Sunday, August 4, 2013

Our Emergency! Adventure

I was born and raised in Southern California. Which means if you're a television and film geek like me, there's really no excuse for not seeking out film locations of your favorite shows and flicks. Scenes shot in "my own backyard," so to speak, are thick on the ground.

Back in March I posted a blog about rediscovering a favorite childhood television show, Emergency!, on Netflix. At the time I was only a few episodes in and was reveling in the (re)newness of it all. In looking up information about the show I discovered a few links (provided in that post) and learned that:

1) Squad 51 and the two engines used in the show are housed at the Los Angeles County Fire Museum in Bellflower, CA, (a mere 30-40 minutes from my front door), and,

2) LA County fire station 127 in Carson, CA, is the station that was used in filming the exterior and some interior shots for Station 51 and is still an active station.

Ultimately, my two daughters became equally obsessed with the show, ending up watching not only all the episodes of every season, but REwatching them. They LOVE Johnny and Roy. They LOVE Dixie and Dr. Brackett and Dr. Early...and so I decided I MUST take my girls to see the museum and station, which we did yesterday.

First stop was the LA Country Fire Museum. It is only open to the public the first Saturday of every month from 10-2.  (We had planned to go in July, but the museum was closed in mourning of Kevin Woyjeck, the 21 year old son of the Museum's Vice President and LA County Fire Captain Joe Woyjeck. Kevin was one of the 19 Granite Hotshots firefighters who died while fighting the Yarnell fire in Prescott, AZ this past June.)

When we arrived we were greeted with warm smiles, and my daughters were treated like princesses. My 10 year old, Samantha, is keen on becoming a paramedic, so one of the volunteers, Paul, talked to her about what it takes to get into that program, very proudly citing his daughter who just completed a paramedic program herself. We also met Lynn, with whom I spent a tremendously enjoyable hour or so talking about fire fighter service (she became a firefighter/EMT at the age of 47....WHOA LADY YOU ARE AMAZING) and other wonderful aspects of life – it was a very serendipitous meeting. I especially loved that SHE loves her career with such passion.

When we explained our fanatical love of the show Emergency!, we were pointed in the direction of the iconic Squad 51. I am ever-so-thankful my daughters did not scream like I know they were itching to do. 
I'm grateful I didn't scream like a little girl!
And because my girls were the only kids in the museum at the time, the volunteers VERY KINDLY allowed them access to the Squad!! Let me make it really clear that I do not know what their policy is on such a thing, that it may be an "as circumstances allow" kind of decision, but I don't think that is something they allow often and it was really a very, VERY special treat. I realize it might also be that there were photographers from Press-Telegram there, and so, really, who wouldn't want two cute (if I may say so) little girls all gaggley over such a famous vehicle? It's good press. Whatever the reason, the kindness the volunteers showed my children will never be forgotten by any of us.

The faces tell it like it was: MAGICAL!! "Oh My GOD MOM...
we are sitting 
Randolph Mantooth and Kevin Tighe both signed "their doors" (Tighe's character, Roy, always drove, so the driver's door had his signature, and Mantooth's was on the passenger door). The girls were also allowed to see the equipment panel where the drug box, the orange call box, the defibrillator and EKG monitor were stored. And, again, in a very special moment, the girls were able to "use" the orange call box (also signed by Mantooth):
"Rampart, this is Squad 51, we have a male, mid-40s,
conscious, bp is 120 over 70, respirations are 18, pupils are
equal and reactive..." (I have no idea....)
In keeping with generally marking up the Squad with awesome autographs, one of the panel doors was signed inside by members of the cast: Mantooth, Tighe, Mike Stoker, Marco Lopez, Tim Donnelly and Ron Pinkard. And up in the very right corner is an innocuous "KC" with a smiley face. I don't know who "KC" would have been (I have a feeling I'll feel stupid once I find out), but here's the UBERGOOBER COOL part: MY initials happen to be KC, and anyone who has ever received a card from me, knows I sign my name with a smiley face. In fact, the writing is similar to mine. IT'S A SIGN FROM GOD I TELL YOU! (Just kidding. Sort of.)
Pointing out the signed door.
 See the KC??  So cool. 
And of course we saw the engines used in the show:
The Crown open-cab (LOVE IT!!) used in the first two seasons.
The Ward La France with closed-cab used in the rest of the seasons.
The driver's seat of the Ward La France
Next stop was a short jaunt up the freeway to Carson, CA and Station 127, where we were treated to a tour by one of the firefighters on duty, Alec, a very sweet and nice young man. We interrupted their Saturday brunch, but he said they do about a tour a day and there was no problem. He wasn't super familiar with the show (GASP!!!) but had his trivia down. While we were there another family from Virginia showed up and were wide-eyed and so excited (especially the mom) to be there. I told them to get to the fire museum that day if they could, to see the squad and engines. I hope they made it over there.
Station 127, renamed in honor of Robert A. Cinader
who was a producer of the show.
DOH! Getting ready to go on the tour! :)
Alec, our wonderful tour guide.
The shiny brown wall to the right is the large map 
(covered in plexiglass) that the firefighters (and the 
actors) referred to for their route to a call.
This is the famous "KMG365" radio alcove.
Alas, now it serves as a thirst quencher alcove.
Umm, what the heck is everyone looking at?
The ever-present kitchen, only slightly different today.
I asked if every time they sit down to eat, does an alarm go off?
I don't think they got it.
(*sigh. See my other post in which I discuss this very topic. *tsk)
The other end of the main kitchen/dining area.
In the show, this was where the teeny, tiny tv was,
and the pay phone is now a whiteboard.
Note the "51" model on the tv console.
These are the sinks used by the guys in some of the locker room scenes, there is one scene I particularly remember where Chet was shaving and he and Johnny were discussing – or arguing (probably arguing) – right here.
Sitting. On. The. Bench. Where. Johnny. And. Roy. Sat. OMG.
Much the same feeling as sitting in the squad.
Aw, my little goobers. :)
Roy's and Johnny's lockers are behind the girls.
As you can see...still in use today.
The bunk room.
There were two more walls/sleeping stations that were
removed to make a gym area. Note on the right edge of the
photo a door. Scenes where the door appears were shot right
here in the station.  Scenes in the bunk room WITHOUT
a door were shot on set. Thanks for the cool trivia Alec! :)
Had to buy them tee-shirts ($20 a piece...the money
goes right back into making more shirts). 
So sad I didn't have enough cash (cash only, folks)
to buy one for myself. Gosh. Shucks. Drat.
I have to go back. 
They also have hats, stickers, key chains, etc. 
In the end, others who had been at the museum at the same time we were, ended up at Station 127 as well, proving that even 40 years later Emergency! is STILL a show that has a HUGE impact and the museum and Station 127 are mecca to Emergency! fans. If Sam follows through with her goal of being a paramedic, she will not be the first kid to be influenced by the show in such an incredible way. And I doubt she'll be the last. 

It was a fantastic day, we left feeling happy and lucky and....wait...there was just ONE more stop up the street, in Torrance:

HELLO RAMPART!  (aka, nowadays, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center).
At last we could return home, full of Emergency! Adventures to share with the world. 


  1. You've jogged some childhood memories today Kris... your next task... CHiPs lol

  2. T, I've got them totally hooked on Magnum P.I.!! :)

  3. It was a LOT of fun! Can't wait to go back.

  4. Enjoyed your day right along with you. Thanks for sharing.

  5. My 11 y.o. daughter loves watching Johnny and Roy and was thrilled to get a chance to meet him at a local aeromedical helicopter's anniversary event. She's as big a fan as I was, and it was a little surreal to finally meet him and hear him speak about his respect for those in the FD and EMS fields when he was one of the reasons I went into it 25 years ago!
    Hope we can make it out the the museum some time and that we have as much fun as you did!

  6. Love it! It's on my bucket list, if I'm ever in California.

    Can you post a diagram of the fire station? I know the kitchen was on the squad side, and bunks/lockers on the engine side. But I am confused on the latter. Are you looking into the bunk room from the lockers? If so, the gym area would have been Johnny and Roy's bunks, right?

  7. Hi! Found your blog while searching for pictures of "Emergency!" -- love the trip you took, thanks for all the photos.

    Are you in the Carson area often? I can't find any websites for LACoFD Station 127; I'm wondering if you'd be willing to pick up a t-shirt and mail it to me! Full reimbursement, of course. :-) Please send me a note on Facebook. Thanks.


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