The privately-run F&B Ambulance Service is a ragtag company in Los Angeles owned by the cantankerous and loud-mouthed Harry Fishbine (Allen Garfield).
On his staff are smart-aleck veteran driver “Mother” (Bill Cosby); the company’s dispatcher and Girl Friday “Jugs” (Raquel Welch) who has just earned her EMT certificate and wants to drive the ambulances; and “Speed” (Harvey Keitel), a former cop who left the force after allegations of drug dealing.
Leroy (Bruce Davison) is a naive rookie and Murdoch (Larry Hagman) is a sleazy sex fiend who humps female patients while they are unconscious in the back of the ambulance as his partner drives them to the hospital.
The day-to-day story of ambulance people in Los Angeles provided comedy, pathos and occasional moments of high drama – a fat black woman with a broken hip taking a joyride on a stretcher down a hilly street; a young ambulance driver (Davison) killed by a shotgun-wedding junkie (Toni Basil); ambulance crews bribing the cops; a mother dying during childbirth because she is denied access to a hospital; drivers drinking beer on duty and scaring nuns with the ambulance siren – showing that an EMS crew never knows what the next call may bring.
The end of the film sees Murdoch and Walker (Michael McManus) holding the boss’s wife (Valerie Curtin) hostage in the company’s office, complete with an unexpected bloody shootout.
An unsuccessful ABC pilot for a TV sitcom based on the film – retitled Mother, Juggs & Speed – was produced in 1978 starring Ray Vitte, Joanne Nail and Joe Penny in the title roles.