In the episode "Firehouse Four" (4x11), Johnny asks Dixie if she knows anything about singing. Her response? "A little." The actress who plays Dixie, Julie London, was a successful vocalist in real life. Also in the pilot, when Dr. Joe Early, while playing piano at a party, greets Dr. Brackett with an impromptu song. Brackett jokingly responds, "You know for a doctor he plays . . pretty bad." Early was played by noted jazz singer/songwriter Bobby Troup, most famous in the music industry for Nat King Cole's hit song "Route 66."
Chief Houtz visits the station in one episode and told John to cut his hair. This was probably a dig at Randolph Mantooth's preference at the time for long hair. He initially refused the role of John Gage because he'd have to cut it so he'd look like a regulation firefighter, and it was said the production staff had to tell him to get a haircut quite a few times.
In "The Nuisance", John is hit in the right side, but Brackett says his left leg bones are broken
Most episode entries here have at least one or two more. They include vehicle and uniform switches, actors changing locations,changes in the amount of daylight in scenes, a number of equipment and procedure gaffes, and actors' names getting used rather than the character names.
In most of the large-scale incidents where units other than Engine/Squad 51 appear, the other firefighters are actually firefighters. Similarly, Engine 51's driver Mike Stoker was played by Los Angeles County firefighter Mike Stoker, Captain Dick Hammer in the first season was an LACoFD captain, and the uncredited dispatcher was really a county dispatcher. Bob Bellveau, a real life member of the original LACoFD paramedic class, appeared in a few episodes As Himself, though in the background.
In Mike Stoker's case, it was because the fire department wasn't about to let an actor drive an expensive, complex fire engine and possibly damage it. Instead, they looked for a firefighter who had an actor's union card or was willing to get one and Stoker filled the bill.
The Cameo: Dozens of Hollywood stars, from undiscovered to well-known, played victims and patients throughout the series.
Kareem-Abdul Jabbar played a victim trapped in his car.
Dick Van Patten had his finger stuck in a faucet in one episode, lampshaded in a Nick-at-Night promo.
Football star and actor Dick Butkus had one of his very first TV roles as a retired linebacker with a broken ankle.
The cast of Adam-12 appear in a few episodes ... even though one episode has characters watching the TV show! Kent McCord of Adam-12 also makes a cameo appearance in the Emergency! blooper reel.
The Danza: Firemen Marco Lopez, Mike Stoker and Capt. Dick Hammer, played by...Marco Lopez, Mike Stoker and Dick Hammer. The latter two were both Real Life firefighters, too. Hammer's character becomes The Other Darrin for at least one episode during season one. The real Hammer decided to go back into full-time firefighting and another actor, credited as "John Smith", took over the role. During the end credits of Smith's first episode, "Hang Up," he's billed as Captain Hammer. For the next episode, "Crash," Smith is credited simply as "Captain."
Dawson Casting: An unusual example of this trope being applied in a non-school scenario. In the original pilot movie (filmed in 1971), Nurse Dixie McCall is described as being approximately 30 years old. The actress, Julie London, was actually in her mid-40s at the time.
The Squad 51 rescue truck was built by the Universal props department to specs provided to them by the Los Angeles County Fire Department. They did such a good job that when the series was finished, the truck was donated to the LACoFD, where it put in another 20 years of service, before being retired to the Los Angeles County Fire Museum.
There was no Station 51 in the LACoFD at the time of the series, but in 1994 Station 60, which is located on the Universal Lot, was renamed Station 51.
Most people in the 70s hadn't even heard of the term "paramedic," but this show demonstrated what paramedics do and their value in real life, allowing the idea to propagate throughout jurisdictions in the United States. Modern prehospital medicine hence evolved from throwing a patient into an ambulance and hauling ass to the hospital, to treating the patient on scene and providing stabilizing treatment en route, ensuring patient survival. Compare that to a contemporary series, The Streets of San Francisco, where a critically wounded cop is rushed to the hospital and nothing is done for him en route beyond Lt. Mike Stone holding his hand sympathetically. As a result, it looks criminally negligent to modern viewers to see an emergency patient being transported like that without being treated along the way.
Directed by Cast Member: Randolph Mantooth directed 2 episodes; his character spent one of them in the hospital after being hit by a car in The Teaser, but he still had a lot of screen time. Kevin Tighe directed several episodes, writing another, and Michael Norell wrote 4.
The stars playing the paramedics, Tighe and Mantooth, took the regular paramedic training regime, and apart from skipping the final certification exam, were otherwise fully qualified as the real thing.
Despite being a recognizable actor in his own right, Randy Mantooth is still associated with his role as Johnny Gage to the point that he still speaks at fire service and EMS conferences, and rides along with the LAFD to this day. Also sometimes a bit of I Am Not Spock. He's said he likes to remember it as an important part of his life while still moving on to new roles.
Dyeing for Your Art: Kevin Tighe's hair slowly darkens over the course of the first few seasons. He was required to dye it a lighter color at first in order to play up the show's Adam-12 parallel - a strawberry-blond veteran paired with a brunette rookie. As the show gained in popularity, Tighe's hair was allowed to return to its natural dark auburn color.
There were probably more than a few fans disappointed that Nurse Dixie and Dr. Early never got together to sing a few jazz tunes on their off hours. (Though, as noted in "Actor Allusion", above, they couldn't resist in the pilot having Early play a little and Dixie joking about singing in a later episode. But sadly, no Musical Episode was ever produced.)
In "Fools", Bobby Sherman played an arrogant, young intern who rode with the Squad after a near-fatal diagnosis of a heart patient, and after seeing them in action, he considered becoming a paramedic. Shortly after this episode aired, Sherman left the public spotlight to become a police officer and EMT.
This video has Kevin and Randy discussing how they helped out in a Real Life incident very similar to the episode "The Stewardess", when they were on a plane shortly after the episode aired.
Randolph Mantooth suffered carbon monoxide poisoning sometime in the sixth season, due to a malfunctioning furnace at home. Someone went to check on him when he didn't show up for work and found him passed out. The police dismissed it as yet another Hollywood overdose, but the real life paramedics recognized his symptoms. The level of CO in his blood was said to be above what is usually fatal, leaving the doctors surprised he lived. One possibility is that his smoking habit might have made his body able to tolerate more CO than normal to begin with, letting him survive even with that much. Since then, Mantooth has been a strong supporter of carbon monoxide awareness and detection.
Much more recently, Mantooth saw an accident and stopped to help, even helping the real paramedics a bit when they arrived.
Lost Episode: Kind of. "Richter Six" never got filmed due to a writer's strike. Summary of the script is here. At least one scene seems to have been recycled for later, as there's an episode where Chet gets trapped in debris and hurts his arm just as in the script. Other scrubbed episodes were "The Long Weekend" and "The High Rise", although "The High Rise" appears to have been rewritten as the movie "The Steel Inferno". Info on these episodes can be found in this episode guide.
Name's the Same: Mike Stoker has often been rumored to be trying to get into politics. This, however, is another Mike Stoker from California. The fan confusion isn't hard to understand.
Person as Verb: Brand new paramedics (and paramedic students) are sometimes still told not to "pull a Johnny Gage" or "Johnny & Roy" pre-loaded syringe caps, or flip them off with a thumb like John in the syndication opening. They risk shooting the thing into someone's face if they do it.
A minor one. The original actor playing the recurring character Craig Brice could not appear in the "Greatest Rescues" movie due to another project, and a different actor played him when he was promoted to Captain along with Gage and Desoto. The odd thing was, the second actor was a black man.
Given that the vehicles used on this show were as much the stars as the humans (well, for young fans, anyway), over time Squad 51, the engines, and even the ambulances evolve into newer, more state-of-the-art (for the 1970s) vehicles.
The Red Stapler: The show is popularly thought to be the best advertisement about the merits of the paramedic program ever and lots of cities and counties started setting up their own. Pretty much lampshaded in one episode when Gage and DeSoto, after being involved in a rescue in a rural area outside their jurisdiction and which couldn't afford to run its own paramedics even after seeing their value, described a system of volunteer emergency medical responders such a region could set up to the local sherriff.
Since this show ran, this trope is played both straight and subverted: paramedics are now allowed to operate largely on their own in the field with more sophisticated equipment, but that means the communications equipment such as the remote EKG telemetry feed is no longer used.
Ambulance drivers have long since become more than glorified medical chauffeurs since it is now standard that paramedics drive the ambulances themselves.
Randolph Mantooth was not Jack Webb's first choice to play John Gage, although it is unknown who was.
Gage was originally going to be named James Cage, after a real life paramedic, but Cage and the department weren't happy with the plan. So, the character was named John Gage instead.
Webb first approached the Los Angeles Fire Department, hoping to use it as he had the police department already, but they turned him down. That's why Emergency! takes place with the county fire department-which serves the areas that the city fire department does not cover-instead.
John Gage does more high-altitude rescues than Roy DeSoto because actor Kevin Tighe is somewhat afraid of heights. Randolph Mantooth, on the other hand, wasn't overly fond of spending a lot of time in the water.
John's Land Rover was Randolph Mantooth's own vehicle. It and his home in Malibu were both totaled in a rather infamous wildfire in the late 70s. Roy's Porsche apparently also belonged to Kevin Tighe.
One of the show's engines remained at Yosemite National Park until 2008. Both engines and the squad are now at the Los Angeles County Fire Museum.
L.A. County Station 127 provides the exterior for Station 51, and Rampart was played by Harbor UCLA Medical Center.
Neither Randolph Mantooth nor Robert Fuller initially took the parts they were offered. Mantooth liked his hair long and knew he'd need to cut it for the role. He says his agent knew that it was a good opportunity and basically told him to "Sit and shut up" and take it. Fuller was a longtime western actor and still hoped they would make a comeback. He was told "You don't understand, Jack Webb wants you and no one else for this part", and eventually took it.