Infamous for his portrayal of Sergeant Joe Friday in his television series "Dragnet," Jack Webb founded Mark VII Productions in 1951. Devoted to the realistic depiction of civil servants as working class heroes, Webb went on to produce "Adam 12," and "Emergency!," which premiered on January 15, 1972 as a mid-season replacement. Based on the daily adventures of Los Angeles County Fire Department's fictional Squad 51, "Emergency!" highlighted the then unknown profession of paramedic, and may well have played a role in the nationwide evolution of emergency medical services during the five years it was on air.
"Emergency!" follows the lives of paramedics lady's man Johnny Gage (Randolph Mantooth) and Roy DeSoto (Kevin Tighe), a devoted husband and father, along with their fellow fire fighters, often played by actual members of LACoFD. The emergency staff at Rampart Hospital included Robert Fuller as Dr. Kelly Brackett; Bobby Troup, known for penning "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66", as Dr. Joe Early; and Webb's ex-wife, Julie London (then wife of Bobby Troup), as head nurse Dixie McCall.
Webb went to great lengths to accurately portray the working lives of the paramedics by using current equipment and operational locations, with extensive cooperation by the LACoFD. The show was credited with familiarizing viewers with live-saving first aid and CPR techniques, prompting the development of medical education programs across the country. When the show was first syndicated in 1976, it was rebroadcast as "Emergency One!" to avoid confusion with new episodes. The show would later return as a series of six movies of the week, and an animated version for teens, "Emergency +4," which ran from 1973 to 1976.