EMTs, aka emergency medical technicians, deal with life or death situations on an almost daily basis. However, between administering life-saving CPR and trying to shock someone's heart back to life, they see some pretty some weird (read: hilarious) stuff.
"When we're talking to EMTs about the show ... I say it's a comedy and they say, 'Thank God,' and they tell me 10 funny things that happened to them on the job," Sirens executive producer Bob Fisher tells TVGuide.com. "A little bit of it is as a coping mechanism ... but, the body can be a funny thing, and so when you're dealing with these EMT calls, you're dealing with the heart of what is funny."
That is the idea behind Sirens, a new half-hour comedy about three Chicago EMTs. Premiering on Thursday at 10/9c on USA, the show follows best friends and longtime co-workers Johnny (Pan Am's Michael Mosley) and Hank (Modern Family's Kevin Daniels) as they show the ropes to new addition Brian (Game Change's Kevin Bigley).
The comedy was developed by Fisher and Denis Leary, who is no stranger to saving (TV) lives after playing a firefighter for seven seasons on the dramatic but also surprisingly hilarious Rescue Me. With that in mind, the creators of the original British comedy Sirens approached Leary about adapting the show for American television. Leary, whose own wife is an EMT, then reached out to Fisher, best known for writing buddy comedies like Wedding Crashers and Traffic Light. "I think the friendship between Johnny and Hank started the show for Denis and I," Fisher says. "Men are super sentimental, and their friendships mean a lot to them, and the way they express that need and that connectedness a lot of times comes from giving each other a hard time or fighting over sports or any of this other stuff. But underneath it is this tremendous love and loyalty."
Although this line of work is more often ripe for dramatic fare, such as on NBC's current hit Chicago Fire and the short-lived Trauma, Fisher says the job title also made him want to sign on. "What appealed to me specifically about EMTs is that there's genuine stakes and life and death stuff going on," he says. "On a television show where you don't have any of that, it can feel kind of silly after all."
That balance between the comedic moments and the potentially dramatic ones is what drew Mosley to the series. "It's fascinating this tempo that they live in — they're racing to a job and 75 percent of the time, it's going to be somebody having a panic attack that thinks they're having a heart attack or some little thing, but it could be the worst day of your life," he says. "Part of their coping is to bust each other's balls and make light of things that maybe other folks would take a little more seriously. I like the idea that you can sit there and listen to these guys go on for four minutes about who ate the last donut and then kind of get slammed with something a lot larger or more essential."
In addition to the banter between the EMT team, the job itself, and specifically the outrageous calls they sometimes receive, leads to some hilarious moments as well. "When an EMT comes to your house, you're not ready for them. You didn't straighten the pillows. You didn't hide the stuff that's embarrassing," Fisher says. "That's really interesting and we explore a little bit of that."
However, the show will have serious moments too, such as like a patient's death at the very beginning of an episode. "It ultimately creates a conversation between the characters about their relationship with this kind of larger question," Mosley says, "and then they all spin off onto their own kind of tangents of discovery and what it means for them."
But Sirens still hopes to make you laugh rather than make you cry. "Whether we succeed or not, we want EMTs to go, 'OK, that's funny,'" Fisher says.
Sirens premieres Thursday at 10/9c on USA.