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File:Emergencycast 7499.jpg


The first TV show to show the lives of paramedics, it was a very well done and medically accurate show which inspired countless children to want to be in Squad 51, and supposedly many communities to get their own paramedics. An hour-long drama, it had elements of comedy, drama, angst, and many other things in its episodes, and though it had a shorter run, could be said to be a domestic version of one of the best shows ever in range, Mash. It was also responsible for popularizing nationwide the concept of paramedics, which were an innovation of the Los Angeles County Fire Department at the time.

The origin of the show was when TV producer, Robert A. Cinader, was in Los Angeles looking into creating a standard Medical Drama. Once there, he learned of the paramedic program, which was just getting started, and realized it was a dynamite idea for a show of brave firefighters rushing about in their duties. And thus the first and most famous live-action Rescue TV show was born.

Even today, the show inspires many, many people to become EMTs and Paramedics.

Followed/accompanied -- as was virtually standard practice in the 1970s -- by an animated Saturday morning series, Emergency +4, in which the Emergency paramedics were saddled with the requisite four kids and dog.


This show provides examples of:

  • Seventies Hair: The show is a vertiable time capsule of 70s hair styles: sideburns (Dr. Brackett and DeSoto), feathered mullets (Gage), Porn Stache (Kelly and Marco), and The Afro (Dr. Morton)
  • Actor Allusion: In the episode "Firehouse Four" (4x11), Johnny asks Dixie if she knows anything about singing. The actress who plays Dixie, Julie London, was a singer in real life.
    • Also in the pilot, when Dr. Joe Early, while playing piano at a party, greets Dr. Brackett with an impromptu song. Early was played by Jazz Singer and Songwriter Bobby Troup, most famous for Nat King Cole's hit song 'Route 66.'
  • Always on Duty: Carefully averted.
  • Animated Adaptation
  • Author Avatar: In the pilot DeSoto gives Gage a very Joe Fridayish dressing down on the importance of the Paramedic training program.
  • Carpet of Virility: Chet Kelly
  • Crossover: With Adam-12. Oddly, one episode involves Gage and DeSoto trying to find out how an episode of Adam-12 ended... you'd think he could have just asked Reed and Malloy the next time he saw them.
    • Not only that, but Reed and Malloy actually showed up in an episode of Emergency!, when they'd brought an injured criminal to Rampart General Hospital.
      • Which in fact would have put Reed and Malloy out of their jurisdiction, which extended ONLY to the city, and not the county of Los Angeles.
  • Crowning Moment Of Funny: In the season 2 episode, "Peace Pipe", Gage and DeSoto had to save a woman who's having breathing difficulties because her girdle was too tight. After Gage cut through the woman's girdle, it snapped in his face.
  • The Danza: Firemen Marco Lopez, Mike Stoker and Capt. Dick Hammer, played by...Marco Lopez, Mike Stoker and Dick Hammer. The latter two were both Real Life firefighters, too.
  • Defictionalization:
    • The Squad 51 rescue truck was built by the Universal props department to specs provided to them by the Los Angeles County Fire Department. They did such a good job that when the series was finished, the truck was donated to the LACoFD, where it put in another 20 years of service, before being retired to the Los Angeles County Fire Museum.
    • There was no Station 51 in the LACoFD at the time of the series, but in 1994 Station 60, which is located on the Universal Lot, was renamed Station 51.
  • Doing It for the Art: The stars playing the paramedics, Tighe and Mantooth, took the regular paramedic training regime, and apart from skipping the final certification exam, were otherwise fully qualified as the real thing.
  • Harpo Does Something Funny: It's obvious that many of the scenes involving Gage and DeSoto working on a victim were simply the director setting up the scene and telling the actors to do what paramedics would do in that situation. This is especially noticeable when they're talking quietly and one reminds the other of an overlooked (or about to be overlooked) step in a procedure or requests assistance in doing something that needs an extra set of hands.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Jamie Farr (Corporal Klinger from M*A*S*H) guest-starred in one episode as a student who thought someone had put a hex on him.
    • In one TVLand ad, Gage is telling some nursing students (via a fake voiceover) the exciting things he gets to do as a paramedic. Along with "spray foam around" and "rescue cats from trees", he gets to "help Dick Van Patten when he gets his hand caught in a drain".
  • Hospital Hottie: Julie London as Dixie McCall. Cool, compassionate, professional...and yet still as sexy as she was in her torch singing days.
  • Magical Defibrillator: Partially averted - the portable defibrillator was used primarily when it would have worked in real life.
  • Medical Drama
  • Mission Control: Rampart has a radio desk and a separate communications room for the doctors and nurses to communicate with the paramedics to hear their description and vitals about the patient and give instructions to deal with the medical situation before they are transported.
    • Truth in Television for paramedic programs at the time, which required online medical direction for most (if not all) prehospital procedures. Now days EMS has mostly standing orders, allowing the paramedic to use their own judgment, but at the time this system was the only way to gain the trust of the public and the medical community. Some episodes deal with the frustration of the paramedics and their inability to receive orders from the hospital due to a doctor's lack of trust or the radio being tied up by another unit.
  • Mix and Match: Medical Drama + Rescue
  • Poorly-Disguised Pilot: A Season 4 episode titled 905-Wild was intended as a spinoff involving a White Dude, Black Dude duo of Animal Control officers played by Dirty Harry co-star Albert Popwell and future St Elsewhere (and much later, NCIS) star Mark Harmon. It wasn't picked up.
  • Punny Name: Mike Stoker, a fireman both in the show and Real Life.
  • Real Life Relative: Julie London, playing Dixie McCall, was the real-life wife of Bobby Troup (playing Dr. Joe Early).
    • It's even a bit more complex than that: before marrying Troup, Julie was married to executive producer Jack Webb.
  • The Red Stapler: The show is popularly thought to be the best advertisement about the merits of the paramedic program ever and lots of cities and counties started setting up their own.
    • Pretty much Lampshaded in one episode when Gage and DeSoto, after being involved in a rescue in a rural area outside their jurisdiction and which couldn't afford to run its own paramedics even after seeing their value, described a system of volunteer emergency medical responders such a region could set up to the local sheriff.
  • Rescue
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Some of the episodes dealt with real issues being faced by the still-new paramedic program such as distrust and second-guessing of paramedics by doctors, and response delays due to units responding to non-emergency situations.
  • Shout-Out: In a reversal of the usual, LA County Fire Station 127 (the real-life fire station that played the part of Station 51) was renamed the Robert A. Cinader Memorial Fire Station in honor of one of the show's producers.
  • Shown Their Work: aside when the demands of the plot required a change, the vast majority of the procedures carried out by the firefighters and paramedics were faithful to what real firefighters and paramedics did at the time. This is mainly due to Tighe and Mantooth having actually trained as paramedics and, in many of the larger incident scenes, actual firefighters acting as extras.
  • Spiritual Successor: To executive producer Jack Webb's other shows, Dragnet and Adam-12.
  • Stock Sound Effect: watch episodes one after another on DVD and you'll quickly notice that the show uses the exact same "sound of equipment and people shouting" background during major emergency scenes. Even worse, if the scene goes on long enough you'll notice that it's looped, so that one man's indistinct (but recognizable) shout is the show's Wilhelm Scream.
  • Syndication Title: Emergency One
  • The Voice: Real life LA County Fire Dispatcher Sam Lanier, who filled this role for all of the show's six regular seasons, plus the various TV Movies which were actually set in LA. Somewhat averted when, in a few later season episodes, Sam actually appeared on screen.
  • You Look Familiar: In the Dragnet/Adam-12/Emergency shared universe, Tim Donnelly appeared in 5 different roles in Dragnet and 2 roles in Adam before landing his regular role as Firefighter Chet Kelly in Emergency.
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