"To suffer fifty weeks of the year for the sake of a two-week vacation; it's a measly manner of
existence." These are the feelings expressed by a character in Arthur Miller's
mult-award winning play, "Death of a Salesman."
Fortunately, members of paramedics emergency rescue teams don't feel this way, for the know that they are members of an exciting, rewarding, although
sometimes dangerous, profession.
Their way of life constitutes the main strength of Universal Television's hour-long series "Emergency!", which begins it's fourth season on the NBC
Television Network on Saturday, September 14.
Not only has "Emergency!" proven successful and popular television viewing, it's graphic illustration of society's need for trained paramedics, has in
the words of Senator Alan Cranston "...alerted the public to the value of paramedic for better emergency care."
In September, 1972, the Senator wrote to Jack Webb, whose Mark VII Ltd. produces the series to say... We unanimously passed a bill that,
among other things would promote the training of paramedics to staff ambulances and emergency rooms in hospitals
across the country. I introduced the provisions in the bill dealing with paramedics and emergency medical services in hopes that our nation will
make greater use of the thousands of experienced, able young men who have returned from Vietnam with the medical skills America needs so desperately. They are to get top priority in the training programs.
Jack, your "EMERGENCY!" series fired the public imagination and was the harbinger for a medical idea whose time, I believe, has come. In the midst
of a severe shortage of doctors, nurses and trained emergency personnel, 175,000 die each year because they do not get adequate medical care in an
emergency. Another 25,000 are left permanently disabled because of inept handling by untrained ambulance attendants. "EMERGENCY!" has dramatized the potential of the paramedic. I hope the
House of Representatives and the President will now follow the lead of 100 Senators -- and Jack Webb! Thank you for the good work, Jack. And
congratulations to you and all the people connected with "EMERGENCY!"
The background of "Emergency!" as a television series is the true story of a
project that began in Los Angeles in 1969, the year that launched a specially trained team of highly skilled
firemen-paramedics to operate rescue squads for the L.A. County Fire Department. Although many fire
departments traditionally have provided rescue service to aid the injured, sick and dying, it was obvious to many civic officials and medical
personnel that too many patients were being lost before they could receive trained medical aid at the hospital.
The initial program to alleviate this waste of life was inaugurated, funded by the federal and county governments. In pairs, the firefighters
went with doctors on their daily hospital rounds, checking vital signs, taking blood pressure readings, interpreting electrocardiograms. The
performed as "student medical assistants".
Afternoons were spent in the classrooms, where the firemen and a score of registered nurses qualified to become Cardiac Care Unit Specialist.
Three short months later, the firemen were in the fields, able to put their newly acquired knowledge to use with the aid of sophisticated, and
expensive, mobile equipment which was added to the conventional rescue squad trucks.
For the first year, a nurse accompanied the paramedics on all calls because there was no legal authority for the firemen to perform the advanced
techniques they had learned. Then, the Wedworth-Townsend Act was passed by the California State Legislature and the paramedic program was off the ground.
Jack Webb has been blazing new trails in dramatic programs for more than 20 years. He films "Emergency!" with the full
cooperation and assistance of the Los Angeles County Fire Department as well as the County Department of
Adding a decidedly realistic touch, authentic fire-fighting equipment has been loaned to the production company. Should any of it be needed in an
actual crisis, a "hot line" links fire department headquarters to the sound stage. One ring on that instrument, appropriately painted fire engine red,
and film production becomes secondary to the needs of the community.
As the series begins it's fourth season, Robert A Cinder remains as executive producer. Robert Fuller, Julie London, Bobby Troup, Randolph
Mantooth and Kevin Tighe, heading the star line-up, continue to keep the viewing audiences entertained.