August 26, 2000 – The Disney Channel Original Series In a Heartbeat Premieres
“Sir, my name is Hank Beecham, this is Val and Tyler, and we’re here to help.”
On August 26, 2000, the Disney Channel Original Series In a Heartbeat premiered. It was based on the lives of real teenage volunteer EMTs. The first episode shown was a two-part pilot; the series lasted twenty-one episodes in total, ending after one season. The series was created by Jon Felson, Steve Reiss, and Patricia Green. It starred Shawn Ashmore as Tyler Connell, Reagan Pasternak as Val Lanier, Danso Gordon as Hank Beecham, Christopher Ralph as Jamie Waite, Lauren Collins as Brooke Lanier, and Jackie Rosenbaum as Caitie Roth.
The pilot episode begins with the football team’s practice, with player Tyler Connell eyeing cheerleader Val Lanier before getting sacked. Behind the bleachers, a group of kids are hanging out and discussing piercings. Tyler and teammate Hank Beecham hear a strange beeping noise and rush off the field, followed by Val. The beeping is an emergency call, and the three are part of a volunteer EMT squad that has to make their way to an accident. The man isn’t happy to see kids taking care of him, and panics, demanding to see a real doctor. Fortunately, the kids are able to calm him down and save his life. Back at the station house, the kids discuss the case before their boss Alex comes in to let them know about rookie orientation the next day, and warns them not to be late. Alex then has to talk with the mayor, trying to convince her not to put kids doing mandatory community service on the squad; he soon meets Dr. Jennifer Perino, who is tapped to be his assistant (and possible replacement).
The next day at the orientation, Tyler, Val, and Hank explains what happens, when they are interrupted by a pair of gossiping kids, including Jamie Waite, who was earlier seen hanging behind the bleachers. Jamie, who must perform mandatory community service, would rather “play a doctor on TV” than be one. Tyler and Val obviously have chemistry, but Val is very cautious about a relationship, as it’s very complicated between each other. She tries to explain things to her friend Caitie, who is another behind-the-bleachers kid, and pushes Val to reveal her feelings, although the two get in an argument over their different lifestyles. Tyler has to work with Jamie, although Jamie can’t understand why there’s so many rules and regulations to deal with equipment.
Val and her sister Brooke, who also helps with the squad, are also dealing with a difficult home life, as their parents are fighting once again. Val explains it to Tyler when they sit on the bleachers at lunch, and he understands, as his life is rather difficult as well, with his parents being divorced. He advises her not to jump to the worst case scenario, as not every marriage ends in divorce. Soon after, the team heads out on another call, only to find that the lady that called want them to resuscitate a dog. While Tyler refuses to treat an animal, Jamie decided to at least give it a shot. While it looks like the two are finally getting along, another argument ensues when Jamie can’t find an orange cone again, even though he says he bought one. Alex is ready to fire him, but Jennifer refuses to let him. Val tries to make up with Caitie, but Caitie refuses to accept Val’s apology. Val once again opens up to Tyler about the fight, and the two get even closer, until an emergency sounds. The group rushes to a call, which happens to be Val’s dad. Her father had a heart attack, and she tries to keep calm, but is having a hard time.
The second half of the pilot begins at the hospital, where Val and her family find that her father’s heart attack was severe, but he is alive. Tyler stays with the family to help Val, and offers to talk with her, but she decides to stay in the room with her family. While at the hospital, Caitie arrives to give Val support, trying to apologize, and the two become friends again. Meanwhile, Jamie is on call with Hank, and finds that some guy driving around town has stolen his cone, who thinks that the cone is one of the three stooges. Seeing that the guy has some mental issues and not a lot of friends, Jessie tries to let the guy keep the cone, but Hank tells him they need to take the cone back. Later that night, there’s another emergency call, and the kids head to a multi-car crash, and Jessie finally realizes the severity of the situation he’s in.
Jennifer is leaving the building late at night, when she spots Hank crying in his car. He tries to go visit them in the hospital, and is caught by Jennifer when he tries to leave. Hank is having a hard time dealing with the accident, as there was a five-year-old in the car with a possible spinal injury. She offers him someone to talk to if he should need it, and she thanks him. Val finds Alex to talk to, as her father may need a heart transplant, and she may need to give up the squad to take care of her family. He offers to reduce her time for a week and see what happens. Alex then is ready to fire Jamie, but Jamie wishes to prove Alex wrong, proving that he can do this job better than expected. Jennifer is able to find information about the family for Hank, and he thanks her for finding out the condition for him. Later, Val is taking care of Brooke, and Tyler drops by to see how she’s doing. He brings her a good-luck charm – a leprechaun snowglobe – to give to her father, and the two play Scrabble with Brooke. The episode ends with team seen coping with their lives and their responsibilities.