Strong Medicine

Season 5 Episode 20

First Response

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Jan 16, 2005 on Lifetime
out of 10
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Episode Summary

First Response
In a special episode of Strong Medicine, the Rittenhouse Hospital Emergency Medical Services team is introduced. EMTs Kate and Zach are attacked while trying to save a young girl's life, figure out the motive behind it, and reach a dubious resolution. Then, a multiple vehicle accident keeps them and Dr. Vanessa Burke, an African American trauma surgeon and Katie's adoptive sister, busy. A chemical spill threatens the lives of those in the accident and a guilty driver makes an impulsive decision. Meanwhile, a pre-teen in the accident needs a transplant and Katie and Lu search homeless shelters for a match. Even after they find one, they still face some difficulties. Vanessa amputates the legs of a man who begged her to let him die and must convince him that life without legs is still worth living.moreless

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  • Not a very \'strong\' spin-off

    This episode was a spin-off for the new Lifetime series Strong Medicine: First Response. It was not very good. I suppose I should allow it time to develop, but the truth is , I doubt it will ever compare to the original, which it unfortunately is most likely replacing, as Patricia Richardson is leaving and I doubt SM will continue without her. SM:FR stars Nichole Hiltz as Kate, a paramedic, and Lauren Velez as Dr. Vanessa Burke, a trauma surgeon. These two are sisters by adoption, one African-American and one Caucasian. Talk about a contrived plot. Kate is the Lu-esque character, her follows her heart and gets very worked up, whereas Dr. Burke is the Andy-type character, playing by the rules. Hiltz even sounds just like Rosa Blasi. It’s such a clichéd show, and too similar to the whole SM clashing between two very different doctors thing to be new or fresh or original. Kate’s paramedic partner Zach, played by Michael Trucco, is very attractive, and the show is obviously set up as for him to become her love interest. I will do my best with this interview but I was trying to balance this along with The Golden Globes and Desperate Housewives *my new addiction J *

    The minor storyline is how Andy notices Dr. Burke getting nervous, and Dr. Burke excuses herself to go to her office when Andy asks whats wrong. She goes in and starts hyperventilating, and later admits to Andy she suffers panic attacks due to (what else?) an abusive childhood. This will obviously become a part of Dr. Burke’s character, where she shows that even people with disabilities can rise above them and be successful.

    Another minor storyline is Kate and Zach going to save a sick baby. The baby’s foreign grandmother is frightened by their uniforms, and comes after them with a knife. They have to strip down to their underwear to perform the rescue operation, and march into the ER, Kate in sexy lingerie, and Zach in his briefs. Oh yeah..thats realistic. It’s not a good sign when a show has to resort to attractive people in underwear to gain ratings. It is learned that the baby has a problem with her blood and needs an immediate bone marrow transplant. Kate suggests they search prisons and homeless shelters for a match. A match is tracked down, a woman at a homeless shelter, but the woman will not donate the marrow for nothing. It is illegal for her to be paid.

    Later, Kate and Zach are in an alley and are trying to help a woman who has OD’d on drugs. Her boyfriend holds a gun to their heads and says he will shoot them if they don’t save her. She is dead on arrival and they end up faking all of their efforts.

    However, the main storyline involves a truck carrying toxic chemicals getting into a crash with several other cars. The driver had been in a rush to get out, and feels extremely guilty for hurting people. The car he hit was being driven by a young girl, who was driving her drunk mother home so that she could sober up and go to work. Kate is torn between respecting doctor-patient confidentiality and calling the police for obvious abuse. The little girl, Cynthia, needs surgery, but her mom doesn’t seem to feel guilty about having acted irresponsibly. Tragically, Cynthia dies. Another woman from the crash is diagnosed with a brain tumor, and it turns out if she hadn’t been brought in with her injuries, she could’ve caught it too late and died.

    Another guy was pinned by a truck and is bleeding profusely. Dr. Burke tells him she may need to amputate his legs, and he says he’d rather die than have that happen. He begins to bleed and passes out. Dr. Burke doesn’t know whether it is legal for her to do the operation necessary to save his life as he gave specific orders that he didn’t want the surgery, but Kate pushes her to do it, saying rules don’t matter but his life does. Dr. Burke goes ahead with the amputation, but the guy is upset and angry.

    Cynthia does not survive the surgery, and another casualty of the accident is the truck driver, who hangs himself in the hospital bathroom after learning she has died. Dr. Burke goes in and confronts the amputee, saying he should feel lucky to be alive and stop expecting pity.

    At the end of the episode, you see Kate slip the homeless woman on the street money, telling her not to use it “for something stupid.” There’s a perfect example of Kate following her heart and breaking the rules, a pattern evident throughout the episode. I saw this as too much of a copy of SM instead of a ‘more action-packed, hipper’ version of SM. I guess we should give it a chance though.

Rosa Blasi

Rosa Blasi

Dr. Luisa "Lu" Delgado

Jenifer Lewis

Jenifer Lewis

Lana Hawkins

Patricia Richardson

Patricia Richardson

Dr. Andy Campbell (Season 3 episode 7-Season 5)

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions