#AtoZchallenge: History of Paramedicine -M is for (Randy) Mantooth

Those who know me know that one of the biggest interests is in the area of Fire/EMS (though I am not, myself a Firefighter or an EMT/Paramedic).  I decided this year to do my A-Z Challenge using the theme “History of Paramedicine….

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AtoZ-MSo, who here has not heard about the TV show Emergency! No hands going up?!?…..  Ok, who has not heard of the character Johnny Gage played by Randolph Mantooth??  Still no hands — Didn’t think so. I think pretty much everyone (and certainly most everyone who is either involved or interested in the Fire/EMS world) knows of Randy Mantooth and the character he played on Emergency!

I’m not going to go into a lot of history about Randy Mantooth in the years before Emergency! as that (and the years following) are to be the focus of this post.  However, here are a few tidbits:

    • Full Name: Randolph Donald Mantooth.
    • Born on Sept 19, 1945 in Sacramento, CA.
    • Of Seminole descent (I believe I read one-half)
    • Father was a Construction Worker
    • Lived in 24 States  as a child before settling down and being raised in Santa Barbara
    • Alma Mater: American Academy of Dramatic Arts

Mantooth acted in many TV series and movies, but none seems to have given the claim to fame that Emergency! did.   Many a Firefighter and Paramedic (as well as other Public Service Professionals) made the decision to go into the field they did because of watching Johnny Gage (played by Randy Mantooth) and Roy DeSoto (played by Kevin Tighe) performing “heroic rescues” and saving lives.   Randy Mantooth was Producer Jack Webb’s first choice to play John Gage.  {A little tidbit:  The character John Gage was originally to be named Jim Page, after the late James O Page, but Mr. Page begged that this not happen as he was already receiving a lot of slack due to his involvement in the newly developing Paramedicine.}  At first, Randy was not interested in the part, but he eventually came on-board at the insistence of Producer Jack Webb.

In order to give the impression that they knew what they were doing, Randy Mantooth and Kevin Tighe sat it on paramedic classes and rode along with the LA County Fire Department.  However, they did not take the written exams and Mantooth is quoted to say, “If anyone has a heart attack, I’ll call 911 with the best of them”

Over the years, since the series end in 1979, Randy Mantooth has continued to be involved in Fire and EMS Advocacy and has spoken at a variety of events across the United States.  He has served as a board member “Project 51” a non-profit organization that not only celebrated the impact of the TV show Emergency! but honors those in the Fire/EMS profession as well.  Randy Mantooth has received countless awards and recognition but is quick to pay tribute to the “True Heroes”.

Some of the ways Randy Mantooth has been involved in Fire/EMS:

    • Honorary chairman and spokesperson for the non-profit County of Los Angeles Fire Museum Association
    • Lifetime member of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT)
    • Lifetime member of the Washington DC-based Advocates for EMS
    • Moderator recently in a project done in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Fire Museum, Pioneers of Paramedicine
    • Spokesperson for International Association of Firefighters (on Health and Safety)
    • Spokesperson International Association of Fire Chiefs

A few places you can find Randy Mantooth online:

Quote: “….If you’re a firefighter…an EMT…a paramedic — you’re my hero.”   (my response:  AMEN!!)

Sources:
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Check out the other A-to-Z Challenge Participants

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