Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Today's non-political post is about the television show from the 1970's.  For those of you who are 40 or over, you probably remember this show.  If you were like me, you reenacted every episode in your alley with your Big Wheels and bicycles.  Hence, here is why I have my obsession with fire trucks.

Emergency! started in 1972 and followed the thrilling situations experienced by Station 51 in Los Angeles County, California.  Squad 51 was a Dodge D300 dualie driven by Roy DeSoto (Kevin Tighe) along with John Gage (Randolph Mantooth).  Engine 51 was filled by 2 different trucks, first a 1965 open cab Crown Coach, followed by a 1973 Ward Lefrance P80 Ambassador.  Engine 51 was supported by Captain Hank Stanley (Michael Norell), Mike Stoker, who is the driver, is played by Mike Stoker, Marco Lopez, who is played by Marco Lopez, and the comic Chett Kelley (Tim Donnelly).

What was interesting was that the first few episodes focused a lot on educating the public about paramedics. Apparently, prior to the paramedic program, fire trucks and police went to accident scenes and other emergencies, assessed the situation, then called for an ambulance driven by orderlies with no medical experience.  They then drove the victims to the hospital where they eventually received medical care.

As a result of the Wedworth-Townsend Paramedic Act, the new paramedic program was created and put trained medical technicians, though still firemen, in a vehicle that went to the scene.  They would assess the victims, take their vitals, then call to the hospital hotline (Rampart) and ask for instructions from a doctor.  Paramedics were not allowed to treat the victims beyond superficial injuries without doctor consent.  Doctors needed to prescribe the treatment over the biophone.  The ambulance would arrive, the orderlies would load up the victim, one of the paramedics would ride along and the other would follow behind to the hospital. However, Gage and DeSoto were constantly being berated by victims asking for a doctor and demanding that they leave them alone.

After watching some 130 episodes, I got to thinking.  There are no paramedic squads anymore, at least as far as I know.  What seems to have happened is that the orderlies were booted from the ambulances and the paramedics now drive them.  It's like one-stop shopping.  A logical streamlining of medical services.

Another observation that is interesting is that in the first few episodes, there was the old Cadillac wagon ambulance that is similar to a hearse.  It was followed by the pick-up truck ambulance, then finally the van ambulance.  It now seems that most ambulances (at least in this area) are the big International medium-duty ambulances.

The show actually stared Robert Fuller (Dr. Kelly Brackett), Robert Fuller's real-life best friend, but love interest in the show Dixie McCall (Julie London), and Julie London's real-life husband Bobby Troup, who played Dr. Joe Early.  Does that qualify as a love triangle?

Every episode had several victims that went to Rampart.  Gage and DeSoto always checked in to see how they were doing.  In today's hysteria-driven need for privacy, it's interesting to see doctors freely give people other people's medical information.  And the answer 99% of the time was, "He's going to be just fine."  There were only a few instances where the victim died.

Victims and their families\friends never seemed to be that hysterical when there was an emergency.  They always calmly asked if they were going to be okay.  "Gosh, I hope they're going to be okay.  I'm sorry, I should have called sooner."  Where were the people that we see today screaming incomprehensibly at the 9-1-1 operator?

If you've never seen this show, watch a few episodes.  You don't have to watch them in order.  There's not much of a trailing story-line, except for a seemingly developing sub-plot with a rivalry with paramedic Brice, but the show ended after Season 6 just as the rivalry was growing more interesting.

Emergency! was the second show that I watched from start to finish on Netflix, which was preceded by Arrested Development, which is an awesomely hysterical show if you've never seen it.

What was your favorite show from your childhood?


Kent Allard said...

Man, that brings back some memories. I don't think I've seen that show since it was originally on the air. I watched it as a kid and had some Emergency! toys as well. The one I remember most was a toy replica of #51 that had a CB radio housed in it and a big antenna on top. Why they made a CB radio for kids I don't know, but it actually worked! There was one episode in particular I remember...some guy threw the pull tab off his can of beer into the can then guzzled it and of course choked on the pull tab. Even that young I remember thinking "Who the @#$! would do that?" Was that episode in the ones you watched?

Eludius said...

Yes, Kent, I remember that episode. I think the other guy was stuck with his hand in a pipe under the sink. While they rescued him, that guy drank several beers before choking.

Also, Hot Wheels had two emergency vehicles that weren't officially Emergency!, but resembled them enough for the kids.

Melinda said...

I love this show.

BTW Los Angeles County still does have paramedic squads even today.

This is at Universal Studios, whose station was named 51 in honor of the show. (the real station from the show, 127, has no paramedics)

Melinda said...

oh and PS Hot Wheels has official Emergency squads too. There was one released a while ago and a new one that just came out.

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