Perspiration beaded on my brow as my breath fogged the mask and blocked my vision momentarily as I fumble with the knotted rope before me. Adrenaline pumped in my veins giving me strength even as the heat and exhaustion stole it away. The flames roared at my back and crept ever closer eating up everything in its path.
Suddenly the knot was undone as the rope falls from my hands; I look around, blinking sweat out of my eyes, trying to locate my partner. I find him and give him the all clear and he grabs the victim and starts heading out with me following close behind him. We can hear the creaking of the timber and the roaring of the flames as we pick our path back outside, back to safety. As we’ve almost made it back out we hear this feeble cry.
“H-help! Mommy… Mommy help!”
I tap my partners shoulder and motion for him to get the first victim out and that I’ll get the second. I turn back and wade through the wreckage toward the area where I thought I heard the voice cry out.
I see a door way blocked with debris, but not yet on fire. I call out in hope that the victim was still conscious and could hear me, “Hello! Can you hear me? Where are you?”
“Help m-me! I w-want my M-m-mommy!” The voice whimpered out, sounding young and fearful.
“Just hold still!” I yelled, “I’m coming to get you out as soon I can.”
I start shifting through the blockage, trying to get to the door before the fire does. In the back of my mind, the analytical part of it, noted that the structure was becoming unstable. If I didn’t get this victim out soon, we could both get trapped
I finally reached the door and open it. I noticed that the room was for a young child, obviously a girl, seeing as there are glittery butterflies hanging on the wall and the pink bed spread on the bed. On the ground curled up in a ball I see a child sobbing and rocking back and forth.
“Hey! Hey it’s ok,” I say soothingly as I knelt by her side, “it’s ok; I’m here to get you out of here.”
“Mommy –hiccup- s-said that I’m no-not supposta g-go wid strangers.” The girl seems to gasp for breath of air among the hiccuping sobs.
“Well my name’s Jimmy,” I said as I take my air mask off and help her get breaths of clean air as I pet hair in a soothing manor, “So now you know may name, does that mean that we’re still strangers?”
She looks up at me with tears shining in her eyes. “Well, I g-guess n-not…” she trails off as she takes another breath. “My n-name is B-bre.”
“Bre is it, that’s a wonderful name,” I say as I look around, the air is getting smokier and I crouch lower to look her in the eyes. “Now Bre, I’m gonna ask you to do something awfully brave, do you think that you can do that for me?”
She nodded her head shakily and I start pulling her up from the floor.
“I need you to keep that air mask on your face and wrap your arms around my neck,” I say as I put her in a bridle style carry. “And no matter what you see I need you to stay calm. Ready?”
Again she nods and I do a classic kinda smirk, saying, “Then what are we waiting for? Let’s blow this popsicle stand!”
She gives a small chuckle and seems to relax in my arms, what it was that I was trying to do. As we exit the room I notice that the orange glow from the fire had gotten stronger and closer, but as of yet there weren’t any actual flames from the fire. The walls were ominously creaking and groaning over the roar of the fire.
I look down at Bre and see her trembling some, so I smile and pat her shoulder saying, “It’s gonna be all right. I’ll get you out of here” I start picking my way through the fallen bits of ceiling, as fast as I dare. I turn the corner and could see the glow that the fire threw off cast my shadow far in front of me. The fire was creeping closer and closer, it was becoming a race against time. With me and Bre being pitted against the emotionless enemies of both the flame and time. The structure was becoming more and more unstable with each passing moment. At any time now it could come down, and that would mean certain death for Bre and me.
I keep moving with single minded determination Even if it’s the last thing I do, nothing is gonna stop me from getting this girl out! I vow to myself silently, as to not scare Bre with the thought of someone getting injured or worse dying.
Sweat and smoke sting my eyes as I gasp for breath, my lungs clogging with the inhaled ash and burning embers. Through the smoky haze I could see the flashing lights of the emergency vehicles outside. Relive floods through me, that is, until I hear the tale tell sound that the building was about to collapse.
“Bre, I need you to go out there, find someone dressed like me and tell them that Jimmy sent you.” I knelt down as I was saying this.
Bre looks at me confused, “why aren’t you coming with me?”
“I’ll be right behind you,” I say, “but this is if you just somehow get separated from me. Can you do that?”
She nods and then I add, “No matter what happens, I don’t want you to come back in here. You got that?”
She nods again, and I start towards the door with her walking in front of me. Everything was seeming to be fine when I just felt the horrible sinking feeling. Praying that I was being paranoid I start pushing Bre forward as I yell, “RUN!”
She stumbles for a moment, then catches herself and starts running. I’m a few steps behind her. I see she’s made it out and I’m about to follow.
Everything turns black except for the orange glow of the fire that hungrily approaches. I can feel the air starting to sear my throat and burn my face. Suddenly there is another cracking sound with a small rivulet of dust followed by much larger and painful objects to rain down on me. My last thought as everything goes dark is, She made it out…
A young girl
around 8 walks around seemingly dazed, one of the firefighters sees her and
walks toward her. She sees him but yet doesn’t. The man kneels down in front of
her and takes off his helmet.
“Hi there sweetie,” He said calmly, as he noted the fear in her eyes along with a glazed and glassy look, “My name is Dean, I’m a firefighter/paramedic, are you ok?”
She seems in her own world as she looks around. “Where’s Jimmy? H-he said h-he was gonna right b-behind me.” She said in a trembling voice. Silent tears run down her face, Dean reaches out to grab her hand. It was cold and clammy. She’s going into shock he thought.
“Ok, sweetie come with me,” he said gently as he guided her away from the burning house, getting her out of the way of the other firefighters. “I’m going to take care of you over here, what’s your name?”
“Mommy calls me Bre,” she said as she seems to wake up from her daze and come back to the real world, “You’re dressed like the man who came into my room and helped me get out.”
Dean pauses for a moment, in the midst of all this chaos and trying to get the first victim transported, he had almost all but forgotten about the fact that his partner stayed back to get another victim that they had heard as they were getting the first out.
“He said that if we got separated I was supposed to find another person dressed like him,” she said and paused as her face scrunched up with confusion and then seemed to recall what she was told, “oh he said to find someone dressed like him and tell them that Jimmy sent me.”
Again she pauses; Bre then tugs on Deans pants and says, “Jimmy sent me.”
Dean’s heart seemed to freeze at the thought that Jimmy might still be in there, but he just had to give a little smile despite the situation that they were in, just from the antics of a little girl, even though it didn’t last for long. “Where was Jimmy the last time that you saw him?”
She pauses and then said, “Well, it was right after he yelled at me to run, bu-but a-after I g-got out-out there w-was a l-l-loud crashing s-sound behind m-me and th-then J-jimmy wasn’t TH-THERE AN-ANYMORE!” She got hysterical as she told him what happened to Jimmy. Bre then starts to sob in her hands.
“Hey, hey now. It’s going to be alright.” Dean stresses the word alright to reassure her as he pulls her into a hug, while rubbing soothing circles on her back, “It’s ok, why don’t you lie down over here for a moment… yes it’s going to be alright just lay back, now that’s a good girl. You let these nice people-“ Dean motions to the EMTs standing by, “- take care of you, I’ll get Jimmy out, and it’ll all be fine. I need you to stay her and be a good girl by doing what they ask you to do. Ok?”
Bre nods as she takes deep breaths, her sobs diminished to little more than small shuddering sighs. Dean gets up, motioning for one of the EMTs to take over and start doing a check out on her. He then jogs over to where the shift Captain had set up base for this fire.
“Cap, we have a man still inside the building,” Dean said slightly breathless. The captain turns and looks at him, the question clearly in his eyes. So Dean clarifies, “There was a second victim heard when me and Jimmy were getting the first vic out. So he goes back for them and I get the first out. I recently found the second victim who has told me that Jimmy hasn’t made it out of the building.”
The captain’s eyes widen at the implication and the realization that one of his men was still inside and in danger somewhere in that inferno. He pulls out the radio and says, “Stations 86, 72 and truck 34 be advised there is a firefighter still trapped somewhere in the building-“
“Near the front door,” Dean adds that for a more specific area of search.
“-most likely near the front.” The captain finished.
"Copy that.” Came the fuzzy reply over the radio, and as Dean looked at eh building once more he could see at least two of the lines focus on the front to get the fire out so that they could search the area in relative safety. As the fire was put out one of the lines men dropped the hose and began to shift through the ruble that once was a house, in hopes of finding their brother in arms alive. As time passed without any news, Dean felt panic he had suppressed down earlier start to come bubbling back to the surface. His partner, his best friend, his brother in all but blood could be dying all alone in that damn building.
"Hey Cap, I think that we’ve found him, but he’s in bad shape I think from what I can see.” Came a staticky call over the handset, Dean felt like life was returning to him.
“Good job Rick, keep working,” Cap said in to the handie-talkie, he then turned to address Dean, “You might want to grab your supplies, it sounds like Jimmy’s gonna need it. You know ‘cause the way that his luck runs,”
Then under his breath the cap said, “I swear that Jimmy’s gonna send us all to earlier graves from making us worry about him all the time like this.”
Nodding Dean jogs off to the Squad. Pulling open the different compartments, he grabbed the drug box and the bio-phone, putting them on the ground he turns to the next area to grab the oxygen and trauma box, and sees Zane there.
“Heard the calls over the radio and figured that you could use help,” Zane shrugged when Dean shot him a questioning glance.
“Thanks,” Dean said, and motioned for Zane to grab the trauma and drug boxes along with the oxygen, “I’ll be over there as soon as I get the back board.”
So with all supplies grabbed and transported to the scene, Dean checked out what they had found, seeing the limp and unresponsive body of his friend, Dean dropped the things that he carried on the ground and rushed over to check out his partner.
“Jimmy! Jimmy can you hear me?” Dean asked, then scrambled for the bio-phone while also grabbing his stethoscope, and blood pressure cuff. Seeing his friend like this was hard for Dean but switches over to paramedic mode as he squashes his emotions down.
Pulse is slow and irregular, breathing is shallow and rapid. Unconscious. Pupils equal but constricted. Dean catalogs all of this as he undoes Jimmy’s turn out coat, to asses if there were any injuries to the sternum and abdomen. The ribs seemed to be intact but there was some large bruising on the upper right quarter of the torso. Dean motions for Zane to pull out a cervical collar, and then they put it on to immobilize the neck and to prevent any further spinal injuries if there were any. Other than minor contusions and abrasions he seems to be in pretty good shape for having a house fall on him, and in the back of his mind Dean knew that if Jimmy makes it out of this ok there were going to be a lot of the Wizard of Oz jokes floating around the station when Jimmy came back.
As more debris was move away and shifted off of Jimmy the earlier optimistic prognosis became obviously incorrect. Finally they were able to clear it all away and get Jimmy out of there. Zane and Dean worked together to slip Jimmy onto the back board without injuring him further.
The left leg didn’t seem all that bad, in that it had no protruding bone fragments but if the slightly unnatural angle of which the leg seemed to jut off in was to tell anything to go by then it was likely broken in at least one if not more places. When compared to the injuries of the right leg, the left was like a bear scratch. The right leg made Dean slightly sick just from the glance that he gave it in this low light.
“Damn.” Zane cursed under his breath. The right leg had major bleeding, blood gushing from the puncture wound the bone fragment and the bits of wood pieces. The legs bone fragment from obvious a fracture had punctured the skin.
“Zane start putting pressure on the wound and control the bleeding,” Dean said, taking control of the situation. “I’ll get in contact with the hospital.”
Zane nodded and pulled out some bandages from the trauma box and set about securing the fragment and stopping the bleeding. Dean meanwhile grabbed the bio-phone and set up the antenna, pulling out the hand set and initiated the call to the hospital.
“St. Joes General, this is squad 72.” Dean said, as he continued to monitor the vitals. Dean grabbed some gauze and tape to take care of some of the minor scrapes and cuts. He also got some of the wood bits out of the wounds.
“Squad 72 go ahead.” Came the familiar voice of Doctor Lauren Young, one of the many doctors that worked with them a lot. She could handle anything that the situation and life could throw at her. She was one of the best and always knew what to do or how to deal with things. Of all the doctors in the world Dean doubted that there would be many, if any, other doctors that he would trust more in the treatment of his firefighter family.
“General, this is paramedic Dean Wilder, I have a critical victim on scene. His pupils are equal but constricted, pulse is slow and irregular, breathing is shallow and rapid, the blood pressure is 90/60. The victim is unconscious, from blood loss or from a hard hit to the head I’m not sure, but has been this way since before the ruble was cleared off of him. The victim has an unknown amount of blood loss, stemming mostly from the puncture wound in his right leg from bone fragments. Both legs are broken but there is no fragments sticking out on the left leg. The victim is also likely to be suffering from smoke inhalation, how much and how long, again I don’t know, we have put the victim on oxygen. Be advised the victim is Jimmy Criston.”
There was a pause, Lauren digested the information.
"How does he do this?” She muttered under her breath, Dean barely caught what she had said. Lauren said, louder this time, “72 start an IV D5W, and splint the bones as best you can. Transport as soon as possible.”
“IV D5W, splint and transport as soon as possible. Got it. Squad 72 out.”
“Good. We’ll set up treatment room 4 on our end. Hurry.”
Setting down the hand set, Dean goes to the drug box and pulls out the IV kit and bag. Grabbing Jimmy’s left arm he wiped down the inside of the elbow with an alcohol pad, inserting the needle into the vein, Dean saw that bead of blood at the other end of the needle, he knew that he had found the vein. After securing the needle in the arm, he fitted the IV line to the open end and set the drip to the right adjustment. Wiping his brow, Dean felt that sick feeling that had always come, and always would, that came from having to treat one of their own in critical condition. Moving to the head Dean put on the oxygen mask over Jimmy’s mouth and nose, to help get him clean air.
Zane during this had grabbed the splints out of the box, and called for Dean’s attention, “Dean, I need a little help down here with the splints.”
Nodding Dean moved down to help him, he held the leg still and straight as Zane manipulated the splint and the straps into position. Soon they had the left leg immobilized and secured. While they moved to the right leg, a groan could be hurd leaving Jimmy’s mouth as he came back to the world of the living. Dean looks at Zane, who nodded and motioned for him to deal with Jimmy’s reawakening.
“Jimmy, Jimmy its ok! You’re severely injured right now so we need you not to move,” Dean said as he came into Jimmy’s view of vision. Jimmy lifts the air mask off of his face for the moment, using the arm that didn’t have the IV running off of it.
“B-b re?” Jimmy manages to gasp out, wanting to know for sure if she had made it out of the building.
“Yeah, yeah she’s alright,” Dean reassured as he gently but firmly pushed the mask back into place on Jimmy’s face, “You got her out just fine, all that she’s suffering from is that she’s a little in shock right now, which all things considered isn’t all that bad seeing the state of her house.”
“G-good” Jimmy said. Dean stooped by the bio-phone to relay a new set of vitals.
“General, this is Squad 72.”
“Go ahead Squad 72.”
“The victim has regained concusses and is semi-lucid in speech,” Dean said, the only thing betraying the calm façade that he was showing to the world was the slight tremble in his voice, doctor Lauren knew that meant that this would mean they would be fighting for Jimmy. “The vitals are otherwise unchanged.”
“OK, how long till you can transport?” Dr. Lauren’s voice was full of barely controlled emotion. Though she would argue and poke fun at the paramedics she and the other doctors in the area were deeply appreciative of what they did for the community and she cared greatly for these two in particular, she was the doc in charge of their training.
Dean looked at Zane, who was still splinting the right leg, to see if he knew how much longer they would take before they could even think about moving Jimmy to the ambulance. Zane held up one hand with all five fingers extended, sighing Dean put the hand set back up to his ear, “It’ll be at least five minutes till we’re ready for transport… Um the ETA at St. Joe’s is about an additional thirty-ish minutes.”
“OK 72, we’ll have one of the treatment rooms ready upon arrival.”
Dean puts the phone down and turns back to Jimmy. “Hey buddy, I know that it hurts but you are likely to have a concussion, so we can’t give you any pain meds until we get to the hospital.”
Stiffly nodding, as much as the collar would allow him to, Jimmy could feel movement by his right leg. And though, try as he might, he couldn’t hide that he was feeling the pain of his injuries. Dean felt a little guilty that he couldn’t do anything about that as he saw his friends face crease with both pain and exhaustion, Jimmy’s pain was giving him pain as well. Zane continued to work as fast as he could to finish stabilizing and immobilizing the leg, though he would never do anything to compromise the quality of the work.
“Can you feel your fingers?” Dean asked, in an almost desperate sounding attempt to distract Jimmy from the pains of his injuries. Jimmy for his part understood what it was that Dean was trying to do and went along with the question, he thought about it and gave a slight twitch of each finger separately, Jimmy nods again.
He then reaches up to the air mask and lifts it off slightly, to say, “I c-can f-f-feel my t-t-toes as we-ll”
Jimmy gives a small twitch of a smirk, like the one that he had given Bre earlier, and Dean felt himself roll his eyes at that. Trust Jimmy to jump the gun on the questions, especially whenever he gets injured, because heaven forbid that Jimmy ever acts like a normal patient.
“Anything else that you deem necessary that I know,” Dean said sounding slightly exasperated, at Jimmy’s antics.
“W-we-ll… my w-wrist is a-a little a-chy, and the g-ground is s-slightly u-u- uncomfortable” Jimmy said slightly breathlessly as he puts the mask back down, after doing another ‘Jimmy’ action. Trying to make light of the situation no matter what it is that is going on.
Dean looks at each of the wrists, and notices a slight discoloration of the left wrist. He then turns to Zane to check in with his progress. Zane looks up and says, “Almost done here, he’ll be ready for transport in just a few moments.”
Nodding Dean grabs an ace wrap for the wrist in precaution to prevent any further damage if the wrist was broken. As he did so, Dean felt some one approach him from behind, “We’re ready to transport when you are.”
Dean turns around and sees Per, the driver of one of the ambulances that they often work with. And though he looks a little eccentric, he was good at what he does. Dean nods, “Good get the stretcher over here and we’ll be off.”
Per goes off to grab that as Dean and Zane do a little clean-up of the supplies in their triage area, as well as prepping Jimmy for transport. Per came back wheeling the stretcher behind him, and Dean motioned for him to place it parallel to Jimmy, “You’ll get the middle, Zane you’ll get the legs, and I’ve got the head, we’ll lift on three.”
After they got in to position, and motioned that they were ready Dean counted off, “One, two, three!”
They all lift at the same time, and heave the body on to the stretcher, and settle Jimmy there. Dean looks around and loads the air tank on to the bed as well, “Let’s go.”
They work together once more to load the stretcher into the back of the ambulance. Dean steps in to the back, indicating that he would be the one riding along with Jimmy to the hospital. Nodding Zane hands him the Bio-phone and then the trauma and drug boxes. As Dean sits beside the stretcher, Zane closes and secures the doors, and motions for Per to head off.
The ambulance could be felt rumbling to life, as Dean looked over Jimmy once more, and noticed that he was once more unconscious. And as the sirens split the air, Dean grabbed Jimmy’s hand, as they raced through the streets. Dean felt that they were in a race. A race where they were going against the malicious and unchangeable hands of time. Emotionless and cared for none, the time continued to slip by as the rushed to get to the hospital in time, in this race there was no second place, they were in a race against time to save a brother’s life.
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