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New Year, New Life - Part 1

An Emergency Story by

DonnaLouise 

 


We worked Wednesday December 31st; on our l shifts, and got off at 5:00 pm. We both went home to get cleaned up and change into some nicer cloths, John was going. Mary greeted us at the door and I held my ring out for her to see. “We had some big plans to make, do you have a quiet spot for us tonight?” To pick up his parents and I was going to pick up mine. We had planned on getting to the Restaurant just before 7:00 pm; we wanted to beat the rush. We both made good time, and got to Suzi’s at the same time. We went into the restaurant and our table was ready. Mary was on duty. She is the Owner’s Daughter and we had worked together at the Club. Mary hadn’t seen me for several weeks, and had not seen my ring yet We had promised our parents, that we would all get together on New Year Eve to plan the wedding, John and I both want a small wedding with just immediate family and a few close co-workers from both Stations and the Club. We had made reservation at Suzi’s Restaurant for 7:00 p.m. We were both on duty for later that evening and we both had to be at our station by 10:00 p.m. We were both on the second squad, and would only go out if the first squared was out on a run. Usually both squads are very busy after mid-night. Most party goers stay put until they start home, then the accidents start in. 

Mary said  “Congratulation!!! I have the perfect table. It’s a little further from the band, when they get here but a really nice table. It’s should be okay for making wedding plans!” We took our seats, and we offended our parents a cocktail but declined one ourselves. We would be on duty in three hours and could not have any alcohol. We looked at the menu and I decided on the Fresh Salmon with twice baked potato, my mom and John’s mom also ordered seafood. John and both dads order large steaks with twice baked potato. We enjoyed our salads and John brought up the subject of the wedding. We started talking about the wedding and decided that we would get married in my church and have the reception at the Fireman’s Hall. We discussed dates, but when I suggested that I wanted to get married on my birthday September 5th, everyone seemed to like the idea. I joked “that way I will only have to be mad at John one time a year if he forgets our anniversary and my birthday’’. We agreed to start making a guest list and making plans for the menu for the wedding reception. We wanted a buffet dinner and would have to arrange for the dinner to be catered in and served. The hall is very nice, but they do not maintain a full time service staff. I asked John if he would mind if our colors would be gray and burgundy. The men would have burgundy ties and cumber bands and the ladies would have to have gray dresses with burgundy trim.

We both agreed that we would each have two attendants. John wanted Roy as his best man. I suggested my friend Amy as my matron of honor. John wanted Mike Parrish as his groomsman and I suggested Roy’s wife Joanne for my other attendant. It seemed so natural. Amy and Roy were responsible for us meeting and we had been a party of six every time we could get together. It was only fitting that the six of us be together on the ‘’Big Day’. We all enjoyed being together and with our common work background, it seems like out relationship fit like custom made gloves.

Our parents started to talk about food, but decided to postpone our final decision until later. We knew who we wanted to cater the food, so we knew there would be no problem with the buffet. We then turned our attention to the ‘’bar’’. We all agreed to limit the bar to beer, wine and soft drinks. We also decided that the DJ would play from about 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm.

John said ‘’The best part of being the groom is that I get to plan our honeymoon all by myself, and no one will know where we are going. And I sure have a surprise for you’’.

Mary comes over to clear our dinner plates, ask if anyone want dessert. We offended dessert to our parents. We all decided on our dessert and coffee. As usual I ordered cheesecake and I joked with John that maybe our wedding cake should be “Cheesecake -one in every flavor’’. Everyone laughed at me, but I’m not sure that it wouldn’t be a good idea. I always wanted something different, and Cheesecake instead of wedding cake would be “something different”. I finished my dessert and asked John if he thought we had time for one more dance. We excused ourselves and made our way to the dance floor. We hadn’t left our parents alone together, and thought that they might like a little time to get to know each other better.

Mary must have talked to the Band Leader, because as John and I stepped onto the dance floor, these were a drum roll; and the Band Leader announced to the whole world, that we were engaged and were in the process of making our wedding plans.

It was kind of funny in a way; it was the first time that it seemed that the whole world knew that we were going to get married. I was so proud to be with John on the dance floor. We finished our dance and went back to our table. Our parents had decided that we would have Sunday dinner in a couple of weeks at John’s parent’s home and that we would all work on the quest list together.

Mary came over to the table to bring the desserts and coffee. We ate our desserts and were enjoying our coffee. We all decided that we would have one last dance of the evening and we all went to the dance floor. It was nice for all of us to be together. John’s parents and mine seemed to really hit it off very well. Both sets of parents have a lot in common, and it seems to be an instant friendship. We changed partners a few times and somehow the band decided to do a medley if some old show tunes, so our one dance turned into three.

The music finally ended, and we went back to our table for a last cup coffee, we realized that the evening was about to be over. We told our parents that it was time to start for home, as we had to get ready for work. John paid the bill and we all walked out to our cars. John gave me a good night kiss and said ‘’if my shift is quiet, and I don’t hear yours going out. I’ll try to call you on your cell phone about midnight’’. I kissed John again and say ‘’If we do get busy, remember this kiss and my ‘’Happy New year wish!!”. “We’ll see you for breakfast tomorrow morning. Come by when you get off work.”

John said ‘’I’ll be there and we’ll go out for breakfast. I can hardly wait to ask Roy if he’ll be my best man! I let you ask Joanne tomorrow.’’ I replied ‘’Yes. I want to call Joanne and Amy to ask them both, and I want them to go with me when we look for their dresses”.

We left the parking lot and we took our parents home; we had both packed our bags with our work cloths and personal items; so we were able to drive directly to the Station to get ready for work.

We both got to our Stations just a little early. I changed and went out to relieve Bobby so he would have an hour break before he was back duty. The plan was that the First Shift could take a break, get something to eat and turn in. The second shift was going to respond to the calls for the next two hours. Then both shifts were full alert by 1:00 a.m. usually, the most rescues were after one o’clock. The drinking and driving were sure to kick in. I don’t know why ‘Don’t Drink and Drive will ever sink in’. It seems like everyone who is so sure that he or she has not had very much to drink, end up behind the wheel and an accident is the next thing to happen.

It was quiet out. No-calls. The weather was nice; Thank God! The intensity of the accidents is always worse in the bad weather. We could only hope for a quiet evening, it would be rare to have one but we can always hope.

Jason and I went the kitchen and made a full pot of coffee. The others would be coming in soon and would like to have a fresh pot of coffee waiting for them. While the coffee was making, Jason and I did a quick visual of the supplies in the Squad. Bobby had told Jason that it was a relative easy shift, and they had not used hardly any supplies.

We went back to the kitchen, got our coffee and sat down at the table. I told Jason that John and I had set our wedding date for September 5th. Jason told me “Congratulations! You are getting a nice guy. I hope you both will be happy. With you both being in the E.M.T program, you will understand what the other is going thru, especially after a really bad run”.

I had just finished telling Jason when Captain Ross came into the kitchen. I told him the good news, and he added his congratulations to Jason’s. Captain Ross got himself a cup of coffee, and I started to clean up the kitchen. There were only a few dishes to do and it did not take long it gets the kitchen back into order, I looked at the clock. It was almost midnight. We had not had a single run. There had been no fires and no accidents in our district. I looked at the clock; there were only a few minutes to go before it would the stroke of midnight. I went to my locker and got my bag. I had just reached my cell phone when it ring John said ‘’ HAPPY NEW YEAR!! I replied ‘I LOVE YOU-HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU TOO,” John replied “It’s been too quiet, every time it is this quiet, something big happens. I’ll call you in the morning before I come over in the mean time stay safe. I have a funny feeling that something big is about to happen. I hope I am wrong but the only other two times that it’s been this quiet, we had a big alarm.’’

I told John that I loved him again and added “I hope you are wrong, but if you’re not. I hope you are careful. See you tomorrow for breakfast. Good night!’’

I hung my bag on my locker door, so I could grab it on the way out to the bay and went back to the kitchen.

The guys were sitting in the day room watching TV. I asked’ Do you remember it being so quiet or other holidays?’’ Captain Ross replied “When it was this quiet before, it seems like we really got a big run, But I don’t have any statistics to back my observation”.

The room came alive with the Alarm Tones, it seemed like every station was going to be gone to a big hotel/ballroom. Jason and I headed for our squad; Jason hit the overhead door button and the door went up. Bobby and his trainee headed for the ambulance we had parked on the driveway. The Chief gave us the address and we started for the scene.

The fire truck followed us out of the driveway, followed by the ambulance and the Chief and his vehicle, The Chief’s car was equipped with all the maps of the various convention centers, hotels, and major structures in the Kansas City Area. As soon as we were on site, he would be able to direct the rescue based of the actual layout of the structure.

We had our radio on and were getting briefed on the alarm. The New Year’s Decorations had been set on fire, in a room filled with party goes celebrating the New Year. The ballroom was filled with fire and smoke; and one area near the band stand was fully involved. The police had arrived and were trying to direct people out of the ballroom, but the smoke was so thick and they did not have any air masks. I knew from prior runs that the fireman were already donning their air bottles and masks, and would be running for the ballroom immediately as soon as their rigs had pulled up to the fire. This ballroom was on the Plaza, one of Kansas City’s finest areas. There was a park across the street from the Ballrooms, and we decided it set up our triage in the park and have the ambulance come to the parking lot.

We would do our initial assessment, start treatment and start sending the injured to the hospital. I called Rampart, St. Luke’s, KU Medical Center and St Joseph Hospitals, while we were in route, I asked for additional ambulances to be dispatched and asked for extra blankets, burn supplies, oxygen and masks. KU had the best burn units, in fact all serious burn victims in the KC area were always sent there. We would only send the most severely injured to KU.

We pulled up to the park, there seemed to be a lot of panic and people were running from the building into the street. John and his squad and engine company got to the scene at the same time. John pulled his squad close to ours and we started to get the injured immediately. Some just had smoke inhalation, some had burns and other was in shock. They had no apparent injuries they just seemed to be lost and confused. I started to hand our blankets to those who had no coast. We put the more severely injured in Bobby’s ambulance and stated our own mini emergency room. We started to treat the injured. Jason and John started accessing the injured and started to treat the burn victims. . I started oxygen on the most severe smoke inhalation patients. I did not have enough equipment even with John’s supplies. The other squads started arriving and they jumped into actions, pulling out their oxygen supplies and starting treatment.

The ambulance started to arrive from the hospitals, they handed me large stacks of blankets, and I passed out blankets as fast as I could. It was before freezing, and it would not take long for hypothermia to set in. The ladies were dressed in party dresses and were very cold; Most of the men did have in their suit jackets, and were not as cold as the ladies. Jason and John had already triaged the most severely burned patients to the ambulance and the ambulance were already pulling out headed for the hospitals.

Two Red Cross units had arrived and was started handing out hot coffee to the less seriously injured. They were good and had a calming way of talking to the patients. They had been to this type of fire before, and they always asked if the patient could have coffee.

In about an hour and a half the fire department decided that the building was secure, the fire was under control and smoke was being exhausted. Two units of firemen were making a sweep of the ballroom looking for anyone who had not made it out; while other units were making sure that the fire was out and would not rekindle.

The fire investigator had already made his determination. The decorations overhanging the dance floor had caught fire. The debris that were on fire came down on the dance floor, burning the dancers and causing so much smoke that almost everyone had some degree of smoke inhalation and /or burns from the debris. The panic that resulted in everyone trying to get out at the same time caused some of the injured to be trapped inside for longer than they should have been. Panic can kill and injure just as many as the actual fire did. We were lucky no one was trampled and so far no fatalities were found.

We did not have the reservation book, however, the management had advised us that the ballroom was sold out. An estimated 300 persons had been inside. Our treatment logs did not show quite 200 treated, the other 100 people must have gotten in their cars and either went home or drove themselves to the nearest hospital. It was estimated that the first ones out of the ballroom got in their cars and left.

We were still waiting for ambulances so we could transport more patients to the hospitals, and we continued our treatment of the smoke inhalation patients. The ambulances had brought us more oxygen when they had returned from hospitals. We just ask for help from two other hospitals in the near vicinity of the ballroom. All together, we were sending patients to six local hospitals. And after the badly injured and burned victims had been transported, we were been able to send more than one patient in each ambulance. It was more important to send the less seriously injured to the hospital, even if they sat up in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. We could get them to the emergency rooms faster and get them out of the cold sooner.

We were lucky; of the 200 people we treated only 50 had serious burns and of these only 25 were critical. The ball gowns had caught fire, and had melted on their skins, trapping the heat on the skin and continuing the burning even after the fire had been put out. The ones that were in respiratory trouble had a history of asthma or other breathing problems. About 50 had severe respiratory or smoke inhalation patients were serious enough to be transported as soon as the badly burned victims had been sent to the hospitals. This second group of seriously injured patients was our next priority. We continued to work with the Doctors at the scene to keep their breathing under control and the oxygen levels up. It would take more tests at the hospital to determine the extent of damage to their lungs, which were damaged in the first place, and the hot smoke had probably burned their lungs.

The fireman was finishing up on the fire. We have been on the scene two hours. We have treated 200 patients, have transported the first 100 to the hospital and had released seventy five additional patients to go home with the instruction to call their own Doctors, or if problems resulted later in the morning that they should go the emergency room where their own Doctor could meet them. We were waiting to transport the last 25 to area hospitals, as soon as the ambulances returned. Everything was under control. I took a moment to get several cups of coffee from the Red Cross Wagon for some of my patients. They were not seriously injured, but were still chilled from prolong exposure to the cold wind. They had responded well to our emergency treatments, but as a precaution, we did want the Doctors to make a final determination on the degree of smoke inhalation and minor burns. I believe that the hospital would double check their condition, give them final instructions and send them home, with instructions to follow up in twenty four hours with their family doctor or to return to the hospital if their conditions had not dissipated.

It is now three o’clock; we have checked the few injured firefighter and supplied oxygen to a few because of smoke inhalation. We were lucky tonight! Only one fireman had to be transported to the hospital, a section of the ceiling was on fire and collapsed on top of him. His protective gear protected his air supply and he did not have serious burns, but the weight of the ceiling, and the force of the impact may have broken a few ribs, undoubtedly, the hospital would keep him overnight.

The last of the ambulance were leaving with the last of the victims. We started to load up the remainder of our supplies, and had gathered up our ‘’trash’’. As always, we have to dispose of the medical waste at the hospital. I know one thing for certain; we cannot go back to the station before we go to the hospital. We had almost exhausted our supplies. Rampart and St Joseph Hospital had sent us everything we needed to supplement our supplies, but all that was gone. The blankets would go back to the hospital laundry. They were life savers tonight. So many of the victims did not even have a coat or wrap and their party dresses were sheer and sometimes strapless. I’m glad the cars in the parking lot were not damaged. The seventy five we released were able to get into warm cars to for their drive home.

One thing was for certain, these 300 hundred people had something to remember. People talk about seeing fireworks at the ‘’Happy New Year,’’ celebrations. The party goers at this ballroom really did see fireworks this year.

We finished cleaning up our area, climbed into our squad and headed for the hospital. The engine company came over to started hosed down the parking lot. With the exception of the yellow tape in front of the hotel and ballroom, there was no visible tale tell evidence of our last three and one half hours of intense trauma.

We arrived at Rampart and I headed for supply while Jason started to clean the squad and empty the trash and take the linen to the laundry chute. He went over to Bobby’s ambulance, and helped Bobby get the ambulance cleaned up.

As I read off my supply list, Dixie handed me the replacement items. I had taken a gurney with me to load up the supplies. I knew that I would need it. I was almost out of everything. I left my inventory list with Dixie that would verify how much we had used on site. I wheeled the gurney to the bay and Jason helped me stow away our supplies. We headed back to the Station. We backed into the bay, and headed to the bathroom. I wanted to wash my face and hands with water, I had used so much antiseptic on my hands tonight, and I’m surprised that I have any skin left. Captain Ross met us at the door and said ‘’as soon as you get your hands washed, we have some chili ready. My wife came down to the station when she heard about the fire on TV and made chili for is to have when we got back here.

I was starved it didn’t take me long to wash my hand and face and head for the kitchen , Bobby and I got to the kitchen about the same time, grabbed a bowl and helped ourselves to the chili and cornbread. It smelled so good and tasted even better. I thanked Mrs.  
Ross when she came over with brownies for dessert.

We turned on the TV and saw ourselves on the news. A camera crew had been taking pictures at the scene and had gotten some really good shots of our EMT units at work. This was good! Next time there was a bond election, maybe the extra funding would pass. I know we have at least 300 more votes now than we did at the beginning of the evening.

I took my dirty dishes to the sink, started rinsing off the dishes and loading the dishwasher. I washed the few pots and pans in the sink, dried them and put them away. It helped me relax. This was the first quiet time in four hours.

It was always four thirty. We only had two hours to go before our shift was over.

The other station handed the other emergencies for the night, and the nightly report did not show any other major traumas. Only a few minor accidents and no total fires reported.

‘’ Happy New Year everyone!! We all did well tonight’’

 
Jason and I took our patient notes to the table and started to assemble our log of today’s trauma. It’s always easier to keep the log up to date if we have a chance to do it while the run is still fresh in our minds. By the time we got the log book done and finished cleaning and putting always our supplies our shift was almost ready.

I wished everyone ‘’Happy New Year’’ and headed home. I jumped in the shower. I could still smell the smoke from last night. I threw my two uniforms in the washer and went to the kitchen to fix myself a coke. I took the coke to the living room and turned on the TV. The news was on and the pictures the news reporters had taken of the fire were very detailed. They had pictures of the ballroom before New Year Evening, picture of the decoration for New Years, and pictures of the ballroom after the fire. I had not seen the inside of the ballroom this morning; I had been too busy taking care of the injured to walk across the street. The news had pictures of our treatment area and had pictures of all the EMT, Nurse and Doctors at work. The news rooms had the final tally on the number of serious injured the number with minor injuries and the number who the hospital had admitted. The best number of the entire evening was the last number the news reporter had to report. ‘’There were NO casualties’’ I guess it’s always nice to save the best for last, and the fact that we had no deaths was extremely lucky as the picture that were being shown as the reporter gave the details clearly show that everyone was extremely lucky.

I fell asleep while I was watching the news. I knew that I would because I was so tired after a really big run, after I started to relax, I get sleepy. The phone woke me up. It was John. ‘’Did you get a nap?? I said ‘’Yes did you?’’ John told me that he had and was about ready to leave his apartment. ‘’ Do you want me to pick up anything on my way over?’’ I replied ‘’No. If we think of anything, we’ll get it after we finish our breakfast. I’m getting hungry. Where are we going for breakfast? John replied ‘’Any where! How about Denny’s for breakfast buffet.’’ I said ‘’Just hurry—I’m getting hungrier just thinking about food.’’

We went out for breakfast, and then went back to my apartment. We turned on the TV and more bulletins about the five were all over the news. We tried one of the movie channels and started to watch an old movie. Before either one of us knew what was happening, we both fell asleep watching the movie. We didn’t wake up until almost one o’clock. We both had the day off, our normal days shift would have give us the holiday off, but since we had to work last night, we were both given the today off.

We just took it easy all day; about two o’clock I fixed us some grilled cheese sandwiches and we had decided to order pizza for supper. Neither of us was in the mood to cook and we were both very tired. We ate our sandwiches and decided to take a nap. I set the alarm to go off at 5:30 p.m. I know that as tired as we both were, that if I did not we’d sleep until morning.

This week seemed like two weeks rolled into one. It did not seem like Thursday, and we both had to work tomorrow, and both shifts were splitting the week end. John and I both drew Saturday on and Sunday off as our schedule. We decided that we wouldn’t see each other Friday nights, and would go for dinner on Saturday.

We got up when the alarm went off. I turned off the alarm and reset it for the 5:30 am so I could get up and get ready for work. I ordered Pizza and Dominos Dots for dessert. We turned on the TV and I went to the kitchen to make our cokes. We started watching TV and waited for our Pizza. We ended up making it an early night. John went home before 7:30 pm .I finished cleaning up the kitchen and went down the hall to my bedroom. I climbed into the shower and got ready for bed. I double checked my uniform and got everything ready for tomorrow. I turned in with my favorite ‘’Soap Opera’’ magazine.

I still tape a few programs but I don’t get to watch my soaps like I used to. I like the distraction they provide. I have many of the star’s autographs and personally letters. I have been corresponding with them for years. I still send fourteen Christmas ornaments to my favorites. They always write and send personal photos, not the ones that are shown in the magazines or are on the set. I can remember my visit to the TV set and watching the filming of one of the programs.

Our schedule at work this week was quite different. With the double shift New Years Eve. We each got only one day off on the week end. John and I both have to work Saturday and we get Sunday, so we have decide to not see each other Saturday evening so we could spend the entire day together Sunday, I set the alarm and turned in . I read a few more short articles in my magazine, turned off the light and went to sleep.

The alarm like old faithful blasted me out of bed at 5:30 am. I got dressed, fixed myself a bowl of cereal, one jelly biscuit and a diet coke; I ate breakfast, grabbed my purse and headed out to my car. Traffic was light, so it didn’t take long to get to the station.

I started the coffee, grabbed the check list and went out to squad to inventory our supplies. Jason arrived shortly after I did and helped me finish the inventory; we didn’t need much and decided to wait until our first run to stop by Rampart to refill our supplies.

We went into the break room, got a cup of coffee and sat down at the table. The others had begun to come in and I got up to make a second pot of coffee, we finished our coffee and started to clean the kitchen and break room. The fireman went into the bunk area and started to do some serious deep cleaning to their bunk room. We were almost done when the tones sounded. Two entire engine companies and both squads were to respond to the Riverfront. There was a possible drowning and a major fire on board one of the Grambling Boats. Somehow something had started a fire and it had spread to one floor of the boat, but the fire doors had kept the fire from spreading, according to the transmissions. Both companies arrived at the same time. The police and security officers were already directing people out of the casino and telling everyone that if they were not hurt or had not been in the smoke to drive their cars out of the garages and to go home. The police had anyone that was injured go to the hotel lobby. The hotel was connected to the casino, but was located at the opposite side away from the fire. We pulled our squad up to the hotel doors and grabbed as much of our gear as we could carry. John and his crew were arriving; John immediately started to carry his supplies into the hotel too. We set up in the area the hotel had designated as a treatment area and started giving oxygen to the ones that had been exposed to smoke. The hotel and casino had several oxygen units and a nurse. She was already sorting the patients, according to the severity of their injuries. We immediately started getting information on what she had started and who she believed were the victims that needed transport as soon as possible. The nurse had done an excelling job of sorting the patients and had created a calm and reassurance atmosphere to reduce the trauma. She immediately directed us to one victim that not only had ingested smoke, but had a history of heart problems and was having chest pains and showing problem with his heart rhythm. She was not certain that he was completely stable, and believed that he should be transported first. We agreed and noted his cart accordingly. The ambulances were pulling up to the front door and the paramedics were able to start loading the first five ambulances and were heading to the two closest hospital. The North Kansas City Hospital was only a mile away, so the most severely injured; the heart patient would be transport to our St Luke’s Heart Institute. We are lucky to have such an excellent hospital for heart patients, their success ratios were one of the best in the nation. The patient, Mr. Jones, had been treated there and his doctor had been called and would be on hand when he arrived. Nurse Dixie from Rampart arrived with a group of ambulance and three interns to help us treat and stabilize the victims.

The water patrol had found the probably drowning victim; the gentleman had panicked and had jumped overboard to escape the fire. He was not good swimmer and had been struggling in the water. He had been able to swim to shore and was setting on the bank of the river catching his breath and was not injured except for drinking a lot of river water. He was in no immediate danger and could wait for transport on a later ambulance. We gave him warm blankets checked his vitals; it appears that his pride and the river water were his only problem, but the hospital could check and see if he had ingested water into his lungs and could be subjected to infection or pneumonia.

Everyone was extremely lucky, we treated over 150 victims, and most were released and allowed to go home. Only 50 were transported to hospitals. We had no burn patients, just smoke inhalation problems.

The fire department was on the last phases of removing the smoke from the floor that was damaged. There was only slight physical damage to the interior of one floor of the boat. The main damage was smoke and water damage to the furniture, gaming machines and to the walls, windows of the one floor. There was some water damage to the floor below the fire scene, but not as much as originally thought. The structure of boat was in not damaged and there was no danger of sinking, because this boat had two separate areas, the fire investigations would allow the undamaged area to resume gambling in about two hours. The side of the boat damaged would be closed down at least the two top floors, until repairs could be trade. It appeared that the first floor would be opened tomorrow for play.

I like to go the boats to play the machines; we normally go one time a year to celebrate my birthday and my sister-in-law birthday. Sort of a women’s day out. We have as much fun as twenty dollars will allow, eat a nice buffet dinner and call it a day. This was the most exciting date at the boat that I have ever had. I hope it will be a long time before I have this kind of excitement again at this boat!

We finished dispatching the last three ambulances to the hospital; loaded our equipment on the squad and headed for Rampart Hospital. We had used almost all our inhalation supplies, masks and tubing, as well as all our blankets, including the one Nurse Dixie and Rampart has sent us. If the hotel had not brought out an entire laundry cart with clean towels, pillows blankets and sheets, we would have run out of linens. I started to make a mental check list on the way to the hospital. Jason backed the squad into the bay at Rampart and we went in to see Dixie. I started reading my list, and Dixie handed me the supplies. I had taken a gurney with me and had it almost full when I got to the bottom of my list. Jason was talking to Dr. Brackett to get a station report on the victims. All seemed to be doing well and the ones that were kept overnight would be released in the morning. We loaded the supplies in the squad and head back to the station.

When we backed into the Station, the guys were washing the engine and chief’s car and getting the hoses cleaned and drained, we started washing down the Squad. The engine had gotten the most use, and we finished cleaning the Squad in time to give a hand to be guys and finished cleaning the engine.

Finally, we were finished and had put all the hoses and tools back on the engine. And had reloaded the squad with the new stock we had picked up on the way in.

We went to dayroom to sit down and have a cup of coffee. We could only hope the rest of the day went uneventful. We were all tired and we had missed lunch. It was already almost three. We started talking about food and realized how hungry we all were. I said ‘’Does anymore feel like cooking? I don’t, why don’t we all chip in and order Pizza. The Pizza Hut on the corner should be able to get our order here fast. What do you say? Are you all in?’’ I put two dollar in middle of the table. Everyone else started to dig for money and before I could pick up the phone, Jason handed me coupon to buy one and get one free. I ordered the pizzas and was able to get three orders with the coupon. The Pizza Hut also said that they would throw in free Soda’s because our pictures were on TV in the news.

Pizza was delivered within 30 minutes, and we were all so hungry. We finished the pizza in just minutes and cleaned up the kitchen. It was good not to have a lot of dishes to do.

We had just finished putting everything away when the tones sounded. Rush hour had begun. Jason and I rushed to the squad, Jason hit the overhead door switch and the Captain gave us the address. As usual the location is given to us verbally and written on a route slip. While we were in route, we get the cross streets and a brief description of the rescue. A car accident with injuries. We requested an ambulance and we were running with lights and sirens but there is always one driver who appears not to be hearing or see us. We have to be able to avoid any of these accidents waiting to happen. We have learned what to watch for, and this was no different, we could see the vehicle we were approaching could not hear us and us and was not pulling over. Jason gave him a blast of the air horns without results. He gave him another long blast and finally, he looked in his rent view mirror and signaled to get over. We could see the head phone in his ear. He was obviously listening to a tape player. ‘’When will people learn to leave cell phones, CD and tape players off during their drive or at least in lower volumes?” Jason replied. ‘I don’t think we will ever be that lucky! There is always a few that will continue even if there was a law against it.

We reached the scene. It was not even a bad accident, two cars had hit almost head on while each was making left hand turns. One driver had just lost control into the turn and had hit the other car head on. Victim one had air bag burns to her face and had a bloody nose. Victim two had not been wearing her seat belt and had hit the steering wheel; we called Rampart and requested another ambulance. Jason went to Victim one and I went to Victim two, we each started our assessments. Both injuries though painful were not life threatening. Jason’s victim would go first in the event there were broken ribs that could cause other injuries. The policemen on the scenes helping to direct traffic, The first ambulance was on the scene and the attendants were helping Jason get his patient on back board established an IV, loaded her in the ambulance and came over briefly to ask if I could drive the squad to the hospital and did I need any help with my patient. I told him that I could handle this one and I would meet him at hospital. My ambulance was arriving and I had already applied cold compresses to my patients face and had used sterile water to wash out her eyes, air bags are filled with powered and she was covered with it. Her nose had quit bleeding and the cold compresses were helping with the pain. She was able to take a couple of steps from her car to the stretcher. I helped load her in the ambulance. 
I arranged for one of the ambulance crew to set with her in the back, while I followed them. I advised them, that if they needed me for any reason while we were in route, just pull over and I would be right there. We normally don’t have just one squad responding to a two injury accident, in the event that we both have to go in the ambulance. But there is always a firefighter or policeman that can drive the squad in if we both need to ride in with our patients. And we don’t try to stretch any of our response squad thin when it is not absolutely necessary.

We arrived at Rampart, Jason and his patient was already being seen by a Doctor and I walked in with my patient and was directed to Trauma Room 2. Nurse Dixie came in and I gave here my assessment and treatment administered. She took new blood pressure reading and checked the burns on my face. They did not seem as bad as they first appeared at the accident scene. The cold compresses had helped, but her eyes were still burning from the air bag powder. I ask Dixie if she wanted me to wash the eyes again while she completed her vitals. Dixie say ‘’yes’’ and I started flushing the eyes again with sterile water. Dr Early came in to check on the patient and said ‘’ Dixie, please have an optometrist come down to check on Mrs. Kinnery. I believe her discomfort indicates some damage to her eyes. She is in too much pain and may have sustained some injury to the cornea. I don’t see any foreign object but I suspect a deep scratch and there is probably some foreign body in the scratch. Please put a light moist bandage on both eyes and let’s darken the room. Dr Early asked me ‘’Donna, how many times have you flushed the eyes?” I replied, I started immediately upon arrival to on scene and used two entire bottles of Sterile Water on scene”. Dr Early made notations in the chart and turned to me and said “when you finish that bottle of Sterile Water you can leave. That should be enough until an Ophthalmologist can do their exam. Dixie please gives Mrs. Kinney a little more for the pain. Donna your notes said you gave 1/4 grain, Dixie please give 1/4 more.’’ Dr Early bent down to speak to Mrs. Kinnery and said ‘’ Nurse Dixie will give you some more pain medication, and I will have a nurse come in to stay with you until the Eye Doctor gets here. We have the best eye doctor in the city on staff. Don’t worry, I have every reason to believe that it in nothing serious, I just don’t want to take any unnecessary chances”.

I finished flushing her eyes with the rest of the sterile water. I had been able to catch most of the water in a basin, and I had used towel to catch the rest, so I was able to keep Mrs. Kinnery fairly dry. I covered Mrs.Kinnery’s eyes with a light bandage as ordered.

I made my notes in the chart and spoke to Mrs. Kinnery. “I’ve finished. I hope I didn’t get you too wet. Just relax and try to rest, if you need anything, Nurse Robin will be right here in the room with you. She is here now’’. Robin spoke to Mrs. Kinnery “My name is Robin, I will not leave you. Try to get some rest.” I finished by saying that ‘’Nurse Dixie and Dr. Early will be in just down the hall. You are in excellent hands and this is the best hospital in the City.’’

I went out into the hall and went directly to the Nurses Station. Dixie was finishing the supplies list we had made earlier and added what we had both used on this accident.

Jason was putting the supplies on a cart, and I went with him in put the supplies away in the squad. I told Jason “Thank God it’s time for us to go home. I’m tired. The rescue this morning at the Casino; Cleaning up all the equipment and then this rescue has made this seem like a very long day.”

We got back to the station just as the next shift was arriving. Bobby and the new trainee Matt met us in the bay. Bobby said, “Matt and I’ll clean up the squad, why don’t you start on your paper work”. I told Bobby “Thanks! We just got back from Rampart and we have stocked the rig. You should have everything you might need”

Bobby and Matt started to wipe down the rig, and the tones came on. They pushed the button to raise the doors and Captain Ross and Captain Williams were taking the call to route the rescue. Captain Ross had just finished briefing Captain Williams and was going home. We finished the log books, said our good nights and we both got into our cars in the parking lot. The drive home went slow. It always does when I am going home to get ready for John. I always feel like I can’t wait to see him again, even after he has just left me. I am already counting the minutes until we are together again.

I headed for the shower, and threw both my uniforms in the washer on the way down the hall. I wanted to get cleaned up, have a nice long shower and get ready for Dinner.

We had planned dinner tonight and had planned a full day together Sunday. We wanted to have a few planning sessions by ourselves before we started planning the wedding with our parents. We had a fairly good idea of what we wanted but wanted them to feel very involved with the final choices. We both had decided on a simple wedding with just two attendants each. My brother, John and older sister Mary and John’s cousin Joe and wife Marie would be ushers, my other sister, Peggy would do the guest book and gifts. We wanted plenty of food for the reception but very little alcohol. We would have just wine, beer and soft drinks and then at 930pm we would have some hot and cold  brought out Hors d’oeuvres with coffee, hot chocolate and flavored tea. Sort of a Mid-Night snack before the party went home.

We also were planning to start looking at wedding invitations and may even look at bridesmaid’s dresses and tuxedoes.

I’m glad I wear my hair short it wouldn’t take me long to blow dry my hair and curl it before John arrived, I put on my new jeans and sweatshirt I got for Christmas. I hadn’t had an opportunity to wear them yet. I got ready, fixed myself a Diet Coke and turned on the TV. Channel 4 was showing pictures of the rescue and I slipped a tape in the VCR. John and I had both been inside the hotel, and I knew that we would be caught on tape working together. I had started to save the news articles that were about our major rescues. I thought it would be a nice thing to have and show our children when they were old enough to ask how we had met and what we did.

The news was over I shipped the VCR tape out of the machine and marked the tab on the side with the date and Captain “Casino Rescue’’. The door bell rang and went to let John in. John came in dressed in a sweatshirt and blue jeans carrying a box of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and biscuits. John said “I know you are tired and wouldn’t feel like cooking and I definitely don’t feel like going out. Why don’t we eat in front of the TV and watch this movie I rented. I fixed a Coke while John laid out the chicken dinner, I handed him paper plate and some plastic silverware. I filled my plate picked up my drink and we went into living room. John out the tape in the VCR and we started eating. We watched the movie, rewound the tape and turned off the TV to the news channel. . We turned on the news and watched the recap on the rescue we had at the Casino.

We finished watching the news; John kissed me good night and left to go home. We were both very tired and had all but fallen asleep watching the movie. Our routine had gotten into a pattern; we were both on week days with an occasional week end on. We tried to spend a part of each day together, or at least talk to each other by phone. I had my occasional “girl’s night out’’ and John spent time with guy’s.

The months went by rather routinely. Work with the exception of a few memorable rescues; was just one day following the other. Each day was pretty much the same. But it was nice to have things so normal. It made it easier to be prepared for the occasional “Big Rescue”. We never knew when or what it would be so we had to approach each rescue with by being ready for the unusual, but glad for the ordinary. We can handle the ordinary, we are both good at the ordinary, and each rescue is just a little unusual. Accidents have their way of adding a little twist to the injury or how to cut person out of a vehicle. No two cars come apart alike even cars of the same make a model have their own individuality. 
 
We had made a tentative schedule of what we would do on the major holidays. We planned to spend Easter with both parents. We had asked John’s parents to spend Easter service with my parents at our church and to Brunch following the service. John and I tried to attend my church on a regular basis. John liked my minister and had joined my church just before Easter, so this was now our church. We had reserved our wedding day on the church calendar and had arranged for the scheduled marriage counseling.

We wanted John’s parents to hear our minister, and get a feeling for how many people the church could hold. We had wanted to talk to both parents at brunch and bring them up to date with wedding plans we had made so far.

I had gone shopping with my mother, just before Valentine’s Day and had gotten my wedding dress. I had decided on a white hat with a veil that went down to about my waist. I did not want a vale over my face for the service. My sister-in-law, Sylvia, had worn a hat at her wedding and I had like it. I wanted something a little different. My dress was simple, classic cut with lot of lace and pearls. The bridal shop had taken a Polaroid photo of me in my dress, and had given me samples of the material from the attendant’s dresses so we could match the colors, I wanted to show John’s parents the picture and the color samples, and so both mothers could start shopping for their dresses. I wanted to ask them to choose a dress in the same basic color, but not exact color choices and I wanted them both to feel that we wanted their approval of our plans. We had made more of the plans together than we originally thought we would. We did not want either parent to feel we were doing the wedding planning by ourselves. We valued their opinions. I wanted to get the band or DJ booked soon. John and I wanted to ask the band that was playing at Suzi’s for New Years Eve what they would charge, and would they be available?? We wanted to get the menu completed and start talking to the Club about the cost. They would cook the food for us. And with having the reception at the Fireman’s Union Hall, I was able to get some of the Club employees that I had worked with to serve the food and tend bar.

The four of us finished brunch and over coffee, we started going over the plans. I asked both our parents if they could have their guest lists completed by the end of May. I wanted to have an exact number of guests and I wanted to have my invitations ordered by the first of June. My mom said “I think I would like to wear a soft pink dress, should it be long or short?” John’s mom said “I have always liked gray, and I think that would be okay color wise.” John and I agreed with their color choices, and we decided that an after five length would be fine, that the dresses did not need to be floor length.

We looked over the sample menus the Club had given us to choose from. We decided that we wanted to have chicken, shrimp, and a carver for the beef tenderloin and turkey breast. The only other things we needed to decide on were the fruit tray, vegetable tray and the cheese tray. We all agreed that there would be something for everyone, that no diet would be overlooked. I had pictures of wedding cakes from the Cake Lady and I showed them to our folks. John and I were already leaning on having heart shaped cakes with pink and burgundy roses and gray edging. I wanted the three tier cake to be elevated over a fountain, and the six heart shaped cakes, each a different flavor to be cut first. I suggested chocolate, lemon, white, spice, and German chocolate cake.

We finally ended our discussion of the plans so far and everyone was in agreement. Neither parent had any changes to make or any suggestions to make. It had gone very well. We had lingered over our Brunch and Dessert and had decided to go to John’s parents home to finish our plans. I had a sample of the wedding invitations and the beverage napkins for the cake table to show both parents.

John still would not give me any clues of where we would be going on our honeymoon, in fact, I’m not sure he had made his final decision. He had been very careful not to leave any travel brochures out.

We told our parents that we had planned another trip to Lake Pomme De Terre with Roy and Joanne and Amy and Mike. We had already made our reservations for the same camp site we had had before, and we had all scheduled our days off for vacation and for the evening of the wedding rehearsal and the wedding. John and I had also scheduled the week after our wedding off as well.

One day seemed like the next, and the closer we got to Memorial Day, the more I was getting excited. The trip to the last year had been so special for all of us. It made us all six of us know how much we each meant to each other. We had a relationship that would last for years, with working together, we could keep in touch very easily; and we intended to keep that relationship very active...

The next few weeks went by very fast. Now that the winter was over, the accident rates were dropping, and with the milder weather, the house and business fires were slowing down. It was nice to have no major traumas. Memorial Day week end arrived right on schedule, and we were all ready to go. We had had two months to get everything ready, and our travel plans confirmed. John and I would meet Roy and Joanne at Roy’s place. We would drive to Mike and Amy’s, help Mike hitch up the boat and follow them down to Amy’s parents place to drop off Mike and Amy’s two children. It was on the way to the lake and only a few miles off the highway. This was the same plan as last year, and it had worked really well. The vehicles were loaded and we were ready.

The trip to the lake was right on schedule, we had stopped outside of Kansas City to eat breakfast, and it was good to see Amy and Mike with their kids. They were so cute, and they are such good parents. It makes me wonder what our children would be like, if and when we decided to start our family.

We arrived at our campsite just before lunch. While the men set up the tents, we started lunch. We had packed deli meat for sandwiches, so we would not have to cook lunch. We ate lunch, and put the boat in the water, and headed for the swimming beach across the cove. We had already changed into our suits, and we put our blankets on the sand to get some tan. We talked and drank one of the cold sodas we had brought with us. We waited about an hour after we ate and decided we were ready for a swim. The water was only slightly warm, and it felt really good; it felt so good to relax. I think for the first time in a long time, I started to relax. Our work was not exceptionally hard, but the mind is on alert for so long every day, that whether or not we get a bad call, we have to be ready for one; and never knowing which run would be a bad one, our minds had to stay on high alert until the rescue over, and we were back to the station. So the warm water felt so relaxing, it has been a long winter. We had had so few long weekends off, I didn’t realize how tired I was until the warm water had started to do it’s magic. The others were also just floating and relaxing. We didn’t even talk very much. I finally got tired, and ask John if he was ready to swim in. He said yes and we swam to shore. I wrapped my large beach towel around me and sat down on the sand. John went over to the cooler and got us both a soda. We opened the sodas and sat down to talk. We only had three months to finish the wedding plans. We started to go over our plans, we had made a planning check list, and we kept asking each other if that were okay. We both wanted to have everything exactly as we wanted it to be. We started talking about when we would mail the invitations, and decided that we would take a Sunday afternoon after church and with both our parents and ourselves, we should be able to address them all in one afternoon. I told John “I want to get the ‘Love’ stamps to go on the envelope”, and John said I want to get the map down loaded on the computer and print them out to stuff in the envelopes, John said “I think I can get ten or twelve on one sheet of paper. We started talking about registering at three area stores, John liked ‘Bed, Bath and Beyond’ and I wanted ‘Jones Store’ and maybe ‘Target’ because they had such a wide variety, and that would give a wide variety of prices. We had decided to go next week end and register at the stores. I did not look forward to picking out our ‘silver, dinner ware and linen’. Neither of us had really talked about what we liked, I like very simple patterns, so I asked John “Do you want to pick a simple pattern or do you like to have it a little more fancy?” John said “I haven’t even thought about it, I don’t even know what colors we should pick for our linen. I like all colors; it will be hard to pick patterns.”

I asked John if he knew Dixie had planned a shower for us both at the Hospital for everyone to drop by for a few moments, have a piece of cake and some punch or coffee and have time to give us their best wishes. She had asked us to arrange a couple of hours off one afternoon, if we could change our shifts with the Captain. She also had planned a dinner party for the Doctors and the main staff, as sort of a shower for us both. She told me that she was planning a cook out, in her back yard, with some wine, beer and sodas. Nothing big, just a chance for a little get together. The guys at the station had also told John that they were planning a little get together with their wives, because they wouldn’t all get to come to the wedding. They knew that they would not be able to attend. Someone had to mind the shop. It would be a lucky stroke of luck for even the Captains to be able to attend.

John, Joanne, Amy and Mike had joined us and had gotten themselves a soda. We started talking about dinner, and decided to load up the boat and go back across the bay. We had planned on steaks on the grill, and had brought corn on the cob to go on the grill as well as a tossed salad. As usual, our dessert would be S’mores, and I had bought extra Hershey Bars, graham crackers and marshmallows. We had added a bottle of wine to go with dinner, and it was just a matter of deciding when we wanted to eat. We drove the boat across the cove and tied it up to a tree near the water. It would be safe, there was almost no crime in this resort, and we were careful with our valuables, and kept our purses locked in the trunk of the car to keep them out of sight. We decided to take a short walk around the cove where we were camped. We had remembered the gentlemen we had helped last year.

We felt that if they were creatures of habit, that they would be camped in their old spot. .

Sure enough, they had set up camp while we were at the swimming beach. We helped them finish their camp site and helped them unload their supplies. It was good to see them so happy and well. They offered us some ice tea, and we gladly accepted. One of the best rewards of our jobs was seeing people after their trauma; to see them well and happy made us very proud that we had played a small part of their recovery. We do not have that extra contact later, to see most of our patients fully recovered, so it was extra special to get to see the ones we do get to meet again.

Every once in a while, the people we have helped will come by the Station with a casserole, cake, cookies or other treats, even if it they were donuts or pastries. It’s the thought that counts, and we do get tired of our own cooking.

We finished visiting and walked back to our site, going by the restrooms on the way. We wanted to wash our hands and faces before we cooked our dinner. We made it back to our camp site pretty much on schedule to start the charcoal and dinner. We had a folding table and a screened in, open air tent, which we had set our table in. Dinner was done before we realized that we had worked up an appetite. We set out the dinner, paper plates, silver and some plastic wine glasses for our wine. Dinner tasted great. I was really hungry, and I noticed that I wasn’t the only one. Everyone finished their plates and we cleaned up the table scraps and garbage. We would take those bags to the rest room area to dispose of when we went up for our showers later. We had found that if we do not use the trash cans at our site, it didn’t attract any animals. We especially did not want to see the black and white ones.

We decided to have our S’mores just before bedtime. We turned on the battery powered television and finished our wine. Two bottles makes just about six large glasses of wine we had a lot of catching up to do; we all hadn’t been together since Christmas. We started our S’mores; they tasted sooo good cooked out over an open fire. We finished our dessert, cleaned up the campfire area, and got ready for bed. We all walked up to the showers and took our trash with us. It felt good to take a shower; it had gotten warm today, and I knew we would all sleep better tonight if we had a nice shower. We all walked back to the camp, said our good nights and turned in. The weather was clear and a nice breeze had started to come in from the lake. We had raised the flaps at the top of the tent, which was like raising a window in the bedroom. So the breeze felt good, it would be cool by morning and we had put a blanket over the foot of the sleeping bags, we could pull the blanket up when it got cooler.

I went into our tent first and got into my PJ’s and got into bed. John came in and slipped into his sleeping bag. We had put them side by side and I could rest my head on John’s arm. John and I kissed good night, and I told him good night. We were both tired, and it wasn’t long before we were sound asleep.

Morning came so quickly. It seemed like we had just gotten to sleep. I woke up with the sound of the men starting breakfast. I got up, changed into my shorts, a t-shirt and my tennis shoes and went out to see if everyone was up. Amy and Joanne had just gotten up too, and we walked up to the rest room. By the time we got back, the men had the eggs scrambled, the bacon done and skillet biscuits. We girls set the table and got cups and juice from the cooler. We were all hungry, and it did not take long to clean our plates. We cleaned up the camp area; put our garbage in a bag, while we were eating, we had put dish water on the campfire and it was hot when we got done, the dishes we had put in the water had almost cleaned themselves. We finished them, and sat down to decide what we would do today. We all decided that we wanted to take a walk this morning, then take the boat to the swimming beach, come back for a late lunch, and go into town. There were several discount stores in the area, and we could all shop to our hearts content. If we went late enough, we could eat dinner in a nice restaurant in town before we came back to the camp site.

We walked and talked and visited with the neighbors. There seemed to be children everywhere and we decided it would be nice to bring the kids next time, and have a real family vacation. Joanne and Roy agreed, and Amy and Mike said they would look forward to it. But the first time, it should be just a regular week end, not a three day. It would be hard to find things to entertain four children for three days.

We found ourselves back to the campsite. We got our swimming suits on and headed for the boat to go to the swimming beach. We packed the small cooker with bottled water and sodas. As usual, it did not take long to boat across the lake to the swimming beach. It was already getting crowded, and we put our blanket and coolers in a quiet area near some trees, so we could get a little shade. We all went down to the water and started to wade in. The water felt so good, and we swam and floated for over an hour. We all decided to take a break and headed for the cooler. We sat down and started planning where we would eat tonight and what time we should plan to leave the camp site.

I didn’t realize that I was so thirsty. I didn’t have much of my diet coke left, and we still hadn’t decided where we would eat. I asked “Are we going shopping first? I want to go to the discount mall. They have a Wilton Shop, and I want to get the molds to make my wedding mints with. I also want to get the melting chips to make the mints with. The Wilton Shop has all colors and I want the mints to be perfect. Mom and I have made the mints for all my friends and family’s wedding, and I want them for mine too. I want to do Roses, Hearts and Wedding Bells.” Amy said “I remember those mints, they are so good. They’ll make a big hit with everyone. We can also look some serving pieces too for the cake table. If it’s okay with you, I’d like to buy your cake knife and server for your wedding gift, and have them engraved for you”. I replied “That would be extra special. I will always have them to remember you and Mike every time I use them.”

We talked some more about shopping, and the men gave up and John said “We’ll drop you girls off and we’ll go to the Men’s Shop and try to find something for me to wear on our honeymoon.” I asked John, “Won’t you give me some idea where we’re going, so I can buy something for our trip”. John laughed and said “You are in for a big surprise and it’s a big secret only my Best Man knows and he’s not telling!” Roy laughed and said “That’s right; you won’t hear it from me. I only know because Joan and I are driving you away from the reception.”

We had already finished our soda, and put the cans in the recycle barrel the park puts out for the aluminum cans, they use the money to maintain the park, and I bet they get a lot of money, I never see the barrel empty, and they pick them up at least two times a day. This is such a clean park; everyone picks up their own trash and recycles all the cans.

We headed for the water again and swam until lunch time. We headed back across the lake to our camp site. We built a small fire and put on the hot dogs and baked beans on to cook, and we started putting out the chips and dip and paper plates. It didn’t take long to cook the hot dogs, and warm the baked beans. Everything always tastes so good when it’s cooked outside. We ate, cleaned up the camp site and went up the hill to shower and get ready to go into town. We all got ready about the same time and loaded into the station wagon for the trip to town.

True to their word, the men drove straight to the Mall; we parked and split up, agreeing to meet in one and half hours. We found the molds I wanted and the colored candy melting chips and Amy order the serving set we all agreed would be perfect. It was silver and a really pretty pattern. The store said that they would do the engraving and mail them within two days. We looked at cloths and found some sales on shorts and summer clothing. It was the end of the season, and an excellent time to buy cheap for the next year. I found several pair of short I really liked and several shirts that matched the shorts fairly well. We all had a good time, and were very proud of our bargains. I also found a very nice nightgown and matching robe and slippers. Amy and Joanne helped me pick it out for our wedding night.

Time goes so fast when you’re having fun, and before we knew it, it was time to meet the men. They were just getting back to the station wagon when we were. John had found a couple of stores for us to go back to. He wanted us to buy luggage and had found a set he thought would be good for us. We went back to that shop, and I liked it too, so we bought it. We went to Wal-Mart to stock up on sodas, bottled water, some souvenirs 
for Roy and Mike’s children and a few more things to go with our lunch for Monday.

I checked my watch and said I can believe that it is already time for dinner. We all had shopped up a big appetite and we had picked out a steak house that had a small country and western band playing. We all ordered steaks and we took our time with our salads and dinner. The band was good, and there was a small dance floor. We all decided to dance, as John said “We need to practice for the Big Day”. We all had either a wine or beer except Roy. He had appointed himself as the designated driver and he ordered another coke. We all danced the next couple of songs, before we paid our bill and started back to camp.

We got back to camp about 9:00pm, and built a small fire with the dry twigs and small limbs we had picked up on our trips to the shower and the swim beach. It helped keep the mosquitoes away and I asked if anyone wanted a S’more. I got out the makings and the long fork to roast the marshmallows. John helped me and we made about a couple of S’mores for everyone, and they tasted so good. We were too full after dinner for dessert and these made a wonderful bed time snack. We finished our desserts, and got our trash gathered up for the trip to the rest rooms. We sat back down and started planning our next day. It was hard to believe that it was Sunday and we only had one more half day before we had to start back to the City.

We all got ready for bed, and I was tired, and decided to turn in, I excused myself and headed for our tent. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit my pillow. I didn’t even wake up when John came to bed. The next thing I remember was the sound of John getting up, and I could tell it was already morning. I got up and got dressed, as soon as I stepped out of the tent, Joanne and Amy were also coming out of their tents. We walked up to the rest rooms together and started planning the day.

Our normal routine works so well for everyone, that we just decided to keep today just the same. We went back to camp in time to help the guys finish up breakfast. While we were eating, we had put dish water on the fire and had put the skillets in the water to soak. We talked about our plans and we all agreed that we would go swimming and start back about 11.00. We had already packed all of our personal items, and while we girls washed the dishes and cleaned up the camp site, the guys took down the tents and packed the station wagon and car. We had left one change of clothes out to change into, and we headed to the boat and the swimming beach. We swam for about an hour, went back to the boat and headed back across the cove to our camp site. While we girls went up to the showers to grab a quick shower and change into our cloths for the trip back to the city, the men loaded the boat onto its trailer and hooked it up to the station wagon and joined us at the showers. They took quick showers and changed into their jeans shorts and tee shirts. We packed our wet swim suits and towels in plastic bags and headed for the camp site, loaded up and started for the City. The plans were to drive to Stockton, eat lunch in town, pick up Amy and Mike’s children and start back to the City. We decided we would stop just outside of Kansas City at Archie to get the children something to eat and grab a snack for ourselves.

It took just a little over an hour to drive to Stockton, we ate lunch at a Burger place and sat at one of their picnic tables and ate our burger and fries. It didn’t take long to finish our lunch, and we drove to Amy’s parent home. We visited for a while, and since Amy’s folks live on the lake, John, Roy, Joanne and I walked down to the beach and walked in the water. It was a very pretty day, not too hot. We gave Amy and Mike about an hour before we walked back up to the house. They had just finished saying goodbye and were loading the Michael and Julia and their luggage in the station wagon. We told Mr. & Mrs. Obenchain good bye.

We started back to the City, and the two and half hours went by very slowly. It seems like it takes longer to drive back to the City and it did to drive to the Lake, even though the mileage was exactly the same. We were still ahead of the main rush. In the spring and summer, the lake traffic to and from the lake goes bumper to bumper after work on Friday nights and just before dark on Sunday’s night. The holiday weekends are always heavier and we were lucky to be ahead of the rush lake traffic.

Right on schedule, we were at Archie, and stopped at our favorite truck stop and had dessert and some soft drinks while the Michael and Julie had children’s meals. We bought gas and got back into the vehicles for the last 45 minute trip to the City.

It took another 30 minutes for us to get from Roy and Joanne back to my apartment. John helped me carry in my suitcase, I made us a cold soda, and we sat down to watch the news. We were not hungry, but we were tired. John stayed for about an hour before he went home. I threw my laundry from the lake into the washer and got my things laid out for tomorrow; climbed into the shower and got on my PJ’s. I went back to the kitchen and fixed myself a snack of Cheese and Crackers, which were my favorite snack, and fixed another cold diet coke. I sat down to watch the evening news, and got ready for bed.

The alarm went off way too soon. It seemed like I had just gone to bed; I got up, headed for the bathroom, got dressed and grabbed a cereal bar for my purse. I planned on stopping for donuts for the squad, and I fixed my travel mug with a cold diet coke for the drive to work. I went thru drive thru and picked up the donuts, and still got to work about thirty minutes early. I started the coffee, and went out to the squad to go over the check list, and check the drug box and bandages. The night squad must have had an easy night or a busy one, the boxes were fully stocked; they either didn’t use any supplies or they had stocked up just before they returned to the Station.

I went back to the kitchen, grabbed a donut and sat down to go over the log. I wanted to see how busy the station had been on our long week end. I was pleasantly surprised that there were no major runs or rescues. I guess that a lot of people went out of town for the Holiday.

I had just finished my diet coke and donut when the rest of the Day Shift began to arrive. I told them Coffee was ready and donuts were on the counter. Jason grabbed a cup of coffee and a donut and sat down beside me. He brought me up to date with the activity of the week end. Jason asked “How was your week end?” I told him “It was perfect; we even got to see the couple we had helped last year when he was having a heart attack. The weather had been perfect and we all had a really good time”. We went over the check list and got our personal gear ready for the squad. I stowed my extra clean uniform in my locker and put my purse behind the seat of the squad. We were ready! The night squad had started to come in from the bunk area. I made a third pot of coffee and told them I had donuts if they wanted any before they headed home.

The entire day went very well. It seemed that the City was still on vacation, and we only had two runs, and the fire engines only made one run. I told Jason “I think the entire City went on vacation! I can’t believe it is this quiet.”

The month of June and July went by with just normal activity. No critical rescues, no life threatening fires. Warm weather reduces the number of fires caused by candles, wood burning stoves, fireplaces and furnaces that malfunction. The only problem area for the warm months is the people who grill outside on wood decks, and catch the decks on fire. I don’t know how much more education it will take to get people to put the grill on the ground floor away from the wood decks.

The summer was going very fast. My wedding day was fast approaching. Nurse Dixie had planned a shower at her condo. She has a beautiful back yard with access to a nice pool, and I was looking forward to the shower. August was going to be a very busy month for John and me. Roy, Joanne, Amy and Mike were going to host a shower/party at Roy’s house with a cook out for the firefighters we worked with. We planned to have it all afternoon, and the Captains had staggered the shifts, so that anyone who wanted to attend would be able to. One thing about Firefighters and E.M.T., we are a tight family. We love each other like brothers and sisters, and we show it. The Hospital had planned a party for us in the cafeteria. They were going to let everyone come and go as they liked, John and I were going to be there for about four hours. The Hospital Staff had pooled their money and Nurse Dixie had asked for where we were registered. I knew she had been appointed to do the shopping.

On top of putting the finishing touches on the wedding plans, mailing out the invitations, and making arrangement for John and I to move, it seemed like every one of my off hours were busy with wedding plans.

John and I had gotten an offer from Debbie and Larry to sublease their condo. It was next door to my apartment and was about twice the size of my apartment. The club house had a pool, spa, game room and other amenities that my apartment did not have. John and I could sublease that unit for less than we were paying for our apartments, and since it would give us more room, it made sense to move. One of the firemen John worked with wanted my apartment, he wanted to move out of his parent home, and wanted to live closer to work. He was driving from North Kansas City to the Station, which was over 25 miles one way. He was looking forward to having his own space.

We made arrangements to move on August 31st, I would start moving my things a little each day, and so would John, so that we would only have our last minute things to move at the last minute. I would move in and live in the apartment August 31st; John would finish moving his thing in the two or three days before the wedding. He had arranged to spend the last two days with his Mom and Dad.

I could not believe that my wedding day was so close. Everything seemed so much on schedule, that it seemed a little scary. Almost as if we were forgetting something. The caterer had confirmed the food and we had already started to receive RSVP’s and were keeping accurate records and had started making seating arrangements. We had promised the caterer that we would have a final count by September 1.

The first week end of August was very busy. On Saturday, August 2nd, we had the last fittings for my wedding dress and John, Roy and Mike had their last fitting of their tuxes. I had found the perfect white satin low heels shoes, and that was the last thing I need for my final fitting. My dress couldn’t be finished until I had the shoes on that I would wear to the wedding, so they could hem the dress and then press it.

We spent the rest of the day together, and move part of our things to the new apartment. We had decided to move all the clothing and other items that were not currently being used, including our winter clothing and the extras that we were not using. We were going to be so busy the next four weeks, that we decided to keep only the absolute necessities at our apartments, we would move everything else.

On the first Sunday of August, August 3rd, Rampart had planned our shower. It would be in the cafeteria, and people would come and go as they could while they worked. Dixie had already told us she had a gift certificate for us. The employees had all chipped in and we could go shopping after we were married. They wanted us to have something extra nice to remember them all by. Dixie had also told us that everyone was bringing their favorite recipe on a recipe card and another card with a household hint or tip on it. I was looking forward to all the new recipes. I liked to cook, but only had three or four cook books.

The day was beautiful. We had had a light rain on Saturday night and the sky was clear and the heat wave, for at least the day, had given us all a rest. John and I arrived at the Cafeteria at 10:30 and got a glass of punch, and started to greet the nurses and cafeteria workers. I started to cut the cake in squares and put the pieces on dishes and John started handing out the pieces of cake as we greeted the employees. We had decided that this would be a great way to personally meet everyone, and the time passed by very quickly. Before we were aware of the time, it was lunch time, and we took a break to grab a sandwich, and while we were eating, more hospital staff came by to extend their greetings, sign the guest book and leave their recipe cards. The big mixing bowl was almost full, I had taken a look at a few that were handed to me personally, and could hardly wait to put them in order and start cooking.

We finished lunch and greeted the last of the staff. We had brought a Thank You card with us and after we had put all the recipe cards in a bag, along with the gift card that everyone had signed, we put our Thank You card on the bulletin board. We would also send a card to the Hospital Paper and we had made it a point to say Thank You to everyone we greeted. It had been a good day. We had seen so many of the regular staff that we had worked with for over a years and John for a lot longer. These were the people we turned our patients over too, these were the people that finished the job we started. They were all the best in their fields, down to the janitors and food service staff. Everyone was dedicated to their jobs, and were committed to help the patients from the start on the day they were admitted to the minute of the patients were released. I know we had told everyone “Thank You”, but that thanks went deeper than just for the day or for our special occasion. We had made it a point to tell each of them how important they were to the hospital, and what a good a job they were doing.

John and I headed home, we had time for a short nap, and then we would get ready for dinner at Dixie’s condo. Dixie had planned a dinner party for the Rampart Doctors. She had planned on a garden party, but I knew Dixie quite well. The party would be first rate, with excellent food, a bottle of good wine, and a quiet evening with the Doctors we look forward to seeing every time we pull up to Emergency with a patient. Each of the Doctors had helped John and me with our education and they were always helping us learn. They were the voices on the other end of the two way, ordering the treatment from the hospital to us in the field. We had looked forward to this party since Dixie told us she was planning it. If our luck was good, Dr. Brackett would play the piano. He was excellent at the key board, and if he ever gives up medicine, he could make a career out of his music. It seems like he knew all the songs, from opera to country and western. Dixie had told us to bring our swimming suits, and we were looking forward to a relaxing evening.

John picked me up at 5pm and we headed for Dixie’s. We had packed our dry cloths, and were wearing our swim suits. We had put our beach towels in our gym bags, and I had put in my makeup and my hair dryer in case I got my hair really wet. We arrived at Dixie’s at 5:30 and we were not the first to arrive. I greeted Dixie and ask if there was anything I could help her with. Dixie said “I have everything under control. The salad is ready, the lasagna is ready to go in the oven, and I have the table set. I’m ready to jump in the pool; did you bring your suit?” I said “Yes, and I am ready, I have my suit on under my shorts. Just give me a minute to slip out of these shorts.”

Dixie showed me her bedroom and left me to get ready. I slipped off my shorts and blouse and went out to the pool to join the others. John was already in the pool, and talking to the other guests. Almost everyone was there, all the Doctors and their wife’s and the main nurses that work with Dixie. We swam until seven. I saw Dixie get out of the pool and start inside. I got out and hurried to catch up with her. I went in to change, and got to the kitchen at the same time Dixie did. I had combed my hair back, and it was almost dry. Dixie offered me a coke, and I helped myself. She had set up a bar area, and had everything ready. I offered to help her with dinner, but she refused. I said “If I can’t help you, at least I can keep you company”. I thanked her for having this party for us and the employee party at the hospital. I gave her the high lights of the morning and early afternoon; and told her how well it had gone. I told her that I had one of the commercial size mixing bowls full of tips and recipe.

Dixie went to the sliding glass door and called the others. “Dinner is ready!!” Dixie sat the Salad Bowl out on the cabinet and asked if I wanted to toss the salad. She handed me the dressing and the salad tongs. I mixed the salad and carried the bowl to the table. Dixie took the lasagna out of the oven and cut it into squares. I went back to get the grated cheese, and the garlic bread. It all smelled so good. I didn’t realize how hungry I was until now.

The others had changed and had joined us in the kitchen. They choose their wine or soda and carried their glasses to the dining room. Dixie told them “sit anywhere, but I want John and Donna to sit at the head of the table. Dixie carried in the lasagna and asked Dr. Brackett to say grace. Dixie had made two large pans of lasagna and started a pan down each side of the table. John and I started the salad and followed with the garlic bread. We were all talking and enjoying each other’s company. We hadn’t gotten together since the Christmas Party. We did not get to attend the New Year’s party, because we were both at work, so it was nice to catch up with their family’s news. We felt like family, we had worked together for so long, and had shared in each other’s good and bad news and when necessary, been very supportive. Dixie had always had these parties at all the major holidays and was one we all looked up to; the one we all went to for advice and counsel. Dixie was Dixie.

Dinner went as always, we ate, talked, joked and planned each other futures. I helped Dixie clear the table and load the dish washer. After the dinner was over, Dixie had asked Dr. Brackett to play the piano. We went in to join the others to find a sing along in full voice. We were finishing our wine and I had fixed myself another diet coke. I didn’t see Dixie leave the room, but she returned with a miniature wedding cake and dessert plates and forks. She asked John and me “Do you wanted to practice”. We said “Sure” and cut the cake fed each other the first bite and joked about the trial run. We all had cake and coffee. Dixie presented us with a card signed by everyone and a silver chest filled with a service for twelve of the silver pattern we had chosen. We visited until almost ten, said our good-bys and John took me home.

The next week went very fast, it seemed like we had just finished one shower to have the fire departments party on Saturday. The two stations had gotten together to have one big blow out for us. They had scheduled the time so that one station could come by on the way to work (about four o’clock) and the other to come about six. Jason from my squad and Roy from John’s squad were hosting the party and had planned a big cookout at Roy’s farm. I was glad that the party was including both departments. My department had always made me feel like one of the guys and John’s department had been his extended family for over five years. Roy and Jason had planned the menu. We would have hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, potato salad, coleslaw and some beer, wine and soft drinks, along with cookies and brownies for dessert. The evening was perfect, a good breeze was coming from the south, and it was not hot. August can be very hot this time of month, but we were lucky to have an outdoor cookout on a nearly perfect night.

We had asked the squads, when there were planning the party, that we did not want an expensive gift. We don’t make a lot of money, and most of the men and women were married and have families to support. But, they surprised us with a very nice Grill. It was a combination of smoker and grill; large enough to have a party or small enough to use one side for just us. 
Everyone came, ate, visited and played horseshoes and just had a lot of just plain fun. These are good times; I wanted to remember them for the rest of our lives. There is something about the bond that firefighters and paramedics have. In some ways, they are closer than family, the times that we have put our lives on the line and protect the lives of our partners make it closer. Husbands and wife are not in life and death situations on the job, they may have crisis a few times in their marriage, but in our jobs, we never know when those moments will happen, and we don’t take the responsibility lightly.

It was almost nine o’clock when the party was starting to wind down. From eight thirty to nine, no one else showed up. It was down to Jason and his date, Roy and Joanne, Mike and Amy and John and me. We all pitched in and finished cleaning up. We had kept the area as clean as we could, and had already filled a number of trash bags earlier, and had taken them to the barn to store them until trash day. The best part of a picnic was the paper plates and plastic silverware, “no dishes to wash”. We girls helped Joanne wash the pots, pans and serving utensils while the men cleaned the grill.

We were done by ten o’clock and John and I started back to my apartment. We stopped at our new apartment and unloaded the grill and carried the boxes John had brought over earlier into the garage. We wanted to keep the front part of our new home as clean and for the furniture we would start moving in next week. It didn’t take us very long to finish stowing away John’s latest boxes and head for my apartment. John didn’t stay long; we both wanted to get up early, meet at church and have lunch with our parents. We had arranged to go over the RSVP’s and the seating arrangements for the immediate family. We also had one of our final counseling sessions with the minister in the afternoon. We also wanted to have a few quiet moments alone. We had been on the go for the last two weekends, with the shower at the hospital, Dixie’s dinner party, Roy, Jason & Amy’s party at the farm; we hadn’t had much time alone. I still didn’t know where we were going for our honeymoon and I wanted to get some hints from John. I’d like to know what type of cloths to pack.

Sunday came a moment after my head hit the pillow. I looked at the alarm clock and could not believe it was already seven thirty. I got up and headed for the kitchen. I wanted to fix myself a bite to eat before I started getting ready to go to church. John had told me he would pick me up by eight thirty.

Sunday seemed a blur. It seemed like we had just left for church and now John was bringing me home. John came in, and we made ourselves sodas and snack; and turned on the evening news. We talked a while and finished our sodas and snack while watched the news. John didn’t stay late, he kissed me goodbye and left about ten forty five.

I got threw a load of laundry in the washer, and went to the bathroom to take a shower and wash my hair. The laundry was finished by the time I had finished rolling my hair, so I threw the load of cloths in the dryer and headed for bed. I set the alarm and turned in. My mind was going a mile a minute; I was making a mental check list, and trying to determine if I had covered all the arrangements. It was getting too close to our wedding day for there to be any loose ends. I fell asleep going over my wedding plans.

The alarm sounded way too soon. I got up, got ready for work, fixed my breakfast and left for work. I arrived before the others, and made a big pot of coffee and went out to the squad to complete the check list. Jason joined me before I could finish the check list. The squad must have had several late runs, some of the basic supplies were very low, and we decided to make a run to Rampart as soon as the shift change was complete. The night shift was getting up and joining the others in the kitchen for coffee and a rundown of the night runs. We were briefed on the last two runs to residences and the fact that neither patient had to be transported explained the supplies that had been used. We finished our coffee and advised the Captain that we were going to Rampart for supplies.

We were just finishing filling our supply list, when we got our first run. From the information we were given, this run was to one of the homes Jason had been too last night, and the patient had refused transport. It worried me that almost four hours had elapsed and they still needed a paramedic. Jason and I agreed that this time we would order an ambulance and have Rampart check the patient.

The first run went as scheduled, no big surprises, in fact the entire day seemed like a normal day. School was already back in session at a number of area school districts, so the traffic was lighter.

It seems like each day is blending into the next day. I was so glad that no big rescues or tragic accidents were on our runs. The days went fast, and the nights were filled with John and I making the most of the time to make sure the final wedding plans were on schedule. The next two weeks seemed to fly by. We had double checked all the reservations, all the RSVP, all the arrangements. My wedding dress was tucked safely in my closet and I had worn my shoes around the house to get them broken in. I did not want my feet to hurt on my wedding day. John had his tuxedoes at his parent’s home, and the other men’s tuxedoes were to be picked up tomorrow.

My alarm went off, and I checked the calendar, to mark off one more day, to find that today was September 4th. Tonight was the wedding rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. John and I had arranged to have today off as well as our wedding day and we have both asked for a week off for our honeymoon. I spent the morning going over the guest list and doing a final count of the RSVP’s and called the club to give them the final count for the reception. I called the florist to confirm that the flowers would be delivered to the church by ten tomorrow. John knocked on my apartment door about eight thirty. He had come over with the last of his things. I grabbed some of my last cloths in the closet and went out the John’s pickup. He had arranged to spend his last night as a single man with his parents. I went with him to our new apartment and helped carry our clothing to the closet. We unloaded his bed from the back of his pickup and set it up in the master bedroom. I had already brought over my extra linen, and I went to the closet to get clean sheets and pillow cases. We made the bed, and added John’s quilt. Just adding the bed in the master bedroom gave the apartment a sense of being complete. We were ready! When we came back from the honeymoon, we could finish moving in the very last of our things. But the apartment was ready for us to live in. Even if we didn’t bring over the last items until later in the week, we were ready to call our new apartment home.

We finished picking up the apartment and taking the boxes we had unloaded out to the dumpster. It was almost eleven am. I had worked up an appetite. We headed for Suzi’s to get club sandwiches and then go to the church for the rehearsal.

We arrived at Suzi’s, ordered our club sandwiches, and told our server we wanted to talk to Mary or Suzi. We wanted to confirm our reservations for 7:30pm for the rehearsal dinner. Mary came out of the back meeting room. She said “I was just finishing the set up for dinner tonight. Is the count still the same? I have the white wine chilling and we will be ready when you get here.” We asked Mary to join us for a coke, and we enjoyed visiting with her for a while. We finished our sandwiches and told Mary “Good Bye, see you soon”.

We headed for the church. Everyone was on time, and the minister had us all gather in front of the church where he went over the schedule and what order we would be doing things. We started through the entire rehearsal, just as it would be tomorrow. It was nice to hear the music, and see how everybody’s role was going to unfold tomorrow. It seemed to be so real; I wondered if maybe I wasn’t really getting married tonight. The solos were wonderful, and all that was missing was the flowers at the altar. Joanne and Amy had made me a bouquet from my bows at the showers to carry down the aisle. The minister shortened his part of the service until he got to the part where we exchanged vows. We practiced saying the vows and the minister finished the service, pronounced us husband and wife, you may kiss the bride. Then he announced “Ladies and Gentlemen I give your Mr. and Mrs. John Gage. We walked down the aisle and turned around to hear the minister say “Everyone, come back down to the front! I want to find out if there are any questions.” No one asked any questions, and we asked the minister “Would you and your wife enjoy dinner with us tonight?” Reverend Jones accepted, and said “We’ll meet you at Suzi’s in just a few minutes.”

The rehearsal dinner went very well. Suzy had made her famous Chicken Parmesan. We started with salad, and finished with dessert. Mary had made a good choice on the very nice wine and dinner was so good. We left the restaurant about eight thirty. John drove me home and came in for a coke. We watched the program I had taped while we were away, and curled up on the couch to relay. We talked and watched the news. The weather was going to be perfect for tomorrow. John left about ten thirty. I took my shower, and turned in.

I was so excited, and I kept going over the plans in my head, I wanted the day to be perfect, I wanted to make sure I had not forgotten anything. I fell asleep and I remember dreaming of John. The alarm went off eight. It seemed like I had just gotten to sleep. I got up, headed for the kitchen to fix myself a diet coke and fixed myself a bowl of cereal and toast.

I put the last of my clothes for the honeymoon in my suitcase and packed all my makeup I would need and all the last minute things, closed the suitcase and put it by the front door. John had planned to come by the apartment while we were getting our hair done and pickup the suitcases.

Joanne and Amy were right on time. They had told me that they would pick me up at nine. We had appointments at nine at Salon Images to have our hair and nails done. I have been going to Connie shop for over five years. Connie and two of the other hairdressers were going help get us all done. Mom was planning on meeting us at the salon, and Connie was going to do my hair and Mom’s. Angie was going to do our nails. Angie has done my mom’s nails for almost two years, and she was going to fix mine today too. I always wear my hair short. It is nice to have short hair for my work, it needs to be out of the way and needs to require the least amount of care, but I wish my hair was longer now. I didn’t know what Connie would do with my hair, but I wasn’t sure what styles to choose from. With all the girls working together, we were able to get all our hairs and nails done and be out of the shop by eleven. We went to one of the restaurants close to the shop to have a nice lunch. We all knew that we had a busy evening ahead of us, and we wanted to have a nice leisurely lunch. We finished lunch, and Joanne and Amy drove me back to my apartment. I wanted to take a nap in the recliner so I wouldn’t mess up my hairdo. I set the alarm to go off at three. I was completely ready for the wedding. I got up, freshened up, put on my makeup, and all my cloths except for my wedding dress. It was at the church, hung in the dressing room, ready for me. I didn’t want to get it wrinkled riding to the church. I put on my “going away dress” and my shoes, packed my makeup in a little bag to go with me. I had decided to wear the dress I was going to wear to the airport to the church, that way I did not have extra cloths for Mom to have to worry about.

I went to the kitchen to fix myself a diet coke. By my watch, I had about 30 minutes before Mom was picking me up. John had come by the apartment while we were at the beauty shop and picked up my bags. He had both our bags in his trunk ready for the trip to the airport. Roy was going to drive us to the airport, and between him and my folks, someone would pick us up when we got back from our honeymoon. I put my make up in my small carryon bag, added my curling iron, pick, shampoo and other essentials and closed the bag. I put my purse and my carryon bag by the front door, before I went back to my bedroom to get dressed.

Mom arrived right on schedule; we grabbed my bags, locked the apartment and headed for the Church. We arrived at the church and went in the back door, directly across from my dressing room. Amy and Joanne were already there getting dressed. The photographer was there taking pictures of them getting ready, and started taking pictures of mom and me.

I started to get dressed. Amy, Joanne and Mom helped me with my dress. I was very careful and did not smudge my makeup, or mess up my hair. Amy gave me the “something blue”, the garter she had made for me. Joanne gave me a “penny for my shoe” and Mom loaned me her pearls that had been a gift at her high school graduation. The photographer was having a hay day, and after he had taken a group picture of Amy, Joanne and I; and one of Mom and I; we sent him across the hall to get pictures of Mike, Roy and John together. We had wanted him to get all the pictures he could before the service so we would only have to take the ones of us together at the altar after the wedding was over.

My sisters, brother and their families had arrived and were in my dressing room, so I sent Amy to get the photographer. I wanted to get a group picture before the wedding. My dad was there with Mom, so were all together, and all dressed up; which is was not an everyday event. John’s parents, his brother Justin and Sister Sarah had joined John in his dressing room and the photographer went back to take those pictures.

We were all finally dressed, and we headed for the Church. We wanted to take all the wedding pictures first, before the people started to arrive. Because we had taken a lot of the pictures in the dressing rooms, all we needed was the formal pictures of John and I and our families. The photographer was good, and we had been briefed on what to do next, and what pictures we would be taking. We all worked together, and the pictures did not take thirty minutes.

We went back to the dressing room, by the back doors, and waited in our dressing rooms. Our brothers went up to open the doors to the auditorium. The people how arrived early had been waiting in the foyer, and most of the guests were just now arriving. They escorted the guests to their seats. We had decided we did not have a “his or her” side of the church, and everyone was seated as close to the pulpit as possible, filling one row at a time. Our sisters were in charge of the guest book and gifts. They double taped the cards to the gifts, and took turns taking the gifts to the cars before the service. We had arranged for the Janitor to watch the parking lot while the service was going on so we knew the gifts would be safe.

The minister knocked on the door and gave us a five minute warning. We started up to the front door of the church, and our families went to be seated. John, Mike and Roy had gone with the minister and were probably ready to enter the door down by the altar.  
The organist had started the music for the seating of the parents. John’s parents were escorted down the aisle by their son Justin. They walked slowly to their seats. John, my brother, walked Mom down the aisle. Amy and Joanne started down the aisle with the lighters for the candles. They lit the candles at the altar and took their place on the steps of the altar.

It was finally time. The organist started the Bride’s March and we started my niece Amber down the aisle with her basket of rose pedals. She had practiced and surprised us; she did not let the crowd in the church distract her. She sprinkled the pedals down the aisle and sat down by her mom; my sister Peggy. It was time! Dad and I were ready to start down the aisle. The moment took my breath away. I just stood there a moment to take it all in. The Church was beautiful and nearly full. The flowers were perfect and gave such a back ground for the wedding party. John looked so handsome; I had not seen him this dressed up before. I wanted this moment to last. I was in no hurry to get to the altar. I looked at all our guests; so many long time friends and people we had worked with. It was good to have them all here.

Dad and I reached John, and the minister said “How gives this woman to be married to this man?” Dad responded “Her Mother and I”. The minister started the service with a prayer. This prayer was followed by our song “Just You and I”. The minister continued the service, and we declared our vows to each other, we exchanged rings. The Soloist started our second song “You light up my Life” and we each took a candle from the candle lobbies to light our unity candle. We blew out our single candle and took our place together in front of the minister. The minister declared to John “You may kiss your bride”. Everyone applauded! The Minister then said “Ladies and Gentlemen; I present for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. John Gage.” We turned around and looked out over the audience. It seemed like a dream. The setting was so perfect. Everyone stood up and applauded again as we walked down the aisle to the back of the church. My brother John escorted Mom and my family down the aisle to the back of the church and John’s brother escorted his Mom and Dad and family down the aisle.

Our parents and families, all except Mary, Peggy and Sylvia started for the reception. The fireman’s union haul was ready. Our parents had gone there before they came to the church. The food was due to be delivered thirty minutes ago, and I had arranged for some of the people I worked at the Club with to provide the food and beverage service at the hall. Our parents would make sure that everyone was ready for our guests, and they wanted to make one last check on the food and beverages.

My sisters went back down the service hall to the front of the church, and slipped in to take the flowers from the altar for the reception and to grab our makeup bags and John’s gym bag.

John and I started back down the aisle. We greeted each guest at their pew, and they shook our hands, and wished us well. This was to be our receiving line, and it went very well. We wanted to thank everyone for coming, and we told them that we’d see them soon at the reception. It did not seem to take long, and we were through sooner than I thought we would be. Roy, Joanne, Mike Amy helped keep the line going, and were telling people we would see them soon at the reception. Finally we were done; I told John that I would meet him at the front door of the church as soon as I went to the bathroom. I knew that I would not have time when we got to the reception. We had a schedule of events that we wanted to keep, but on the other hand, we wanted to have fun, and there was no time table. We were not going to look at the clock tonight. We wanted everyone to have fun, and we intended to enjoy ourselves.

Roy drove John and I to the reception and Mike drove the other car with Amy and Joanne to the reception. We arrived, and walked in to find everyone having a good time. We had wanted the food to be served as soon as the people arrived at the reception, we didn’t want a big line at the bar or buffet, and we wanted everything to be very laid back and casual. We had, however, arranged for plates of food to be prepared for the wedding party, and served at our table. We arrived and Roy, Joanne, Mike and Amy escorted us to our table, and took their seats. Our plates were served to us, and one of the servers took our drink order. John and I each decided on our cokes. We finished our dinner and declined second helpings. We did not hurry thru our meal; the buffet was still open and some of our guests were going back for seconds. The servers cleared our plates and brought us another coke. We just sat back and rested for a few moments. It was good to see all of our friends having such a good time; and some of them came by to say “Congratulations!” and we did intend to speak to all our guests tonight.

We decided it was time to cut the wedding cake, and Roy went to tell the DJ to make the announcement as we made our way to the cake table. Roy, Joanne, Mike and Amy joined us at the cake table. I knew the procedure; I have cut hundreds of wedding cakes while I worked at the Country Club. We waited for our guests to join us at the cake table. The photographer had taken pictures of John and I while we waited, and was getting set up to take the pictures of the cutting of the cake, our first bites, and then the toast.

The servers were passing glasses of Champagne to the guests, or sparkling juice to the ones that could not have the real thing, and after John and I had finished with the cake cutting, and started our Champagne toast and pictures. Roy stepped up with a microphone and offered his toast to us. He started by telling how John and he had met, how long they had worked together, how they had on more than one occasion put their lives on the line for each other and that being a part of the unique family of firefighters, makes them closer than brothers. He then proceeded to offer a toast to our happiness, and added a little bit of the Irish poetry. He then touched his glass to ours as did Joanne, Amy and Mike, and we all took sips of our Champagne. Amy then took the microphone and told how we had gone to school together. How we had stayed in touch, even through her tour of duty in the Dessert Storm war, how we had spent many of nights together at her home while her husband worked nights, and how we had come to work together on our runs in the ambulance to the hospital. She raised her glass to make her toast, touched our glasses, and we each finished our Champagne.

We then made our way to the dance floor for the first dance. The DJ put on our favorite song……and we danced with each other for almost the entire song. We then each went to get our parents, John and his Mom came back on the dance floor as the DJ started another slow dance, and My Dad and I came back to the dance floor. John’s Dad and My Mom also joined us on the dance floor. We had decided to do it this way. I did not want to have just a dance with my dad; I wanted to include all of our parents in this dance. We changed partners several times before the song finished. The DJ put on another slow dance, and Roy, Joanne, Mike and Amy joined us on the dance floor. John and I were dancing together as were each of our parents. The DJ announced that everyone was welcome on the dance floor, and John and I slipped off the dance floor to get a breath of air. We walked to the front door and looked out at the moon. It was just coming up, and was so close; we could almost reach out and touch it. We could even see the face of the man in the moon. The evening was perfect, it was warm out without being hot, there was a good breeze and it was nice to hold each other and exchange a really long kiss.

We went back inside. It was now time to toss my bouquet and John to throw my garter. The DJ made the announcement that all single ladies to come to the dance floor. We had a lot of single ladies, and Amy and Joanne talked Dixie into going out on the dance floor. I took a quick glance on where she was standing, turned my back to the girls, and threw the bouquet into Dixie’s hands. We had set her up good, we all wanted her to catch the bouquet, and I hope it will bring her good luck.

Someone found a chair for me to set on, and John slipped my garter off. The men were all standing on the dance floor. I did not realize how many young firemen there were. I think there were more single men than single women. John glanced at the men before he turned his back and tossed the garter, and you might have guessed who the “Lucky Man” was. We had set up Dr. Kelly Brackett, everyone have always wanted Dixie and Kelly to get married. I think everyone knew how much they loved each other.

Everyone was having a good time, and we started greeting each of our guests and telling them how glad we were that they were able to join us and make this evening so special for us. Time was flying; we had been busy visiting with our guests, dancing, and we took time to have an actual piece of cake. We had had the servers save us a piece of German chocolate cake, and it tasted very good. The cheese cakes were almost gone, as were the heart shaped cakes surrounding the fountain and the main wedding cake.

It was ten o’clock. The servers brought out trays of snacks and the coffee service, ice tea and sodas. The bar gave last call, and started to put the wine and beer away. The servers cut a few more pieces of wedding cake and put out more mints and nuts. John and I took plates and fixed our snacks. I have always liked cheese and crackers or fruit for my midnight snack, others like the chicken wings and the stuffed mushrooms caps. So we tried to have something for everyone. Our parents joined us, as did Roy, Joanne, Mike and Amy. Our guests joined us and we all stood around talking. The DJ had taken a break and was also getting some real food. We had had the servers fix him a plate and keep it warm. He finished his meal, and started another slow dance. John and I went to the dance floor to have our last dance of the evening. The others joined us, and when the dance floor was full, John and I slipped away to the dressing rooms. We changed into our going away suits, and Amy, Joanne and my mom packed my wedding dress to go to the cleaners, and the rest of my cloths to go home. I finished fixing my makeup and hair, and went out to join John. The DJ made his announcement, that we were going to leave for the airport, and that if we didn’t hurry, we would miss our flight.

Everyone came to wish us good luck. We had given them all little silver bells with our names engraved on them, tied with white ribbons, and ready for their Christmas tree, if they wanted to use them for that reason. As we were getting into Roy’s car, everyone was ringing their bells, ringing in our new life together. Joanne and Roy got in the front seats, and we started for the airport.

The trip to the airport was so long. It wasn’t any further than we were use to, but we were in a hurry to get on the airplane. I still did not know where we were going. Roy let Joanne and I out at the door to the terminal, while he and John parked the car and carried our bags in to be checked. Security is still strong, and it took us quite a while to get checked in, we then went to the waiting area. Roy and Joanne could not come with us, with the new security rules, only the passengers were allowed past the scanners.

We had said our “Thank You” to Joanne and Roy, and went into the waiting room.

TO BE CONTINUED 

 

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The Characters of Emergency do not belong to me. They are the property of Universal Studios and Mark VII Productions. No copyright infringement is intended or monetary gain made. I merely like to toy with them and return them to their proper owner in good working order.

Copyright 2009
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