That was the one word that flooded his mind when opened his eyes and looked around. The area immediately around him was dark, but an orange glow was edging its way towards him, taunting him with its beauty. He knew he had to get out of the room he was in, but how, he just didn't know.
It was a factory fire, one with a lot of chemicals. And there had been quite a few workers missing, as the foreman didn't have his paperwork with him and couldn't get a headcount. He and his partner had been checking for victims near the back of the factory, where there were offices, but there was no one in his direction. The last thing he remembered was entering the last office, seeing the fire licking up the walls and turning to leave when he heard the ominous but recognizable sound of the floor above start to give way. He didn't know anything after that until he woke up.
I have to get out of here!
He tried to get up, but something was holding him down. He looked in behind him as best as he could, seeing a floor joist pinning his right leg down. He started taking stock of the situation he now found himself in. His head was hurting worse than when he came to. What had started as a dull throb was now steadily becoming a horrible pounding, like someone was using his head for batting practice. Head injury, great! he thought sarcastically. Automatic night at Rampart coming my way. He had been thrown face down, his helmet and air mask thankfully still in place. He moved his arms with not much difficulty or pain, grateful that there was nothing broken there. His back was starting to hurt; he guessed that a piece of the flooring must have fallen on him at one point.
The orange glow began taunting him again, this time seeming to coax him to follow it. He knew it was absurd, since the orange was fire. He pushed the odd thoughts out of his head as he began to shove backward with his free leg on the joist, the wood unforgiving. He tried lifting it, but the board was wedged under a piece of the flooring. He stopped for a moment, trying to catch his breath. For some reason it was starting to get difficult to breath normally through his air mask. Possible broken ribs, maybe punctured lung. Yeah, I'm going to be spending a few days in Rampart.
It was then he could feel the rubble shift slightly, the joist moving just enough to the left that a gap opened up underneath it. He maneuvered his leg towards the gap, hoping is was enough to pull it out.
After a moment or two, he was finally able to pull himself free, and just in time too. The orange glow was now rapidly turning into the raging fire that had started in the corner of the room he was trapped in. He laid on the floor, his energy sapped from the exertion he had put forth just to free himself.
I have to get out of here!
He stood up, almost falling forward as he felt a stabbing pain in his leg that had been trapped. He cried out in pain finding a wall he could lean on for a moment. Lovely, possible broken leg.
He shook his head, the headache getting worse by the minute. Concussion, he thought to himself as he was able to get a better look around him, the urgent need to flee intensifying as the fire was beginning to burn everything in its path, heading in his direction.
He must have stood too long staring at the fire and taking stock of his situation because the beast had moved rapidly in in less than two minutes. He was too close, as flames began licking at his turnout coat and pants. Hurriedly he tried to smother the flames as he backed up a few feet from the intensifying fire. He grimaced in pain as he quenched the fire that almost engulfed him. He noticed that his turnouts were singed and he could feel what he thought was sweat rolling down his neck and back, his hands strangely numb.
He faltered in his movements, trying to feel his way around the room. He finally felt the opening and stumbled his way out and into the smoke filled hallway. He looked both ways, disoriented by the smoke and the headache and the burning from his hands that was making it impossible for him to concentrate, finally deciding that he needed to go to the left.
Get out! Get out! That was the only thing his mind was shouting to him over and over as he moved as far away as possible from the fire that had started on his end of the building.
He willed himself to move forward, unsteadily at best with an injured leg. His progress was slow; he was staggering from the injuries that were starting to take their toll on him.
I gotta keep moving! Can't stop; gotta keep moving!
He could hear voices faintly at the end of the hall, but they were being drowned out by the roar in his head and the fire behind and in front of him. He didn't see the debris in the floor, tripping over it. He feel to his knees, hissing in pain as he landed badly on his bad leg.
He finally staggered back to his feet, blackness threatening to overtake him. Keep it together man! Your almost there! He was faintly aware of voices shouting at him and hands grabbing him as his legs became like jello, pitching him forward as he lost consciousness.
Captain Stanley was an anxious man. He heard reports that one of his paramedics was missing in the midst of the beast burning inside the building. Please be alright, you guys have to be alright! he thought to himself as he continued directing the fight against the fire that was burning out of control. As his handi-talki came to life, Cap waited with bated breath. "HT51 to Engine 51. We've got him! We're on our way out!"
"10-4 HT51," Cap replied, not trusting himself to say anymore at the moment. He had to see for himself, even if he was injured, Cap had to see that his crewmember was alive.
He squinted when he saw a dark shadow forming near the entrance to the factory in the midst of the heavy smoke that was rolling out of the building. The dark shadow then morphed into three distinct shapes. Cap almost whooped for joy when he recognized his men. The joy was short-lived, however when he realized that two of his men were basically carrying the third between them. He jogged over to the squad and pulled out a yellow blanket, ripped opened the package and spread it on the ground for the injured man.
As the trio neared him, Cap was finally able to ask the question that had been on his mind since he heard they had found his man.
"Where was he?" Cap asked worriedly as Chet and Roy laid an unconscious Johnny out on the yellow blanket. He had been missing for almost fifteen minutes, no one knowing really where in the building he had apparently been trapped in.
"He stumbled out of a hallway just about fifty feet from the entrance. We caught him as he went down," Chet replied as he pulled the gear out of the squad for Roy, who was already checking Johnny over.
"Cap? Can you help me get his air mask, tank and coat off?" Roy asked as he carefully leaned his unconscious partner up to pull the items off easily.
"Sure Roy," Cap replied, taking Gage's helmet off. Thank God that stayed on. Don't know how many time the kid has lost it. He then slid the air tank and mask off, startled when he saw that the facemask had been cracked nearly in two. He showed it to Roy before handing the tank and mask to Chet so they would be out of the way.
Cap then unbuckled the coat, Roy helping him slip it off. Cap was a little disconcerted by how black the coat and pants looked on the right side. You had to have been on fire at one time John. How did you even get that close? he thought to himself as he and Roy pulled the pants off.
Roy, for his part, was shocked at how bad his partner looked. John's right side had first and second degree burns, his right leg was bent at an unnatural angle. Junior, how did you even get up? Let alone make your way down the hall? Roy took the BP cuff that was handed to him by Chet, starting to get vitals on the young man.
Cap stood up, knowing he had to get back to directing the fire. He kept one eye on Roy as he also worked. He could see Roy putting his partner into a burn pack, Chet helping him pour saline over John's burns.
Cap was preoccupied with watching Roy work on Johnny that he didn't notice or hear the evacuation of all personnel from the building. A moment later, he had to duck when the east side of the building exploded, engulfing the whole building with fire.
Marco jogged his way to Engine 51, having been sent back by the chief. Cap nodded at his linesman, giving him the signal that it was fine to take a break. Marco took out his canteen and sat on the bumper of the engine near Mike.
Cap had just turned back and was alarmed when he saw Roy inserting an airway on Johnny. He knew from experience working with the two paramedics that it was not a good sign; it meant Johnny's airway was compromised. Marco did a double take when he saw Roy working on Johnny with Chet's assistance. He was up in a flash and ran to help his injured friend as well.
Chief McConnikee came over to where Hank was still standing, watching Roy work on Johnny and also working the fire. "Hank, how is he?"
Cap turned to look at his superior officer. "I don't know, but its not good. He's burned, he took in some smoke and apparently broke his leg."
"Hank, we're getting the fire pretty well contained right now. Since one of your men has to drive the squad to the hospital, that means your down three men. I'm going to release your company so you can follow. Make sure you keep me up to date on his condition, okay?" McConnikee requested, patting the distraught captain's shoulder.
"Sure Chief, and thanks," Cap responded, jogging over to the ambulance Johnny was being loaded in to. He clapped a hand on Chet's shoulder, the linesman looking up at his captian. "Chet, drive the squad in pal."
"Sure Cap," Chet responded running to the vehicle and climbing in.
"Roy, we'll be a few minutes behind him. Chief stood us down. Take care of our boy."
"I will Cap, see you at the hospital," Roy responded as one attendant jumped in with him and the other ran to the front cab. Cap shut the doors and slapped it twice, watching as it pulled away from the scene, lights and sirens blaring, the squad right behind.
Cap went back to the engine, seeing that Marco and Mike had almost finished pulling the lines in. He helped the two men, loading the engine up in no time. Fifteen minutes later, they were on their way to Rampart, leaving behind the beast that had almost claimed one of them.
The ambulance backed into the Emergency entrance of Rampart, the squad doing the same. The attendant driving jumped out the front and opened the doors to the back, he and his partner pulling the gurney out of the vehicle and raising it up. As soon as they had it up, Roy jumped on the rails, starting CPR.
Dixie met the gurney at the door and was shocked to see Roy riding the rails. "He crashed as we backed in!" Roy yelled as Dixie nodded, running ahead of them. "Joe! Room 2 stat!"
The attendants pushed the gurney into Room 2, Joe, Kel and Dixie right behind them. "Lets get him on the table! Dix, crash cart!" Kel ordered as the two attendants and Roy maneuvered Johnny onto the table. As soon as the transfer was complete, Roy began CPR again, Dixie wheeling in the crash cart as the gurney was pushed out of the room.
"400 watts, lets go people!" Kel exclaimed as he grabbed the paddles, Dixie putting the gel on them for him. She then pushed the button and counted, "1..2..3..400 watts!"
"Clear!" Kel yelled, Roy and the nurse using the ambubag jumping back out of the way as Kel shocked Johnny's heart. He whipped his head to look at the scope. "No conversion! Again!"
"1..2..3..400!" Dixie counted after pushing the button a second time.
"Clear!" Kel shouted, shocking the young man again. "Got 'im!" Kel whispered, silently sending his thanks heavenward. "You cut it close this time Johnny. I don't know how many more lives you have left. You're causing me to go grey prematurely," he added, shaking his head ruefully.
As Joe and Kel began barking orders out, Dixie ushered a completely exhausted and worried Roy outside. "Dix," he began, looking down at the head ER nurse.
She held her hand up, silencing him before he could protest. "Now Roy, they need room to work and you need to sit down for a few minutes. You just did CPR on your best friend for almost five minutes. I know you. You need to go to the lounge and get a cup of coffee and re-group mentally."
Roy nodded sadly before making his way to the lounge to do as Dixie directed.