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.
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.