|Someone You Know
Author: mcatB PM
Johnny couldn't save his neighbor.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama/Angst - J. Gage & D. McCall - Words: 1,947 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 2 - Published: 08-01-03 - Status: Complete - id: 1456404
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Hey, Roy. You're early," he said, still chewing his sandwich.
"Sorry. I guess I got all green lights on the way over," Roy responded, entering the apartment.
"Oh, great. You brought your books. I can't find my cardiac care manual," Johnny said as he closed the door.
"You really think we need to study for this?" Roy asked sitting at the table in the kitchen.
"Hey, when the county decides to give pay bonuses to the top ten scorers on the paramedic exam, you bet we need to study," Johnny admonished.
"How many times have we recertified?" Roy asked, counting on his fingers, still not wanting to study.
"Yeah and how long did it take me to remember "subcutaneous emphysema" instead of "Rice Krispy skin" huh?" Johnny asked.
Roy just laughed, remembering several shifts that Johnny spent racking his brain trying to come up with that term before Roy finally told him what it was.
"Okay, Johnny. Let's hit the books," Roy lamented.
An hour later, while Johnny was rattling off contraindications for MAST application, someone started pounding on the apartment door.
"Okay, okay!" Johnny shouted. "I'm coming!"
When he opened the door, he was met by a crying woman. He recognized her from one of the apartments in the building.
"Please!" she cried. "You've got to help Tyrone! You're a fireman, you've got to help him!"
Johnny was about to ask her what happened, what was wrong, when she ran down the hall. He followed her to an open apartment and found the woman's husband lying on the floor.
"He's not breathing!" she cried.
"Roy!" Johnny yelled, not realizing he was already next to him. "I've got no pulse!" Johnny announced.
Johnny ripped open the man's shirt as Roy got on the phone and called for help. Johnny started CPR. After Roy got off the phone he knelt across from Johnny and took over the chest compressions.
"Come on Tyrone! Come on!" Johnny encouraged between breaths. "Come on back to us!" he continued between gritted teeth.
Johnny and Roy switched positions after checking the man's progress.
"Where's that squad?" Johnny muttered.
"Is hasn't been that long," Roy responded quietly, between breaths.
When Squad 48 arrived, Roy and Johnny were drenched with sweat. Jim Foley took over the compressions from Johnny, who was beginning to tire. Steve McDaniel set up the EKG and contacted Rampart. After a few minutes, John again took over the chest compressions as Jim used an ambu bag to force oxygen into the man's lungs. The order came to defibrillate. As Steve yelled, "Clear!" everyone moved back. They defibrillated one more time before Roy and Jim continued CPR. Johnny sat back watching, catching his breath.
'Come on. Come on,' Johnny muttered to himself, checking his watch.
Rampart ordered atropine and Steve administered the drug as Johnny again took over compressions.
"Let's get him going!" Steve ordered after the ambulance finally arrived.
They rolled the man onto a backboard and lifted him onto the stretcher. Roy was in the best position for CPR at that point, so Johnny just picked up 48's equipment and followed the stretcher into the elevator.
"Come on Tyrone!" Johnny called loudly, hoping his voice could call the man back, somehow.
As Roy pounded the back doors to the ambulance he saw Johnny head back into the apartment building. Outside Johnny's apartment Roy heard a crashing noise. He went in. He watched as Johnny kicked the garbage can across the kitchen floor, kick cabinet doors closed. He saw him knock all the books off the kitchen table. Roy grabbed him from behind, though, when Johnny was about to punch the wall.
"Johnny!" he shouted.
Johnny wriggled, trying to get out of the hold Roy had him in.
"Johnny!" Roy shouted again.
Finally Johnny calmed down. When Roy released him he turned around, eyes closed.
"I'm…. I'm sorry, Roy," he managed.
"Johnny, what's wrong?" Roy asked, bewildered by Johnny's actions.
Johnny took a breath, blew it out, frustration evident.
"I don't know. I…. I'm pissed!" he finally got out.
Johnny started pacing, running his fingers through his hair. Roy just watched him. He'd never seen Johnny so distraught.
"Johnny…," Roy started.
"We were right here!" Johnny yelled, interrupting him. "We were right here! You can't get better chances than that!"
Johnny continued his pacing. He threw a pillow from the couch, unable to voice his emotions.
"You knew him," Roy said, finally understanding what was going on in Johnny's head.
Johnny stopped his pacing and looked at Roy.
"I guess so," he started. "Hell, I didn't even know his name until tonight. I'd talk to him in the hall sometimes," he continued, his voice trembling. "He always had a smile on his face or a good joke to tell."
Johnny suddenly kicked one of the textbooks on the floor in front of him.
"This shouldn't have happened!" he shouted.
"This happens sometimes," Roy said. "His wife said he had blood clots in his leg. One of them probably broke loose and went to his lung," he offered. "You know there's nothing anybody can do about that."
"But what if I -," Johnny started.
"No buts!" Roy countered. "There was nothing else you could have done. And Steve and Jim did everything by the book."
"I know, Roy," Johnny said, collapsing on the couch.
He put his head back, covering his face with his hands, sighing. Roy saw that Johnny was trying to come to grips with the situation. Johnny looked at his partner, saw the helplessness in his face.
"Look, Roy, I'm sorry," Johnny said. "Let's just call it a night, okay? We can study some other time," he continued, stumbling for words.
"Sure, Johnny. You gonna be okay?" he asked, patting Johnny's knee.
"Yeah. I just need some time to myself for a bit," he responded. "Thanks."
"Call me if you need to talk, okay?" Roy offered.
"Sure," Johnny replied, sinking back into the couch.
About an hour later Johnny called Rampart. Dixie answered the phone.
"Hey, Dix, it's John Gage," he said.
"Hi, Johnny!" she greeted him cheerfully. "What can I do for you?"
He took a deep breath.
"You, um, had a CPR come in earlier. Uh, I think 48 brought him in," he managed to get out.
"Yes, Tyrone Rogers," she replied slowly, sensing Johnny's uneasiness.
When Johnny didn't continue, Dixie answered the question she knew he was afraid to ask.
"I'm sorry, Johnny," she started. "He didn't make it. Pulmonary embolism," she finished.
She was about to ask Johnny if there was something she could do when he interrupted her.
"Thanks, Dix," he said, hanging up the phone.
Half an hour later Johnny heard a knock on the door. He ignored it. More knocks, this time accompanied by Dixie calling for him.
"Johnny? Are you in there?" she called. "Johnny?"
He still ignored her. He closed his eyes, trying to block out the sound of her knocking. Finally it stopped. He opened his eyes to find her standing in front of him.
"Dix?" he asked, confused by her presence.
"You left your door unlocked," she said, pointing to the door.
"What do you want?" he asked.
She sat down on the couch next to Johnny.
"After you hung up on me I called Roy. He told me what happened," she said.
Johnny looked away.
"Johnny, it's alright. It's alright to be angry," she said, touching his cheek, making him face her.
After a few silent minutes, Johnny finally looked at her. His eyes were red from crying.
"I never did CPR on somebody I knew. I never had to watch someone else do it on somebody I knew," he started, tremors in his voice.
He wiped away the tears on his cheeks.
"God, I felt so helpless! I'm usually the one helping run the call. I was just a bystander tonight. I felt like I couldn't do anything!" he cried.
Dixie put her arms around him and hugged him tight.
"I bet it took forever for the squad and ambulance to show up, too," she said.
Johnny looked up.
"I know what you're going through," she said. "I was there when my grandmother had her heart attack. I was right there, talking to her one minute and doing CPR the next. The paramedics swooped in, did everything they could, while I just stood back and had to watch. It seemed like it took forever, like they were taking their sweet time. But you know what? They had her to the hospital within fifteen minutes, their best response time of the year," she continued.
"How did you deal with it?" Johnny asked.
"Pretty much the same way you are," she replied. "I was angry at myself. I blamed myself, the ambulance crew, the paramedics, my grandmother. I ran it over in my mind over and over, trying to find out what went wrong, why Grandma died anyway."
"Did you figure it out?" Johnny asked.
"Yeah," she said with a smile.
Johnny looked at her questioningly.
"I realized that everybody did the best they could. That sometimes people will die, no matter how hard you try to prevent it," she said, matter-of-factly.
Johnny bowed his head sheepishly.
"Like I said, Johnny," she said, lifting his head up. "It's alright to be angry. It's alright to grieve for someone you knew. Think it over and I'm sure you'll realize that you all did the best you could."
He nodded his head, silently assenting.
"You better get back to work, Dix," he said quietly. "Don't want you to get into trouble. I'll be okay, now."
"You sure?" she asked.
"Yeah," he replied.
Dixie gave him a big hug, holding him tight for a minute.
"You call me if you need to talk, okay?" she told him.
Dixie was sitting at the nurse's station outside the ER when the phone rang.
"Rampart Emergency, Miss McCall," she answered.
"I just called to say thanks, Dix," the caller said.
"Anytime, Johnny. Anytime," she replied with a smile.
Author's note: This is based on a true story. If you want to know, ask.