Squad 51, this is Rampart...
Emergency! was a pioneering TV show that thrilled audiences and had a direct impact on the field of emergency medicine. Each week firefighter/paramedics Roy DeSoto and Johnny Gage raced to the rescue with humor and bravery. Come along for the ride with Squad 51!
Not just a show for kids
Lots of kids want to be firefighters when they grow up, and Emergency! is a thrill for every one of them, but the show was much more than kids' entertainment. The timing and scope of the show meant that it played an important role in the development of paramedic programs throughout the country.
By the late 1960s, CPR was well established as a means for ambulance drivers to provide meaningful care for patients before they arrived at a hospital, and the medical community had begun to explore the possibility of training non-physicians in more advanced medical care. In July 1970, in spite of opposition from the California Medical Association, the California Fire Chiefs Association, and other powerful interest groups, California governor Ronald Reagan signed the The Wedworth-Townsend Paramedic Act, formally creating the first paramedic program in Los Angeles County.
The pilot episode of Emergency!, entitled "The Wedworth-Townsend Act," aired in early 1972. The plot involved firefighters Roy DeSoto and John Gage deciding to join the new paramedic program even as they faced opposition from the medical establishment. By the end of the pilot, the firefighters convince their greatest opponent, Dr. Brackett, of the value of the program, and in the end Dr. Brackett's testimony is key to the fictionalized version of the passage of the legislation.
Emergency! went on to show the rest of America what was happening with emergency medical services in Los Angeles, as each week Gage and DeSoto assisted Dr. Brackett in saving lives. Soon officials and ordinary citizens throughout the country were demanding the same services in their own communities, and Emergency! is widely credited with playing an important role in creating the level of prehospital emergency care we take for granted today.
Emergency! on DVD
The first five seasons of Emergency! are available now on DVD. Check back for updates on availability of later seasons.
Emergency! Facts & Trivia
- The show originally aired in early 1972 and ran for six seasons.
- Station 51 as seen on the show is actually Los Angeles County Fire Station 127 in Carson, California, and is still in use today. It has since been renamed Robert A. Cinader Memorial Fire Station in honor of the producer of the show.
- The exterior of Rampart Emergency Hospital is Harbor UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California.
- Julie London (Nurse Dixie McCall) and Bobby Troup (Dr. Joe Early) were married for more than 40 years. Julie London's first husband was Jack Webb, creator of Emergency!
- The character of John Gage was based on the real firefighter/paramedic Jim Gage, who helped create the paramedic program in LA County. Randolph Mantooth was a speaker at Jim Gage's 2004 funeral.
- The 1965 Crown Fire Coach used as the first Engine 51 is on display at the LA Fire Museum.
- A 1973 Ward LaFrance pumper was also used as Engine 51 on the show and is still in use today at Yosemite National Park.
- Real-life LA firefighter/engineer Mike Stoker played himself on the show. He got the role because the show's producers wanted a qualified firefighter to drive the fire truck and Stoker happened to have a Screen Actors Guild card.
- Kevin Tighe (Firefighter/Paramedic Roy DeSoto) can currently be seen on Lost as recurring character Anthony Cooper, father of Terry O'Quinn's John Locke.
Guest Stars on Emergency!
- Tony Dow (Wally on Leave It To Beaver) as Motorcycle Rider in "Brush Fire" (Season 1)
- Ronne Troup (Chip's wife Polly on My Three Sons, daughter of Emergency!'s Bobby Troup) as Judy in "Crash" (Season 1)
- Jeff Donnell (Quartermaine housekeeper Stella Fields on General Hospital) as Katie in "Crash" (Season 1)
- Cicely Tyson (Guiding Light, Roots) as Mrs. Johnson in "Crash" (Season 1)
- Kevin Dobson (Kojak, Knots Landing, The Bold and the Beautiful) as 1st Deputy in "Decision" (aka "Problem," Season 2)
- Lloyd Bochner (Dynasty, Hawaii Five-0) as Dr. Sutherland in "Decision" (aka "Problem," Season 2)
- John Travolta as Chuck Benson in "Kids" (Season 2)
- Deidre Hall (Dr. Marlena Evans on Days of Our Lives) as Nurse Sally Lewis in six episodes, beginning with "Show Biz" (Season 2)
- Cathy Lee Crosby (That's Incredible) as Jenny Hollister in "Virus" (Season 2)
- Larry Storch (Corporal Randolph Agarn on F Troop) as Ben Wesley in "Saddled" (Season 2)
- Kelly Troup (daughter of Emergency!'s Bobby Troup and Julie London) as Debbi in "Saddled" (Season 2)
- Ronne Troup (Chip's wife Polly on My Three Sons, daughter of Emergency!'s Bobby Troup) as Lisa Hill in "Saddled" (Season 2)
- Sharon Gless (Cagney & Lacey) as Sheila in "Fuzz Lady" (Season 2) and as Sculptor in "Election" (Season 5)
- Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester on The Addams Family) as Junkyard Owner in "Trainee" (Season 2)
- Dick Van Patten (Eight is Enough) as Man with Hand Stuck in Sink in "Women" (Season 2) and as Cartle Merkl in "Grateful" (Season 5)
- Melissa Gilbert (Laura on Little House on the Prairie) as Jenny in "Dinner Date" (Season 2)
- Jamie Farr (Corporal/Sergeant Maxwell Q. Klinger on M*A*S*H) as Alan Austen in "Helpful" and "Boot" (Season 2)
- Frank Maxwell (Dan Rooney on General Hospital) as Captain Carter in "Drivers" and "The Professor" (Season 2)
- Joe E. Tata (Nat on Beverly Hills, 90210) as Neighbor in "Honest" (Season 2)
- Bruno Kirby (City Slickers, When Harry Met Sally...) as Ken in "Seance" (Season 2)
- Vic Tayback (Mel on Alice) as Tanker Driver in "Boot" (Season 2)
- Marion Ross (Happy Days) as Margaret in "Inheritance Tax" (Season 3)
- Jo Anne Worley (Laugh In) as Screaming Woman in "Zero" (Season 3)
- Mariette Hartley (Dr. Claire Morton on Peyton Place) as Mrs. Mannering in "Zero" (Season 3)
- Kathleen Quinlan (American Graffiti) as Janet in "Understanding" (Season 3)
- Donny Most (Ralph Malph on Happy Days) as Fred Wilson in "Computer Error" (Season 3)
- Bonnie Bartlett (Grace Snyder on Little House on the Prairie, Dave, Twins) as Eunice Evans in "Computer Error" (Season 3)
- Audrey Landers (The Huggabug Club, One Life to Live, Somerset) as Marsha in "Computer Error" (Season 3)
- Dick Butkus (NFL legend) as #55, The Animal, in "The Hard Hours" (Season 3)
- Nick Nolte (48 Hours, Cape Fear) as Fred in "The Hard Hours" (Season 3)
- Larry Csonka (Hall of Fame football player) as Al in "The Screenwriter" (Season 4)
- John Carradine (The Grapes of Wrath) as Jonas Larson in "Daisy's Pick" (Season 4)
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (legendary NBA basketball player) as Man Stuck in Car in "Foreign Trade" (Season 4)
- Linda Dano (Another World, One Life to Live, Guiding Light) as Lora Gibson in "The Firehouse Four" (Season 4)
- Erik Estrada (CHiPs) as Man With Eye Injury in "Details" (Season 4)
- Adam West (Batman) as Vic Webster in "The Bash" (Season 4)
- Mark Harmon (Chicago Hope, St. Elsewhere, NCIS) as Officer Dave Gordon in "905-Wild" (Season 4)
- Wolfman Jack (Radio Hall of Fame inductee) as himself in "The Inspection" Season 5
- Ruth Buzzi (Laugh-In) as Amy Merkl in "Grateful" (Season 5)
- Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing on Dallas) as Judy in "That Time of Year" (Season 6)
- Joanna Kerns (Maggie Seaver on Growing Pains) as Joanne DeVarona in "Firehouse Quintet" (Season 6)
Behind-the-Scenes Book on Emergency!
This book captures the essence of an important chapter in television history: coverage of the origins of the Emergency!, a dramatic series significant beyond entertainment. Emergency! followed the daily lives of a pair of Los Angeles County Fire Department firefighters/paramedics, along with their colleagues at Station 51 and the emergency room staff of Rampart General Hospital. The book offers a behind the scenes look, packed with interviews from many of the medical and fire department technical advisors, cast members, writers, and other production crew members that worked on the series.
- Randolph Mantooth as Firefighter/Paramedic Johnny Gage
- Kevin Tighe as Firefighter/Paramedic Roy DeSoto
- Robert Fuller as Dr. Kelly Brackett
- Julie London as Nurse Dixie McCall
- Bobby Troup as Dr. Joe Early
- Tim Donnelly as Firefighter Chet Kelly
- Michael Norell as Captain Hank Stanley
Baby Boomer Lens of the Week
Johnny and Roy showed us how firemen trained as paramedics, much like medics on the field of battle, could save lives. Ring the station bell for Freaknoodles and give a woot to KimGiancaterino, formerly timefortravel, for her seventh winning pick.