When asked, many of today's EMS field providers will tell you their interest in EMS began in the 1970s when their families gathered in front of the television on Saturday nights to watch the weekly adventures of Los Angeles County Fire Department's Station #51 on Emergency! The popularity of the show took the country by storm, making the term "paramedic" part of the American vernacular and helping set the stage for paramedic-level emergency care.
Authors Richard Yokley and Rozane Sutherland, both self-proclaimed Emergency! fanatics, have written Emergency! Behind the Scene, the most comprehensive companion book to the Emergency! series, published by Jones and Bartlett Publishers of Sudbury, Mass.
All that anyone--from people with a casual interest in the show to the most diehard Emergency! fan--would want to know about the series can be found in this book, including information on the inception of EMS in America, development of the paramedic program in Los Angeles County, Hollywood's interest in producing a unique medical drama, and development of Emergency! as it appeared in its 1972 pilot episode, "The Wedsworth-Townsend Act." The book also includes information about every "nook and cranny" of the show, biographies of all the main actors (Mike Stoker was actually a firefighter with Los Angeles County Fire Department), technical information about the equipment and apparatus used in the show, from the original Engine 51 and Squad 51 to the bulldozer used in the "Snake Bite" episode, and the helicopters used over the course of the series. Also included is information about the shooting locations, both on the Universal Studios lot and on location, as well as Station 51 and Rampart Hospital.
Chapters with interesting information that didn't make it to the screen are also part of this comprehensive book, such as a cross-country trip/press junket with the "new" Engine 51, the many Emergency! conventions that have been held, as well as the "Project 51" movement that made it possible for equipment used on the show to be included in the Smithsonian Museum of American History in May of 2000.
The book also includes interviews and insight into the nuts and bolts of the series, both from the actors and from people working behind the scenes, including many members of the L.A. County Fire Department, from the first graduating paramedics in L.A. County who served as technical advisors to Dick Friend, the department's public information officer, and EMS pioneer Jim Page, who was an important part of making Emergency! the success it was.
This book is packed with specific information about each season, each episode, and the individuals involved in writing, directing and serving as technical advisors for each of the 128 episodes, as well as the six made-for-TV movies.
Emergency! Behind the Scene is a perfect book for any Emergency! fan's coffee table or station house. This is the complete story of what, at the time, was a ground-breaking medical drama, and one of the reasons EMS is what it is today. The book is available at a retail price of $25.95. For specific information, go to the Jones and Bartlett website: www.jbpub.com/catalog/9780763748968/.
Timothy J. Perkins, BS, EMT-P, is the EMS systems planner for the Virginia Department of Health's Office of EMS, host of EMS World's EMS Squadcast podcast and a member of the EMS World editorial advisory board.