AN: I do not own any part of Rescue: Special Ops. It belongs to Channel 9 and Southern Star Entertainment. I do however own Caz and the room mate.
The darkness was beautiful, relaxing, serene. True, it had been sudden but I was not complaining, for the first time in quite a few months I had stopped. Stopped working, stopped stressing, stopped everything. It was wonderful to be able to just lay here and not have to do anything. An important questioned niggled at my brain, why was I laying down in the tranquil blackness and why was I not helping with the rescue that I had come here to do? It was not time to sleep yet and my body felt strangely out of my control.
I was part of the Rescue: Special Operations Unit, an elite team of paramedics that have been specially trained for situations where the patients need evacuation from where they are, be it the middle of a state forest, a crumpled up car or the outside of a high-rise building.
I had never been one to shy away from helping people, being active in the local community made me happy and I was definitely not disgusted by blood or injuries as I was quite accident prone myself. I also loved camping and outdoor recreation; I did not like being couped up in four walls all day. So when it came down to choosing a career path after high school, I naturally looked at the Ambulance Service and a job as a paramedic.
The idea of helping people that really needed it in emergencies and the concept that I would be moving around all day really excited me and being bright I easily passed all my university courses and passes to become a fully qualified paramedic. After working for two years I was approached by one of my superiors about the possibility for me to apply for the rescue squad as she knew my love of risks and the outdoors, I agreed without needing much time to think, it was the perfect career path.
The errant thought came back, why was I still asleep, I could not usually think so much when I was asleep. I was also sure that there was some sort of noise near me and I was positive that they were calling me name.
"Caz, if you can hear me, open your eyes or squeeze my hand" Yes, they were definitely talking to me and I could feel pressure on my right hand. I slowly opened my eyes to the streaming sunlight to a blur filled frame. I blinked and the blur remained, I must not be wearing my glasses.
I try to lift my hand to touch my face to confirm not having glasses on but I am stopped by a warm hand. There are voices above me and my glasses are put onto my face and I can suddenly see clearly. Dean, Lara and Heidi are kneeling around me with concerned looks on their faces. Dean is the team leader and is responsible for organising and controlling the five of us: Lara, Heidi, Jordan, Chase and I.
"Caz, how are you feeling?" Lara's relief did not disguise the worry although I was not completely sure why she was worried.
"I feel wonderful, what is the problem?" I paused then continued, "and why am I on the ground?" the three exchanged looks and I started to get worried.
"You collapsed and hit your head; you have been unconscious for nearly 20 minutes." I blanched at Dean's explanation and tried to sit up.
"No you don't, you need to stay lying down please." The three pushed me back to a prone position and Heidi squeezed my hand, I squeezed back smiling at my fellow redhead.
"Caz," I tilted my head so Dean was in view. "Do you have any idea why you collapsed, were you feeling faint beforehand or anything?"
"Um, I don't know, I don't think so."
"No dizziness, headache, nothing?
"I have been a little lightheaded and occasionally dizzy but it was nothing to worry about."
Dean and Lara raised their eyebrows at my admission, I was well known for minimising things. I had once put a black eye down to bad shadow and called a laceration: a minor cut.
"Anything else that you wish to let us know?" Lara's voice was amused but still troubled.
"Ah," I thought back to the rest of today, I had been feeling like crap all day and was finding it hard to breathe properly. "Um, no not really."
Dean turned to Heidi, "you were with her all day, did you notice anything that Caz is not telling us." I grimaced as I knew that Heidi would tell them everything, she was really observant and most of the time knew something was wrong before I worked it out.
Heidi looked at me directly then lifted her head and spoke to Dean and Lara, "she has been pale and unsteady on her feet all day and she has been looking exhausted for weeks. I was starting to think that I should mention something to you Dean when she collapsed."
"Has she been drinking enough?"
The three exchanged looks again, that was another thing I was infamous for, not drinking enough and by extension, getting dehydrated. Heidi replied, "no, of course not but what do you expect."
"Hello, earth to people above me, I am lying here you know and I can hear you talking about me." Dean nodded and looked back at me, worry lines still etched on his tanned face.
"Well Caz, Mac and the helo will be here in ten minutes to take you back to base and then Vince will drive you to the hospital so you can get checked out."
"No, I am not going, we have not finished the rescue yet and I am not leaving. I don't need to go back to base and I definitely don't need to go to hospital, I feel fine. I must have missed my step and slipped over, there is nothing wrong with me. Yes, I have been tired but that is because of my roommate who likes watching movies on her laptop until all hours of the night. I am perfectly okay and I just want to keep working so can we please go."
"Caz, listen to me," this time it was Lara digging the blade in, "this is the second time that you have collapsed in the past two weeks for no reason." With this comment I glared at Heidi who at least had the decency to look away, she had promised not to tell anyone. She opened her mouth to explain when Lara cut her off. "You did not slip, you collapsed and to be frank, you look like shit. I realise that you dislike hospitals but there is no denying the fact that you need to get checked out. Michelle won't let you out on rescues without the doctor's approval, you know that."
"But I am fine…"
Dean interrupted my arguing, "If you are ok then you will not be at the hospital long and it will prove to us that you are fine. Prove us wrong and we will not doubt you again."
I sighed, "Okay but only to prove you all wrong." With that I got a hug from Lara and Heidi. Dean just smiled, finally looking relieved and not as troubled. The sound of the helicopter drew nearer and I could hear Mac's voice on the radio.
"Rescue Helo to Rescue Portable 1 how is the patient?" I snarled he was talking about me like I was nobody. I grabbed Lara's radio that was sitting next to me.
"Rescue Portable 1 to Rescue Helo, the patient does have a name." Lara and Heidi giggled at my outburst whilst Dean just shook his head.
"Hello Caz, I guess that you have arisen from the realms of the unconscious. So Dean, is she ready for transport?"
"We will be very soon, give me a minute and then sent the stretcher down."
I looked at Dean, "what, why do you need a stretcher, has the person from before not been freed yet, why are you still here, why are you not helping them?"
"Caz, the stretcher is for you. Mac can not land and that is the only way to get you up to the helo."
"I have been winched normally, I am capable of doing that, I don't need a stretcher?" my voice was snide with venom.
"In your present condition, you are in no fit state to be winched in a harness. You using the stretcher is not an option." His face was stubborn and stony. Lara and Heidi shuffled back, knowing the warning signs for a battle between Dean and me.
I grumbled, guessing that on this occasion I would not be able to win. As well as the fact that, minus the humiliation of the stretcher and the fact that I had acquiesced, the thought of not having to get winched by the harness was welcomed. The harness was uncomfortable to say the least.
Dean smiled, knowing that I had surrendered. And spoke into his radio then got to his feet. "Mac is about to send the stretcher down. There is a small gap in the trees about 50 metres east of us so I am going to go get the stuff then come back. We will probably have to carry Caz over there but we might as well get her comfortable then move her." Great he was talking like I didn't exist again.
Dean and Lara moved off through the forest towards the helicopter noise and Heidi busied her self with our gear, keeping away from me and my apparent anger at her betrayal of me. I took the opportunity of no one watching to try to escape, or at least prove that I was not incapacitated.
I pushed myself onto my elbows bitting my lip at the sudden empty feeling that my head produced but continued to rise. Sitting up I considered my next challenge, standing. I got to my knees and then stood up hoping for a quick getaway but failed miserably as I pitched forward, aiming for the ground. I was about to hit the leafy terrain when strong arms stopped my fall. I blacked out as I heard Heidi calling my name loudly.
I opened my eyes as the noise of helicopter blades assaulted my ears. As soon a one eye twitched someone above shone a very bright light into them, I flinched and tried to scrunch my eyes closed but the persistent fingers held them open for a few more seconds them released. I groaned. My glasses were placed back on my face and I recognized Heidi as the light assailant.
"How are you feeling now, Caz?" she smiled reassuringly knowing that at the moment I would be panicking after blacking out again. She was right.
"I feel fine, Heidi, perfectly fine, although this spine board and stretcher is exceptionally uncomfortable. Am I allowed to move?"
"No, you have to stay exactly where you are, sorry. You knew that already, it is protocol." We both smiled, we were lenient with some of the protocols. "Plus, Dean would have my head if I let you move, he expressly forbade me from letting you move. Especially since I was supposed to be watching you before and you managed to get up, then collapse again."
"Sorry about that," I smiled sheepishly. "Actually, why are you here? Weren't you supposed to be going back in the car?"
"Yeah." She paused as if trying to choose the appropriate words. "Chase and I swapped; Dean did not want you to be yelled at by Chase on the flight back to base. He said that Chase should wait until everyone gets back, to see you and to say anything to you."
I gulped, I forgotten that Chase would go off at me; he was a very protective boyfriend who did not like the fact that I take so little care of my health. Chase and I had been going out for the last 9 months but on the job we were just two more people on the team, we made sure that our relationship did not in any way jeopardise our professionalism. However we had been called a 'cute couple' so many times by the guys at work that I don't think we could ever have keep the relationship a secret.
"Wait a sec, how did you and him swap, was he in the helo when it came to pick me up?"
"Yeah, he came down with the stretcher and equipment. Dean asked him to come in case Dean couldn't convince you to go. He winched down after he listened to the conversation that you had with Dean about the stretcher."
"How could he have known about the conversation? The kit was winched down straight after we stopped arguing."
Now it was her turn to look sheepish. "I, ah, sorta had my radio transmitting to the helo when you were talking. Mac and Chase heard everything you said."
I glared at her and we locked eyes for a moment the she continued, "It was a good thing that he came down, otherwise you would have landed on a pile of rocks when you collapsed the second time and your head wound would be even worse."
"Are you saying that Chase caught me?"
"Yes, lucky for you he did."
"But he was nowhere near me."
"He was right behind you when you collapsed; apparently he was walking up behind you ready to catch you in case you fell. He wanted to see if you were ok and the best way to do that was let you try to stand on your own."
We both stayed silent for the rest of the trip back to base and Mac tried to stay as quiet as he could, occasionally looking back to see how we were going. I don't think Mac has ever seen either of us quiet for less than a minute.