Pennington: What Can Emergency! Teach Us Today?

Excitement would be an understatement of the emotion that this jumpseater is feeling today. I learned that the Squad 51 and Engine 51 will be at Firehouse World in San Diego next week. This will be my second time presenting to West Coast first responders. Knowing that units from Station 51 will be there is a huge bonus. Until a few weeks ago, it never really dawned on me how much of an influence the Emergency! television show had on my life.

During a family gathering my mother explained how a young Ryan would crawl around the house with yarn around my mouth, staying low.  She would ask “what is on your face” and she told people that young Ryan would respond “this is my breathing apparatus.” Young Ryan went on to explain how I needed to wear the air pack to allow the rescue to be made and victims rescued. While I don’t remember these events she was insistent that I had learned about this from watching Johnny and Roy fight fires every week. 

Fast forward a number of years I rediscovered this television show after entering the fire service. Countless hours were spent in front of the television at the station waiting for the bells to ring. As Los Angeles County Station 51 went about their day answering alarms, hanging in the kitchen, and featuring the true heart and soul of the fire service, this show should have inspired everyone to become firefighters. Anyone who has watched it and was not inspired to serve doesn't have the need to serve and understand camaraderie.

What stands out about this show to this jumpseat rider is how things have changed.

First, all the firefighters made sure their uniforms were perfect day or night. Second, conversations didn’t involve the words “social media.” Lastly, they were on the trucks in seconds. Wow, what great lessons for us all to learn from a television show. Constant actions taken in and around the station to ensure they look and act the part. 

Okay, so it’s a television show, right? We all should take the time to sit down and compare our service to Johnny and Roy’s. Is you uniform “stage ready?”  Are you giving the customers 100% awesome care? These questions should be answered on every run we make as there is one glaring similarity to the cast on Emergency! and those of us on the streets today. The cameras are on us!

That’s correct. From cell phone reporters to firefighters that choose to wear helmet cameras, everything that we do on the fireground is being recorded, just like Johnny and Roy. We all should strive to ensure that we could look, act, and respond as they did so many years ago. If we all act like we are being recorded, which most of the time we are, it will help us remember to do things the right way!

Stay tuned to Views from the Jumpseat as we will share some pictures, stories, and experiences from hanging the rigs from Station 51 in Los Angeles County. If you are in southern California make sure to come to Firehouse World and see these icons of the fire service. #kmg365

  • Did Emergency! impact your decision to join the fire service? Take the poll at the bottom of the homepage and let us know!