show_name = Emergency!
(in original syndication
to distinguish re-runs
caption = "Emergency!" title screen
Robert A. Cinader
Hannah Louise Shearer
runtime = 60 min.
country = United States
Los Angeles, CA
editor= Richard Belding supervisor
first_aired = January 15, 1972
July 3, 1979
Robert A. Cinader Harold Jack Bloom
producer=Robert A. Cinader
associate_producer=Hannah Louise Shearer
Gino Grimaldi Albert J. J. Zuniga
starring = Robert Fuller
num_seasons = 6
num_episodes = 128 plus 6 TV movies
imdb_id = 0068067
"Emergency!" is a
medical drama television seriesthat was produced by Mark VII Limited( Jack Webb's company) and distributed by Universal Studios. It debuted as a midseason replacementon January 15, 1972, on NBC, replacing the short-lived series "The Good Life", and ran until September 3, 1977. It was created and produced by Jack Webband Robert Cinader, both of whom were also responsible for the police drama " Adam-12". The shows were similar in that they featured dedicated civil servants handling two or three varied and unrelated incidents during a typical shift.
The show returned as a series of six "Movie of the Week" specials between late 1977 and the spring of 1979. Three of the TV movies have the two paramedic characters traveling to San Francisco (twice) and Seattle for EMS conventions. While in both cities they end up assisting the local agencies (San Francisco's Rescue-2 and Seattle's Medic-One) with several rescues. The others were "Steel Inferno" (a high rise blaze), "Survival on Charter #220" (two airplanes crash over a residential neighborhood—at the time it was reportedly the most expensive TV-movie ever madefact|date=September 2007) and a finale in which the firefighter/paramedics are promoted to captain.
Nelson Riddleand Billy Mayare credited with the music for the series.
About the series
The series followed the early years of the
Paramedicprogram in the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) with the focus on the personnel of Fire Station 51, in particular Firefighter/Paramedics John Gage ( Randolph Mantooth) and Roy DeSoto( Kevin Tighe). The paramedics coordinated with the Emergency Room (ER) staff of Rampart General Hospital: Dr. Kelly Brackett (Robert Fuller), Dr. Joe Early ( Bobby Troup), Dr. Mike Morton (Ron Pinkard), and head nurse Dixie McCall( Julie London).
Other regular characters
The crew of Engine 51 was portrayed by
Chet Kelly(Tim Donnelly), Marco Lopez (Marco Lopez, an actor using his real name, is often confused as being an actual LACoFD firefighter), Mike Stoker (LACoFD firefighter Mike Stokeras himself), Captain Dick Hammer (LACoFD Captain Dick Hammer as himself, later John Smith, first season), Captain Hank Stanley(Michael Norell, remaining seasons). LACoFD Dispatcher Sam Lanier portrayed himself in an uncredited voice role (over the radio) throughout the series.
Marco Lopez spoke Spanish, and occasionally translated for the crew when a victim or onlooker spoke Spanish but no English. Lopez had done this occasionally on "Dragnet" as well. In the episode "Fools," Lopez and an onlooker speak Spanish using words and constructions not proper in real-life Spanish.
Other occasional regulars included Battalion Chiefs Conrad (Art Balinger) and McConnike (
William Boyett), Los Angeles CountySheriff's Deputy Vince ( Vince Howard), and recurring ambulanceattendants Albert "Al" (Angelo DeMeo) and his assistant, George (George Orrison).
The show highlighted the adventures of the then-fledgling paramedic program, and its popularity coincided with (and may have encouraged) the widespread establishment and improvement of emergency medical services paramedic programs across
North Americain the middle and late 1970s. Los Angeles County was one of the first communities - along with Seattle, Miami, and Pittsburgh- to start a paramedic program in connection with the fire department between 1969 and 1971. The show was also credited for demonstrating first aidtechniques that enabled some viewers to save lives in real medical emergencies. When the medical community saw that the general public were using First Aid and CPR in response to this show, they started the teaching programs for CPR in every state. However, the show later had to add a disclaimerstating that the first aid techniques demonstrated should only be performed by trained persons.
Actual local disasters were worked into some story lines, such as the 1971 Sylmar earthquake which destroyed the newly-completed Olive View Medical Center in the
San Fernando Valley; and a 1973 brush fire on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
pin-offs and crossovers
"Emergency!" was a third generation spin-off, having been spawned from "
Adam-12", which itself was spun off from Jack Webb's " Dragnet".
Characters from "Emergency!" and "Adam-12" crossover on two occasions. The police officers appeared in the pilot episode of "Emergency!", and the firefighter/paramedics appeared in the "Adam-12" episode titled "Lost and Found". Strangely, in a different episode of "Emergency!", there was a subplot in which the crew of Station 51 watched "Adam-12" as a television show. Further complicating things, is the fact that the Los Angeles "County" Fire Department does not serve the "City" of Los Angeles. This makes the crossover somewhat factually dubious, which is not typical of the ultra-realistic
The 905-Wild (1975) episode was the pilot for a new show created and produced by Jack Webb. The new series was to have been about the adventures of two Los Angeles County Animal Control officers, and the staff of a county
animal shelter. It didn't sell, and a following show was never made.
"Emergency!" spun-off an animated version called "
Emergency +4" which ran from 1973 to 1976, and featured four teenagers who participated in adventures with the firefighter/paramedics.
Johnny and Roy also appeared in the tenth episode of "Sierra", another Webb/Cinader production centered around a pair of
National Park Servicerangers, which appeared for only one season in 1974. In that episode, "The Urban Ranger", the two paramedics participate in mountain rescuetraining and get involved in many of the episode's subplots. Following recurring themes from "Emergency!", Johnny continues to fail in his attempts to get a date, while Roy briefly considers changing careers to become a park ranger. [http://www.emergencyfans.com/episodes/sierra.htm "Sierra X-Over,"] Emergencyfans.com. Accessed August 24, 2007.]
TV movies and comic books
From 1977 through 1979, the show returned as a series of "Movies of the Week". The movies included "Emergency: Survival on Charter #220 ", "Most Deadly Passage", "The Steel Inferno", "The Convention", "What's A Nice Girl Like You Doing...", and "Greatest Rescues Of Emergency". "Emergency: Survival on Charter #220" which was the first TV movie after the show was cancelled in 1977 and first aired in January 1978 would be the last time the entire original cast of the show was featured. After this, from "Most Deadly Passage" on, Gage and DeSoto were the sole original cast members in the remaining TV movies. The last movie aired "Greatest Rescues Of Emergency" aired on New Year's Eve 1978 and featured mainly flashbacks from the original series to the notable rescues and incidents involving Gage and DeSoto. The paramedics/firefighters were also promoted to captains in this final movie, capping the six season run of "Emergency" with a "happy ending" for both Gage and DeSoto.
The TV movies were in syndication on
TV Landduring 2001 and also were shown in syndication as two-part episodes starting in the 1980s. The "Most Deadly Passage" TV movie was actually considered a pilot for a proposed series "Medic 1 Seattle" about Seattle area EMS/Firefighters. Charlton Comicspublished several issues of an "Emergency!" comic book in the mid-1970s. One of the issues is notable for being among the earliest published work of John Byrne. [ [http://comics.org/series.lasso?SeriesID=2316 Grand Comics Database Project] , comics.org, accessed Feb. 8, 2008] Charlton also published four issues of an illustrated black-and-white magazine featuring art by Neal Adamsand others. [ [http://comics.org/series.lasso?SeriesID=2317 Grand Comics Database Project] , comics.org, accessed Feb. 8, 2008]
When the program was first syndicated in reruns, it went by the title "Emergency One!" starting in 1976 to avoid confusion with the new episodes still airing on Saturday nights on
NBCand continued to be called that when the TV movies aired as well. It would revert to "Emergency" in syndication in 1979. Renaming programs for syndication was commonplace until the 1980s. It is rarely seen today because the series is now owned by the Jack Webb Estate.
In early 2008, NBC made the first season of "Emergency!" available on its website, with full episodes available for free viewing. [cite web|url=http://www.nbc.com/Vintage_Shows/Emergency/|title=Vintage TV Shows|publisher=nbc.com]
Universal Studios Home Entertainmenthas released the first four seasons of "Emergency!" on DVD in Region 1.
Netflix Instant Play Releases
In addition, Netflix has most episodes of seasons five and six available to its subscribers.
Where Webb's "Dragnet" typically followed a pair of detectives investigating a single crime or a series of related crimes, "Emergency" typically followed the firefighters and paramedics of Station 51, and the Emergency Room staff of Rampart Hospital, through a series of incidents, some of which advance one or more overall plot threads that serve to unify the episode, and others of which are completely unrelated. Usually, the very first incident or its aftermath will begin the overall plot. Most episodes included at least one incident included strictly for comic relief, which usually involved someone or something humorously trapped in an unexpected yet basically harmless manner, yet which requires intervention by the crew of Station 51 and/or Rampart Hospital. Episodes frequently concluded with a spectacular fire or rescue taking up the entire final act, with the overall plot usually concluding in concurrence with the final incident in some way.
Where "Dragnet" and "
Adam-12" were half-hour shows, "Emergency," because of the greater scope of its format, was a full-hour series.
Fire apparatus, equipment, stations and personnel
The creators of "Emergency!" made significant efforts to accurately portray the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) by utilizing current apparatus and equipment in the series. Although a few key items were fictionalized, such as the identification of Station 51 and its equipment, many of the locations and apparatus reflected the operating reality of locations used in some filming. The extensive cooperation of the LACoFD is repeatedly apparent in the program.
The vehicle which portrayed Squad 51 was produced by Universal crews as an accurate replica of the units built in-house on stock truck chassis by LACoFD at the time. The LACoFD shops were unable to fulfill a request from Universal to build a unit for the show within the short deadline the studio asked, but did provide the
blueprints to Universal crews so the studio could build its own unit on a 1972 Dodge D300 chassis(this conversion was subsequently completed on a 1973 and 1974 Dodge D300 chassis as well). The replica's accuracy is evident in that after the filming of the show, the studio donated the unit to LACoFD in 1978, which pressed it into occasional service as a reserve unit before it was eventually retired from service.
In 1999, LACoFD donated the Universal-built squad to the County of Los Angeles Fire Museum Association [http://www.clafma.org/squad51.html] , and it has been restored by the museum and is housed in their South Gate warehouse at 8635 Otis St, South Gate, California. The warehouse is only open two times a year or by special arrangement.
The original Engine 51 was a 1965 open cab Crown Firecoach, and was portrayed by LACoFD Engine 127's 1965 Crown in stock footage at the fire station (in reality LACoFD Station 127), and by LACoFD Engine 60's 1965 Crown (the unit assigned to Universal Studios) for filming on the grounds of the studio. In a few isolated instances from the first and second seasons, the regular apparatus borrowed from LACoFD and used for filming appear to have been unavailable as some scenes show a slightly different vintage Crown Firecoach pumper, most evident by the different style of emergency lights on the cab's roof. The mixing of stock station and response footage with footage filmed for specific storylines created continuity errors by mixing these apparatus.
Beginning early in the third season and through the end of the series, Engine 51 was portrayed by a 1973
Ward LaFranceP80 Ambassador triple-combination pumper. LACoFD was purchasing numerous P80s at the time, and Ward LaFrance donated a P80 unit to Universal Studios specifically for use in the show. The Ward LaFrance Engine 51 was thus not a disguised unit and did not require the use of LACoFD resources for filming.
Engine 127's 1965 Crown, one of the two originally used for the show, was later refitted with a closed cab. Eventually it was placed into reserve status when Station 127 received a new engine. In its reserve capacity, it was serving temporarily as Engine 95 when it was involved in a serious collision. Beyond repair, it was salvaged for parts and sold as scrap. [ [http://modena.intergate.ca/personal/pl8s/Manifest/EMF_CWN_17.htm Engine 127 - Deceased] ] The County of Los Angeles Fire Museum Association now owns and has restored the 1965 Crown which formerly served as Engine 60 at Universal Studios [ [http://www.clafma.org/1965crown.html County of Los Angeles Fire Museum Association Collection - 1965 Crown Firecoach] ] and appeared most often as the Crown version of Engine 51, while the Ward LaFrance P80 Ambassador that portrayed Engine 51 remains in active service today as
Yosemite National Park's Engine 7. [ [http://www.geocities.com/cnf_e32/apparatus/E51/E51.htm Engine 51 at Yosemite National Park] ]
It was announced in June 2008 that the Ward LaFrance will be retired from active duty at Yosemite by the end of July 2008, and per terms of an agreement between the Park and the County of Los Angeles Fire Museum Association, the museum will assume ownership and add the Ward LaFrance to its collection.
Station 51 was portrayed by LACoFD
Fire station127, located at 2049 East 223rd Street (between Wilmington and Alameda Streets) in Carson, California(coor dms|33|49|28|N|118|14|18|W|city), and it is still in use today [ [http://lacountyfire.com/modules.php?name=Stations&stat=showStationdetail&stationNo=127 Los Angeles County Fire Station 127] ] . Universal was permitted to use the station number of "51" for the program because at that time there was no existing Station 51 since the closing of LACoFD Station 51, located near the intersection of Arlington Ave and Atlantic Ave, in the late 1960s due to the area being annexed by the city of Lynwood.
Station 127 was chosen for its natural lighting by series co-creator Robert A. Cinader, and the station was eventually named in his honor. A plaque honoring Robert A. Cinader is now mounted on the station, next to the office front door. At the time of filming, Station 127 housed Engine 127 and Truck 127.
For filming on location, Truck 127 was moved off-site and replaced with Universal's Squad 51, while Engine 127 was disguised as Engine 51. After Universal obtained the 1972 Ward LaFrance for Engine 51, both of Station 127's companies would be replaced by Universal's Engine 51 and Squad 51 for filming on location. While some filming of scenes set at Station 51 were done on sets at the studio, these sets accurately recreated the interior of Station 127.
Despite being "kicked out" of their own station for filming, Truck 127 still appeared in numerous episodes under its own callsign. The Carson location of Station 127 was directly referenced in one episode where a phone call was traced to a house "in Carson" that Engine 51 and Squad 51 eventually responded to.
"KMG365", which is said by the crewmember acknowledging a call for a unit at Station 51, is a real FCC
call signused by LACoFD, and it appears on the Station Patch for Station 127, which today still houses Engine 127 and Truck 127 (now known as Light Force 127) as well as Foam 127.
In a nod to the lasting cultural impact of the show, LACoFD officially changed the designation of the fire station located on the grounds of Universal Studios from Station 60 to Station 51 in 1994, over twenty years after the debut of "Emergency!". The companies at Station 60 were also changed so that this station is now indeed the home of Engine 51 and Squad 51 as well as Patrol 51 [ [http://lacountyfire.com/modules.php?name=Stations&stat=showStationdetail&stationNo=51 Los Angeles County Fire Station 51] ] .
Rampart General Hospital
At the time of filming, Rampart General Hospital was portrayed by Harbor General Hospital, located in
Torrance, Californiaat 1000 West Carson Street, the intersection of Vermont Avenue and Carson Street at coor dms|33|49|49|N|118|17|30|W|city. The pairing of Station 127 and Harbor General as "Station 51" and "Rampart" was accurate, since if a squad had actually been quartered at Station 127, it would likely have operated from Harbor General Hospital, since they are only 2.1 miles (3.4 km) apart. Truck 127 appeared in one episode where a rescue event occurred at Rampart (Harbor General), as the hospital really is in Truck 127's "first-due" district.
In 1978, by the approval of the
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Harbor General Hospital was renamed as Harbor-UCLA Medical Center[http://www.humc.edu/calendar/ca6070.html] .
Los Angeles County Fire Dispatch
Footage of a dispatcher used during the show appears to have been filmed at the LACoFD dispatch center in East Los Angeles. The screen he looked at to see the street maps is a rear projection from a Kodak Carousel projector built into the console. The man was actual LACoFD dispatcher Sam Lanier, who also lent his voice as the dispatcher for the show's entire run.
During a portion of the first season, LACoFD Captain Dick Hammer portrayed himself as a Station 51 Captain.
Firefighter Mike Stokerportrayed himself throughout the entire run of the series as a driver/engineer of Engine 51. Since Stoker possessed a Screen Actors Guildcard, it was helpful to Universal to have an actor who was also fully trained and qualified to actually drive and operate Engine 51. Stoker retired from the LACoFD as a Captain in 1996.
LACoFD Dispatcher Sam Lanier, although rarely seen on camera, portrayed himself as a dispatcher in virtually every episode. Despite being the recognizable voice over the radio sending Station 51 and other LACoFD crews to all sorts of emergencies, he was never listed in the show's credits.
Numerous uncredited LACoFD personnel were used throughout the course of the series when other actual LACoFD units were utilized during filming.
* The character "John Gage" was named for James O. Page, a LACoFD battalion chief in charge of development of the paramedic rescue squads who was a technical advisor to Webb and Cinader. Page went on to become a lawyer and publisher of the Journal of Emergency Medical Services. Originally, Cinader requested that Randolph Mantooth's character be named after Page, but he turned it down.
The tones heard before the station alarm is activated are actual
Motorola" Quik Call I" codes, which were used by LACoFD until the 1990s. At the time of filming, an LACoFD station's main base stationradio was usually in "quiet" mode, so the crew on duty wouldn't have to hear every transmission over the fire channel at all hours. Although only two tones could be heard for each station dispatched to an alarm, the Quik Call system actually used two sets of tones (four total) to activate station alarms. When a dispatcher selected one or more stations to be "toned out", the Quik Call system would transmit the first set of tones which would unsquelch the radio at one or more stations and turn on their loudspeakers, closely followed by a second set of tones for each individual station which could be heard and which activated the intended station's alarm klaxon. The Quik Call tones for station 51 were LZPZ-HZKZ, also known as 1 second of 794.3 Hz + 1084.0 Hz followed by 3 seconds of 582.1 Hz + 716.7 Hz (the third tone was just a loud buzzer).
The electrocardiograph (ECG or EKG) machine used in the show was a Datascope model 850 Dual Trace Physiological Monitor. This model came out in 1971 and was the first portable, battery rechargeable unit of its time. Its original price was $2000.00. The paramedics also carried some medical equipment in a black model "PF-3300" Old Pal tackle box, which was commonly used by LACoFD at the time. The other medical gear
terminologyand jargon, and emergency medical practices at the time were usually represented as faithfully and accurately as possible, although the results of some rescue efforts were frequently dramatized to the point of the occasional unlikely outcome. Because of the attention to detail, there were times when the actors had some difficulty pronouncing the "medical" words in the show convincingly, so some scenes show the characters from the back or behind a mask, which allowed them to dub in the correct pronunciations at a later time.
The protective clothing that the firefighters wore, including the MSA Topguard helmets, as well as nearly all other equipment such as insignia, were standard LACoFD issue at the time.
Bobby Troup and Julie London had been married since 1959, well before being cast as Dr. Joe Early and Nurse Dixie McCall in "Emergency!". The role of Dixie McCall was originally written as a love interest for the character of Dr. Kelly Brackett, though the on-screen romance between Brackett and McCall was gradually downplayed and eventually ignored during the course of the series. London had previously been married to producer Jack Webb from 1947 to 1953, though the divorce seems to have been amicable as Webb had also previously cast Troup for roles in "Dragnet" and "
Adam-12". Troup and London remained married until his death in 1999.
List of firefighting films
Glossary of firefighting equipment
Glossary of firefighting terms
* [http://www.emergencyfans.com/ emergencyfans.com]
* [http://www.clafma.org County of Los Angeles Fire Museum Association]
* [http://modena.intergate.ca/personal/pl8s/E!MFC.htm Emergency! Equipment Manifest - A collection of information regarding the makes, models and procedures used on the show]
* [http://hvfd.com/hvfd/component/option,com_gallery2/Itemid,73/?g2_view=core.ShowItem&g2_itemId=8790 Emergency! Fest Fan Event Photo Gallery]
* [http://www.policeinterceptor.com/emerg.htm Los Angeles County Fire dispatch tone archive]
* [http://www.geocities.com/cnf_e32/apparatus/E51/E51.htm Pictures of former "Engine 51" now in service as Engine 7 for YCS Fire]
* [http://www.firefightersrealstories.com/yosemite.html More pictures of YCS Engine 7 (with license plate "YCS E51")]
* [http://www.hulu.com/emergency Emergency!] at
hulu.com(watch full episodes - not available outside the US)
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