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Series / Emergency

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The core cast of Emergency! note 

Emergency! is the first TV show to show the lives of paramedics. This was a very well-done and medically accurate show which inspired countless children to want to be in Squad 51, and supposedly many communities to get their own paramedics. An hour-long drama, it had elements of comedy, drama, angst, and many other things in its episodes, and though it had a shorter run, could be said to be a domestic version of one of the best shows ever in the field, M*A*S*H. It was also responsible for popularizing nationwide the concept of paramedics. One technical advisor to the show went on to overhaul another EMS system two decades later.

The origin of the show was when TV producer Robert A. Cinader came to Los Angeles to look into creating a standard Medical Drama. Once there, he learned of the paramedic program, which was just getting started, and realized it was a dynamite idea to create a show based around these brave special firefighters rushing about rescuing people. Executive producer Jack Webb of Dragnet fame added his trademark strict attention to accuracy, the Los Angeles County Fire Department threw in its complete support for the production, and the first and most famous live-action Rescue TV show was born.


Even today, the show inspires many, many people to become Firefighter-EMTs and paramedics. It's a fair bet that any EMT/paramedic in the U.S. and Canada who started work between 1979 and 1995 was inspired by this show either in its first run or reruns. More broadly, the series is popularly credited in encouraging the widespread adoption of the emergency service across North America, which could be credited in eventually saving a untold number of people in distress with the service established in their area.

Followed/accompanied — as was virtually standard practice in the 1970s — by a comic book series and an animated Saturday morning series, Emergency +4, in which the Emergency paramedics were saddled with the requisite four kids and dog. After the live-action show ended, six made-for-TV movies aired in the late '70s; Gage and DeSoto were the only regular characters to appear in all six films.


At the end of 2016, the show had ended its run on MeTV, an over-the-air network that is usually on the .2 signal of a network affiliate (Example: KAKE Ch. 10.2 in Wichita, Kansas.), and at the beginning of 2017, it is now playing on Cozi TV. It's also available on Netflix and Hulu, as well as NBC's classic television webpage. The entire series has also been released on DVD in season anthologies (with the made-for-TV movies comprising a seventh collection "The Final Rescues"); the pilot movie is included in the Season 1 collection.

In April of 2022, FETV began showing back to back episodes seven nights a week.

Emergency! provides examples of the following tropes:

  • '70s Hair: The show is a veritable time capsule of '70s hair styles: sideburns (Dr. Brackett and DeSoto), feathered mullets (Gage), Pornstache (Kelly and Marco), and the Afro (Dr. Morton). Gage starts with a fairly conservative haircut in the pilot, but you'd swear he never had another haircut for the entire rest of the show's run as he grows out that feathered mullet.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • In "Zero," Gage and DeSoto rescue a seven-year-old boy from an apparent suicide attempt. He's got bruises on his face, and it's eventually revealed that his mother (played by Mariette Hartley) was abusing him. She's treated more sympathetically (both by the show and the doctors) than one might expect, as someone who deeply loves her child and doesn't understand why she hurts him. At the end of the episode she leaves her family to seek help.
    • In "Communication Gaffe," there is a mother who is trying to control herself but simply can't. In an interview, Dr. Brackett suspects there is a physical issue, and he's right. A car accident two months prior caused a blood clot in her brain. It's a great relief to everyone to learn of this and its successful removal.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • 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 (who was married to Julie London), 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.
  • Afraid of Needles: Although Johnny is good at giving shots, at least one episode ("Snakebite") shows that he's uncomfortable when he's on the receiving end. This despite the fact he was forced to administer to himself.
  • The Alleged Car:
    • Chet's station wagon, which breaks down and needs pushing when he gives the guys a ride to the gym in "Firehouse Four".
    • The Dennis was the alleged fire engine until it was restored. Even then, it broke down once.
  • All for Nothing: In the Pilot Movie, the thing that convinces John Gage to become a paramedic is when he rescues an electrocuted line man and because the lineman didn't get any life saving treatment before transport to the hospital, he was hopelessly terminal by the time he arrived. As John remarks:
    John: (embittered by the situation) Rescue, Hell. All we rescued was a corpse.
  • Always on Duty: Carefully averted, at least with the paramedics. The engine and squad get called out separately quite often, and the paramedics usually stop active involvement in cases at the hospital doors. In a few instances, Roy and Johnny start their shift and the squad is just coming back from another call with another pair of paramedics just ending their shift, or they end their shift and hand over to another pair to take over the Squad, and the Station 51 crew is often shown coming on or going off duty as part of the firehouse plot. However, it's played straight with the hospital; it seems that no matter what time of day or night it is, Brackett, Dixie, Early and Morton will always be there.
  • Annoying Patient: Johnny, at least once. Brackett quickly gets tired of John regaling the nurses with his story in "Virus"
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Yes, even this show fell victim to this trope. From Fourth Season onward, the show is full of instances where Johnny & Roy read a victim's EKG when there's obviously & blatantly no EKG pads or wires attached to the victim. Worse, they're holding a defibrillator and shocking the victim based on those impossible EKG readings — an EKG machine can't show any readings unless those pads & wires are on the victim's chest. In some episodes, even Rampart's ER somehow gets the EKG reading, despite no EKG attached or any warning of transmission from the paramedics. While modern defib machines are able to do EKG to prevent the shock being applied incorrectly, those machines weren't around in The '70s. This was averted: by then the separate EKG monitor (a Datascope 850) and defibrillator (a Datascope Resuscitron) had been replaced with an integrated Datascope M/D2 690; with the monitor docked, it can read through the paddles, and while it cannot automatically analyze the signal, as on a modern AED, it can display it on the docked monitor. From this Smithsonian online artifact page, selecting the "open" photograph (2 of 2) and zooming in on the instructions in the lid, "THRU THE PADDLES MONITORING: Place paddles on patient (fig. 3); Lead selector in P position." Also on the lid can be found instructions for defibrillation, and for self-testing the defibrillator.
  • As Himself:
    • Chief Houtz in one episode, and real "original sixteen" paramedic Bob Bellveau in a couple of other cameos.
    • Mike Stoker, Engine 51's engineer and driver, was played by an actual LA County Fire Engineer... by the name of Mike Stoker.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Firefighter Marco Lopez would sometimes be called upon to translate for a Spanish-speaking victim or witness. However, for some inexplicable reason, some of these conversations consisted of nothing but meaningless babbling between Lopez and the extra, even if the extra obviously could speak Spanish.
  • Author Avatar: In the pilot - which was directed by Jack Webb - DeSoto gives Gage a very Joe Fridayish dressing down on the importance of the Paramedic training program.
  • Battleaxe Nurse: The older nurse whom Gage, and later Roy and Marco, get stuck with in "The Nuisance". She was a mild case, but was generally grumpy and disagreeable. She tended to yell at John a lot, and seemed to think she had to be tough due to her background in wartime Korea.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Although there wasn't a lot of messy injuries to begin with due to '70s TV standards, even injuries that normally would be expected have a degree of blood had little to none, due to the "no bloody injuries" stipulation the censors made the producers abide by. Since 1970s, "Johnny and Roy never had to deal with this shit!" has become a common refrain among firefighters, firefighter-paramedics, and single-role medics when dealing with large amounts of blood and/or other bodily substances.
  • Board Game: The show had one, the object to get your color firetruck to the most completed rescues on the map/ playing board.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: In "Parade", the first crew to arrive at an apartment fire is driving the antique fire truck (and wearing the period-appropriate costumes) they'd been test-driving for use in the titular public display. They successfully retrieve a trapped couple using its crude hand-carry ladder to bring them to safety via the roof, although this trope becomes just Break The Museum Piece thereafter, when a wall collapses onto the vintage vehicle.
  • Busman's Holiday: Several of the movies. Also occasionally happens during the show, including one instance where a man had a heart attack on a plane they were flying in. Conveniently, they have all their equipment with them on the plane.
  • Butt-Monkey: Gage always seems to come out on the wrong end of anything that's going to go wrong. During the series, he was hit by a car, infected with a monkey-transmitted flu,'s a miracle he's alive by the series' end. Add to that his lack of luck with women and frequent failures of his ideas for whatever...
  • Call-Back:
    • In season 1, Johnny promises to take care of a patient's prize-winning dog while she's hospitalized and she promises him a puppy from the dog's first litter in return. In season 3, the girl shows up with the puppy. On both occasions Hilarity Ensues.
    • In season 3 Roy and Johnny buy a junked antique fire engine with the idea of restoring it. In season 4, the restoration is finished. In season 5, they try to sell it.
  • The Cameo: Dozens of Hollywood stars, from undiscovered to well-known, played victims and patients throughout the series.
    • Adam West plays an actor that gets cornered by a bear ("The Bash").
    • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played a victim trapped in his car ("Foreign Trade").
    • Dick Van Patten appeared twice. In "Women", he had his finger stuck in a garbage disposal, lampshaded in a Nick-at-Night promo. In "Grateful", he plays a grateful husband who along with his wife start imposing on Station 51 after the station rescues them.
    • Laurette Sprang was the wife of a Vietnam vet ("Kidding").
    • Jamie Farr was a patient at Rampart ("Boot").
    • Football star and actor Dick Butkus had one of his very first TV roles as a retired linebacker with a broken ankle ("The Hard Hours").
    • Larry Csonka appeared as a worker high on tetraethyl lead fumes, and he fights the paramedics before he's sedated ("The Screenwriter").
    • Sharon Gless appears in two separate episodes, as a police officer Gage pines for ("Fuzz Lady"), and later as an eccentric sculptor ("Election").
    • Wolfman Jack appeared as a TV producer trying to film a skydiving stunt that went wrong ("The Inspection").
    • 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 Captain: Captain Hammer (first season) and Captain Stanley (seasons 2-6). Captain Hochrader was a character of the week, and Gage and DeSoto become captains in one of the films. Various other captains pop up when other stations are assisting on fires, and they are identified by the white stripe on the helmet.
  • Carpet of Virility: Chet Kelly's chest is covered in hair, as is Capt. Stanley's. Chet is not only a Confirmed Bachelor, but also one of the show's constant womanizers who brags about all the women he dates.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Gage. He considers himself a ladies' man, but the ladies usually think the exact opposite, and any time Gage tries to give advice on women to DeSoto, the advice turns out to be the exact wrong thing to do. Rarely do we see him actually have a successful date, which is pretty hilarious considering he's a rather attractive young man.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Squad/Engine/Station 51, KMG-365" note 
    • Whenever the paramedics would call in a patient report to the hospital: "Rampart, this is Rescue/Squad/County 51."
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Roy and Joanne DeSoto. One of the few things we learn about them is that they were childhood friends who later fell in love.
  • Clean, Pretty Childbirth:
    • Season two episode "The Professor" has a woman apparently in the last throes of delivery — evidently without any prior warning signs at all, despite it being the mother's second pregnancy — and just a few seconds after Gage & DeSoto get there, they only lay her flat on her back, the woman pants a bit, says the baby's coming, and then Gage is holding a clean, blanket-wrapped kid, with the mother smiling & not a hair out of place. For a show that's otherwise dedicated to realistic procedure (even given that things had to be cleaned up for the censors), the scene's a huge anomaly.
    • Almost every single childbirth presented in the series happens this way. Gage & DeSoto come in, woman is in childbirth, and after a few seconds of the woman panting and yelling, one of the paramedics will stand up holding a blanket-wrapped bundle, while the women lies back & smiles, with not a hair out of place and no blood anywhere.
  • Code Emergency: In "The Boat", there's an explosion and fire in the hospital basement. Dr. Morton pages "Dr. Evac" over the intercom to signal the need to evacuate without alarming the patients. As he's speaking, the P.A. is calling a Code Red. Code Red is also called in "Family Ties".note  Meanwhile, the fire department uses logical internal letter codes on occasion. For example, Code R means to respond as in an emergency (use lights and sirens)—it's significant if a unit is told to not use Code R, Code I means a fireman has been injured on site, and a Code F means a fatality.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Regular firefighters wear black helmets with black plates and white unit numbers. Paramedics have green unit numbers. Captains have white plates with black numbers and a white stripe on the helmet. Chiefs wear white helmets.
  • Combat Medic:
    • A former one was training to be a paramedic in one episode, yet failed because he kept trying to rely on his army medical skills, without waiting for the hospital to advise on what to do. He kept arguing with the paramedics and eventually learned a hard lesson when he thought a diabetic was on an acid trip and could have died without advice from the hospital to give him glucose. What he learned was that a field medic and a civilian paramedic encounter very different types of patients and thus require very different sets of skills.
    • In the pilot movie, Dixie is cited as being an ex-Army nurse, formerly stationed in Korea, who has experience with trained medics and medical corpsmen, which is why she's a strong proponent of the paramedic program.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Charlton Comics published both a color comic and a black-and-white illustrated magazine aimed at older readers based on the series.
  • Confirmed Bachelor: Chet. Every time there's an emergency with a married couple that results in Station 51 being called to the scene, Chet will make some comment about being glad he's still single.
    Chet: I'm all for long as it's not my own.
  • Contamination Situation: "Virus", where John and Brackett get a deadly flu strain from a monkey.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef:
    • Chet. The time he combined a bunch of health food leftovers into a steak sauce, it was so bad, the guys chased after him to make him eat it!
    • Mentioned in "The Game" when Chet mentioned they would never forget his latest creation, and Johnny quips he hadn't forgotten the dish Chet made last year.
    • Played with & ultimately subverted with Roy in the season 1 episode, "Cook's Tour". Throughout the episode, the guys rag on Roy for his non-existent cooking skills, as the last time Roy cooked for the station, no one could eat the result. In response, Roy keeps talking about the great new recipe he's going to make for them, though his teammates keep up the jokes, cheap-shots, & insults. When Roy's dish is finished, the fire fighters are called out to a trash fire, leaving Roy and Johnny at the station. Johnny tries the dish, and is surprised to find it's actually good, and Roy demands that Johnny sign an affidavit attesting to that. Before Johnny can do that, they are called out to an emergency, and return to find the kitchen table cleared off, the others playing chess, and Chet claims they "sent out for Mexican" instead of eating Roy's cooking...only for Roy to find that they not only ate Roy's dish, but completely devoured it, leaving no leftovers at all!
  • Cousin Oliver: In Emergency +4, the paramedics and fire-fighters are saddled with four kids who get to chase the grown-ups around in a van/ambulance labelled "+4".
  • Cowboy Be Bop At His Computer: Gage and DeSoto aren't Squad 51. The truck is. Whenever they needed something from the truck, they'd refer to it as "The Squad." This is often highlighted when we see a second group of paramedics using Squad 51 during a shift change.
  • Crossover:
    • Three difficult-to-reconcile crossovers with Adam-12:
      • "Hang-Up" involves Gage and DeSoto trying to find out how an episode of Adam-12 ended.note 
      • They could have just asked Reed and Malloy, since the officers had a guest appearance in the series pilot, "The Wedsworth-Townsend Act."
      • AND Gage and DeSoto help the officers deal with a lost diabetic boy who wandered off from Rampart on the Adam-12 episode "Lost and Found".
    • Also with a short-lived series called Sierra.
    • Quincy, M.E.:
      • Robert A. Cinader wrote an episode that featured paramedics from Squad 44 calling Rampart Emergency to deal with a heart attack at a bowling alley. The patient is directed to a different hospital as it's closer. If they hadn't redirected the patient, he may have lived — an incompetent replacement doctor killing the patient set off the episode's key plot.
      • In season 7's "Smoke Screen" Engine 51 is called as part of the battalion to deal with an apartment building fire, although none of the usual Emergency! cast are present.
      • While not explicitly stated to be Rampart General, the Rampart sets were used for the season 1 episode "Has Anyone Seen Quincy?" at least implying it was the same hospital.
  • Crying Wolf: Two instances in the season three episode, "Messin' Around." First, there's the case of "Old Bill" who likes to hang around the ER because he's lonely. He complains of false symptoms but he's harmless and usually entertains children. One night, his back gives him problems and Dr. Brackett sees what happens. Brackett says he wants to examine Bill when he has a moment but Bill leaves. DeSoto and Gage are later called to his house, where they find him struggling to breathe. By the time he gets to the hospital, he's in a coma. Dr. Early muses that Bill had complained of the same symptoms many times over the past few weeks, but given his history and how vague his descriptions of his discomfort were, there was no way to be sure he actually had a problem. Later in the same episode, Squad 51 is called to a house to look at a child who's swallowed ant poison. The mother stops them from entering the house because the boy has called the gas company to report a false gas leak and the sheriff to make a false report of a python in the house. A sheriff's officer comes by and advises the woman to let the paramedics enter. Turns out this time, the boy really is in trouble. Earlier, in "Seance," a teenager is taken to the hospital over the objections of his friends who think he's faking it (again), but it turns out to be a real case of taking his mother's drugs and suffering some side effects (thankfully not long-term).
  • Curse Cut Short: John, in "Gossip". He was training for the fireman's olympics and his lower anatomy was sore.
    John: I mean, right now, I hurt all the way from my toenails all the way up to my—[alarm blares]
  • Day in the Life: Although fires and rescues are the centerpiece of each episode, the show doesn't stint on showing the more mundane duties of firefighters as well: drills, training, equipment maintenance, inspections and public education all get their due.
  • The Determinator: In "Propinquity", Roy and Johnny respond to a call involving a man playing poker with his buddies. He had refused to stop playing even though he had already won a lot, causing them to play all night well into the morning. Then he starts having a heart attack. And he still refuses to leave despite his friends and the paramedics telling him how serious his situation is. And since he's still conscious and alert, they can't force him. He finally relents and agrees to go to the hospital on the condition that Johnny finish his hand, which Johnny does. Even as he's being wheeled away he tells Johnny not to fold under any circumstances.note 
  • Didn't Think This Through: An early season 5 episode features a woman whose son is displaying early signs of polio. She at first insisted it had to be something else then said that she hadn't gotten him the vaccine because she thought it had been controlled to the point where it was impossible to contract the disease anymore.
  • Doom It Yourself:
    • One episode had the paramedics try to fix their malfunctioning truck themselves. The regular Fire Department mechanic is annoyed at them doing his job and the truck keeps breaking down even more. Eventually, the mechanic fixes the problem and the station captain tells the paramedics to leave vehicle maintenance to the professionals.
    • In another episode, Chet and Johnny try to repair the station's TV. When they plug it back in after their "repairs," it catches fire.
  • Double Take: Sometimes, the things the Rampart receives from Squad 51's Biophone elicits this. For example, in "Mascot," Kel and Dix exchange a look when Gage explains they're surrounded by drunks because they're treating a heart-attack victim in the middle of a drunken party. And in "Nagging Suspicion," Kel and Dix exchange a look when Gage calls in and they hear go-go music in the background (because the patient is a dancer who collapsed in a bar). Joe gets in on the trope in "Paperwork" when he learns a patient accidentally drank 2600-year-old wine (recovered from an archeological dig).note . The most serious Double Take occurs in "Loose Ends" when Dr. Brackett gets in a car accident (see "One of Our Own" below).
  • Dr. Jerk:
    • Doctor Morton had no bedside manner whatsoever, and will snap at patients and nurses alike. In one episode, he harshly interrogates a young man who's brought his unconscious friend to the ER. Morton angrily insists that the man stop lying to him & tell the "truth" about the drugs the patient took, even though the confused & upset friend states over & over that there were no drugs. It takes Dr. Bracket coming in to calm the situation down, and to discover that the patient was having a reaction to a black-widow-spider bite, not drugs.
    • In Season 3 Episode 17, "Fools", there is an intern named Donaldson, whose arrogance makes Dr. Morton look a lot friendlier.
  • Drunk Driver: Sometimes causes the accidents the paramedics respond to; they use it as an opportunity to remind the audience about the hazards of drunk driving. Season 1 played this trope for humor, but subsequent seasons turned it around in the all-too-fatal direction.
    • Season 1's "Weird Wednesday" has a man so drunk that when he pulls his car out of his driveway, he ends up rolling it down a steep embankment into the trees. When Gage & DeSoto make it down to the crashed car, the man is so drunk that he only laughs at the incident, and both the paramedics break into laughter when they see how drunk the man is.
    • Season 2's "Peace Pipe", though, has a drunk driver crash into a parked car, where a young mother left her daughter while she did grocery shopping. The drunk rants & complains about how the crash & his drinking isn't his fault — in earshot of the child's grieving parents — & is shown to be a huge Jerkass, as the paramedics & doctors fight to save the child's life. This episode has several disgusted and angry lectures from the policeman and doctors about what the man has done and how dangerous drunk driving is.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Dixie and Dr. Brackett kiss in the pilot, and there are a couple of scenes in early episodes where he goes to her apartment to angst about his job; he also begins to change his opinion of paramedics after Gage and DeSoto save her life. After season one their romantic relationship is never referenced again.
    • The pilot and early episodes are noticeably different in style than the rest of the series; this is because executive producer Jack Webb directed the pilot and his influence lingered until the crew decided to do things their own way.
    • In the pilot, Gage is initially seen serving with Station 10. It just doesn't feel right until he is transferred to Station (and Squad) 51.
    • The pilot is one of the few episodes in which No Antagonist does not apply, with (of all people) Dr. Brackett depicted as the "villain" given his initial reluctance to support the paramedic program. However, by the end of the story, he is speaking to a legislative committee in support of a new law allowing paramedics to operate in the field.
    • Invoked with the early days of the paramedic program- initially Rampart only has one base station to handle 3 paramedic squads, which eventually causes severe issues when all 3 are calling in at the same time. As time passes and the paramedic program gains traction, the base station at Rampart evolves. First, the reel-to-reel recorder is replaced with a cassette recorder in season 2 ("Decision, aka Problem"). By Season 3 ("Frequency" and "The Old Engine"), Rampart is handling 5 squads and gets a major upgrade: a second monitoring station, a radio receiver so they can listen to the fire dispatches, and a board to track the squads in their dispatches. Also, St. Francis Hospital is set up as an alternate call location should Rampart be unavailable for any reason. In Season 5 ("The Stewardess"), the monitoring station becomes an enclosed room.
  • Episode on a Plane: "The Stewardess", partially. The episode opens with an in-flight medical emergency where John and Roy have to improvise a solution.
  • Expospeak Gag: In "Cook's Tour," Johnny removes a boy's handcuffs with a "stetso-hydraulic activator," aka pliers.
  • Expy: Sort of. Roy & Johnny are pretty much the Firefighter/Paramedic answer to Adam-12's Malloy & Reed, respectively.
  • Firemen Are Hot: Played with and subverted with paramedic Johnny Gage, a Casanova Wannabe who continually struck out with the ladies despite being a young, good-looking single fireman. In one episode he's even asked to be in a calendar shoot with sexy models, but at the end of the episode the photographer decides to go with his comparatively dull, married partner Roy DeSoto instead. Played straight in the eyes of fans of Emergency!. Yup. There's plenty of Johnny Gage fangirls/guys who think he's just smokin' hot. His awkwardness is also part of it. Why Johnny was written as "Mr. Romantic Dry-spell" is anyone's guess.
  • Flat "What": Not explicitly spoken in the series often, but Squad 51 has a tendency to call in a situation that causes this reaction in the Rampart staff. For instance, the episode "It's How You Play the Game" features a Cal Worthington-esque car salesman who gets attacked by a tiger. Gage calls in from the ambulance en-route describing the bite as a generic "animal" bite. Dr. Early reminds Gage that the dog needs to be captured only to be told that the "dog" was actually a tiger. Cue a nonverbal Flat "What" from him and Dixie, who just ended a phone conversation in time to hear Gage's response. Frequently, these kinds of reactions cause the Rampart doctor to ask the squad to repeat what they just said.
  • The Food Poisoning Incident: "Botulism" has an outbreak at a potluck due to badly-canned mushrooms.
    • In "The Bash", a barbecue of under-cooked bear meat gets several people sick with trichinosis.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Craig Brice (aka "The Walking Rulebook" and "The Human Regulation"), a fellow paramedic, was the most obvious. He seemed written just to make us want Johnny back on the job as soon as possible, at least in his first appearance (appropriately titled "The Nuisance"). Eventually got a comical ending as Roy ends up in the hospital, too, and Johnny joyfully reports that Brice is now partnered with Bellingham (aka "The Animal", the biggest slob in the department).
    • One notable Hate Sink in the season 4 episode "Firehouse Four": Mr. Fred Gibson, whose misguided attempts at exercise led to the paramedics having to rescue him throughout the episode — and he always either blamed them for his predicament or gave them unfair criticism on how they did their job. The fact that the actor, who also was the voice of Scrappy Doo, just makes you want to wring his neck.
  • Heroes Gone Fishing: Done literally in "Welcome to Santa Rosa County". Naturally, trouble follows them.
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: Quite a bit, not surprisingly. Some of the rescues were solely medical, but as they were also firefighters, this was very common as well.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Gage and DeSoto. Not only are they working partners in Station 51, but Roy also invites Johnny over to dinner with his family several times throughout the course of the series, the two take fishing & camping trips together, and hang out together during days off.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: An outtake reel exists which is full of bloopers and general goofing off by cast and crew, including a bit where Kent McCord (in character as Jim Reed) "accidentally" wanders onto the Emergency! set.
  • Hollywood Healing: Not as bad as some series, but no matter how the main characters got hurt, they'd be back at work the next episode. (Granted, more time could have passed on screen than in Real Life)
  • Hood Hornament: In one episode, the paramedics are flagged down by a guy wanting to report an accident. He was dressed Western-style and had a pair of these on the hood of his car.
  • Hospital Hottie: Julie London as Dixie McCall. Cool, compassionate, professional...and yet still as sexy as she was in her torch singing days.
  • Hostage Situation: In "Understanding," two bank robbers call for help when their hostage seems to be about to have a heart attack. When Johnny and Roy go in to treat him, the robbers take them hostage too. Johnny manages to befriend the robbers and talk them into giving themselves up. Roy is impressed, but Johnny insists he didn't do anything special.
  • House Fire: Most episodes had at least one of these – and sometimes this was the most climatic segment.
  • Hypochondria:
    • A couple of episodes had patients like this. Usually, one of their complaints would end up being real.
    • Captain Stanley in the appropriately-titled "Hypochondri-Cap". He is convinced he has some sort of career-ending condition, but it turns out he only has strain from his "handy-dandy home gym".
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: A sniper in "Peace Pipe" successfully shoots a construction worker, then takes multiple shots at the paramedics without coming close to hitting them.
  • Info Dump: A lot of technical stuff gets thrown around during the series, but the biggest dose occurs during the pilot movie when Gage first arrives at Station 51 and takes a look at the squad's new equipment for the first time. We get a rundown on the stuff they'll be using for the rest of the series: the various first aid kits, the portable EKG and defibrillator, and the orange Biophone.
  • In-Series Nickname:
    • "Johnny" for John Gage, "Chet" for Chester Kelly, "Hank" or "Cap" for Captain Henry Stanley (the latter applies to any captain who appears on the show), "Dix" for Dixie McCall, "Kel" for Dr. Kelly Brackett. Roy also likes to call Johnny "Junior", while Gage sometimes calls him "Pally" ("Pal" diminutive.)
    • Craig "the walking rulebook" Brice, and "Captain Hook" Hochrader. But no one directly calls them by their nicknames.
  • Insomnia Episode: The aptly titled episode "Insomnia", where John just can't get to sleep during a run of night shifts, and becomes convinced he'll be able to sleep after they get a nighttime call. At the end of the episode, the station does get a nighttime call, but not for the rescue squad. Not to be discouraged, John grabs onto the rear handhold of the leaving fire engine, partial dressed in his bumper gear, and falls asleep on his feet.
  • The Inspector Is Coming: The Chief, in this case. Stanley goes nuts fearing McConnikee will pull a surprise inspection. Nothing bad happens when he does, but Hank still thinks the Chief is trying to psych him out. There's also another episode where John is told to cut his hair.
  • Instant Emergency Response: While response times were narrowed for obvious dramatic and show-length reasons, the show did generally avert instant response by indicating several minutes or more had passed between alarm and arrival (in fact, every dispatch would end with the time in 24-hour clock style; when Squad 51 radioed their arrival at scene the dispatcher would again note the time - often ten or more minutes had passed). "Not Available" (Season 6) played the trope as its major plotline (thus the title). Paramedics are complaining of a lack of ability to prioritize calls because they can't know the full nature of the call until they get there, causing dangerous and possibly even fatal delays when multiple calls hit a single area. This is, unfortunately, Truth in Television. People call 911 (or their equivalent emergency number) for non-emergency medical situations. The consequence is that fewer fire/EMS units are left available for other true emergencies, such as car accidents, heart attacks, etc, and have to respond from a greater distance, increasing response times.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: Like Dragnet and Adam-12 before it, Emergency! used lyricless themes that convey the mood of the show. In this case, up to about season three, the theme you hear is fast-paced, like a fire or rescue truck speeding off to the scene. Later, the show started using a second opening where the music is more subdued but still lyricless; instead, the opening conveys the show's tone using voiced clips and radio snippets.
  • The Intern:
    • Dr. Morton was in the middle of his internship during the first few seasons. He then began his residency later in the series.
    • An arrogant, know-it-all one rode along with the medics in one episode.
    • Several other interns appear as extras occasionally in Rampart, often learning from Brackett or Early. They are identified by the older-style physician's uniform tunics they wear.
  • Interrupted Suicide: In "Understanding," a woman calls the hospital from her home, saying she swallowed a bunch of downers and turned on the gas, and just wants someone to talk to while she dies. Everyone rushes to find her address, complete with a Phone-Trace Race, so paramedics and a fire truck can be dispatched to her house to save her and deal with a possible gas explosion.
  • Intoxication Ensues: A mild case in "An English Visitor". The guys are fighting a truck fire and not wearing air tanks since they aren't inside a building. The truck turns out to contain a load of marijuana, and it's indicated by the end of the scene that the smoke is starting to give the guys a bit of a buzz.
  • Ironic Echo: In Season 2 Episode 1, "Problem", Roy is put on the spot by a doctor who tells him that the patient he brought in would have been better off being "in an ideal hospital setting" instead of treating him en route to it; the patient died four hours later. Later, said doctor tries to resuscitate a patient (a friend and fellow doctor) that collapses in said ideal hospital setting and dies after throwing in every effort to revive him. Brackett, who had earlier defended Roy's decision, explicitly points this out to him and Dixie chews him out for being way out of line, pointing out that the likes of Roy actually perform their jobs and save lives in hazardous conditions actual doctors almost never face.
  • Ironic Name: Mike Stoker. The surname comes from, and means, someone who keeps fires burning. Mike, however, puts them out. All the more ironic, given that (as pointed out above), it's his real name, and he's an actual LA Co FD engineer, playing himself.
  • Irony: The occasional instances where they set something on fire in the station, especially the time they were trying to come up with firefighting inventions. Lampshaded by Johnny the first time it happens, when Chet sets his skis on fire: "Cap, we've got a fire in the station! Call dispatch!"
  • Jerkass: In the Season 2 Episode 6, "Saddled"- An owner of a soda shop (played by F-Troop star Larry Storch), as Johnny and Roy attempt to treat a girl (who was injured by a soda bottle explosion and knocked unconscious), tries to throw them out while complaining that his shop is not a hospital. Five minutes in, Roy tries to tells the owner his heater isn't up to code and improperly installed, the owner scoffs at and berates Roy for being a pest. Hardly some time passes, and the team goes back to the place after a call is sent out for an explosion. Guess who was caught in it. And as he is wheeled down the hall, the Ungrateful Bastard yells about suing the hospital, as well as Roy and Johnny.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dr. Morton again. Despite his Dr. Jerk persona (see above), he cares about the people that come through Rampart, and is always willing to help, even in one situation involving a man with a grenade fired into his stomach where his own life was in danger because of said grenade. He also hates when bad things happen to kids. And in one episode, he quietly researched dog medicine when Boot the fire dog seemed unusually low energy, causing Dixie to lampshade that he was a "pussycat", to which Morton said "Sure but don't tell them that". He also starts to mellow out and by later seasons, his attitude has improved to the point where he's much less of a jerk to begin with. For instance, in a late episode where the paramedics are trapped on an rural island with all the bridges temporarily unusable with only a psychologist for help, Dr. Morton flies with all the necessary supplies for field work and his arrival is all that's necessary for the audience to know the medical situation on the island is now well in hand.
  • Kiddie Kid: In "Alley Cat," the protagonists rescue a girl from a plane crash who looks about twelve, but acts closer to four. She calls her parents Mommy and Daddy, refers to her injured, unconscious father as "asleep in the plane," does an impression of a lion, and even calls her mother's bandages a "funny hat" and asks if she can have one. The adults around her act accordingly, with lines like "Why don't you one, two, three, four drink your milk."
  • Last-Name Basis: Brice called everyone he worked with by last name.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • In the first episode of season 4, "The Screenwriter," a man comes to the station to prepare for a film he wants to make about the paramedic program. He's seated in the middle in the squad as the paramedics answer a call. He exclaims, "This is fantastic! This is dynamite! We could mount the camera right on the hood of the truck!" Of course, you're looking at this scene through the viewpoint of the camera mounted on the hood of the truck. Heck, pretty much the entire episode is Leaning on the Fourth Wall or Lampshade Hanging of one sort or another.
    • The last episode of the live-action series, "All Night Long," has a subplot in which Johnny is trying to write a pitch for a game show. He eventually gives up when his idea turns out to be unoriginal. Roy offers the idea of writing a show about paramedics; Johnny replies, distractedly, "Story of my life." To top it all off, the episode was written by Kevin Tighe, who plays Roy.
    • 4th season episode, "The Bash" has Johnny & Roy rescuing a movie star from a bear; movie star invites the pair to a party in gratitude. Cue the Fourth Wall Leaning in spades:
      Marco: You know what would be great? If you guys would get discovered!
      [Roy & Johnny only look at each other, then resume eating]
    • Quite a few 6th season episodes lean hard on the fourth wall:
      • "Family Ties" has Chet asking both Chief & Johnny if Roy could "pass as a movie star": cue disbelief and sarcasm.
      • "An Ounce of Prevention" is full of meta-references and fourth-wall-leaning snark, as Johnny & Roy go on a TV show to do a fire-prevention demonstration, and Johnny tries to teach Roy how to handle being on-camera.
  • Lethal Chef:
    • Marco's Mexican can get spicy at times. So can Chet's, apparently. One time, Roy and Johnny are called to another station to handle a fellow fireman who has severe stomach pain. Turns out to be way-too-spicy chili he was cooking (and tasting) resulting in severe heartburn.
    • The guys try to convince Chief Houtz Mike is one in an episode, but that may have been an attempt to scare the chief out of staying for dinner. It doesn't work, either.
  • Letterbox Arson: "Peace Pipe": Firefighters from Engine 51 responded to a small fire in a house's toilet, and got a horrible surprise when their hoses actually fed the flames! While using tarps and the untainted water from the fire engine to combat the fires, the paramedics traced the hydrant lines back to a street worksite, where gas monkeys were using municipal water lines to flush a high-pressure fuel line from a refinery.
    Roy: Did you ever hear of a clapper valve?
    Gas monkey: Yeah, it stops something from backin' up. Sure I have.
    Johnny: Then why aren't you using one?
    Gas monkey: No need. There's only 500 pounds pressure in this [gas] line.
    Roy: There's only 80 in the hydrant. What does that tell ya?note 
  • Limited Advancement Opportunities: Dealt with when Roy passes the engineer's exam. He can't take the promotion without giving up being a paramedic, and he decides he likes being a paramedic too much to give it up. In the "Best Rescues" movie, when they finally get promoted to captain, they mention having given the department years to change the rules about paramedics holding rank, implying that the reason they stayed one of the lowest ranks in the department the whole show really was for love of the work. There's a bit of possible contradiction with Captain Stone, who still had his certification in an earlier episode. It's possible that they could maintain certification, but just couldn't man a squad anymore.
  • Magical Defibrillator: While usually averted in early episodes, with the portable defibrillator used primarily when it would have worked in real life, starting from about Season 4 onward, the show started to slip, with this trope being played straight in several episodes. Both Rampart doctors and the paramedics shock victims who are flat-lining, and often don't bother setting up an EKG first.
  • Magical Native American: Averted/subverted. Johnny's Native American heritage comes up, but he never displays any magic powers, and when he decides he's going to get into a rodeo and use his Native American riding skills, he winds up so sore he can barely walk the next day.
  • Magnificent Mustaches of Mexico: Marco, starting in season two. Also qualifies as a Porn Stache.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Averted, except for the doctors, who rarely seemed to call in anyone with a specialty for help. Also, no matter what time of the day or night the firemen get a run, it's always the same doctors who are at the ER.
  • Man on Fire: Happens to a paint factory worker in one episode, a doctor trying to retrieve records in another episode, and a firefighter of another company when the fighter jet that had crashed into an apartment building had its fuel tank explode.
  • Maternity Crisis: Impromptu deliveries are a somewhat common call for Squad 51, which is why the squad keeps an obstetrics kit for such occasions. Then, in "Camera Bug", Kel and Dix are having lunch at a restaurant when they're called to handle one.
  • Medical Drama
  • Men Are Uncultured: Played with when the personnel of Station 51 are visited by a female TV reporter who assumes they are not cultured. Indignant, Roy sets out to prove her wrong by showing all the sophisticated hobbies they indulge in. Unfortunately, he does too well as she switches out the football game tickets she promised them, and which they were eagerly anticipating, for opera tickets on the assumption that they would prefer them.
  • Mess on a Plate: In one episode, the heroes save the life of a celebrity chef, who rewards them with an autographed copy of his latest book. When they later try to put together a dinner for the rest of the crew at their station, using the book, they swiftly realize that they did something wrong, and that dinner is ruined. They dump everything they were cooking into a single pot in order to hide the evidence. Just as they're taking it out back to dump it, the fire crew comes back, assuming dinner is ready. Despite having an odd gray color, and the consistency of paper maché paste, the "stew" is universally deemed fantastically delicious by the other fire fighters, and the crew expects it to be made again in the future.
  • Mission Control: Rampart has a radio desk and, eventually, a separate communications room for the doctors and nurses to communicate with the paramedics to hear their description and vitals about the patient and give instructions to deal with the medical situation before they are transported. Starting in season 5, we also start seeing the Keith Klinger Center (the Fire Department's East L.A. headquarters) where the dispatcher issues the alarms.
  • Mix and Match: Medical Drama + Rescue
  • Mr. Fanservice: Hey there, Johnny. You should take your shirt off more often.
  • Neat Freak: Brice, Brice, Brice. He insists that everything be done by the rulebook and that everything be organized. His partner says in one ep that he checked the drug box three times between runs. Sometimes he's almost into Super OCD territory, though usually staying just out of it.
    • There was also the supply nurse in "Paperwork". She was as meticulous and demanding as Brice was, only in the hospital. She got on so many nerves that Nurse McCall contrived an excuse to get the position removed.
  • Nephewism: One of the few tidbits about John's backstory was that he lived with an aunt for a time.
  • No Antagonist:
    • Since it was a Medical Drama, and Jack Webb stayed mostly clear of personal life drama, a large portion of the eps were like this. Led to a few Hate Sink characters in some episodes.
    • The pilot film actually casts Dr. Brackett in the antagonist role, as he spends much of the film opposing the idea of creating paramedic units until he eventually begins to see their value (especially after his girlfriend Dixie is saved by them).
  • No Guy Wants to Be Chased: 1st season episode "Dilemma": Womanizer Johnny changes a tire for a passerby, then gets irate and turned off when the woman starts calling him & sending him gifts.
  • No Seat Belts: For paramedics who have to rush to emergencies, the fact they do that without buckling up is incomprehensible to modern viewers. In fact, most fire departments and ambulance services would see a lack of seat belt usage a sackable offense. Although in 1972, seat belts were optional on the kinds of trucks used to make the Squad.
  • No Social Skills: Brice, again. He functions well enough to do his job, but has no patient skills in the field. He insists on being literal and telling it like it is, even if telling his heart attack patient what's likely happening only makes it worse. Roy calls him on it later. Brice just says they look at things differently and there's no point in discussing it.
  • Noodle Incident: Hank setting McConnikee's hat on fire as an engineer.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Roy sees Joanne's mother as this. He goes nuts when she is about to visit. He mentions that she thinks he has the brains to be a doctor, but settled for being a paramedic, and she doesn't understand it.
  • Of Corsets Funny: The heavyset woman whose girdle Johnny cuts off when she can't breathe. It snaps him in the face after coming loose.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • If Station 51's battalion chief, Battalion 14, is called in, you know this is a massive fire. Or if there's a call for a second alarm, or even higher.
    • The longer the tones go on, the more you know it's going to be bad.. This is Truth in Television for the tone-based paging systems used even today by many Fire Departments. A call for multiple stations on such systems begins with all the individual stations' calling tones strung together.
    • Sometimes, something just goes down right in their midst. In which case, they're the ones who report the emergency to the dispatcher in what's termed a "still alarm". An example of the term in use happens in "The Old Engine Cram". A visitor to the station suddenly collapses, so Captain Stanley radios, "LA, Station 51. We have a still alarm: a medical emergency at the station. Respond an ambulance."
      • One example is when Johnny is bitten by a rattlesnake ("Snakebite"). The moment he tells the engine crew he's been poisoned by snakebite...
      Captain Stanley: "L.A., this is Engine 51. We have a paramedic bitten by a rattlesnake. Engine 51 is no longer available. Time out: 1 hour. Repeat, paramedic bitten by a rattlesnake."
      L.A. County Fire Dispatch: "10-4, Engine 51."
      (At Rampart, having hear the communication over the radio, Dixie grabs the phone)
      Dixie: "Get me the County Fire Dispatcher."
    • Several episodes avert this when the 51 crew arrive on the scene and realizes the initial reports overstated the situation, or they're able to get a handle on it quickly and have Dispatch cancel some of the called units. The reverse is also true; Station 51 can arrive and realize they need more help and can ask the dispatcher for additional units or even a second alarm. The worst is if Station 51 is still en route to the scene and LA County starts calling in more units before they even get there, including mutual aid from local fire departments like Pasadena or Compton; it's going to be a monster.
      • One example was in the two-hour special The Steel Inferno, where the fire was so bad, after Battalion 14 got there, Battalion 21 arrived shortly thereafter, then Assistant Chief 7, who is a rank higher than the Battalion Chiefs, manning the command post outside with the building inspector while Dr. Brackett manned the triage center in the garage with Dr. Morton and several nurses. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) also sent one of their helicopters from the Los Angeles heliport to assist as well with rooftop evacuations.
      • Another was the two-hour special Survival on Charter #220, where when Engine 18 and Squad 18 are the first units on scene of the plane crash, horrified by the scale of the carnage, they radio for a "third alarm" to get more units there quickly before Battalion 14 Chief McConnikee and Vince arrive with Carson Police, with McConnikee taking command of the scene while asking Vince to have his officers clear the area of civilians and set up roadblocks to keep traffic out of the way of arriving emergency vehicles. Compton sends several of their fire companies to help as well.
  • One of Our Own: Quite a few times.
    • Johnny is hit by a car ("The Nuisance"), infected with a virus ("Virus"), quarantined with Roy for radiation exposure ("Hang-Up"), and bitten by a snake ("Snakebite").
    • Cap ("The Great Crash Diet"), Roy ("The Indirect Method"), and Marco ("Insanity Epidemic") are all electrocuted.
    • Roy also has to get what's left of his tonsils out in "Syndrome", and is injured in a building fire along with Marco another time.
    • Chet is injured in an explosion in "Equipment" and breaks his shoulder in "Syndrome".
    • Johnny ("Surprise"), Marco ("Computer Error"), and Roy ("The Girl on the Balance Beam") get caught in explosions, too.
    • Dr. Early needs heart bypass surgery ("The Hard Hours").
    • Dr. Brackett is a car accident victim ("Loose Ends") and was infected by the same virus. In the former case, Dr. Early quotes the trope when Johnny reports it in.
    • Dixie is seriously hurt at least three times (the pilot, "Surprise", and "The Boat").
  • Only Sane Man: Among the fire station crew, Roy frequently comes off as one. Whenever Johnny comes up with a money-making scheme, Roy's the one who tries to talk sense into him...not that Johnny listens, at first.
  • Outrun the Fireball: A few times (such as "Gossip", "Kidding", "Involvement", and "The Unlikely Heirs"), the firemen, paramedics, and/or victims have to run for cover before something blows up. Usually they make it, but in "Surprise", John didn't make it out of the building in time and was injured, and Roy gets his turn in "Equipment".
  • Parachute in a Tree: The lady jumper who didn't want her chute damaged while she was being rescued in "Weird Wednesday." One of the guys pops her reserve chute, too, and she complains about the repacking fee. It turns out this is her 94th jump...AND this jump is the closest she's ever been to landing on target.
  • Patient of the Week: There were usually 2 or 3 of these per episode, with the Rampart segments rotating in between rescue scenes, and the storylines being tied up before the week's big, climactic rescue.
  • The Perfectionist: Brice, "the perfect paramedic". Besides being devoted to the rules, he insists on being as perfect as he can in his work.
  • Pilot Movie: "The Wedsworth-Townsend Act," a two-hour made-for-TV movie which focuses on the effort to train L. A. County firefighters as paramedics and get the legal backing necessary for them to use their training. Though the after-series movies get split in two for re-airing, this has sometimes been severely edited to fit the usual one-hour slot. The edited version is done as late series Roy and Gage reminiscing on the start of the program, which allows the very different story to be inserted into the random episode rotation of syndication.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Chet, quite often. He is always the one joking around and playing pranks on the other guys. He does have a few decent moments, though. When the chips are down, he is a consummate professional. In fact, Chet's duties gradually evolve into becoming an informal basic EMT medic who can do elementary medical duties while Gage and DeSoto can tend to sophisticated matters they are certified for.
  • Pocket Protector: Played with in "Insanity Epidemic". A woman doing remodeling with her husband accidentally shoots him in the chest with a nailgun. The nail is stopped by the man's pacemaker, penetrating the skin but not killing him.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Several episodes dealt with dangers caused to patients by communication issues, whether due to loss of communications or with communications getting confused between the field and the hospital, or a combination of both.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot:
    • A Season 4 episode titled 905-Wild was intended as a spinoff involving a White Dude, Black Dude duo of Animal Control officers played by Dirty Harry co-star Albert Popwell and future St. Elsewhere (and much later, NCIS) star Mark Harmon. It wasn't picked up.
    • The later TV movie, Most Deadly Passage, was intended as a pilot for a series about the Medic One fire department paramedic unit in Seattle, Washington, reputed to be one of the finest (as noted in a 1974 segment of a 60 Minutes episode) and well-known of that time period. Most Deadly Passage starred two doctors played by George Wyner (later of Hill Street Blues and Spaceballs) and a very young John de Lancie.
  • The Prankster: Chet Kelly. AKA "The Phantom". His colleagues aren't amused. Gage, his "Pigeon", is his most frequent target, but others have gotten hit as well.
  • Punny Name: Mike Stoker, a fireman both in the show and Real Life.
  • Random Smoking Scene: Dixie has a cigarette on her break in one early episode. Back then, smoking in hospitals wasn't banned as it is today. Also counts as Early Installment Weirdness, since we don't see any of the other main characters smoking anywhere. (we did sometimes catch a glimpse of a pack of smokes in Gage's shirt pocket, but that was because Mantooth forgot to take them out, not because of Gage being a smoker to our knowledge.)
  • Rank Up: Gage and DeSoto, along with possibly at least one recurring character, become Captains in one of the movies.
  • Red Alert: The distinctive Quick Call system where each station has its own series of tones to indicate it is being called up and a klaxon that sounds to confirm that Station 51 is being deployed. The dispatcher would then, along with destination info, specify the equipment and station to be deployed. If "Station" is called, all units from that station are to be deployed (so a call of "Station 51" means both the engine and the squad roll out); otherwise it's just the apparatus stated (Engine for fire engines, Squad for rescue squads, Truck for ladder/crane trucks, Foam for foam generators, Deluge for high-volume monitors, Copter for helicopters, Boat for fire boats, Batallion for batallion chiefs to coordinate larger deployments, and Assistant for assistant chiefs for even larger ones). Once, a very tired John Gage mixed them up when awakened and climbed on the engine rear by mistake, with DeSoto yelling behind him "IT'S NOT FOR US!"
  • Rescue: the Televison Ur-Example, and Trope Codifier
  • Restricted Rescue Operation: In the pilot the paramedics aren't (yet) authorized to give any medical treatment.
  • Reverse Polarity: In "Communications", there is a factory worker with his arm caught in a feeding hopper of a record pressing machine and Dr. Brackett rushes over to amputate it to save his life. However, Gage comes up with a better idea: they work with the factory's engineers and rewire the machine to make the hopper work in reverse to free the worker instead. The modification is successful and they are able to free him instantly, saving the worker's arm.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Some of the episodes dealt with real issues being faced by the still-new paramedic program such as distrust and second-guessing of paramedics by doctors, and response delays due to units responding to non-emergency situations. Inevitably, Gage and DeSoto end up impressing the doubters and they are the first to sing praises of the emergency service.
  • Rule #1: "Don't get emotionally involved with the patients". Roy and Dixie discuss how hard it can be to keep to that rule sometimes in the episode "The Promotion".
  • Running Over the Plot: Johnny gets hit by a car in “The Nuisance” and sticks Roy with an infuriating temporary partner while he’s hospitalized.
  • Screaming Birth: Several times. Somewhat more justified than usual, since as paramedics the only time they get called in for a birth is when the circumstances are unusual. The standout example is delivering a baby in a house with an encroaching wildfire in "Brushfire".
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: The sheriff in "Welcome to Santa Rosa County", when Gage and DeSoto point out they aren't certified paramedics outside of Los Angeles County. The sheriff calls the County Medical Commissioner and gets him to certify them over the phone so they can treat their patient. When pressed, the sheriff tells them the Commissioner is his brother-in-law.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Gage shutting off the radio and treating the patient and Dixie in the pilot, even though the bill authorizing the paramedic program hadn't been passed yet.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In the season five episode "The Girl on the Balance Beam," the engineer of a train that's on fire refuses to move it because one of the tanks contains ammonium nitrate. He just walks away from the scene leaving it up to firefighter Kelly to move the train. (How bad would that explosion be? Captain Stanley says, "Like Texas City," a reference to a 1947 explosion of 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate on a cargo ship that's one of the largest disasters in U.S. history. Said explosion killed all but one member of the Texas City Fire Department and destroyed all four TCFD fire engines and caused widespread catastrophic damage.)
  • Shout-Out: In a reversal of the usual, LA County Fire Station 127 (the real-life fire station that played the part of Station 51) was renamed the Robert A. Cinader Memorial Fire Station in honor of one of the show's producers. In 1994, Station 60 (on the Universal Lot) was renumbered Station 51.
  • Shown Their Work: Aside from when the demands of the plot required a change, the vast majority of the procedures carried out by the firefighters and paramedics were faithful to what real firefighters and paramedics did at the time. This is mainly due to Tighe and Mantooth having actually trained as paramedics, a paramedic advisor being on set, and, in many of the larger incident scenes, actual firefighters acting as extras. In addition, for the first few years, every rescue was cribbed from some real world paramedic logbook, at Cinader's insistence.
  • Slipping a Mickey: In "Parade," a man puts chloral hydrate into his date's drink, but the drinks are switched by accident, so instead he passes out in the middle of the date. While he's out, some of the drug in his stomach ends up in his lungs, causing a much stronger reaction that almost kills him.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Halfway justified, as firefighting is male-dominated even today. So is medicine, to a lesser extent. They did have a female trainee once and a female doctor another time, but Dixie was the sole female regular.
  • Soap Within a Show: While Johnny is laid up in "The Nuisance," he watches a show about a woman on a Freudian Couch talking about her philandering husband and inferiority complex towards her mother, while the psychologist accuses her of being hostile towards various people. Throughout the episode, the psychologist moves his chair closer and closer to her couch, and her position on it becomes more alluring. The last segment ends with the two of them about to start an affair. Johnny becomes hooked on the show despite thinking it's garbage, and after Roy and Lopez get injured, they become fans of the show.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Used to annoying and wince-inducing effect in the 6th season episode, "Breakdown". A man is unconscious on top of a sky-tower; as Johnny & Roy are climbing up the tower to get to the injured man, we're treated to lyrical, string-filled romantic music that's better suited to a love scene, not the tense, high-altitude rescue we're watching. There's no reason for the dissonance at all, as the rescue is rather routine & has no plot subtexts underlying it.
  • Spiritual Successor:
  • Stock Sound Effect: Watch episodes one after another and you'll quickly notice that the show uses the exact same "sound of equipment and people shouting" background during major emergency scenes. Even worse, if the scene goes on long enough you'll notice that it's looped, so that one man's "HEY!" is the show's Wilhelm Scream. And the call alarm sound (two short tones, then a loud buzzer), was used in the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Can't See a Thing".
  • Straw Feminist: In the Season 2 episode "Women" (dated 1972), a female journalist rides along with the Squad to do a story on the new paramedic program—and to be fair, while Johnny does start the fight with his attempts to get her to go out with him, the journalist spends much of the episode making a pain of herself by interfering in the Squad's duties, insisting (loudly, stridently, and idiotically, despite the episode showing the dangerous situations) that their jobs are nothing that a woman couldn't do better without the need for training and are "just another boy's club", and starts lambasting Brackett over the misogynistic practices of the hospital. By the middle of the episode, even calm and patient Roy looks ready to hit her.
  • Strictly Formula: Most of the episodes follow a certain narrative pattern: the paramedics are in the fire station, where their personal story begins, until they are called up. Afterwards there is an alternating pattern of serious and humorous dispatches while the staff of Rampart Hospital take care of the victims along with their own concerns. Finally, the episode climaxes with a spectacular emergency such as a major structure fire or vehicle accident which the firefighters risk life and limb to resolve, followed by a humorous epilogue concluding the firefighters' personal story.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Sometimes, the larger fires had this as part of them. Usually, anything involving combustive chemicals was at risk for this, and any fire can experience another variant called flashover, when everything in a fire just explodes in flames. John also blew up the station's TV once on accident.
  • Suicide by Pills: In one episode, the paramedics arrive to assist a teenage girl who attempted suicide by ingesting aspirin. A complication occurs when the patient refuses aid; California law prohibits paramedics from treating anyone who's an adult, conscious, and refuses aid. They must wait until the girl passes out before beginning treatment.
  • Surgeons Can Do Autopsies If They Want: Averted and played straight. Early and Brackett were surgeons but did a lot of emergency room work. However, Rampart was a community public hospital and may not have had as many resources as the private hospitals might. And sometimes specialists were called. Early was a cardiologist and often worked on heart cases and other specialists were sometimes called as well.
  • Syndication Title: Emergency One.
  • Taxman Takes the Winnings: There was one episode where a wealthy woman left John and Roy a fortune after they rescued her, but after other bequests, various expenses, and, especially, taxes, the paramedics have a few bucks left and that's it.
  • Team Pet: A couple stray dogs end up getting adopted by Station 51. For the first five seasons, it's a shaggy dog they name Boot. In season 6, it's a very lazy hound they name Henry (Captain Henry Stanley agrees only on the condition they never call the dog by his nickname Hank).
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork:
    • Roy may have to work with Brice if John is hurt, but he'll be irritated by him the whole time.
    • Roy, John and the character of the week in "The Trainee", due to his arrogance and refusal to wait for orders.
    • Anyone working under Captain Hochrader. He is apparently very demanding and strict.
  • Things Get Real: Gage and DeSoto were not yet allowed to set up IVs or do many other normal tasks. Then Dixie ends up one of the casualties, and there's no one else to give her treatment ....
  • To the Batpole!:
    • Averted most of the time since Station 51 is a one-story building, but occasionally the paramedics are assigned to other stations (such as Station 10 in the pilot) that have multiple floors with firepoles.
    • Played straight in the cartoon.
  • Token Minority:
    • At Rampart, Morton. There is also a police officer named Vince, who helps out on a lot of calls, and a black police detective who appears twice and is critical to saving the paramedics' careers when they are framed by a con artist doing a flopsy. (The dispatcher was also black but he was a recurring cameo character.) It was still good for its time, though, as not many series had well-educated African-Americans in good careers then, and if you watch the background of Rampart ER scenes, there's quite a few African-American staff in various hospital uniforms. Many of the ambulance crews also have African-American attendants.
    • Averted with the firemen. Marco Lopez was Mexican and John Gage at least part Native American.
  • The Tonsillitis Episode: "Syndrome". Roy had them out as a kid, and keeps denying they're causing his sore throat. Eventually, one of the doctors confirms that they grew back and Roy will need surgery again. John brings him a milkshake at the end of the episode. The trouble is, he's rooming with Chet, who broke his shoulder, and won't shut his mouth.
  • Trapped in a Sinking Car: A couple. Roy and John have to use the Jaws of Life underwater in "Seance" and another has a teenage boy trapped in his submerged car.
  • Vacation Episode: "Welcome to Santa Rosa County". The boys try to go on a fishing trip, but it turns into a Busman's Holiday when a climber gets hurt and later, a boat engine explodes and burns another fisherman.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Most of the firefighters, but especially Gage and Chet.
  • The Voice: Real-life LA County Fire Dispatcher Sam Lanier, who filled this role for all of the show's six regular seasons, plus the various TV Movies which were actually set in LA. Eventually averted when, in a few later season episodes, Sam actually appeared on screen during the dispatch scenes.
  • We Have to Get the Bullet Out!: "The Tycoons" featured a minor b-plot in which a patient- a criminal who had been shot by a police officer- refused removal of a bullet in his leg. Subverted from the usual drama because not only was the bullet key evidence in the crime(the criminal didn't want it out so it couldn't be used against him in court) but because the bullet was also lodged dangerously close to a major artery and failing to remove it could've been fatal if it moved even slightly. However, as the patient was conscious he was able to refuse treatment.
    • Another episode ("How Green Was My Thumb?") with a twist. The "bullet" in this case was an unexploded granade accidentally shot from a launcher. Since the round was still live and could go off at any time, they had to get it out right there. So instead of going to Rampart, Dr. Brackett and Dr. Morton went to the scene, along with the Bomb Squad to instruct everyone on safeguards, keep bystanders clear, and eventually receive the recovered ordnance for safe disposal.
  • Women Drivers: Comes up in "To Buy or Not to Buy," during a collision between two driving school vehicles. In the aftermath, it comes out that one of the women needs glasses to see anything, absolutely shocking the driving instructor — which implies she's such a ditz that she didn't realize driving requires sight.
  • Worst Aid: Averted with the paramedics, obviously, but at one point ("Grateful") a man brings in his friend with severe chest pains. Assuming his friend was having a heart attack, he walloped him in the chest, attempting a precardial thump because "I seen it on TV a hundred times." Turns out it was simply pleuritis and all he managed to do was fracture the poor guy's sternum. Early tears into him for it.
    Early: I don't know if your friend is having a heart attack, but your "cure" might have caved in his ribcage!
  • You Did Everything You Could: This is invoked occasionally throughout the series to show that not every rescue is successful. The pilot dealt with the limitations of the Rescue Squad regarding certain emergencies, and this prompts John to become a paramedic. In "Frequency", John deals with a police officer friend of his dying in one episode and wonders if the busy radio at the time may have been a factor.note  Several other times, the Rampart staff have to deal with patients they lose under their care.