the situation from escalating. "Just take it easy. We want to help you."
The man looked at Johnny and began breathing heavily. His eyes were wide with fear and confusion and his posture tense. As he looked Johnny over he spotted the badge pinned to the left of Johnny's shirt and began to panic. "Are you a COP!?"
"What? No!" Johnny followed the man's eyes to his badge and realized why the man made the mistake. "I'm not a cop, I'm-"
"NO COPS!" The man suddenly reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a gun. Pointing the guy at Johnny he squeezed the trigger and backed away in a dazed panic.
Johnny froze as the bullet tore through his skin and rested in his shoulder. Shock and pain set it as the bullet wound began to bleed quickly and abundantly. Unable to maintain his footing Johnny's knees buckled and he fell to the floor. His body went limp as he collapsed backward onto the cool tile floor of the waiting room and laid prone, helpless with the shooter and Dixie hovering over him.
From exam room four both Dr. Early and Roy had heard the yelling and had called for security, but when they heard the gunshot the men instinctively went in a lockdown mode, securing the room and calling the police.
"I don't what's happening out there Roy," Dr. Early turned to his paramedic friend. "but neither of us are going out there to find out."
"Yeah," Roy reluctantly agreed as he looked down at the sedated elderly woman. He was glad she was asleep and spared frighten by the situation outside. "let's hope it isn't too serious."
The distinct aroma of fresh gunpowder and blood quickly filled the waiting room area as the desperate gunmen began sobbing where he stood. Fearless even in the face of death Dixie turned her full attention to Johnny was laying motionless at her feet.
"Johnny?" Dixie called the down paramedic's name as she rested on both knees on the floor beside him. Gently pulling his upper body onto her lap Dixie pulled open his pale blue uniform shirt, the buttons snapping open under her firm grip, and stared at the deep red stain of pooling blood that had collected on his white shirt beneath. Pulling the fabric down from the injury to his upper left chest and shoulder Dixie pressed her hand down onto the wound in an attempt to stem the bleeding. "You're going to be okay. I got you."
Johnny winced slightly in response to Dixie's hand pressing down on his injury. Blood began to ooze between her fingers and from underneath her palm as Dixie maintained pressure.
The man began to stammer between his sobs. "I didn't... I didn't want to!" He backed himself against the wall and pressed his hands, one still clutching the gun, to his forehead in panicked regret. "I didn't mean to!"
"I know..." Dixie kept speaking a docile tone as she pressed her hand down onto Johnny's bleeding wound. "It was an accident."
"I just... I just need some medicine..." The man was whimpering like a terrified child. "I'm in pain!"
"We know." Dixie didn't flinch as she talked to the man. "Just put the gun down and we'll help you."
"No!" The man climbed into one of the vacant chairs and curled up into a small ball as he waved the gun around dangerously. "You're trying to trick me!"
"No, I'm not." Dixie pressed her free hand against the side of Johnny's neck and checked his pulse. "I just want everyone to be taken care of."
The man just watched pitifully as Dixie tended to Johnny to the best of her abilities without being able to use any nearby medical equipment.
"What's your name?" Dixie asked softly. "It'll make it easier to talk once I know your name. I'm Dixie McCall."
"...Roger." The man muttered between clenched teeth. "My name is... Roger."
"Roger." Dixie repeated the name to gain his full attention. "My friend needs help." She looked down at Johnny's pale face briefly before looking back to Roger. "Please, let me take him to a treatment room."
"No!" Roger refused to let her go from his sight. "If you leave then I'll be alone!"
"No you won't." Dixie could feel Johnny's chest tighten as he began to struggle to breathe. "How about you let a doctor take him into a treatment room and I'll stay here with you for as long as you like?"
Roger looked down at Johnny, his brown eyes were open but unfocused as he remained motionless under Dixie's hand. "You will really stay... with me?"
"Yes." Dixie nodded affirmatively. "I'll stay."
Roger didn't answer. He just stared at Johnny as if he could somehow see right decision if he just looked hard enough.
"Please. He's still alive." Dixie pulled Roger's attention back onto herself. "But if he dies then..."
"I'll... I'll go to jail." He looked down at Johnny and lowered his arm with the gun. "For the rest... of my life."
"But you don't have to!" Dixie kept trying to coax Roger into making the right choice. "Let me save my friend and I'll make sure everyone knows it was an accident."
"I... I..." Roger was beginning to panic again as confusion swarmed through his detoxing mind. He lifted his arm and pointed the gun at Dixie as he struggled to reach a decision. "How do I know you're not lying?!"
"I can only give you my word. I'm sorry I can't give you anything more."
Roger turned away from the sight on the floor before him and lowered the gun as he let out another pained sob. "Fine! Do it!"
Dixie motioned to the phone sitting on the desk just out of her reach. "I need the phone. I need to-"
"No!" Roger raised and aimed the gun again. "You're going to call the cops!"
"I'm not going to call the cops, I'm going to call a doctor so he can take my friend into a treatment room." Dixie's blue eyes were as sincere as her demeanor was calm. "Just pick up the phone and press the number four. That's all."
Roger grabbed the phone, snatching it up from the receiver and pressed the button as directed. He then dropped the phone down the side of the desk, letting it dangle by the cord so Dixie could reach it.
"Joe?" Dixie spoke softly but distinctly. "I need a gurney out here. There's been... a casualty."
Joe hung up the phone and let out a sigh as he gave Roy an unsure glance. Returning his focus to the elderly woman still sedated he made a bold decision.
"Roy, that was Dixie. Someone's been hurt and we need to help."
"Right. But what about her?"
"We'll move her into room six. Dr. Morton should be there with a nurse."
"Okay. Lead the way."
Joe pushed open the connecting door between the exam rooms and sure enough Dr. Mike Morton and a nurse were both sitting patiently in the adjacent room with another patient. This patient was conscious and suffering from a broken leg; not critical in any way.
"Joe? What's going on?" Mike asked as Joe held open the door and Roy began to carefully wheel the woman into the room. "There's been an injury out in the waiting room. Dixie is handling it but from the sound of her voice I'm willing to bet that she can't leave the area."
"What do you need me to do?"
"Keep an eye on our patient so we can help whoever it is that needs help out there."
"Where's Kel?" Mike asked as he and his nurse moved their patient's exam table to the side slightly to make room for the elderly lady. Dr. Kelly Brackett wasn't in any of the exam rooms and he wasn't in the bay station.
"I think he's still in his office." Joe answered quickly. "Try calling him, see if know's what's going on."
Roy took the unoccupied gurney that had been used to transport Dr. Morton's patient and wheeled it back into the fourth exam room while Joe held the door open for him.
"Yes." Roy confirmed as he mentally steeled himself for whatever it was that he and Dr. Early would have to face in the waiting room.
Joe pushed open the door of the room leading to the hallway very slowly and kept his voice low. "Walk slowly and don't move your hands too quickly."
"Do you know what's happening?"
"Call it a hunch. I've only heard Dixie speak in that tone once before and it was when you and Johnny had to find the home of the suicidal woman who had called the hospital. Dixie spoke to her for a very long time and I think we're dealing with someone who is just as desperate and dangerous as that woman who was ready to kill herself."
Taking in a deep breath Roy followed Joe, the two men rolling the gurney down the hallway toward the waiting room. From the distance it was difficult to see who was laying on the floor, but as soon as Roy caught sight of the distinct pale blue shirt and dark pants his heart began to race with fear.
Joe could feel Ray beginning to worry and paused for a moment to try to offer a sense of reassurance to the righteously concerned paramedic. "It'll be okay. Let's get him into the exam room."
Roy could only nod as and Dr. Early continued on their way to the waiting room. Dixie was still holding pressure on the wound while Roger remained crouched in a protective ball on the chair with the gun in his hand.
"How's he doing, Dix?" Joe asked as he knelt beside Johnny and felt for his pulse in his neck. Joe didn't dare to look at Roger just in case the eye contact might accidentally send him into a manic state of mind once again.
"He's holding his own."
"Not surprised." Joe took the stethoscope from his coat pocket, placed the pieces into his ear and ran the belly over Johnny's chest. "Blood is collecting in the chest. Left lung isn't inflating properly."
"He started having difficult breathing about two minutes ago. No sign of cyanosis."
"Is this his only injury?" Joe palpitated fingers around the bleeding wound to check Johnny's chest for any sign of further trauma or internal damage.
"Yes. One G.S.W. to the upper left pectoral muscle and lower left shoulder." Dixie remained professional even in the the direst of circumstances. "He hasn't regained consciousness."
"Roy?" Joe looked to the worried paramedic who had to fight back against every urge he had to tackle the gunman and beta him senseless. "I got his arms, you get his legs."
Without a word Roy stooped down and grabbed onto Johnny's legs and the middle of his back while Joe carefully switched places with Dixie so he could resume applying pressure to the wound before putting his free arm under Johnny's shoulders.
"On three." Joe braced himself before lifting the downed paramedic up to the nearby gurney. "One, two, three!"
Working together Roy and Joe managed to heft Johnny onto the gurney without jostling his injured body too much. "Hang in there partner..."
"I'll be fine Joe." Dixie insisted without even the slightest hesitation in her voice. "Go. Take care of Johnny."
Trusting Dixie with all of his being Joe respected her request and motioned for Roy to begin rolling the gurney back toward exam room four. As Joe and Roy returned to the room he gave a thoughtful glance back to Dixie, although he knew Dixie could handle any situation it was still a struggle for him to leave his friend alone with the crazed man.
Dixie slowly stood up from the floor and addressed Roger in a low voice. "Okay, it's just us now."
"Y-Yeah..." Roger muttered as he breathed deeply and rapidly, spit falling from his clenched teeth. "Now what?"
"Well," Dixie could see a member of the hospital security personnel as well as two cops peering through a staff only door behind Roger. "what do you want?"
"I want... I want the pain... TO STOP."
"Okay, so why don't we sit down and discuss this." Dixie gave a subtle nod to the two cops while she kept her focus on Roger. The two men quietly pushed open the swinging door and kept low as they approached Roger from behind. "We want to help you."
"I-" Before Roger could say anything else one cop had pulled the gun from his hand while the other pinned his free arm to his back and forced him down to his knees. "NO!" Roger tried to resist but the two cops worked together to cuff both hands behind his back and force him to lay down on his stomach on the floor.
Dixie backed away and watched as the cops subdued the crazed man. "Take it easy, don't hurt him."
Kel had joined the commotion in the waiting room, watching from a safe distance until the cops intervened. He put his hands on Dixie's shoulders and put himself between her and Roger. "Dix! Are you alright?" He spotted the blood stains on her hand and on her white uniform. "Are you injured?"
"No, I'm fine." Dixie answered as she watched the two cops drag Roger out of the waiting room and through the exit to the hospital. "This isn't my blood."
"Whose is it?"
Johnny was pale and sweating heavily as he laid limp on the exam table. Joe had just inserted a chest tube to drain the collected blood from Johnny's chest to ease his breathing. Roy hovered protectively over his friend as he and Joe worked together to stabilize the downed paramedic.
"Looks like the bullet lodged into his left scapula." Joe determined as he examined the wound more closely with his skilled hands. "No major arteries hit, but he's still lost a lot of blood."
Roy watched his friend's pale face and the faint fog forming on the interior of the oxygen mask over his face. Seeing Johnny so still and weak always made Roy uneasy, but seeing the blood stained bandage covering his injury made his stomach churn. "I just wish he'd wake up."
"Be patient Roy." Joe reminded him empathetically. "I know waiting is the hardest part, but we all know Johnny it too stubborn to let something like this hold him back."
Kel and Dixie walked into the room side by side and immediately looked down at Johnny. "How is he Joe?" Kel asked as he used his stethoscope to listen to Johnny's chest.
Roy put a comforting arm around Dixie's shoulders as a means of thanking his brave friend for helping Johnny when he couldn't.
"He's stable. But the bullet will need to be removed surgically." Joe confirmed as he looked over at Dixie thoughtfully. "How're you?"
"I'll be okay." Dixie replied honestly. "But I'll be a lot better as soon as Johnny's been taken care of."
"I called O.R. just a few minutes ago. They're ready for him."
"Good." Kel took the stethoscope from his ears and draped it around his neck. Rubbing his chin as he mentally chronicled all of the wild events that had just transpired he exchanged a stern look with Joe. "And once Johnny's upstairs we're going to make sure Dixie is really alright."
"Kel," Dixie wanted to argue but from the look in his eyes she knew she wouldn't get far. "I'm not hurt."
"No, but you were part of a really close call. I know the police are going to be asking questions and I don't want you to push yourself. You're taking the rest of the week off and that's final."
Kel and Joe weren't going to budge on their mutual decision.
"Okay, you win. But I'm not leaving until I see Johnny after he wakes up."
It didn't take long for Johnny to be taken to the operating room to have the bullet removed from his shoulder. The operation wouldn't take too long to perform, but whenever it was a friend who was laying on the operating table even the simplest routines seemed to take an eternity to sit through.
After being questioned by the police Dixie and Roy had resided to the doctor's lounge while Dr. Early, Dr. Brackett and Dr. Morton finished treating the other patients that had been forced to wait while the situation in the waiting room was tended to.
Roy had called the station to let Captain Stanley know about the unfortunate event at the hospital and had been given permission to stay at the hospital.
Dixie held a mug of warm coffee between her hands as they sat folded on the table surface.
"How're you holding up?" Roy asked softly.
"I've seen worse." Dixie looked up from the coffee and locked eyes with Roy. "But not very often."
"How did you do it?" Roy sighed as he folded his arms against his chest and leaned back in his chair. "How did you keep so calm and talk to a man with a gun pointed at your head?"
"Comes with experience, I guess." Dixie hadn't put much thought into what she had endured. Being a nurse and having seen some military action up close and personal, it would take a lot to shake her to her core. "I just didn't think too much about it. I had a friend who was hurt and needed my help and I had a stranger who was hurting and begging for help."
"So you found a way to help them both." Roy nodded slightly with approval. "I gotta' hand it to you Dix, you're one of a kind."
"Thank you Roy." She smiled a little. "It's nice to know that I can still impress you 'hose-jockies'."
"Do you know how our... 'friend' is doing now that he's been arrested?"
"He's going through withdrawal. Turns out that drug den was his supplier and he needed a fix. You were right Roy. We needed to be prepared."
"Sorry it was enough."
"Oh," she reached a hand out and rest it on Roy's forearm. "it'll be alright. You'll see."
Kel walked into the doctor's lounge and gave his friends a reassuring smile. "Johnny's out of surgery. The bullet was removed with no complications."
Roy let out a sigh of relief while Dixie closed her eyes in silent, thankful prayer.
"Can we see him?" Roy asked eagerly.
"In a few minutes. He's still coming out of anesthesia."
Kel cleared his throat in a somewhat loud manner. "Say Roy, do you mind giving us a minute alone?"
"Sure Doc." Roy took the hint and rose from the table. "I'll call the guys and let them know Johnny pulled through."
Kel took Roy's now vacated seat across the table from Dixie and leaned toward her with a strong need to be close to his friend. Dixie was strong minded and fearless, but even she was vulnerable to bullets and mayhem.
"Level with me Dix." Kel asked intently. "How are you really holding up?"
"I'm okay." She reaffirmed but the restrained emotion in her eyes told another story. "It's just never easy to do your job when it's a friend who's the patient."
"Yeah, tell me about it." The look in his eye was a reflection of his concern for her, not just Johnny. "Look, if you need to talk you know where to find me."
"Thank you Kel." She reached her hand out and he took it in his own lightly.
Roy was sitting next to Johnny's bed silently waiting for his friend to wake up. It had been an hour since Johnny had been taken from recovery and wheeled into his own private room to heal. A nasal canula was resting on Johnny's face, which was no longer a sickly pale. An I.V. of blood was running into his right arm and a silent cardiac monitor was attached to his chest. His left shoulder was heavily bandaged and his left arm was behind held upward against his chest in a sling to keep the weight of the limp from straining his wounded shoulder.
"Come on Johnny," Roy spoke quietly. "wake up."
A light stirring from the bed drew Roy's attention. Standing up he stood beside the bed and wrapped his fingers around Johnny's wrist to check his pulse.
"Johnny, can you hear me?"
"...Roy?" Johnny sounded a little hoarse but his words were easily understood.
"Yeah, it's me. Welcome back partner." Roy let go of his wrist slowly. "How do you feel?"
Johnny took in a deep breath and flinched at the pain of the healing incision in his chest courtesy of the chest tube. "Sore."
"Well, a bullet will do that you."
"And a chest tube." Johnny was now fully aware of the world around him. "I don't know what hurts more, the bullet or the tube."
Roy laughed a little at the comment.
"Is Dixie okay? Where's that lunatic with the gun?"
"Dixie's fine." Roy reassured his friend. "And the gunman is locked up. You're safe."
"She saved me, didn't she?"
"Yeah." Roy patted his arm. "Dixie kept you as stable as possible until Dr. Early and I could get to you."
Johnny breath deeply and flinched again at the sharp pain in his ribcage. "I can take a guess as to what that guy's problem was, but why don't you tell me for sure."
"Withdrawal. He wanted drugs."
The door to his room opened and Dixie stepped inside. "Nice to see you awake."
"Dixie," Johnny forced himself to smile at his rescuers. "thanks for everything."
"Don't mention it." She walked over to the bed and gently brushed a lock of his hair back from his forehead. "You never I'd never let anything bad happen to you on my watch."
"Yeah, I know."
"Try to rest," Dixie suggested sweetly. "if you're a good boy we'll let you go home tomorrow evening."
"Only 'if', huh?" Johnny's cheesy grin was a welcome sight to behold.
"That's right." She smiled widely in return. "No promises. But I'll see if I can negotiate for your early release."
"You do seem to be a master negotiator." Johnny teased appreciatively.
"Only the best for my two favorite paramedics." Dixie put her other hand on Roy's shoulder as she spoke. "I'll be back to check on you later."
As the courageous nurse left the room the two paramedics couldn't help but marvel at her strength of character, even in the face of death.
"Glad she's on our side." Johnny commented playfully as the door closed behind her.
"Never assume!" Roy wisely cautioned. "But she is right, behave and get some rest. I'll let the guys know how you're doing."