If you recognize the title of this post, chances are you were probably a fan of the television series "Emergency" back in the 1970's. The series focused on the paramedics and firefighters from the fictional Squad 51 in Los Angeles, back when paramedics were a new idea. The show was immensely popular during it's run, and recently I discovered it was being rerun on a local channel. I was thrilled, I was a huge fan as a kid, I can remember my friends and I pretending to be Squad 51. What I never realized is just how important this show was to how first responders were perceived and how the job evolved.
When "Emergency" premiered in the US back in 1972, there were only 12 such paramedic units in the entire country!!! 10 years later, more than half of the people in the country were within 10 minutes of a paramedic or ambulance unit. Imagine the number of lives saved just from that improvement. Response times under certain circumstances can be crucial and this increase improved chances considerably.
What I also found very interesting is that several of the actors who played some of the parts were firefighters in real life! Those that weren't went through training sessions to make what they were doing on screen look accurate. Actor Randolph Mantooth, who played Fireman/Paramedic John Gage throughout the run of the series continued speaking on behalf of various firefighting organizations and has educated/influenced many young people in pursuing careers in these fields long after the show ended. I don't know of too many television shows that can say that they were such a positive influence in the health and well being of so many.
I recently had my own experience with first responders, and I just have to say thank you to this show for changing the face of medicine. We came home from Mexico last week and I was sick with the flu, so sick that before it was over with, I was having major medical issues and my husband had to call for help. There was absolutely no way he could have gotten me to an emergency room without assistance. I was amazed at the speed in which the paramedics showed up, assessed my situation and helped me out. It made what could have been an incredibly stressful situation much easier to deal with, and I have to thank these guys for their professionalism. I spent 3 days in the hospital, but I can't help but wonder how much longer it might have been had it not been for the knowledge they had and their quick response.
So, now when I watch one of my favorite old shows from my childhood, I will most definitely see it from a completely different angle. Thank you to the creators, writers, actors and all who helped make it a success. What a tremendous contribution this show has been to the paramedic field and the lives of those who benefitted. I bow to you all.