Emergency! celebrates 40 years

40 years ago yesterday (January 15, 1972) The television show Emergency! premiered.  (Emergency! Fans check this website) “KMG365 Squad 51 responding”…….. “Rampart, We’re on our way”…..

I remember watching reruns of the television show Emergency! as a pre-teen/young teen back in the mid eighties, and like most young women had a huge crush on the character Johnny Gage. He was, I’ll admit, one of the main reasons for watching the show. That and the excitement of watching Johnny & Roy (and the rest of station 51 put out fires and rescue people. In pretty much every show, Johnny & Roy would find themselves involved in a tricky rescue and/or would find themselves having to deal w/ a tricky patient. As a “child” I didn’t know all the things I know now and there is a lot that I didn’t understand.

Watching the show Emergency! as an adult I see things in a whole new perspective. Although I am not a Firefighter EMT or Paramedic and am not, in any way, officially involved in the Fire or EMS program I have had some involvement with firefighters and paramedics over the years; As well as earning my EMT many years ago (which included doing ride-alongs). Randy Mantooth (who played Johnny Gage in the show) once said (if I am quoting correctly), on a video of the L.A. County Fire Museum event, that Robert A. Cinader wanted the show to be as real as possible – “If L.A. doesn’t have it, we don’t have it; If L.A doesn’t do it, we don’t do it.” From what little I’ve experienced over the years I believe that, for the most part, they have succeeded in the area.

Emergency! was filmed & premiered when paramedicine was in it’s infancy at it was paramount in sharing with the general public about paramedics and what they do. A lot of what was portrayed in the show were things that paramedics had to contend with back then: Doctors who didn’t believe in the work they did; Victims who only wanted to be cared for by a “qualified doctor” and not some “untrained firefighter”.  

Paramedicine has come along way since that time. Pretty much every firefighter nationwide is certified as an EMT-I and while there are still difficult patients, most everyone knows who & what a EMT/Paramedic is and recognizes their ability to provide medical care in an emergency. Paramedics now have a wide variety of “Standing Orders” that allow them to quickly treat & stabilize patients in the field. Rather than having to wait for approval as they had to do in the past.  Paramedics can now treat and then advice the “base station” doctor a to what they have done.

It is Thanks to Emergency! that the public became aware of EMS and Paramedicine. Infact, many people who watched the show back then as children went on to become firefighters and paramedics. I know that it was one of the reasons that I have had such an interest in the work of firefighters and the EMS program; And, one of the reasons I decided to get my EMT-I as a young adult (now if I had only kept current on that).

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