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Respect

An Emergency Story By

Julie
 

 

It was very early morning.  The sun hadn't yet risen in the Los Angeles sky.   Some weight plates clanked from the few people working out.  The sound of a bar dropping as a person completed their Clean echoed across the room.  The smell of sweat and testosterone filled the air.  Sam was at the squat rack doing weighted squats.  Sweat flowed down her red face as she lifted the 90 pound barbell.  Her 8 month pregnant belly pushing out the front of her red sweat soaked Fire Department T-shirt.  The music of Aretha's Franklin's Respect blared throughout the room of the local gym.

 

                                                 Ooo, your kisses (oo)

                                                Sweeter than honey (oo)

                                             And guess what? (oouuuuuuj.  

                                                    So is my money (up

                                              All I want you to do (oo) for me

                                  Is give it to me when you get home (re, re, re ,re)

                                                   Yeah baby (re, re, re ,re)

                                       Whip it to me (respect, just a little bit)

                                       When you get home, now (just a little bit)

 

                                                          R-E-S-P-E-C-T

                                               Find out what it means to me

                                                          R-E-S-P-E-C-T

                                                          Take care, TCB

 

     Sam finished her set of ten, dropped her bar and walked around, adjusting the wrist wrap on both her wrists while catching her breath.  As she stepped up to do another set, Johnny, who had completed his work out, came up behind Sam and just watched her from a distance.  He leaned against the dumbbell rack and smiled.  Johnny was amazed at how pregnant and yet how strong Sam had stayed.  Dr. Brackett was concerned at first about Sam continuing to weight train, even while pregnant, but for Sam who had always been very active her whole life, sitting around was just too stressful.  She was one person who needed to remain active.  Seeing how healthy and happy she stayed, kept everyone very happy; including Johnny who loved to watch his wife from behind as she completed her squats.

"I know you're back there," Sam said between lifts.  "I thought you would get tired of doing that."

     "Never," Johnny said smiling.  "It's almost 6 o-clock.  You need to get moving if you want to get your laps in the pool this morning."

     "I'm coming," Sam said as she finished her last set of squats and racked her weights.

     Sam followed Johnny out of the weight room so they could swim their laps.  It wasn't the running that Sam loved best, but it was a close second.  They walked together as she unwrapped her hands.  

     "Are you going to swim with me today?" Sam asked.

     "I hate swimming," Johnny answered.

     "I think you would like it more if you spent more time doing it," Sam explained.  "It can be very peaceful."

     "Well, I didn't bring my suit," Johnny said.

     "Then it's a good thing I did," Sam said.

     She practically danced to the locker room with Johnny reluctantly following behind.  He really did hate swimming.

     

***************************

     It had been a hard few months for everyone.  LA County had never had a female firefighter before Sam, let alone a pregnant one.  In the six months since it was found that Sam was pregnant and relieved from duty, she was assigned all kinds of jobs.  She was stuck doing paperwork, going through applications, assisting the Chief, and completing fire inspections.  Sam felt like she had done every fire inspection in the County and paid her dues in paperwork hell.  She was relieved to finally be assigned to help with the final month of the new paramedic training class, training them for their transition to the field. 

     Sam walked into the class at Rampart wearing her constantly expanding uniform.  At nearly nine months pregnant, she wasn't feeling as graceful and strong as she always had in the past.  Yet, Sam was so happy to be back to what she loved most; working as a firefighter/paramedic.  Even though she was relieved, she also was a little nervous.  It was hard stepping into a new situation like this in such a male dominated field.  10 men were sitting at the tables talking as she came through the training room door and was greeted by a smiling Dr. Brackett.  Her friend Matt, who she first met during the Fire Department after Thanksgiving beach party, was sitting in the front row along with a couple others that she knew well.  But most of the class was filled with new firefighters that she had never met before.  She received a nod from Matt and curious & shocked looks from many of the newer firefighters as she stepped behind Dr. Brackett.  He moved forward to speak and the class settled down to listen.

     "Gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to firefighter/paramedic Samantha Gage.  She has been graciously loaned to us by station 36 and the department during this final month of training to prepare you for working in the field."

     Sam stepped forward to speak to the men as Brackett stepped back towards the door.  

     "Thank you Dr. Brackett.  I know you have all been trained in rescue and now you have been training as paramedics.  But combining those two aren't as straight forward as you would think," Sam began.  "You know from this class that care needs to be used moving a person in a car accident, but how do you do it when the car is upside down and crushed?  Each rescue is unique.  I'm going to help you put together a way to think through any situation you may find yourself in for the best treatment of the patient."

     Jason was a cocky young dark haired firefighter who recently celebrated his twentieth birthday.  He had only been with the department six months before deciding to become a paramedic, because he felt that he was the best at everything he did and no one else could be better.  Jason raised his hand for a question.  Sam saw his hand raised and called on him.

     "Yes, and could you tell me your name as well?"  Sam asked.

     "Jason Cullins," he stated.  "My question is, why are you teaching this portion?  Shouldn't we have a real firefighter/paramedic instead of an honorary one?"

     There was an intake of breath from Dr. Brackett and most of the other paramedic candidates who knew Sam and knew her qualifications and talent.   Without flinching, she walked forward and put her hand on Matt’s shoulder to keep him from saying anything, and to take the time to answer the question herself.

     "As Dr. Brackett  just stated, I was previously a part of squad 36 for the past two years.  Not as an honorary firefighter," Sam explained.  "As a real firefighter/paramedic.  I am teaching this portion of your training because I am highly trained, experienced, qualified and available to do it."  Then, having explained as much as she wanted, Sam stepped back to the blackboard and continued teaching the class.

     "Now, for the next month we are going to spend half time here preparing for your certification exam and the other half at the training ground working through some basic scenarios you may encounter.  So since there are no more questions, let's jump right in and get started with the basics.  A simple fender bender.  When you approach the accident, what do you look for?" Sam asked as she walked to the blackboard to write down the answers.

 

     "How about you tell me what I should look for honey?" Jason sarcastically asked as he grinned at his friends.

     Sam turned from the blackboard, came right up to his desk and leaned on the edge so she could look him in the face.  "I would start by looking to see if there is a gas leak or an engine fire.  Anything that could endanger the victim or crew.  Next I would look for any broken glass in case they hit the windshield.  Then opening the door, I would check if the victim was wearing a seatbelt they may have some internal bleeding depending on speed.  Check hands and fingers for breaks that could have happened on the steering wheel or stick shift.  Also check for rib fractures from the steering wheel.  obviously, head and cervical injuries.  Does that sound good to you sweetheart, or should I continue?"

      Dr. Brackett leaned back and raised his hand to his face, trying to hide a smile.  Jason sat back, a little shocked at her answer as well as embarrassed from being called sweetheart.  Sam stood up straight and continued.  "We also need to check the lower body.  Legs and ankles are easily broken, especially when it comes to a front impact.  So, if we had a low speed rear impact collision, with a victim who was wearing a seatbelt, had a cut on their forehead and a broken hand, how would we be moving this victim out of the car?  Matt?"

 

*******************************************

      Even though the morning had started a little difficult Sam had come out of it well.  Everyone had learned a few things and she even seemed to surprise the difficult Jason Cullins with her expertise.  Sam was feeling really good and was happy to be able to join Dixie for lunch.  It had been a long time since they had lunch together.  They had often done this when Sam was the one taking the paramedic class and she had even stopped by from time to time for a little pie, coffee and girl talk.  But over the past year, they hadn't even done that very much.

     The group of trainees sat around the tables in the cafeteria talking together while they finished their sandwiches.  

     "I can't wait to get out of this classroom and into the field," Noah said.  

     Noah was a young blonde 19 year old firefighter whose family had a long history in the Department.  In the year since he started, Noah had seen so many paramedics saving lives in ways that most of his family had in the past always hoped for.  Now it was his chance to make a significant difference.  It was so hard for him to wait for his turn.

     Sam came walking from the cafeteria to the seating area with Dixie when she heard the men talking around the corner.  Sam stopped in her tracks when she heard what they were saying.

     "But don't we deserve better than some chick wannabe?  What can she teach us?" Jason complained as he leaned back in his chair.

     "I know.  How can that little girl really be a firefighter," one of the others agreed.  "I doubt she could even lift a hose."

     Sam was humiliated and embarrassed.  She thought things had been going well.  Sam turned to leave before the guys saw her, "I'm sorry Dixie.  I forgot I...   I'm going to um..   I'll see you later."

     Sam rushed away, setting her food tray down at an empty table as she passed.  Sam had often taken flack when she came into a new group of firefighters and in the past she was able to overcome their lack of respect with a quick wit, expertise and skill at her craft.  With her actions so limited by the child, it was hard to do that now and Sam was at a loss.  Dixie watched Sam leave and shook her head at what the trainees were saying.  She had worked with these men for the past two months as they completed the first part of their training and never heard them say anything so disrespectful.   

     Dixie was about to step forward when she heard Matt respond.

     "Jason, don't judge by looks alone.  I worked with Sam before when a plane crashed on the beach last year.  She is one hell of a firefighter and a damn good paramedic.  We are lucky to have her.  If you don't see that, you're a fool."

     "So you would want that little girl for a partner?  You want her to watch your back?" Jason argued.  "Give me a break."

     "I wish I could be that lucky.  I'd rather have her as a partner than you boots any day," Matt retorted.  

    

*************************************

     Sam was in the garage of her house.  The garage door was open and Johnny saw her as soon as he drove up.  Sam was wearing her running clothes, had boxing gloves on her hands and was barefoot.  Her clothes were drenched in sweat.  She was viciously punching the heavy bag hanging from the rafters.  It was swinging with each punch. Johnny walked up smiling.

 His face was dirty and he smelled of grass and gasoline.  "I think you got him," he teased as he approached.

     Sam turned and glared at Johnny.  She wasn't in the mood to be teased and her look said it all.  

     "Ok, you didn't get him," Johnny said.  "I take it you had a hard day in training class?"

     "You are so lucky," Sam said while still punching.  Johnny got behind the heavy bag and held it still as she continued to punch.  "No one doubts your abilities," Sam said.  "You can walk into the room, no questions asked.  No one thinks of you as an honorary firefighter.  You don't have to constantly prove yourself to morons."

 

     Sam punctuated the sentence by punching the bag really hard.  Johnny was pushed back by the force of the punch.  He was always surprised that this woman who could be so gentle had so much strength.  Sam stepped back breathing hard.  "Why can't anyone just see me for who and what I am?"

     "Sam, There are tons of people in the department who respect who you are and what you can do," Johnny said.  "But remember, you are the only woman.  Not everyone is going to get it right away."

     Johnny stepped forward to brush the sweaty hair out of Sam's eyes and smiled at her. "You remember, it took me a little time too."

     Sam smiled back in understanding.  "I know.  Still it's..."

     "It's hard," Johnny said.  "I know."

     Johnny gave her a kiss on the forehead, then they started walking into the house.  Sam did know it took everyone at station 51 time.  She remembered the first thing Johnny and Roy did was question the Captain about her being there.  She had to convince them that she could do it and was glad they were open minded enough to let her do it.

     Sam bit the strap on her boxing glove to loosen it as she walked.  "Did you get Roy's  lawn mower working?"

     "Yeah," Johnny said.  "All fixed and the yard is done too."

     "Good," she said as she pulled on the strap with her teeth again.

     "You are going to break your teeth doing that."  Johnny said as he grabbed Sam's gloved hands and started loosening the leather laces on the gloves and pulled them off.  Then they walked from the garage into the house.

     "Hey, I was wondering, why aren't you wearing any shoes?" Johnny asked.  "You always wear shoes out here."

     Sam looked down embarrassed, "Because I can't see my feet to put them on."

     Johnny smiled at that answer.  

     "I love you," he said.

     Johnny set the gloves down on the table and paused for a moment to watch as Sam waddled back into the bedroom to take her shower, then he followed her back.  He loved to watch her walking around the house.  Sam was becoming so self conscious and sensitive about her size, she didn't quite understand his fascination.  To him she was just as sexy pregnant as she was before.  Maybe even more so now.  Sam stripped off her clothes and climbed into the shower.  She stood under the warm spray of the shower nozzle as she rubbed the soap over her round, solid belly and smiled at the babies movement.  The punching bag took out some of the frustration that she felt and the shower helped to wash away a little more.  She leaned her head back and let the water spray over her face and drip off her hair.

     "What do you say we head out for dinner tonight?  Johnny asked as he washed his face in the sink just outside the shower.  "We could go to that little place down by the beach."

    "That sounds fantastic!" Sam answered as she scrubbed her hair.

    She was relieved to not have to worry about dinner, dishes or anything.  Sam stepped out of the shower onto the soft blue bath rug.  Johnny looked at her as she wrapped the towel around her body.

     "You look beautiful," he said.

     "I look huge," she answered, then jumped with pain.  "OUCH!"

     Sam put her hand on her belly and rubbed a spot on the side.  Johnny stepped forward concerned.  "Are you ok?  Is it...."

     "No, it's not a contraction," Sam said smiling.  "It's a soccer player.  This little one has quite a kick."

     Johnny smiled at that and moved closer holding Sam in his arms and rubbing on her belly.  The baby pushed a foot at him and Johnny giggled a bit.  "He sure is active."

     "How do you know it's a he?" Sam asked.  "It could be a girl you know."

     "Come on, let's get dressed and I'll help you get some shoes on," Johnny laughingly said as he walked through the bathroom door and into the bedroom.  "I'm starving."

     Sam took her towel off and snapped him in the butt with the end of it; a Cheshire Cat smile on her face as he jumped.

*********************************************

     Jason, Noah, Matt and their friend Justin were sitting at the table at the restaurant.  They had just finished their meal and were enjoying a quiet beer.  Justin was a friend of Noah's.  He had been with the department for a few years and was now at station 8.  He completed his paramedic training about a year before.  Justin was tall, muscular and tanned with sandy blonde hair and light hazel brown eyes.  He had his sunglasses perched on the top of his head and was wearing a green polo shirt, tan shorts and flip flops.  

     "So how is the training going?" Justin asked.

     "It's great," Noah answered.

     "Except for some firefighter wanna be that started teaching the class today," Jason piped in.

      "Give it a rest Jason," Matt said, frustrated.

      "Who are you talking about?" Justin asked.

      "Speak of the Devil," Jason said pointing over to the door.

      Justin turned to see Sam and Johnny arrive.  She wore a pretty red and white flowered skirt with a white sleeveless shirt and sandals.  Johnny was also dressed casually but nice with shorts and a plaid button front shirt.  Johnny put his arm around Sam's back as the waitress led them to their table near the window so they could watch the setting sun over the ocean.  Justin's mouth dropped open in amazement.

     "You got one of the Gage's?" Justin asked.  "Dude, what's your problem?  I had Brice teaching my transition training.  Either one of those two would be ten times better than what I had to go through."

     "That chicks no firefighter," Jason said.  "But at least she's nice to look at."

     "Who have you been talking to?" Justin asked.  "She's one of the best."

     "I tried to tell him," Matt said.  "He doesn't believe me."

     "That chick is an awesome firefighter.  She is strong and fearless," Justin explained.  "I saw her, single handedly rescue two injured firefighters from a burning hotel a couple years ago.  One was unconscious and she carried him on her shoulders down three flights of stairs while helping the other one who had a leg injury and couldn't walk, then she treated them both for their injuries when she got them out.  She saved my ass during that last big brush fire a couple years ago too."

     "You need to have a little more respect," Matt said.

     Jason looked over at Sam as she was talking to the waitress.  He wondered, how could that little girl be everything that everyone says she is?  Suddenly an older woman in her late 50's across the room screamed.  Her husband had fallen out of his chair and was laying face down on the floor, unconscious.  Johnny and Sam jumped up from their table to help.  Justin, followed by the others at their table naturally, rushed over too.  Sam and Johnny rolled him gently onto his back, then Johnny checked his pulse.  Sam looked up and saw Matt standing in front of her.  

     "Matt, call it in," she said to him.

     "No pulse," Johnny said.

     Sam did a pericardial thump then began CPR and Johnny started mouth to mouth resuscitation.  Jason and Noah watched them work with the precision of someone who did this every day.  

     "What happened?" Justin asked the woman.

     "He's had indigestion all afternoon," she answered.  "But we've been looking forward all week to coming out here for dinner tonight.  Today is our 25th wedding anniversary."  

     The woman began to cry.  "Oh Barry."

     As Sam continued CPR, her shirt came up a little in the back revealing some of the burn scars and injuries she had endured as a firefighter.  Jason looked on curiously at the scars.  After about two minutes of continuous CPR, Sam's strength began to wane and Justin tapped her shoulder to take over.  Sam nodded then at the count of five the switch was made.  As Justin started compressions, Sam checked the pulse and said, "Still no pulse," then she stood and stretched her back for a minute as Noah relieved Johnny.  

     Matt came back from making the phone call.  "The squad is on the way," he said.

     After a couple more minutes, Matt noticed that Justin was beginning to tire and tapped Justin on the shoulder to relieve him.  They could hear the sirens outside and a minute later squad 8 came in.

     "Johnny, what you got?"  Paramedic Will Jeffries asked Johnny

     "Full arrest.  He collapsed during dinner," Johnny explained as he tried to catch his breath.

 "He's been having symptoms most of today.  We started CPR right away."

     Johnny and Sam both helped to set up the equipment then they pulled out the defibrillator and put the paddles on his chest to check the heart rhythm.  

     "Vfib," Sam said as she looked at the cardio scope.

     Johnny held the paddles out so Sam could put jell on them then she pushed the button to charge.  Paramedic Dan Obert called into Rampart.

     "Rampart, this is squad 8," Dan said.

     "Go ahead squad 8," Brackett said.

     "Rampart, we have a 50 year old male.  He was in full arrest and receiving CPR when we arrived.  He is in Vfib.  We are defibrillating."  

     "One, two, three, four CLEAR!" Sam said.

    They defibrillated.  The wife jumped and started crying.  Noah came closer to the woman and tried to comfort her.

     "Of all places for this to happen, in front of a bunch of paramedics is pretty lucky," Noah said.  "You have some of the best paramedics in the County looking after your husband right now so don't you worry." 

     "No conversion," Sam said.

     "No conversion Rampart," Dan said.

     "Administer an esophageal airway then start an IV D5W TKO, 2 amps bicarb."

 

     Sam grabbed an airway from the drug box and inserted it.  Johnny started the IV, while Justin continued CPR.  Will worked around everyone to place the pads so they could send a strip to rampart.  The airway now inserted, Sam connected the oxygen and continued to ventilate, then pressed the button on the defibrillator to charge it again.  Once Will had everything in place, the drugs had been administered and Sam had him breathing better, Will placed the paddles on the mans chest to prepare to defibrillate again. 

     "One, two, three, four, Clear!"  Sam said.

     They defibrillated the victim again.  

     "Sinus rhythm," Sam said.  "He's breathing on his own."

     They sent the strip to Rampart while Will got the vital signs.

     "Sinus rhythm Rampart, we are sending you a strip, this will be lead two," Dan said.  "BP 130/95, pulse 120, respiration 30."

     "He's looking good," Brackett said.  "Monitor vital signs and Transport as soon as possible."

     "10-4 Rampart," Dan said.

     The time seemed an eternity but was really only a few minutes.  The ambulance arrived and they prepared their victim for transport.  Justin, Johnny and Sam followed Dan and Will out to the ambulance.  Noah walked the woman to the ambulance and helped her into the front seat then joined Matt and Jason watching the ambulance and the squad drive away. 

     As they watched the ambulance leave, Jason asked the guys, "Did you see the scars on Sam's side as she was doing CPR?"

     "My uncle said that she was hurt on a rescue a couple years ago saving a woman from a three story fall," Noah said.  "Sam received a citation for her actions.  After all, she nearly died and spent a month in ICU."

     Sam approached the group of men.  "So you didn't get enough practice today at Rampart?" Sam jokingly asked.

     "Is he going to be ok?" Matt asked.

     "I think so," Sam said.

     Johnny came in behind her and Sam took the opportunity to introduce them.  "Johnny, this is Jason and Noah, you know Matt and Justin," Sam said.  "They are hoping to be some of the new batch of Paramedics out of Rampart."

     "Hi guys," Johnny said as he shook their hands.  

     Johnny rubbed his belly and looked over to Sam, "So Sam, do you want to get back to dinner?"

     "That sounds great," Sam said.  "I'm starving.  I'll see you guys tomorrow."

     Johnny put his arm around Sam's waist as she waved, then they walked away from the guys and back to the table to for their dinner.  The rest of the guys headed back to their own table too.

 

*****************************************

     It was a cloudy, gloomy day.  Rain was coming down and more would be there soon.  At least they had a chance to do some work before it started to really come down.  Even with the rain, Sam was very happy that everything went so well.  They were able to physically work through a car extraction and she was able to teach a few things that even some of the veterans didn't know.  Sam smiled thinking about it as she was riding back from the County Fire Training Ground to finish out the day at Rampart.

 Carpooling seemed like the perfect plan and it gave a chance for Sam to get to know some of the guys better.  Today she asked Jason to drive the red Fire Department car.  It was so much easier for her to ride with someone else than it was to try to get behind the steering wheel, as large as she was becoming.  Matt and Noah were in the back seat excitedly talking about the training they just completed.  

  

     "It's hard to believe how differently you think of a rescue as a paramedic," Noah said.

 "Giving so much thought into their pain levels and how to move them, was really challenging."

     "Sam, you seem to know your way around an accident scene pretty well too," Jason said. "At least you do, for a girl."

     Matt and Noah shook their heads in disbelief of what they were hearing.  After all they had said and Jason seeing her work today, however limited by the pregnancy, he still seemed to doubt her abilities.  Sam was annoyed at Jason's comment and naïveté.  She had reached the limit to Jason's prods.  "Jason, do you really think the only thing girls are good for is cooking you dinner and keeping the house clean?  Barefoot and pregnant?  Let me tell you something that I'm sure some of the other guys have probably already told you, when you are caught in that fire, or hanging on the side of that building, it doesn't matter that I'm a girl.  What matters is that I'm so damn good at what I'm doing!"

     While talking to Jason, Sam saw through the driver’s side window, a car had run the red light at high speed, heading straight toward them.  There was no time for Sam to say a word or react in any way.  The cars collided.  The driver’s side of their car collapsed inward on impact with a horrifying crunch of metal and the pop of glass.  Jason, Matt, Sam and Noah were tossed sideways within their seat belts, hitting their heads on their door frames and windows with the first impact.  With the previous rain, the roads were so slick that the two cars spun as though they were on glass.  A brown wood sided station wagon that had been traveling behind, couldn't avoid them and slammed head on, into the front passenger side of the fire department car, snapping them all forward into their seat belts.  The dashboard was pushed forward and down nearly onto Sam's feet, and the steering wheel pushed into Jason's chest.  Then all was quiet.  

    The crew of Station 51 were cleaning up their lunch dishes and putting away the leftovers.

     "You wouldn't believe that girl," Chet said.  "She was amazing."

     "I'm sure she was a total doll, just like the last one," Marco sarcastically said. 

     "Marco, you're just sore because she wouldn't talk to you," Chet said.

     The klaxons sounded, "Station 51, Station 8.  Vehicle accident with injuries, intersection of Columbia and 138th Street.  Columbia and 138th street.  Ambulance is responding, Time out 12:57."

     Captain Stanley rushed to his podium to answer the call as the men ran to their vehicles.  "Station 51, KMG 365," then he handed Roy his slip of paper and ran to the engine as the squad pulled out with the engine close behind.

     The accident was near the station and took less than five minutes to get there.  As they pulled up, Johnny saw two cars, then, as they came closer, he saw the red fire department car with one whole side crushed in, the hood bent with the second impact and Matt running toward the approaching help.  Johnny's heart jumped into his throat.  He knew what Sam was doing today and that Matt was part of her class.   

     "Oh God," Johnny said.

     Matt came to Johnny and Roy as they climbed from their Squad.  He had blood on his face and was holding his elbow.  Captain Stanley approached him too.  

     "The driver of sedan is dead," he said as he nodding toward the green sedan that hit them.  "There are two injured in the station wagon.  Not serious, broken arm, broken leg and probable concussions.   Three kids in the back seat look like they are just shaken up.  Our car got the worst."  

They started pulling the equipment from the squad as Matt continued to explain the situation.  "Jason was at the point of impact.  He's caught behind the steering wheel and is having  a lot of trouble breathing.  Sam hit her head pretty hard on the door frame.  She was unconscious for a couple minutes and has been having strong contractions about three minutes apart since she came to.  Noah may have a broken hip but I really haven't checked anyone very well.  The whole car frame is bent and I can't get the doors open.  I had to climb out through the window."

     "Marco! Get the Ajax tool and a crowbar.  Let's see if we can pop those passenger doors open," Captain Stanley said.  "Chet, get to that station wagon and check on them."

 

Sam had a bruise and cut on her right temple at the hairline  Blood was flowing down the side of her neck into the collar of her uniform.  She was holding tightly to Jason's hand trying to support and encourage him.  "Hang in there Jase.  Breath slow and easy," Sam said.  "We'll get you out of there."

     "I don't want to die," Jason gasped to her as blood trickled out of his mouth.

     "You’re gonna be fine," she calmly said then practically doubled over with a strong contraction.

  Roy did a quick check of the driver Matt reported to be dead.  The woman's neck was broken and at an odd angle.  Her eyes were wide open.  Roy instantly knew that Matt was right.  He looked into the car and saw several whiskey bottles on the floor and there was a strong scent of alcohol.

     Johnny came to the open passenger window of the Fire Department vehicle and looked in, while Roy checked the other cars. "Sam, how are you doing honey?" Johnny asked.

     Sam was panting with the contraction.  When it eased enough Sam was able to say "Jason is hurt."

     "Yeah, I know," Johnny said.  "Matt told me.  Right now I need to take care of you.  We need to get you out of the way.  Roy will check on Jason and 8 is on the way.  They should be here any minute."

     "Sam, I'm sorry," Jason gasped.  "I've really been a jerk."

     "Knock it off Jason.  I'm sure you can be much more obnoxious than you have been," Sam teased trying to make light of the situation.

     With perfect timing Roy appeared.  He checked Jason's pulse through the broken window, then checked his eyes.  Jason cried out even with Roy's gentle touch across his ribs.

     "Broken ribs and sternum," Roy said.  "Probably a punctured lung too."  

         Roy yelled over to Captain Stanley.  "Cap, we need to get him out of here."

 

     Mike brought over the jaws to pull the steering wheel off Jason.  Followed by Captain Stanley to help.  Roy began to cover Jason with a bright yellow blanket to protect him from the broken glass from the windshield. 

     "Sam, does your back or neck hurt?" Johnny asked.

     "It's not bad," Sam answered.  

     "How about your legs?"

     Sam was about to answer when another strong contraction began.  Johnny checked his watch then talked her through it.  He held her hand through the window and her grip during the contraction nearly broke it.

 

     "Sam, short breaths.  Hee hee hee," Johnny said.     "The contractions are only one minute apart," he said.  "I think it's baby time."

     "No kidding" Sam gasped through the contraction. "I can feel the head pressing down."

     Marco came over with his tools to pop the door open and Johnny stepped back to let him do it.  While Marco worked, Johnny checked on Noah. "Are you ok Noah?"

     "My hip and leg," Noah said.  "It's not bad.  Take care of them.  I can wait."

     The sound of the sirens filled the air as station 8 and an ambulance arrived on scene.  Marco got the door open and Johnny came back to Sam.  He worked quickly to place a bandage on her head wound and wrapped it just before another contraction started.  Sam gripped Johnny's hand and she looked into his eyes. Justin from squad 8 came over and saw Sam sitting in the car.  

     "Sam?" Justin said, but instead of acknowledging him she just let out a short scream as the contraction hit its peak.  Justin moved behind Johnny.

    "We're gonna have to move you babe," Johnny said.  

     With that contraction easing, Sam nodded her head.  Johnny carefully grabbed her wrists and lifted her onto the waiting stretcher then they headed into the ambulance with Justin following behind.  As he walked by, Justin looked down at the wet and very bloody seat.

     The rain started to come down by the buckets.  There was even some thunder and lightning flashes.  In the privacy of the ambulance, Johnny stripped off the bottom half of Sam's clothes to check the baby.  They left one side of the ambulance door open so that there would be some freedom of movement in the close quarters of the ambulance and yet some privacy for the impending delivery.  Justin set up the bio-phone and made contact.

     "Rampart this is squad 8," Justin said.

     "Go ahead 8," Brackett said over the radio.

     "Rampart we are at a traffic accident.  We have Sam Gage.  She has a hematoma on the left temple.  There don't seem to be any other injuries.  She is in active labor.  Contractions are about one minute apart," Justin said.

    "I can see the head," Johnny said.  "It's crowning.  Justin, I'm going to need you."

     Justin left the bio phone on so Rampart could hear what was happening while he helped Johnny with the delivery.  Justin placed his hands just below Sam's rib cage and pressed firmly to assist with the delivery.  

 

     Dixie and Dr. Early came into the base station and stood behind Brackett to listen as Johnny delivered his child.  Dixie had waited a long time for Johnny to fall in love and get married.  She was just as excited about the birth as Johnny.

     "PUSH!" Johnny said.  "The head is out...  Suction...  Shoulders...  Cord is cut."  Then they could hear the baby cry through the bio phone.  

     "It's a girl," Johnny happily announced.  "Sam, it's a girl.   We have a baby girl."

     Dixie had a huge smile on her face as she listened to the excitement.  Dr. Early looked over at her.

     Sam looked up and smiled.  Johnny happily wrapped the new babe in a yellow emergency blanket.  But the happiness was short lived.  Sam's smile was replaced by the color draining from her face.  She became weak and her eyes started closing.  Sam looked at Justin and tried to speak but was unable to say anything clearly.  Justin, alarmed by the change, began to take a BP.

     "Consciousness level is dropping," Justin said as he took a new BP.  "Johnny we have a major hemorrhage.  She's going into shock.  BP 90/65 and dropping."

     Johnny reported the information to Rampart while  Justin cared for Sam.

     "It sounds like a placental abruption," Brackett said.  "Get a red top.  Start an IV Ringers, piggyback a second IV TKO and get in here Stat."

     Sam started to fade.  Her consciousness level continued to drop.  She laid back on the stretcher.  Justin started the IV's.

     "Malcolm, Let's get out of here" Johnny said to the driver.

     Captain Stanley who had come up when he first heard the baby’s cries, now heard the panic from Justin and John inside.  When he heard Johnny yell to Malcolm, Stanley shut the remaining ambulance door and hit the back windows.  The ambulance raced away driving the longest four minute ride to the hospital Johnny ever took.  His newborn daughter in his arms and his wife, laying before him, her life fading before his eyes.

     After the last transmission, Johnny inadvertently left the bio-com open.  Dixie continued to stand behind Dr. Brackett in the Base Station.  She began to cry as she listened to the drama in the ambulance, unable to do anything to help.  Even doctors Brackett and Early felt the tears flow warm on their cheeks.

     "Sam, keep those eyes open.  Keep looking at me," Johnny pleaded.  "You have a beautiful baby girl here waiting to see her momma.  Come on honey open your eyes.  Look at me.  Sam, you said you would never leave me.  Hold on baby, please hold on.  I need you Sam."

     "I love you Johnny," Sam quietly said

     "I love you too," Johnny quietly responded.

 

      Johnny felt that Sam was saying goodbye.  There were few times in his life, he just didn't know what to do.  This was one.  Justin took another blood pressure and put the oxygen mask over her face, then updated the hospital on what was happening.  

      "I've started 6 liters of O2.  Blood pressure 80/60, pulse is 140 and weak," Justin said.

     "We're almost there," Johnny cried.  "Stay with me Sam.  Samantha!”

     "Samantha!!!!"

     Little Samantha ran from next door through the front door of her house.  Her long straight brown hair was tied in pony tails with a red ribbon and her pretty white dress had strawberries on it to match the ribbon.  Her ponytails fluttered behind her as she ran in the house.

     "I'm here daddy," Samantha said.

     He had a suitcase packed and sitting in the entry.  Samantha looked down at it.

     "Are we going somewhere Daddy?"  She asked.

     "We need to go to Fairbanks for a couple of days," he answered.  "Come on, let's get this coat on you.  We need to get going."

     He helped Samantha to put on her good coat, then took her hand and they headed out the door to the car.  He put the suitcase in the car on the seat next to Sam and they drove quickly away.  The small plane was waiting when they arrived at the airport.  Sam was confused but didn't say anything.  She knew something was wrong.  The thirty minute plane ride was completed in silence.  Before they knew it, the plane was landing in Fairbanks.

     They were in the hospital.  Her father was so quiet and walked quickly.  He was still carrying the suitcase that he brought.  Sam looked up at him and could see his dark sad eyes.

 Sam bluntly asked, "Daddy, what's wrong?  Is momma going to die?"

     He abruptly stopped.  After a moment he kneeled down so they were face to face.  With her father on her level, she could now see the tears in his eyes.  "We've all done our best to make mommy better.  But yes, she's going to die.  There's just nothing more we can do.  I'm sorry honey.  You know mommy would do anything to stay here with us." 

     Tears started to well up in Sam's eyes too.  "I know Daddy."

"Now, let's wipe away these tears.  We need to be brave and help mommy.  Ok?"  Her father said.  

     Sam nodded.  Her father stood up and they continued to make the walk down the long hall into a sterile cold room.  They walked into the hospital room and saw Sam's mother lying  in bed.  She was so pale and thin that the bed seemed to swallow her up in it.  She looked over at her daughter and Sam almost didn't recognize her mother.  She always thought of her mother as tall and strong.  But this woman looked so weak, so frail.  She reached out when she saw Sam walk in.

     "Hi baby girl," Sam's mother said.

     Johnny and Sam were dancing together at the Christmas ball.  The music, you don't know me was playing.  He looked so handsome all dressed up in his suit.  He looked at her with so much love.  Johnny had the most beautiful chocolate brown eyes.

 

     "I hope the baby has Johnny's eyes."

    The ambulance backed up to Emergency and the back doors burst open.  Justin was running behind the gurney carrying the IV bags as Sam was rushed out of the ambulance and into the treatment room.  

     "I can barely get a pulse.  BP 60 by palpation,"  Justin said as they ran down the hall.

     "Scope her," Brackett called out as they moved into treatment room three.

     Johnny climbed down out of the ambulance and walked into the hospital, his newborn baby in his arms.  The baby fussed a little as they walked closer to treatment room three.

 Nurse Betty rushed out the door past him carrying the small vile of blood to the lab.  Johnny looked in through the open door and could see Sam laying on the examination table.  He could hear the erratic beeps of the EKG.  Doctor Brackett spoke as the door was swinging closed.

     "V fib, Give me the paddles Mike.  Clear!"

     Johnny could hear the defibrillator discharge.  He stared at the door for a moment, shocked by what was happening.  A tear streamed down his face.  Nurse Betty grabbed his arm as he started to walk into the room.

     "Johnny, stay out here," she said.

     Then she rushed back into the treatment room and Johnny had another glimpse of what was happening inside.

     "Flatline!" Brackett yelled.  "Epinephrine!"  

     Johnny could hear the defibrillator charging once more as the door closed.  He couldn't go in.  He didn't want to see her like this.  Slowly, Johnny turned away and walked down the hallway away from the room.  Flatline.  Her heart stopped.  His heart was breaking as he got into the elevator and went up to the nursery.  It was happening again.  It seemed that everyone he loved was torn away from him. His parents and now his wife.  But at least he had this little girl.  His little girl.

 

********************************************

    The men of Station 51 were all lined up for morning announcements. Off to the side, out of sight of the others in the room, there was the sound of a throat clearing and Captain Stanley looked over.

     "Captain Stanley I presume?"

     "Yes, and you are?"

     "I'm Samantha Anderson.  I was told to report here for field training."

     Sam stepped further into the apparatus bay and the rest of the crew got a chance to see what had taken Captain Stanley by surprise.  Dressed in the same uniform as the Men stood a beautiful, tall, young woman in her twenties.  She had short milk chocolate  brown hair and deep brown eyes.  She stood up straight, strong and confident. Sam reached out her hand to greet the captain and he shook it in response.  "Nice to meet you Samantha.  Welcome aboard.  I just found out about you training with us a few minutes ago."  

     "Thanks Cap, I'm glad to be here, but please just call me Sam," she said.

     Johnny looked Sam over.  He had to admit to himself that she was a very good looking girl.  He could see something special in her.  He didn't know if it was the tone of her voice, the sparkle in her eyes or they way she looked in the uniform that she wore.  There was something about Samantha Anderson that got the attention of Johnny Gage.

      Sam sat straddling the beam hundreds of feet above the ground just talking to him as though they were sitting on a garden fence.  It was the first rescue she was on as a Paramedic Trainee.

     "Harry, I know it's hard." Sam explained.  "My mom died of cancer when I was little and I just lost my Dad just last year.  I have no brothers or sisters.  I'm alone in this world too.  I know it's hard to be left behind."  Sam started to scoot closer and closer to Harry.  "Just waking up every day and going on with life seems impossible.  I feel it too.  Harry, I can’t even guess why your wife was taken away from you.  But there is a reason for you to still be here, just like there is a reason for me to be here."

     Johnny and Roy listened to what she said to him and watched as she started to move and emotionally connect with Harry.  Sam scooted even closer to Harry.  She reached out and touched him on the chin.  She raised his chin up and looked him right in the eyes.  "Harry.  I hurt too.  It hurts every day.  But, we can’t just give up.  We've got to have faith that there is more for us."  Sam paused in her own thoughts then spoke to him again.  "Harry, Please don't jump.  Don't leave me.  Harry, can you please come down from here with me?"  Harry looked up at Sam.  He could see the pain in her face and knew that she spoke the truth.  He wiped away a tear and nodded.

     They stood outside Sam's childhood home watching it go up in flames.  Sam and Roy thought Johnny was caught inside.  A firefighter came from the side of the house between Sam and Martha's house.  He had his arm around a man who was injured and leaning heavily against him.  They walked toward the engine.  Sam looked over at the men as they approached.  She recognized him and ran forward, followed by Roy.  The injured man was Johnny.  They each grabbed a hold of him from each side and led him to the back of the engine where they sat him down on the bumper.  Sam brushed the hair from Johnny's forehead and looked into his face.  He was dazed and had a large goose egg and cut on his head by his hairline.  Blood ran down his face past his eye from the cut.        

     "What happened?" Roy asked.

     "I was doing dishes when I heard the people running around outside in the yard, I stepped out back and one of them hit me with something," Johnny explained.

Buck looked over and saw Sam and Roy with Johnny.  Sam put her hand on Johnny's face and looked at his wound.   Buck got some blankets together and his first aid kit.  He came over and put a blanket around Johnny's shoulders, Roy's shoulders and around Sam's shoulders.

     Sam looked right into Johnny's face.  "We thought you were in there," she said.

     Johnny looked into her eyes and smiled his crooked smile.  She leaned into him and hugged him.  Sam wrapped her arm around him and held Johnny tight.  He wrapped his arms around her and they just held on.  Glad that they were both safe.  Roy looked over them with relief.  

    The Room for the Christmas party was decorated beautifully and Sam was just as beautiful.  Johnny crossed the room and walked over to Sam. She had her back turned to him and didn't see him coming.  Johnny stopped behind her.

     "Sam," Johnny gently said.

     Sam turned and looked into Johnny's chocolate brown eyes.  She smiled at what she saw in them.  Johnny held his hand out to her.

     "Can I have this dance?" he asked.

     Sam handed Chet her punch cup and took Johnny's hand without another look at Chet.  Johnny looked down at her hand in his and rubbed his thumb gently across her knuckles and on the simple gold wedding band that matched his.   Then Johnny led Sam onto the dance floor just as the music started to play,  You don't know me.  He held one hand around her waist and one hand in hers in perfect dance position.  As the music played Sam melted into Johnny.  She laid her head on his shoulder with her arms around his back and closed her eyes as they swayed to the music.  He in turn snuggled into her, his arms around her back and eyes closed as well, moving with the music almost as one person.  It was as though they were the only two people in the world.  

    Sam stepped out of the shower onto the soft blue bath rug.  Johnny looked at her as she wrapped the towel around her body.

     "You look beautiful," he said.

     "I look huge," she answered, then jumped with pain.  "OUCH!"

     Sam put her hand on her belly and rubbed a spot on the side.  Johnny stepped forward concerned.  "Are you ok?  Is it...."

     "No, it's not a contraction," Sam said smiling.  "It's a soccer player.  This little one has quite a kick."

     Johnny smiled at that and moved closer holding Sam in his arms and rubbing on her belly.  The baby pushed a foot at him and Johnny giggled a bit.  "He sure is active."

     "How do you know it's a he?" Sam asked.  "It could be a girl you know."

     "Come on, let's get dressed and I'll help you get some shoes on," Johnny laughingly said as he walked through the bathroom door and into the bedroom.  "I'm starving."

     Sam took her towel off and snapped him in the butt with the end of it; a Cheshire Cat smile on her face as he jumped.

          "The first time I saw you, I knew how special you are.  I was so happy when I woke up in ICU.   To see you were sitting there.  It meant so much to me.  Then when you took me home and stayed with me.  You helped me and took care of me all that time while I recovered.  You never asked for anything.  You were there at my weakest.  You stayed," Sam said.  

     Tears were streaming down her face.  She paused to think deep down then said  "I've watched so many people I care about die right before my eyes."  She took a deep breath.  "I never planned to get so close to anyone or fall in love.  I'm so afraid Johnny.  I don't want to hurt like that again." Sam said.

     Sam was struggling to find the words to explain her feelings to him.  She looked away from Johnny in fear and frustration.  She looked out to the vastness of the ocean.  Johnny opened his eyes and looked at Sam.  Johnny understood how she was feeling.  He had closed himself off from feeling to avoid the hurt too.  He smiled at her.

     "You have no problem running into a burning building about to explode or climbing the outside of a 10 story building and you're afraid of me?"  Johnny said.

     Sam chuckled a little at that but said nothing.  She just continued to look out to the ocean.

     "I don't want to lose you too," she said.

     Johnny smiled his crooked grin then taking her shoulder, he turned her to face him and gently said, "I don't want to lose you either.  But I would rather take a chance of losing you than regret the time that was lost because we were too afraid."

     Johnny woke up and walked down the hall to the kitchen.  He was still wearing his boxer shorts and rubbed on his face as he walked.  He could hear the radio playing and smell fresh toast and coffee.  As he came around the corner he saw Sam cooking breakfast.  She was singing with the song, you and I as it played on the radio.  It was so much like what he remembered of growing up.  His Mom used to sing as she cooked breakfast too.

 

                                                  I've really found

                                                Someone like you

                                                      Will it stay

                                           The love you feel for me

                                                   Will you say

                                          That you will be by my side

                                               To see me through

                                            Until my life is through

                                                 Well in my mind

                                       We can conquer the world

                                                In love you and I

                                                     You and I

 

He loved to hear her sing on mornings like this when they had nowhere to go and nothing to do.  She was wearing just an oversized t-shirt.  She had so changed his life and he had never been happier.

     The nurse came in from behind and was talking to one of the infants as she walked in and placed him in the bassinet.  Johnny was started from his memories by the nurse.  His face was wet with tears.  He wiped them quickly away.  His little baby girl laid in the bassinet next to him.  Johnny been sitting by her side for what seemed like a lifetime, refusing to leave his daughter.  He just stared down into the face of the small sleeping bundle.  In all he had been through in his life, he had never felt so lost or alone.  How could he go on without Sam by his side?  Dried tears were crusted on his defeated face.

     Dr. Brackett, and Roy had looked for Johnny for quite a while before they finally found him in the nursery.  As they entered, the charge nurse walked up to them.  "Do you know that man?  He brought the baby in a while ago," she explained.  "He hasn't said a word to anyone and he won't leave.  We don't even know the babies name or parents.  What's going on?"

 

     "It's ok.  That's the baby's father," Brackett explained.

     With the explanation, the nurse walked back to her duties.  Dr. Brackett and Roy approached Johnny from behind.  He knew they were there.  He didn't have to turn around.  He knew they would come find him eventually.  As much as he expected it, Johnny was also dreading their arrival.  He knew once they came, it would be true.  Sam would be gone.  Roy put his hand on Johnny's shoulder.  Johnny was always taught not to cry.  Crying was a sign of weakness.  Roy had seen Johnny sad and even when he mourned the death of his friend Drew, but Roy had never seen Johnny cry.  Not until today.

     "Johnny?" Roy said.

     Johnny took a deep breath then said, "This has been my biggest fear since the day we were married.  Really, since we first met.  I always knew there was a chance that it could happen.  That I could lose her.  But I didn't expect it.  Not today.  Not like this.  This whole thing is like a bad dream.  The whole way in, I kept thinking, why?  I lost my parents and now Sam too.  Why does this keep happening?  What am I going to do?  How am I going to take care of the baby without Sam?"

     "Johnny," Roy said.  "Sam's alive."

     Johnny turned and looked at Roy unbelieving what he thought he heard.  "What did you say?"

     "Johnny, Sam's alive," Brackett said.  "She's being moved from recovery to ICU right now."    

      Johnny took a long deep shuddering breath not believing what he was hearing.  He looked over at Dr. Brackett.  "But I thought... In the treatment room... I saw... Flatlined... She's alive?"  

     Johnny looked from Dr. Brackett to Roy.  Roy smiled and nodded to him.  Johnny put both hands up to his face, almost as though he was just trying to hold himself together.  

     Dr. Brackett was smiling.  "Yes Johnny, Sam's alive.  It was close.  A little too close.  She went into Vfib twice and flatlined too, but we got her back.  We've given her four units of blood so far.  She's very weak, but Sam is young, strong and maybe even more stubborn than you.  I think she's going to be fine."

     Johnny's quickly stood up, rushed out of the nursery and down the hall to ICU followed quickly by Roy and Dr. Brackett.  The ICU nurse came up to Johnny as he rushed into the Intensive Care Unit.

     "Hey, you can't be here.  What are you doing?" She asked as Johnny moved down the hall and looked into each room.  Then he stopped and stared into the room.  Sam was laying in the bed, semi-reclining.  She had an oxygen mask on her face and her head was wrapped with a new clean dressing.  A nurse was hanging another unit of blood.  Johnny slowly walked into the room right next to the bed.  The nurse stepped back and watched as Roy and Dr. Brackett came in, then she quickly walked away.  Johnny took Sam's hand.  He rubbed his thumb across her knuckles and across the gold wedding band that matched his.  She sleepily opened her eyes and blinked to focus.  Johnny smiled down at her, almost laughing.  

     "Johnny?" She whispered.

     Johnny reached down and stroked her cheek, "Hi beautiful."

     "The baby?" Sam squeaked out.

     "She's fine.  She’s healthy and strong," Johnny answered.  "She's in the nursery."

     "You’re a daddy," Sam said.

     Johnny squeezed her hand.  So relieved that she was there in front of him.  Sam closed her eyes again and went to sleep.  Johnny was calmed by the steady beep of the heart monitor.  Roy moved a chair behind him and Johnny sat down holding Sam's hand.

 

***************************************************

      The heavy rain was pattering on the window of the dimly lit hospital room.  The oxygen mask was now gone.  Sam was semi reclined in bed, sleeping peacefully.  An IV was hanging from the pole above her head.  Sam stiffly moved a little and opened her eyes.  Even though her head was throbbing, she fought to get her eyes focused then looked around the dark room.  She could see Johnny sound asleep in a big chair in the corner.  Sam coughed softly.

 Her stomach & her chest hurt and her throat was so dry.  Although She just woke, she still felt so tired that even the smallest movement was a chore.  The last couple days were flashes of disjointed memories that left her feeling dazed like she was waking from a dream.

     "Take it easy Sam," Johnny gently said.  "You've been through a lot."

     Sam turned her head slightly to see Johnny smiling at her.  She didn't see him walk up.  "How are you feeling?" He asked.

     "I'm not sure," Sam squeaked out.  "My head really hurts."

     Johnny pressed the nurse call button, then poured a glass of cold water from the pitcher on the nightstand and helped her to sip a small amount from the straw.  She moved a little, trying to get comfortable and grimaced with pain.  

     The nurse came into the room and said, "You're looking much better this morning."

      "She has some pain," Johnny explained as the nurse took Sam's temperature and pulse.

     "I'll bring something back to help," she said as she wrote down the vital signs.  Then the nurse left the room to get the medication.

     "What happened?"  Sam asked.  "I remember the accident and the baby.  But everything else seems like such a blur."

     "Right after the baby was born, you had a major hemorrhage.  Probably due to the car accident.  Unfortunately, the only way to stop the bleeding was to do a hysterectomy."

     Even though nothing was said, Johnny noticed the change in her attitude and grew concerned.  He knew that this would be a big deal.

     "Sam?"

     "You always wanted a big family, but now," Sam tried to explain. 

     "Sammy,  I don't care about that," Johnny said.  He grabbed a hold of her hand and held it tight.  "You mean so much more to me than being able to have kids.  I only care about you being healthy and happy.  Listen, if you want more kids, we can always adopt.  There are kids by the reservation in Montana that are given up because they are half white.  Maybe we can adopt one of them.  That is if you can stand more kids like me."

Sam lovingly smiled at him, "I would love kids like you."

    Dixie walked into the room carrying a bundle in pink.  "Are you up to a little visitor?" She asked.

     "Your timing couldn't be better," Johnny said.

     The little girl made a tiny squirm and squeak from inside her swaddling.  Johnny and Sam both looked up as she was brought in.  Johnny helped Sam sit up a little more.  Sam moved slowly, in obvious pain.  When she was ready, Dixie carefully placed the child in Sam's arms.  It was the first time Sam was able to look at and hold her little girl.  The baby was pink and perfect with just a little fuzz of black hair on her tiny head.

     "Hi precious," Sam said smiling.  "You are so little."

     "She weighed in at just over 5 lbs," Dixie explained.  "Tiny but tough."

     "Just like her momma," Johnny proudly said.

     "So, do you plan on naming her, or is her name going to stay Baby Gage?" Dixie asked.  

     Sam smiled, as the baby cried just a little.  Sam reached down and pulled the blanket away from her face a little so she could get a better look at her daughter.  The baby grabbed Sam's index finger and held tight.  Dixie handed Sam a bottle.  Sam took her finger from the baby and inserted the bottle so the hungry girl could eat.

     "Her name is Amy Elizabeth," Johnny said as he looked over at Sam.  "Named after Sam's grandmothers."

     "That's a beautiful name," Dixie said.  

     The nurse came back into the room with medication for Sam.  She smiled at the mother and baby as she put the pain medication in her IV, "That should help you feel better, but it may make you a little tired."  

     "Well, I better get back to work and let you get to know your daughter," Dixie said as she left the couple alone.  Johnny scooted over so he could look into Amy's face.

 

***********************************************

     It had been two weeks since being discharged from the hospital.  Johnny, holding Amy in his arms, stood next to Sam at the front of the small church beside the baptismal fount;  Roy and Joann behind them with Chris and Jennifer DeSoto looking on.  The men all looked handsome in their suits and ties.  The ladies wearing beautiful summer dresses of white and yellow.  Including little Amy wearing her white baptismal gown.  The morning sun shone through the stained glass window behind them, lighting the baptismal area with color.  

   

     "And Peter said to them," the Pastor said. "'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself."

     The large group of friends gathered for this occasion and sat in the pews watching the proceedings.  The members of both Station 51, station 36 and their families were there.  Dr. Kelly Bracket, Dr. Joe Early, and Dixie were right up front.  Matt sat alongside wheelchair bound Noah and Jason.  All three still showing the effects of the accident that nearly took both Sam and Jason's lives.  Matt's right arm was in a cast that went up past his elbow and decorated with signatures.  Noah was wearing a full leg cast on this left side and Jason, a cast on his left ankle and wrist.  Justin also sat among the group.

     "Roy and Joann, do you promise to Support Samantha and John to raise up this child, to lead her on the road of a Christian life?"

     "We do," Joann and Roy answered.

     The Pastor turned Johnny to face the congregation as the pastor asked, "The raising of a child takes more than just parents.  It takes a community of believers.  Will you, family and friends, support Samantha and John in the raising of Amy Elizabeth Gage on the road of her Christian Faith?"  

     Everyone responded resound-idly with an 'I will'.  Even Alex's little 9 month old Sarah, who was resting in her Daddy's arms clapped her hands and cheered "yeah!"

          The Pastor turned Johnny back toward the baptismal and blessed Amy with water poured over her forehead and the sign of the cross made on her forehead with oil.  Amy began to fuss and cry with the cool water poured on her.

     "I baptize you Amy Elizabeth Gage by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, 'I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."

     And everyone said, "Amen."

 

      The reception was set up in the picnic area outside the small church.  There was a beautiful garden of roses, pansies and other small flowers.  The scent of the gardenia bushes filled the air.  A table was set up with small sandwiches, cold cuts and punch.  The group milled around.  They were talking, laughing and celebrating the baptism.  Sam stood next to Johnny who was holding a sleeping Amy.  

     Roy came over to them, "let me hold that God Daughter of mine." 

     Sam smiled as Roy took the baby from a proud Johnny.  Roy, equally proud, walked around showing her off to all the guests.  Sam took at deep breath and held tighter onto Johnny's elbow.  Johnny looked over at her.

     "Come on, let's get you a chair."

     Johnny led Sam over to an empty chair at the edge of the party.  "I knew we should have waited longer to do this.  Sometimes you can be so stubborn."

      "Johnny, I'm fine," Sam said.  

      Dr. Brackett, seeing Johnny leading Sam to the chair, came over with concern.  

     "Look, don't you start too," Sam said.  "I'm fine.  I'm Just a little tired."

     "I don't want you to overdo it," Brackett said.  "You've gone through so much and now with a newborn in the house too.  I want to make sure that you're getting enough rest." 

     "I had to get out eventually," Sam said.  "What a better setting for my first outing?"

     Brackett had to agree with that.  Being surrounded by family and friends in the beautiful church garden celebrating the birth of their daughter was the perfect place to be.

 

     "I'll get you a sandwich and some punch," Johnny said.

     "That sounds wonderful."

     Sam sat quietly alone watching Roy with Amy, Chris and Jennifer sneaking sweets from the table and everyone having a good time.  Chief McConikee came over to talk to Sam while she sat.  

     "Sam," McConikee said.  "I just wanted to congratulate you on your beautiful daughter.  And I also want to thank you.  My nephew, Noah, told me how you've been teaching the training classes and how you helped and supported him and Jason after the traffic accident even though you were badly hurt yourself."

     "It was nothing chief," Sam said.  "We were all in it together."

     Johnny came over carrying the refreshments as the chief was talking to Sam.  "Hi Chief," he said as he handed her the punch.

     "Johnny, you have quite a wife and a beautiful little daughter," Chief McConikee said.

     "Thanks Chief."

     Justin pushed Jason forward in his wheel chair.  Sam saw them coming and smiled, happy that Jason was doing so well.  

     "Hey you guys, how are you?" Justin asked.

     "I'm doing all right, thanks to you," she said to Justin.

     "It was my pleasure," Justin said with a huge toothy grin.

     "Sam, the guys were right.  You are one hell of a firefighter and Paramedic" Jason said.  "It would be great to be able to partner up with you one of these days."

     "Thanks Jason," she said.  "I look forward to it."

     "A toast," McConikee said.  "To little Amy.  I pray that you have a long and healthy life.  And if you are half the person your parents are that you will go far."

     Everyone raised their cups of punch, "To Amy."

The End

Posted to Site 08/02/14

 

 

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