For personal use and select distribution only © by Addmom

DISCLAIMER: "Emergency!" and its characters © Mark VII Productions, Inc. and Universal Studios. All rights reserved.

The poems and songs used in this story do not belong to me. I have indicated the singer/writer of each one.

No infringement of any copyrights or trademarks is intended or should be inferred. This is a work of fiction, and any similarity to actual persons or events is purely coincidental. This story is only written for entertainment. No financial gain is being realized from it. The story, itself, is the property of the author. Please ask before archiving elsewhere and/or using characters created by the author.

I am in no way connected to the medical profession and take responsibility for all mistakes in dealing with treatments, diseases, etc.

Friendship Tested

Part II

Chet woke with a start as Roy gave him a shove. He started to sputter until he remembered where he was. Looking around he realized that Johnny and Nicole were awake. He saw the pain in their eyes, too, and wondered what was going to happen next.

“Welcome back, partner.” Roy was apprehensive as he called Johnny his partner. After all, Johnny had asked for a transfer. Roy leaned over and pushed the call button on Johnny’s bed. Later he would kick himself for not waiting to push the call button.

“I’m not your partner any longer. How long have we been here?” There was a blank look on Johnny’s face as he heard Roy call him partner and no emotion in his voice when he answered Roy. He knew he couldn’t go back to work at Station 51 now that he knew how his shift mates really felt about him.

“Five days. You have a lot of people waiting for you to wake up.” Chet was just as uncomfortable as he knew Roy was. Both men had gulped at Johnny’s words about not being Roy’s partner any more.

“Oh. We’re awake now.” Johnny wouldn’t tell them, unless it was absolutely necessary, about the threats Tim and Cameron had made against the men of station 51 and their families. He also wouldn’t tell them that it had been Tim Donaldson who had tried to stop him from getting out of the building at the fire that day.

“Johnny, we need to–.” Whatever Chet was going to say was interrupted by the arrival of the ICU nurse. Seeing the two patients awake she rang the desk and told them to page Dr. Brackett and Dr. Early to ICU 5 STAT. Then she proceeded to take Johnny and Nicole’s vital signs. Just as she finished the two doctors rushed into the room.

“Welcome, back, Johnny and Nicole. We sure are glad to see you awake. Roy, Chet, sorry fellas but we are going to have to ask you to leave so we can run some tests on our two favorite patients.” Dr. Brackett didn’t miss the glum looks on Roy and Chet’s faces.

“We have some phone calls to make anyway.” Roy stood and started out the door.

“But isn’t it kind of early in the morning to be calling anyone?” Nicole noticed that it was 3:30 a.m.

“No, everyone wanted to be called the second you woke up no matter what time it was.” Chet was following Roy out the door.


When Dr. Brackett and Dr. Early stepped into the ICU waiting room, Hank, Marco, Mike, Chet, Beth, Brandon and William Stoker, Emily Stanley, Roy, Joanne, Chris, Jenny and the Gage twins were waiting for them. Captain Stanley was the first one on his feet. “Dr. Brackett, how are they?”

“Well, Johnny is going to be sore and will need some physical therapy for the bruising on his back and hip, but there is no permanent damage. There is no damage from the pressure in his brain or the skull fracture. He should be able to return to work in eight to twelve weeks. Just so you all know, however, they are both asleep right now.” Dr. Brackett was still unaware of the events that had taken place that fateful day at Station 51.

“And Nicole is just fine. She will have no permanent damage from her tumor or concussion. She will be very sore for a while, too. She should be back on her feet about the same time as Johnny.” Dr. Early was glad to be able to deliver good news to this group.

“Thanks, Dr. Brackett, Dr. Early. We’ll wait until later this morning to see them. There are a few things we need to talk about anyway.” Hank looked at the people sitting there as the two doctors walked away. Hank rubbed his hands together. “Well, we need to make plans for visiting, where they will stay when they are released, how they are going to get around, who’s going to help take care of the babies—well, basically how we are going to support them until they are both back on their feet.”

The group talked quietly among themselves as they headed towards the cafeteria to eat breakfast as well as develop a plan for helping their friends.


Johnny and Nicole woke to find themselves alone—well as alone as you can be in ICU. Johnny smiled as Nicole turned to look at her husband.

“I am so thankful that you came home early that day. I’m not sure what would have happened if you hadn’t. Johnny, is it really over?”

“Yes, Nicole, it is really over. How are you, though? I was so scared when I saw you fighting with Cameron. How are you feeling about what happened?”

“I have gone over that moment so many times, and I come up with the same conclusion. There is nothing different I could have done. And my guardian angel was watching over me when Cameron is the one who got hit with the bullet when the gun went off. I have never seen such hate in anyone’s eyes as I did in Tim’s the moment he found out Cameron was dead.”

“I know what you mean. I thought he was going to kill you with his bare hands. Then when he remembered I was there, he looked like a mad man. I just wish things had turned out differently. Their deaths were so needless. I keep wondering what we could have done differently over the course of the last year that would have changed what happened that day.”


After they had finished their breakfast and finalized their plans, the group headed back to ICU. Roy and Joanne were elected to visit with Johnny and Nicole first and present the group’s plan to them. As they stepped off the elevator and started towards the Gages’ “room” the nurse stopped them.

“I’m sorry but Mr. and Mrs. Gage have asked that their visitors be limited to the people on the list they have provided.”

“But we work with Johnny. I’m sure our names are on the list.” Roy didn’t know this nurse. She was new and didn’t know Johnny’s coworkers.

“No, your names are not on this list. As a matter of fact, other than Dr. Raymond who will be taking over for Dr. Early and Dr. Wagoner who will be taking over for Dr. Brackett, the only other person besides the nurses on this floor who is allowed in there is a Mr. Robertson. Now, if you will please excuse me, I need to check up on my patients.”

As the nurse turned to go in and check on Johnny and Nicole, it was a somber group that tried to figure out what had just happened. They all went to sit down in the ICU waiting room.

Roy was the first one to speak. “Well, we really should have expected it. After all, just before all of this happened, Johnny asked to transfer out of the battalion. He still thinks we don’t trust him to work with him. And I think he still plans on making that transfer.”

Before anyone could say anything else, a gentleman and two ladies the group had never seen before walked up. “Excuse me, but are you John Gage’s former co-workers?” When he received nods from the surprised group, the gentleman continued talking. “I am Kevin Robertson. Linda and Carol here will be taking the twins and taking care of them until the Gages are released. Johnny and Nicole were going to call you later this morning and tell you. But you saved us the trouble of having to come and pick up the girls.”

Reluctantly, Joanne and Beth handed the babies over to the two women who took them and started to Johnny and Nicole’s “room” to let them see the babies before taking them home.

“Roy, Joanne, I know that Johnny and Nicole want to thank you for taking care of the kids for them for the last few days. They asked me to arrange for care for them now so they would not be imposing on any of you any longer.” Mr. Robertson was unaware of what had transpired and thought Johnny and Nicole just didn’t want to make more work for the others. “Well, I have to go tell them the rest of the arrangements they have requested are complete.” And with that he walked away.

It was a dejected group that slowly rose and with one last sad look down the hall, left ICU and the hospital.


Johnny and Nicole were moved out of ICU the day after they regained consciousness. But Dr. Wagoner had moved them into one room because of their request to limit visitors. He still wasn’t sure what was going on, but he felt it was the best thing for his patients’ recovery.

Dixie and Dr. Brackett took turns visiting the nurses’ station on the floor where Johnny and Nicole were to read their charts to keep everyone informed of their progress.

It was late evening and the nurses all seemed to be busy when Dixie made one final stop to check on the Gages after her shift ended. The door to their room was slightly ajar and Dixie could hear the distinct sound of crying coming from the room. Taking a look around and seeing no one, she pushed the door opened and entered the room.

Johnny was sleeping. Nicole was crying in her pillow. Dixie walked over to her bed and pulled Nicole into her arms. “Are you in pain?”

Nicole looked up at Dixie. “No, I’m fine.” Nicole turned away from Dixie as she said, “Now please leave.”

Johnny had been aroused by the sound of Nicole’s crying. “Please leave, Dixie. We have asked for no visitors.”

With one last look at two people she cared deeply about, Dixie left with a sad heart.

“Nicole, what’s wrong?” Johnny eased himself out of his bed and made his way over to Nicole. Carefully, he helped her slide over and he climbed in bed with her.

“I was just thinking about how much better off you would have been if you had never met me.”

Dixie was standing outside the door and heard the conversation taking place. Her heart broke at the pain in Nicole’s voice.

“Why do you say that, Nicole?” Johnny wrapped his arms around her.

“Your relationship with all the guys at the station and your friends here at Rampart has been destroyed. The guys don’t trust you to work with them any more and it’s my fault. You were just worried about me and the Donaldsons and now they feel they can’t trust you anymore. If you had never met me you would have never met the Donaldsons. Everything that happened both this time and the last time with them would never have happened. If you hadn’t met me, you wouldn’t have been worried about me instead of doing your job. You are transferring out of the battalion and away from your ‘home.’ I know you don’t want the other guys to ever be put into a situation where they would have to work with you and be afraid because they don’t trust you. Oh, Johnny, I have ruined your life.”

“Nicole, you haven’t ruined anything.”

“But Roy and Joanne wouldn’t even talk to us on your days off. I know you really wanted to talk to Roy about the Donaldsons and about what was going on with me, but they never returned our calls even when we said to call no matter what time they got the message.”

“It’s ok, Nicole. You haven’t ruined anything. Roy wouldn’t talk to me not because of you, but because he wasn’t ready to talk about the two teenaged girls we lost. He didn’t even try to find out if that was what I wanted to talk to him about or not. Nicole, none of this was because I met you. And they don’t trust working with me because Tim Donaldson tried to prevent me from getting out of that fire alive and I was late leaving when the Cap called us out. Instead of asking me what happened, they all just assumed that I didn’t obey orders. These circumstances just brought out the truth about how my so called family and friends really feel. I’m glad I finally found out the truth. I love you, Nicole.”


The guys had wanted to try one more time to tell Johnny how sorry they were for what had happened that day at the station. They had arrived just in time to hear the entire conversation between Johnny and Nicole. They all had heavy hearts as they listened to what had really happened in that fire. Figuring it was probably their last chance Roy pushed the door open and the five men made their way into the room. Dixie didn’t try to stop them. She waited just outside the door.

“We asked that we have no visitors and first Dixie shows up and then you guys. Would you please leave? Where are the nurses?” Johnny was getting upset. He just wanted to be left alone with his wife.

“ There was no one out there, so we came in. Johnny, will you please listen to us and then if you still want us to leave we will.” Captain Stanley hoped they hadn’t destroyed their friendship with these two very special people.

“We will hear you out, and then will you please leave and never come back?” Johnny figured the best way to solve the problem was to let them have their say and then it would all be over.

“If after you hear what we have to say, you want us to leave and never come back, we will.” Captain Stanley prayed that Johnny would not ask them to leave.

“Ok, go ahead.” Johnny wrapped Nicole in his arms as he waited for the men to have their say and then he was indeed going to ask them to leave.

“Johnny, I really need to apologize to you for not finding out what you needed to talk to me about. I did that once before and should have known better. I’m also sorry for what I said at the station. I think I just didn’t want to admit that there might be something really bothering you.” Roy really wanted his ‘brother’ back.

“We’re all sorry, too. We should have realized that for the last two and a half years you have been taking everything the Phantom has been dishing out without any complaints and in fun. We should have realized that when you reacted the way you did, something was wrong.” Chet spoke as the others nodded their agreement.

“Yeah, and we are all just glad that you are both ok and everything turned out alright with Nicole.” Mike was hoping that Johnny and Nicole wouldn’t kick them out now that they were talking.

Just then Mr. Robertson and another man entered the room. “Johnny, we found a bomb at that fire where Tim tried to keep you from getting out. We have proof that Tim set the fire and tried to kill you. It is the same type of bomb as the ones the Donaldsons were planning on using to start fires at your friends’ homes.” Mr. Robertson thought Johnny had filled in the five men.

There was a loud gasp from the five men standing in the room and Dixie standing just outside the door.

“Did Tim Donaldson really try to keep you from getting out of that fire?” Captain Stanley was the first to find his voice and didn’t give Johnny a chance to respond to Robertson’s statement.

“Yes.” Johnny was hoping that Roy hadn’t gotten into trouble for that incident.

“And they were going to set our homes on fire?” Chet couldn’t believe that once again Johnny and Nicole had put their lives on the line right after the guys had made fun of Johnny.

“Yes, they were. The police found boxes with each of your names and addresses on them in their car. When they opened them up, there were bombs in each one. Tim and Cameron were going to make us go with them and watch as they set fire to each of your homes. Then they were going to kill us.”

“Johnny, we are really sorry for how we treated you.” Roy hoped that Johnny and Nicole would still be their friends. “We really want to make this up to you.”

“Thank you for your apology. Now, if there is nothing else, would you all please leave now? We have some business to discuss with Agent Adams and Mr. Robertson. We have listened to you, now we are asking you to leave.” Johnny was still deeply hurt by how the guys had treated him. He wasn’t sure he would ever be able to forgive them this time. It seemed that every time they would say they were sorry, but the next time something happened, they responded the same way.

“Well, there is one thing. The five of us, Joanne, Beth, Emily, Dr. Brackett, Dr. Morton, Dr. Early, Dixie and some of the other guys from the department got together and came up with a possible plan for when you are released to help you both while you are recovering. Nothing is final until you both agree with it.” Marco hoped he could extend their stay long enough for Johnny and Nicole to realize they really were sorry.

“Well, we have that taken care of. Thank you for thinking of us. But no, thanks. We wish all of you the best of luck in the future.” Johnny looked at Nicole who had turned her face so that the two of them could look at each other and not have to see anyone else in the room.

With heavy hearts, the five men turned and started out of the room. Roy was the last to leave and just before he exited he looked at Johnny one more time. “Johnny, Nicole, we really do love both of you and want you in our lives. We have never been sorrier in our lives. We are going to miss you—there will be a big hole in our hearts.” Getting no response, he turned and closed the door behind him.

Dixie headed towards the elevator to go back to work. She could not keep the tears from streaming down her face.


None of the men wanted to leave the hospital. They sat in the waiting area just outside of Nicole and Johnny’s room. At first no one said a word. Then they started talking about the fire. As they each recalled the conversation that had taken place in the Gage’s room.

“They put their lives on the line for us again.” Chet was talking to anyone who would listen.

“Yeah, and all we could do was raze him when he was so upset after the Phantom had struck.” Marco realized that Johnny had been such a good sport since he met Nicole that when he got so upset it should have been a warning sign that there was something wrong in Johnny’s life.

“And I said he was acting like a little kid. He hasn’t acted like a kid in months. I guess I just wasn’t ready to admit there was something wrong.” Roy looked back at Johnny’s actions and attitudes. It had all started after Nicole’s visit to the station that one shift. That should have been a warning sign. Roy was sure that this time, they had ruined their friendship with two very special people.

“Well, we can’t blame Johnny or Nicole for not wanting anything to do with us. After all it was us who told them we would always be there for them right after they were taken hostage by the bank robbers. Then we told them again after the first incident with the Donaldsons. But then when they asked for our help we refused. This time we ignored the signs that something was really bothering Johnny and he needed our support. Instead we razed him and said he was too sensitive and childish. Johnny and Nicole do not hold grudges, but I’m not so sure that they aren’t hurt deeply enough that they no longer want to be friends with us. I’m not sure I could still be friends with us if I was in their shoes.” Mike was wishing they could turn the clock back to a week ago and redo everything that had gone wrong.

“I think you’re right, Mike. They won’t even let us in the room now. I just hope we can find a way to get through to them and show them we really do care.” Captain Stanley’s pain was as deep as the others. “A-shift won’t be the same without Johnny.”

“We have to do something.” Chet was upset that he had been so insensitive to Johnny. Nothing would be the same unless they were all together. Station 51 needed Johnny.

“Yeah, but what? This is just the latest in a list of ways that we have let Johnny and Nicole down.” Marco had been sure there was something really bothering Johnny, but since Roy didn’t know or do anything about it, then why should he? Because he was Johnny’s friend, that’s why.

“I wish I knew what we could do.” Roy sat with his head in his hands. Johnny had never let him down. Where was he when Johnny needed him?


Agent Adams picked up his material and turned to Johnny, “I’m sorry about the problem with your friends. I hope that someday you will be able to work things out.” He smiled at the couple as he left.

Mr. Robertson sat down and looked at the couple. “The kids are fine. I’ll get ready to put these plans into motion if they are what you really want.”

The tears were streaming down Nicole’s cheeks. “Johnny, I miss them already. What they did hurt both of us deeply, but they have also showed us how much they really care. There will always be times when things will happen that will hurt, but they really care. It will take a while for the hurt to go away, but maybe we can give them another chance.”

“You’re right. And they did say they came up with a plan to help us when we are released from here. Maybe we could listen to it.” Johnny’s love for Nicole grew at that moment. She knew how much he really cared for his ‘family’ and friends and was trying to do something about it.

Their nurse, Carol, walked in to take their vitals. She saw the tears on Nicole’s face and the pain in Johnny’s eyes. She wondered what was going on. Their friends had left with the longest faces she had ever seen.

“Carol, would you call Roy and ask him if he would come back and see us?” Johnny hoped that they hadn’t lost their friends because they had pushed them away.

“Actually, Roy, Chet, Hank, Marco and Mike are sitting outside in the waiting area.” Carol took their vitals and made the notations in their charts. “Do you want me to send Roy in?”

“Please send them all in if they still want to see us.” Johnny gave Nicole a hug as she wiped away her tears.

“Sure.” Carol prayed that whatever had happened between these friends would be repaired. As she approached the group, Roy looked up with tears in his eyes. “Roy, Johnny and Nicole asked me to tell you that they would like to see all of you if you still want to see them.”

All five men were on their feet before she had finished talking. She chuckled to herself as she watched them practically run to the Gages’ room.

Roy took a deep breath and held it as he cautiously pushed the door open.

“Come on in, Roy, fellas.” Johnny saw the way the guys were afraid to enter the room.

They all let out the breath they didn’t realize they were holding.

There was an awkward tension as no one knew what to say or where to begin. “Nicole and I have been talking and we want to thank you for being concerned about what is going to happen when Nicole and I are released from here. However, there are some issues that still bother me and I’m not sure can be explained away.”

“What are they, Johnny?” A knot developed in Roy’s stomach. He had hoped that being let back into the room meant that they were going to be able to work things out. Now he wasn’t so sure.

“Well, none of you even tried to find out what was bothering me. Roy thought I was down about the teenaged girls we lost and he wasn’t ready to talk about it. He asked me once before that run what was wrong, but I didn’t have all the facts then. After that run, the only time he talked to me was when we were on a run and then it was only related to work. Then at that fire, no one tried to find out what really happened; you were all just ready to blame me. Then I overheard you discussing the fact that you are afraid to work with me. I also heard what you said about me acting like a kid and being too sensitive. I tried to stay out of your way but instead of leaving me alone, the phantom pulled an unreasonable number of pranks. I learned how you all really feel about working with me and what you really think of me. So, I want to go through with the transfer I have requested. That way I won’t ever wonder if you really trust me or are just trying to placate me when you tell me you trust me.” Johnny saw the pain and guilt on the other men’s faces. But he didn’t know if he could ever feel like they trusted him again.

“But, Johnny, we do trust you. You’re right, we should have listened to the whole situation with the fire and not jumped to conclusions. Johnny, when I am fighting a fire and you are there, I know that I am safe. I don’t even think twice about entering a burning building because you and Roy and the others are there to back me up. Johnny, the station won’t be the same without you and you really don’t want to leave our shift, do you?” Chet was grasping at straws. He really didn’t want Johnny to leave.

“Yeah, Johnny, we need you to put the fun into our lives. Without you we won’t be the family that we have been.” Marco tried to let his friend know how sorry they all were.

“Listen, Johnny, none of us took the time to find out what was bothering you. We are truly sorry. We know that someday that each of us will eventually leave A-shift, but we would rather do it by promotions, not this way. There is not one member of our shift who is afraid to work with you. We all talked it over and realized how focused you were when doing your job even with everything you had on your mind. None of us would have been able to do it and we don’t know of anyone else who would either.” The four other members of A-shift were nodding their heads in agreement with Mike as he took his turn at trying to let Johnny know how sorry they were.

“Johnny, you haven’t been acting like a kid. You haven’t been too sensitive either. If anything you have been more mature about this whole situation than any of us have. It is that we were too insensitive to what you were going through. Please, Johnny, we all want and need you as a part of our family.” Roy’s eyes were pleading with Johnny.

“Yeah, Johnny, please don’t go through with that transfer.” Hank needed Johnny as a part of the family as much as everyone else. Johnny kept the life in the family.

Each of the men held his breath as Johnny looked at Nicole and then at each one of them before he answered. “Well, Cap, will you call headquarters and put it on hold for me? I can’t say that I won’t still want to transfer out of 51, but I will give it a chance and see where we go from here.” Johnny silently laughed at the relieved looks on each man’s face as they all let out their breath. He wasn’t sure it would all work out, but he would give it every chance.

“You bet I will, pal.” Hank’s smile was almost as big as Roy’s.

Nicole smiled at Johnny and then at each of the other men. “What’s the plan you came up with for when we are released?” Nicole and Johnny both smiled, but it wasn’t their normal big smiles.

“Well, we know you aren’t going to be able to go to your home, so we have a schedule worked out to help Roy and Joanne with the kids, your doctors appointments, your physical therapy and anything else you need until you can come back to work.” Chet outlined the basics of the plan.

Looking over to Johnny and seeing his nod of approval, Nicole took a deep breath. “On one condition—. ”

“What’s that?” Roy held his breath. They were ready to agree to anything in order to keep Johnny and Nicole’s friendship.

“The Phantom is retired for the time being.” Nicole knew how they answered would tell how much they really wanted to work this out. Since they really had no other place to go, they would accept the offer. But she knew that both she and Johnny had been hurt and that would take awhile to go away.

“You’ve got it—no more Phantom until Johnny says so.” Chet readily agreed—anything to have his friends back.

As the others were laughing, Mr. Robertson quietly slipped out to call Linda and Carol and have them bring the Gage babies “home.” He tore up and threw away the papers with the plans they had just laid out in the wastebasket. The Gages were right where they belonged.

September, 1979

Johnny and Nicole had moved to the DeSoto home a week after they were moved out of ICU. Everyone took turns helping with the kids, Johnny and Nicole. It was a relief to find out that Chief McConikee had ignored Johnny’s request for a transfer. When he was able to, he would be returning to Station 51’s A-shift with the assurance that all of his coworkers trusted him with their lives.

Although they were grateful for the assistance, everyone knew that Johnny and Nicole were still recovering from the pain the group had caused them. They were reserved whenever they were around the others. Roy’s heart ached at the distance that Johnny and Nicole had placed between themselves and the others, but he knew that it was nothing like the ache that Johnny and Nicole had felt from the treatment they had received. He just prayed that someday, their hearts would be healed and things would be back to the way they were.


The results of all of the exams were due out today. This was the only time headquarters had offered the chief, captain and engineer exams at the same time. They probably wouldn’t do it again, but the men of Station 51’s A-shift were glad. They all dreaded having to work with only part of their crew and that would have been what had happened if they had taken the exams one at a time. They didn’t know that Chief McConikee had arranged it that way just for them. He had wanted to recognize these men for their hard work and promoting them as was only fitting. But he also knew it would have been very hard to do it one at a time. Hank Stanley knew that all his men were as antsy as he was as they lined up for roll call. He couldn’t blame them. They all wanted the results of their exams. But he didn’t have them, for some reason they hadn’t been sent to him yet.

Chief McConikee walked in followed by Johnny, who was still on medical leave, just as Hank was finishing with roll call. Captain Stanley began to get nervous. What was the Chief doing there? “Good morning, Chief. “To what do we owe the honor of this visit?”

“Let’s all go get a cup of coffee and I’ll tell you.” The Chief led the way into the kitchen area. As each man got their cup of coffee they made their way to the table and sat down. Dwyer, who was subbing for Johnny, joined the group. When all seven men were seated the Chief looked at each one with a smile. “I have personally come to give you the results of your exams. I asked Johnny to join us so I could give him his results, too. We checked the tests twice to be sure of the results.”

The men exchanged glances. Why would the Chief come all the way over there just to give them the results? Had they all done that badly? Why would they check the results twice?

“It isn’t every day that we had such good news to give an entire shift.” The Chief had seen the looks on the men’s faces. He had been sure how these men would perform on the exams and they had not let him down. “Marco, you and Chet have tied for number 1 on the Engineer’s exam which places you 1 and 2 on the list respectively. Roy, John and Mike tied for number 1 on the Captain’s exam which places them 1, 2 and 3 respectively. And Hank, you placed number 1 on the Chief’s exam. I want to congratulate all of you.” Pausing to let the news sink in; he smiled as the saw the various emotions cross each man’s face until they each had realized what he had said. “Your new assignments have already been made. Headquarters has both wished for and dreaded this day. You are the best crew in the county and we really hate to break you up. But we also wanted to reward each of you for your hard work. The decision was made to place you all in stations that will be responding to calls together when more than one station is required. You will all be placed on the same shift. Hank, you will become the Chief of this battalion as I will be moving up to operations. Roy and Marco will be assigned to the A-shift at Station 14 just down the road. John and Chet will be assigned here at Station 51 on the A-shift. Mike will be assigned to the A-shift at Station 24 just a couple of miles over. We are hoping to take the relationship and teamwork that is evident here in this group and develop it in other Stations. You will start your new duties in two weeks. I want to congratulate you once again, men, and wish you all good luck.” The Chief didn’t wait for any response. He just turned and left the Station.

No one said a word for five minutes after the Chief had left. It was Johnny who found his voice first. “Wow, we all wanted it, but it is really happening. Congratulations everyone.”

“Yeah, congratulations. I agree with Johnny, Wow!” Chet was like the rest of the group. No one really knew what to say.

“Well men, let’s get our chores done around here.” Captain Stanley was full of pride as he looked at the men who had been his crew for so long. But there was sadness in his eyes, too.

The others started their assigned duties as Johnny quietly congratulated each of them and slowly made his way out of the station. He would return to duty only a week before the promotions became effective. His thoughts went back to all that had happened over the years he had been a member of the A-shift family. He realized that both he and Nicole were where they belonged and that family feeling had returned. Now the family was just moving on, but he knew they would still be a family.


It was the last shift for this particular A-shift crew of Station 51. Roll call was somber—even the phantom had disappeared the last two weeks. Johnny had returned to work the week before and everyone knew that they were once again the family they had been before the Donaldsons had almost torn their lives apart. Hank looked at his crew. “Guys, I want to thank all of you for your support over the years. I want all of you to know that I think of you not as my men, but as a part of my family and I will miss working with each one of you on a regular basis. Today is a bitter sweet day and I want to take this opportunity to wish each of you good luck.”

The men broke rank and each one of them made sure they wished the others good luck. They wanted to make sure they did it just in case the day was so busy they didn’t get a chance to before the end of shift. It was a good thing, too, because the klaxons sounded before they had a chance to start their duties.

It was lunchtime and they had been at the scene of a fire since 8:00 that morning. The engine backed in first and then the squad. All six men headed for the locker room to take turns taking a shower. Those waiting lay on their beds to rest for a few minutes. It wasn’t until they one by one wandered into the day room after their showers that they discovered a room full of people with a party for them. Even the doctors and Dixie were there. The guys were just a little sad as they realized it was the last lunch they would eat together as a crew. The men were herded to the table to see if they could get lunch over before they got called out.

But as they sat down to eat, the klaxons sounded and the men of A-shift ran to their vehicles yelling thank you to the people who had come to honor them.


The shift had ended and it was finally time to say goodbye to their crewmates. Saying goodbye for the final time was harder than anyone thought it would be. But they all knew they would still be a family. That was one thing that would not change. All six men determined nothing would break apart their family. This was just the next phase in all their lives.

December, 1979

Chief Hank Stanley and his wife, Captain Roy DeSoto and his family, Captain Mike Stoker and his family, Engineer Chet Kelly, Engineer Marco Lopez and Captain John Gage and his family were enjoying the holidays out at the Gage ranch. Talk centered around their new assignments. As they were talking about the adjustments each one was learning to make, everyone had to laugh when Chet admitted he could no longer pull pranks on his favorite “pigeon” because he was now Chet’s boss. But they had another guy on their shift that was just as trusting as Johnny had been when he first started with the A-shift and he was a paramedic to boot. The crews had even had a few opportunities to work together on a couple large fires under Chief Stanley’s command and they still worked together as a well-oiled machine just like headquarters had hoped they would.

To be continued in


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