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Basically,it was a show about paramedics but a whole lot more. The show not only follow the lives of two paramedics DeSoto(played by Kevin Tighe),and Gage(played by Randolph Mantooth)at Station 51 of the Los Angeles County Fire Department who risk their lives saving people in daring but sometimes dangerous situations,but it also follows the staff and doctors at Mayfair Rampart General Hospital,particularly the details in the lives of Dr. Brackett(played by Robert Fuller),and Dr. Early(played by Bobby Troup),and the head nurse McCall(played by 50's recording artist Julie London). Its premiere episode from January 15,1972(which was also the pilot episode of the series)was the most gripping ever,which in turn begins the partnership of Gage and Desoto and the situations they encounter(which in a riveting and powerful episode Nurse McCall is injured when she tries to save a woman from a burning car hanging inches over a steep cliff,and its up to Gage and Desoto in a race against time to save them both). This also featured in the pilot episode Martin Milner and Kent McCord from "Adam-12"(also another successful Jack Webb produced series for NBC).
The producer and creator of this show was Jack Webb(the man who was Joe Friday from Dragnet)who made "Emergency!" one of the best action- adventure series ever to come out of the 1970's which during that time he was producing shows like "Adam-12","The District Attorney aka "The D.A.",and "O'Hara-US Treasury")and it was so successful on its prime time Saturday night line-up against strong competition with "The Mary Tyler Moore Show",and "All In The Family". The series was such a colossal hit that NBC also green lighted under the supervision of Jack Webb its own Saturday Morning cartoon show under the title "Emergency Plus-4" that aired on NBC's Saturday Morning schedule on September 8,1973 featuring the voices of Randolph Mantooth and Kevin Tighe.
Hopefully, Nick at Night or TVLand will keep these great shows around forever.
P.S. Ringers lactate and D5W - fluids given to help stabilize the body when in shock.
I was grateful that full seasons were available on DVD. Since I finished my quest to acquire some of these, I have been watching them observing their principal features; getting a lot of enjoyment from the realism of the plots and the pursuits used to make diagnoses in those times. Realism was also very, very faithful. Only once did I note that a couple of amps of sodium bicarbonate were not given following an episode of cardiac arrest. And in an early episode I saw an elderly patient who was dehydrated given D5 and ½ Normal Saline so it was not all D5&W or Ringer's Lactate.
Quite enjoyable is seeing the technology and equipment in use at the time, (not to mention the clothing we wore then: polyester shirts and double-knit trousers). As one of the first PAs, we were taught to employ even more ancient technology at a time when physicians actually touched their patients instead of reviewing test results. An example was the use of chest percussion to evaluate lung condition and heart size. The further use of abdominal palpation and percussion to determine liver size, locate areas possibly containing fluid, and the use of the other senses such as observing the patient's coloration, and the particulars of smell such as might occur with exposure to foreign agents.
I had forgotten the ancient Datascope cathode ray tube monitor that one had to really concentrate on to recognize the electrical processes going on within the heart. Other ancient CRT systems were used and only recently did I see the same style of equipment one viewed in early days of a heart echocardiogram and skull echoencephalogram. Today we especially appreciate having the modern automated blood pressure apparatus, the likewise modern method of obtaining body temperature, pulse and respiration, oxygen saturation and the modern twelve lead EKG taken all leads simultaneously, and all seen on one sheet.
Too, it is a trip into the past to hear the names and uses of older medications which have been largely replaced today. Today the common aspirin can have life-saving properties when chewed and swallowed during an acute episode of chest pain due to arterial compromise. Another medication is still used which goes back centuries, and is the best pain reliever known, morphine sulfate. Conversely, I saw an earlier episode of poisoning of a child who ingested the wild version of the ancient poison used by Socrates, hemlock.
One of the first things interestingly noted is the apparent absence of use of the then commonly available rudimentary automobile seat belt. In 1974 I did not have a newer car, being too poor, but my old 1970 Chevy did have seat belts. In each episode you see Gage and DeSoto bolting into the Dodge, putting on their fireman's hats, and roaring off to the scene.
I have to comment on the acting skills of physicians Dr. Brackett, Dr. Early and RN nurse McCall. I seem to remember that Robert Fuller's earlier acting life had principally been in western films. I have to say that both of these physician-surgeons did justice to their high honors as Fellows of the American College of Surgeons (FACS), though seldom seen in actual operating room surgery scenes. Today the emergency physicians most likely are Fellows of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), which by the way, was even around in 1968 though trained, board certified physicians in the specialty were still in a minority.
Julie London is particularly memorable, having first known of her as what came to be called a "torch-singer," and a principal one who succeeded greatly in the recording industries. Her albums continue to sell and entertain today, probably 50 years after they were recorded. A particular effort was noticeably made by the writers to portray her breakthroughs in reaching significantly proper conclusions and discerning facts.
Having been one of the first five hundred PAs, I have an understanding of the problems facing the early EMTs. Today they fill expanded roles and are permitted to function in a similar manner as PAs, using their education and training to make decisions in the field and to initiate many life-saving procedures without first getting "permission" from a supervising physician. Like us, they do follow established protocols and are also said to be under physician supervision at all times, though this does not mean they have to be supervised "over-the-shoulder" as in earlier times such as during training.
I am not completely through the first season of episodes I received, which unfortunately came out-of-order, and I look forward to seeing the first season when it arrives. Likely I will complete the set as I have a lot of time to view material now, having been retired for 8 years. I was not a youngster when I began my education at Wichita State University in 1973.
It is also noteworthy to follow the changes in the emergency transport vehicles from the old style Hearse-types, to a similar version with an extended upper roofline. Then the first two-tiered stretcher square-shaped van, becoming later seen as the full size custom made coachwork of the modern mobile intensive care capable vehicles in general use today in most locales on North America.
I highly recommend this series and echo most of the remarks made by earlier writers such as how it was the landmark presentation whose success made succeeding series possible and of interest to us viewers. My hat is off to all who had any hand in the production of Emergency! Thanks all!
Although some of the technology and terminology is outdated now, most of it is surprisingly still in use! The dramatic component..that rescues don't always succeed..is refreshingly real in comparison to Baywatch, where CPR always works and no one dies unless their character has to be killed off. But the humour is there too, just as it is in the locker rooms of firehalls and police stations all over.
A minor comment about Gage's lack of musical abilities prompts him to take up the bagpipes, among other instruments, and the ongoing practical jokes played by Kelly add greatly to the humanity of the show. In fact, I strongly suspect that most of the incidents portrayed on the show actually happened.. Most of them are far too ridiculous to have been invented by some writer!
A great show from days gone by...if only they'd do as well now..
Also, this was one of the most ironic shows on television due to the fact that Jack Webb not only hired his ex-wife and her current husband to play two of the leads. That had to make it very interesting in production meetings.
Another similar thing is the action. Being set in a fire house & on the streets often on calls, Emergency has it's fair share of action sequences. Most of them are very well done too. One difference between this & Adam-12 is that it is set in a 60 minute format so the stories could be bigger & more extensive.
This had to be an easy sell to NBC execs, as you have the experienced Jack Webb production team who seems to endlessly come up with good action stories & endlessly keeps finding cast members that play off each other well. This show was a very good show.
Once again, rerun heaven for it might be established once it is released on DVD, as it might pick up some fans.
For instance, the show generally worked on a strict formula. The typical episode generally had some expository action at the fire station to set up the humour subplot just before the station is called up for a dispatch. After that, the episode generally alternates the action with the paramedics responding to calls which themselves alternate with the serious and trivial while the staff of Rampart Hospital follow up. At the end, the fire crew typically responds to a major emergency, typically a big fire with explosions. In between the calls, there is the humour subplot at the station with is typically a bunch of comedic piffle which often involves the paramedic crew trying out a scheme to find another career outside the service. I typically mute those scenes which unfortunately often means missing their cool dispatch klaxon.
With that being said, the show still is a thrill when the characters focus on their jobs, The rescue sequences are exciting affairs that show excellent production values in a time when American network TV could pull in the audience numbers to justify the budgets for those spectacular scenes.
In short, this series is still wonderful viewing on a late saturday night, but more frequent viewings would wear it out for the viewer. However on a weekly basis, its a fun view.
Emergency kept the pace fast and interesting with a combination of strange, dramatic, and even humorous cases. More unusual cases I remember from the series include the rescue of a boy trapped inside his own homemade rocket, a man who has difficulty breathing because he has swallowed his partial dental plate, an amateur magician trapped in a safe, a bank robbery hostage has symptoms of a heart attack and the paramedics have to treat him at gunpoint, a patient with an earache caused by mothballs, and an artist trapped inside his own sculpture.
The personal side of Emergency is interesting too. The chemistry between paramedics John Gage and Roy DeSoto is great and their various misadventures are frequently humorous. They're good friends but quite different people. Roy is a family man through and through, and John is a carefree single guy. I remember one particularly funny conversation in which John is actually thinking about marriage but is not sure he and the girl have known each other long enough. He asks Roy how long he knew his wife before they got married and Roy says 12 years. When John says that is a ridiculous period of time to wait, Roy mentions that he and his wife met in the fourth grade. That's a pretty typical conversation for the two. I highly recommend this series. If you've never seen it, even though medicine has changed drastically, it is still good entertainment. Highly recommended.
I am a big fan of Emergency! It is nice to watch a show where I agree with almost everything that they are doing and saying. I guess that probably dates me, but I don't really care. What I do care about is the fact that this was, and is in my opinion still a great show that anyone can watch or purchase online as well.
Hopefully there will be others out there along with me who would like to see an updated form of Emergency! on television right now without all of the violence, swearing, sexual content and car scenes that were not needed to make Emergency! a great show! They did have their fair share of explosions and fire which was okay. Firefighters have to deal with fire and explosion and a series dealing with firefighters that didn't encounter those two elements would be suspect.
And since Emergency! can be found Online for both watching and purchasing, and can be found on NBC as stated as well as Netflix, I would think it could be found other places as well.
If you like Emergency! as well as I than perhaps we will have a bit of the 70s back into our lives on a regular basis or a new version of the same show updated.
I can still recall every saturday night at 8:00 PM on channel 4 before we even had cable T.V. tuning in to station 51 with roy desoto and johnny gage along with chet kelly, marco lopez, mike stoker and capt. hank stanly. it was my ultimate escape from reality for being only knee-high to a grasshopper at that time I was probably the only kid in america who got more enjoyment in watching this show than watching monday night football.There seems to be three different stories in each episode that are running in a straight line, the victims, the firefighters and the staff of rampart general hospital all having to cope with measures that require immediate action leading us as the viewer never to a dull moment but always in a constant state of sitting out to climax.