The Influence of the Emergency! TV Series

When this show premiered in 1972 there were only 12 paramedics in North America. By 1977 50% of the US Population was within 10 minutes of a paramedic unit. Former Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman said “Watching Johnny and Roy in action on Emergency! was a reflection of how early Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedics really worked; it redefined the scope of the fire service. It was truly one of America’s first reality shows.”

Of course, this show wasn’t the purpose of the increase..but the show did influence a generation kids to be paramedics and firefighters.

Emergency! was created by Jack Webb, Robert A. Cinader, and Harold Jack Bloom.  Webb and Cinader also created the police dramas Adam-12 and Dragnet.

Adam 12 Webb and Cinader would go to great lengths to make everything authentic as possible, sometimes using real case files. Randolph Mantooth explained how series co-creator and producer Robert A. Cinader asked the writing staff to pull all the rescues to be portrayed on the show from a real fire station’s logbook. “He told them it didn’t have to come from just LACoFD or Los Angeles or even California, but it did have to come from someone’s logbook.”

Fire Station “51” was where they were based. At that time there was no station 51 in Los Angeles. In 1995 when Universal City needed a fire station they opened one and it became 51 in honor of the show.

The show followed two firemen – paramedics that would get calls for car wrecks, earthquakes, fires, and any kind of emergency taking place. The show starred Randolph Mantooth as John Roderick “Johnny” Gage and Kevin Tighe as Roy DeSoto. The hospital staff included Julie London as Dixie McCall, Bobby Troup as Dr. Joe Early and Robert Fuller as Dr. Kelly Brackett.

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Adam 12 and Emergency! would sometimes cross over to each other’s shows.

There were a couple blink-and-you’ll-miss-it crossovers between Emergency! and the motorcycle patrol show CHIPs. Squad 51 can be seen responding in the season one episode “Cry Wolf,” while in season two’s “MAIT Team” Engine 51 and Squad 51 show up to the scene of a horrific pile-up.

I liked Emergency! as a kid…I prefer Adam 12 because of the 30-minute format compared to the hour of Emergency! but it’s a good show.

From EMS World…this article about the show.





Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

16 thoughts on “The Influence of the Emergency! TV Series”

    1. yes that surprised me also… they went by the book on the shows…so did Adam 12… When Jack Webb died they gave him full Police funeral and retired his TV badge of 714…
      Webb had that badge number on the show because of what else? Babe Ruth’s home run total…he was a fan. No LAPD can wear badge 714


    1. I know…You know Adam 12 I watched as a kid…and this one…I didn’t realize how adult some of the stories were. I have all of both…they stand up very well today. Jack Webb went to great lengths to have it real.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. It seemed like there were a bunch of these types of shows there for a bit. Truly amazing how this show spurred the development of paramedics across the country. I wonder sometimes if TV is where the “overlords” try out ideas before putting them into action. If Emergency had been a flop… I watched it and thought “Johnny Gage” was a hottie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol… I always got the Adam 12 guys mixed up the the Emergency guys… Each team had an older blondish person and a youngish dark headed one….”hottie” as you say.
      We are the guinea pigs of the TV Gods.

      Liked by 1 person

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