Many years ago, the ambulance station where I work used to be a fire station, so it has a large garage, a massive front and huge roller doors that let the ambulances in and out. They're made mainly of see-through panels, so as you pull back onto station you can see inside the garage. At night, the lights work on sensors, and only come on if there is someone walking about. The darkness gives the place something of a haunted feeling at times, and arriving back in the dead of night on your own can frequently be a little eerie. It takes the sensors a few seconds to register any movement, but once that happens the station and all the vehicles seem to come back to life. The station doesn't seem quite so spooky then.
Arriving back in the early hours one morning, I find that, as usual, there are no ambulances on the forecourt. The station is in its normal sleepy and abandoned state, and I'm about to step into the deathly quiet station. But sitting outside is a police car.
I notice that it's not one of the local units, but one of the armed response team. (For those of you in the States and elsewhere, not all our police are armed. Something I find weird as I didn't grow up here, and something I'd love to see changed. I think.) I take a slightly better look around and find that in a car park opposite, there are another half-dozen of the armed response units, along with various other police vehicles. Looks interesting. And possibly concerning, as they're parked outside the haunted house that is my station. Has someone broken in? Is someone being held hostage inside? More importantly, has someone raided our supply of coffee?
Before I have the chance to give in to my curious nature, one of the officers approaches me.
"Can we borrow you and your car for a small mission?" Well, now there's an offer! I can't refuse that sort of request, can I? What sort of man would I be if I turned down the opportunity to play at being an under-cover cop?
"Sure", I said, "just let me inform my control that I've been commandeered, and then tell me what you need".
I call control on the radio and try to explain without being too specific, concerned that anyone can listen in and hear about the police being in the area and on the hunt for someone clearly unfriendly. They struggle to understand, and in truth I was probably too excited to explain properly, so I just leave it at being used for police assistance, and that I'd call and let them know what happened when it was all over.
The officer goes on to explain that they'd had dubious reports of a shooting in a local club, and wanted to investigate without arousing too much suspicion of their presence. They wanted to clamber into the back of my car so we could drive past the location and get an idea of what was happening. How they expected a bright yellow car with a light-bar on the roof to look inconspicuous, I'm not entirely certain, but they were convinced it was a good idea.
Cramming a lone patient into the back of my car requires all sorts of manoeuvring of luggage. Getting two fully kitted, heavily armed police officers in, was going to be a small challenge, and not one I was willing to fail.
Eventually, car and kit adjusted, and me in a bullet-proof vest, we drove off. Me driving to the location, the officers in the back telling me to act naturally as we passed slowly past. All was quiet. No screams, no mass exodus from the club, no flagging down of an ambulance car. The police decided it was probably a hoax. I'm still not sure if I was pleased or secretly disappointed. I don't want people to be sick or injured, but I do want to be there if it happens.
We return back to the station, the officers decamp and I offer them a cup of coffee. At least I now know that the supplies are safe. I'm relieved when they decline, as there were more than twenty of them there...
I walk back into the quiet station, call control to tell them of my adventure, and let them know that my police career is over, and that I'm now back to being a paramedic. Back to the next call, back to kids with coughs. Back to normality.
I guess that someone in control decided that that's more than enough excitement for me for one night.