Actor, writer, producer Randolph Mantooth is one of the most respected and sought-after speakers at fire and emergency medical services conferences in the country. Randy is as well known – if not better known – to firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs the world over as the man who inspired, and continues to inspire, their careers through his portrayal of L.A. County Firefighter/Paramedic “Johnny Gage” in the popular NBC Universal series Emergency!. His start as an actor began in Santa Barbara where he attended Santa Barbara City College. As Randy puts it, “My favorite aspect of studying at SBCC was that it was so close to home. My family just didn't have the money to send me off to a university, and I knew my high school grades weren't going to get me any scholarships. The fact that I already knew a lot of the students that were enrolled at SBCC was a big plus for me, as well.” When asked how he would characterize his experience of SBCC, Randy says, “My overall experience wasn't just good, it was great! I was studying on a stunning campus next to the ocean, within walking distance to one of the most beautiful downtowns in America, and able to keep a job that I had had for three years, AND I was getting a first class education! What's not to like about that?”
After a year at SBCC, he took off for New York City where he attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. “SBCC did help me transfer successfully to another school. SBCC allowed me to develop better learning skills in a more forgiving environment. As a result, my grades rose dramatically. Well, maybe dramatically is a reach - but they did rise!” After graduation, he was signed to a contract by Universal Studios and flew back to L.A. Less than a year later, he was starring as Johnny Gage on Emergency! The show aired 129 episodes and seven two-hour movies, with a national audience that averaged 30 million viewers each week. It continues to run in syndication today. Randy’s role on Emergency! changed the lives of countless young viewers, as well as the course of his life. Today, forty years and many acting roles later, he’s still known as the most recognized firefighter in America. He is one of few civilians who has earned the privilege of being embraced as “one of their own” by the brotherhood of fire fighters, from LA County to FDNY, and all points between. Randy has become a spokesperson for both the International Association of Firefighters [IAFF] and the International Association of Fire Chiefs [IAFC] for fire fighter health and safety. He has been honored with numerous awards and recognitions, such as the IAFC EMS Section James O. Page Award of Excellence, Lifetime member of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians [NAEMT], Lifetime member of the Washington DC-based Advocates for EMS, and he is Chairman and spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Fire Museum.
Years later, Randy still has fond memories of his time at SBCC and its impact on his career. “The most memorable teacher I had at SBCC was most definitely Mr. Max Whittaker! Mr. Whittaker was the Theater Arts Director/Professor. He was an intense, exacting man that ate, breathed, and lived theater. When you came to class or rehearsal unprepared he would let you know in no uncertain terms. And, when you received accolades from him it was treasured by us all. I have carried the work ethic he taught us all with me to this very day. We all loved him!”