Question: Was the opening for Emergency! the same throughout the entire run of the show? I noticed that the closed-top Engine 51 is in the opening and yet at the beginning of the series they drove an open-top engine. Thanks for any help you can shed on this for me.

Televisionary: Actually, the big question for me is whether you were as much of an Emergency! devotee as I was when the show originally aired or if you're just catching the episodes now on TV Land. (Mind you, I was a kid when I watched, lest you picture me as a grizzled old guy banging this column out on his vintage Royal or something.)

The original engine used on the show, which ran on NBC from January 1972 to September 1977, was an open-cab Crown. However, in 1973 Ward LaFrance delivered a new pumper to the show's producers in New York. Two technical consultants, a spokesman from the L.A. County Fire Department and fireman Mike Stoker (who drove the engine on the show) then took the new truck on a cross-country tour, stopping in various cities along the way before delivering it to Emergency! producers on the West Coast. (If you're wondering how old the press release I dug up for that info is, NBC's letterhead touts it as being "The Full Color Network.")

While the term paramedic is commonly understood today, Emergency! was a major force in bringing the term into the mainstream lexicon. When the show, which starred Kevin Tighe and heartthrob Randolph Mantooth, first aired, the L.A. fireman-paramedic program was only three years old, launched after city officials became concerned over patients who died on their way to the hospital. In fact, NBC credited the show with providing an added benefit: showing kids what to do in dire situations. Another release I unearthed quoted letters relating how a young viewer knew to drop and roll when her clothes caught fire, while another was able to deal with a steam burn and call for help because he watched the show.

Self-serving? Sure — aren't all press releases? But you can't argue with a kid knowing what to do in a bad spot because he or she watched TV. Of course, today's biggest hit demonstrates how to eat a rat and form a shadowy alliance in order to win money, so the altruism continues.