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Trojan Ambulance

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Something tells me that man is not a paramedic...

The Master: What are we waiting for?
Chang Lee: The road's still blocked.
Chang Lee: Right. [turns on siren]

Pretty much the one vehicle no one will stop in an emergency is an ambulance. An ambulance racing up with sirens screaming is almost guaranteed to be waved through a roadblock. This can make it the perfect getaway vehicle for those up to no good. Or, if you need access to a hospital, an ambulance can roll right up to the doors and no one will look twice.

Can also be used to take people away from the street. and take them wherever you want. Of course, no one will look twice if something like that happens, because that's sort of what an ambulance does: to take ill or injured people from a place of danger and into a hospital. In fact, this did—and still does—happen in Real Life.

Similar to other vehicular cases of Subverted Innocence, such as Bad Humor Truck. Both may contrast with Van in Black and Creepy Stalker Van, which is obviously sinister or at least suspicious. The latter may overlap with this, when the van in question is set to look like (or hell forbid, actually is) an ambulance. The modern version of the age-old Trojan Horse.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bubblegum Crisis: In "Double Vision", Reika/Vision impersonates a call girl in order to poison a boomer designer so that she and her allies can kidnap him using a fake ambulance.
  • In episode 2 of Double Decker, Doug and Kirill manage to pull over an ambulance under the suspicion that an escaped convict is pretending to be injured and hiding inside. Doug quickly figures out that the convict is the driver and it turns into a high-speed chase.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman foe the Crime Doctor used a fake ambulance so that he could easily speed away from the crime scene without police tracking him.
  • In Combat Kelly and his Deadly Dozen #9, Kelly and Little Bear disguise themselves as doctors to sneak the critically injured Laurie out of the German hospital and load her into an ambulance. Kelly manages to drive off in the ambulance, but Little Bear gets gunned down before he can get in.
  • Daredevil villain the Surgeon General uses an ambulance to travel to and from her criminal operations.
  • Luke Cage: Black Mariah led a gang of criminals, using fake ambulances and paddy wagons to pick up people without being questioned. They would cart off the bodies of rich people who died in public places, as well as collecting criminals. After taking the valuables from their victims they would take the victim's home and office keys and rob them before they could be closed up.
  • In Suicide Squad #4, the Squad pull a Staged Shooting on Vigilante Man William Hell (actually a disguised Deadshot) as part of a scheme to discredit the real Hell who is a white supremacist agitator. Members of the Squad disguised as paramedics load the fake Hell into an ambulance and drive off as a riot starts, vanishing in the confusion.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In 22 Bullets, Captain Goldman uses as an ambulance as a surveillance van to keep tabs on Charly while he is in the hospital.
  • The Ambulance: The Big Bad of the film, "The Doctor", kidnaps his victims by arriving to accident sites in his ambulance, loading up the patient with help of his minions dressed up as paramedics, and driving off. It takes the police some time to figure out the crime is happening and the Doctor is not adverse at running over people with the ambulance to silence them if needed (and the ambulance is eventually revealed to be armored, too).
  • In Black Panther (2018) Killmonger's crew uses this at a London museum after he poisons a curator's coffee, and under the pretext of responding to her, they rush in, gun down several people, steal the vibranium axe head and then leave with Killmonger posing as a patient until they get back to the ambulance and make their getaway.
  • The Cannonball Run: After a chance comment from a paramedic about how you can "smoke through traffic like shot through a gun" in an ambulance, J.J. and Victor decide to use an ambulance as their vehicle for the race, with them dressed as paramedics, an extremely dubious doctor, and a bystander they abduct as the 'patient'.
  • The Dark Knight: Played with. After the Joker and his henchmen open fire on the crowd at Commissioner Loeb's memorial, one of the henchmen (Thomas Schiff) is shot and put into an ambulance, handcuffed to the stretcher. Harvey Dent takes the opportunity to commandeer the ambulance and kidnap Schiff, who is still handcuffed in the back, to isolate and interrogate him away from police intervention.
  • In Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome, Gruesome uses a military ambulance to gain admittance to the hospital when he abducts what he thinks is Melody. When he leaves, he steals one of the city's ambulance because he knows the police will be looking for the army one. He turns on the siren and drives out of the hospital past the unsuspecting Pat.
  • Die Hard: When Hans Gruber and his crew drive up to the Nakatomi building in a small car and large truck, it's later revealed the truck had an ambulance van stored inside that was intended for Hans and his crew to escape in, as part of a rather spectacular Batman Gambit to rob the Nakatomi Corporation of $640 million dollars. They would have succeeded, were in not for John McClane taking most of Hans' crew down (including Hans himself), and Argyle wrecking the ambulance itself with his limo when he became suspicious of one of Hans' men driving the ambulance off the truck (since by then he knew the building was locked down and in a hostage situation, although no one else besides John knew Argyle was still in the parking garage).
  • Don 2: After being sent to prison to retrieve an ally, Don escapes prison using this method. Don has the prisoners food poisoned and sneaks in paramedic jumpsuits into his cell. During the emergency to get the prisoners out, Don and his ally sneaks out in said jumpsuits and leave in an ambulance that they sneaked into along with the rest of the normal ambulances.
  • The Fugitive. While at a hospital; the fugitive Richard Kimble steals an ambulance as an escape vehicle and drives off quickly with the sirens on, going around and through barricades. Unfortunately for him, the theft is reported to his official pursuers, who brought a helicopter.
  • Before the first heist in Heat, McCauley steals an ambulance and two paramedic's uniforms. He uses the ambulance to block the road, holding up an armoured bank car long enough for Cheritto to ram it off the road with a second vehicle.
  • The Heist is 1989 Made-for-TV Movie that is partly a Homage to The Killing. In it the gang use an ambulance to smuggle the stolen loot out of the racetrack. (In The Killing, the crooks use a police car.)
  • James Bond
    • After doing a Kill and Replace on Major Derval, SPECTRE agents wrap the corpse in bandages previously worn by the imposter and plan to remove it by ambulance. Given that one of the people doing so is Count Lippe, who previously tried to murder Bond, the latter's suspicions are aroused when he happens to catch sight of them. Unlike other examples they try to sneak the body out in the night, likely because the staff would be suspicious as to why they hadn't been informed of a death on the premises.
    • The Living Daylights features a variant involving an air ambulance. After infiltrating the safe-house by disguising himself as a milkman, Necros radios in a report of a major gas leak within the building. This causes security to order an immediate evacuation. In the confusion, he abducts Koskov and—changing his disguise to a doctor by taking off his apron and cap and placing a stethoscope round his neck—he takes him out on to the lawn. A helicopter marked with medical insignia lands and Necros loads Koskov on board and they fly out right under the eyes of MI6.
      • Used again later in the movie, where Koskov & Necros get the captured & drugged Bond past Soviet authorities by pretending Bond is a heart patient being transported for an urgent transplant.
  • The Kingdom (2007): Al Qaeda launches an attack involving a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest; they use the ensuing chaos to drive an ambulance full of explosives to the scene and set off a much larger secondary explosion.
  • Mysterious Doctor Satan (1940 Film Serial).
    • Dr. Satan has his minions deliver his Killer Robot to a hospital for a Sickbed Slaying, and it's carried there on an ambulance stretcher. However the hero sees the fake ambulance leaving with the robot and follows it back to Dr. Satan's lair.
    • When a scientist gets a burnt face during an unsuccessful attempt to kidnap him, Dr. Satan adapts by sending a fake ambulance to pick him up. When he realises the heroes are on their trail, Dr. Satan has his face wrapped in bandages like the scientist so he can take his place when 'rescued'.
  • In Parker, Parker steals an ambulance to facilitate his escape from the hospital. He later uses the medical supplies in the ambulance to conduct Self-Surgery.
  • The Silence of the Lambs: During his escape, Hannibal Lecter skins one of the officers who was watching over him, wears his face, and tricks the emergency responders into loading him onto an ambulance, knowing no one would stop to search an ambulance carrying a wounded policeman. After the ambulance leaves, Lecter proceeds to kill the responders and escape.
  • Steel Rain. The Glorious Leader of North Korea is wounded in an attempted coup and is being treated in a South Korean hospital under heavy guard. A North Korean commando team is sent in to finish the job, and they race up to the hospital in an ambulance demanding to be let through the checkpoint. When the guards go to check inside, they're gunned down. The ambulance is immediately riddled with bullets, but other commandoes disguised as South Korean intelligence have already been waved through the checkpoint, so they come up behind the guardpost and kill everyone inside.
  • In The Town, Doug and Jem enter Fenway Park disguised as Boston police officers, steal $3,500,000 in gate cash, and prepare to escape in an ambulance, dressed as paramedics.

  • 87th Precinct: In So Long As You Both Shall Live, Augusta Kling is abducted on her wedding night by her Stalker with a Crush, who is a paramedic and drives her away in an ambulance.
  • Nick Velvet: In "The Theft of the Family Portrait", a fake ambulance is used to snatch a diamond merchant of the street and hold him for ransom.
  • Parker: In The Seventh, Parker is part of a seven-man crew who successfully rob the gate receipts from a stadium on college football Saturday. The getaway involves one of the crew driving a stolen ambulance into the stadium and parking it with other ambulances attending the game. After the robbery, they load the loot and several of the crew into the ambulance and drive out.
  • In Timeline-191, CSA President Jake Featherston travels in a vehicle marked with the Red Cross to avoid being shot at by USA forces.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The season four premiere of Criminal Minds had an assassination plot that used an ambulance to smuggle a bomb into a hospital, the final result of a terrorist group manufacturing a citywide crisis to get around a bypass order for a high-profile patient.
  • CSI: In "Malice in Wonderland," it turns out one of the wedding robbers is an EMT who uses his job to learn every road in their city and use that knowledge for speedy getaways. At the end of the episode, he takes David Hodges and his mother hostage in his own ambulance.
  • A variation in Dad's Army when the platoon is assigned to test the security of an army base, and decide to pretend to be firemen responding to an emergency. As usual things go wrong when their fire truck is diverted to a real fire.
  • In the Doctor Who TV movie, as the Doctor and Grace are escaping on a stolen motorcycle, the Master kindly reminds Chang Lee that they don't need to wait for traffic to clear up to follow them, since they just so happen to be in an ambulance.
  • In the Elementary episode "Snow Angels", a complex plan to steal a vast sum of money in worn banknotes intended for destruction involves the use of a stolen ambulance as a getaway vehicle. The thieves even set up a legitimate ambulance to be mistaken by the police for their getaway vehicle as a distraction.
  • FBI: Most Wanted: An unusual ambulance-less version occurs in "Double Fault". The kidnappers kill an EMT crew attending a sporting event and steal their uniforms and gurney. Then, when their intended victim collapses from being poisoned, the fake EMTs swoop in, load her on to the gurney, and carry her out and load her into a fake taxi.
  • Firefly: In "Ariel", Simon approaches the crew with a job: he wants to get into the hospital in Ariel's capital city in order to scan River's brain with an advanced piece of medical equipment, and he needs the crew to get him inside. As payment, he will tell the crew how to steal valuable medical supplies undetected. Simon drugs himself and River so they appear dead, allowing the crew to enter Ariel city's hospital using a scrapped medical shuttle they refurbish and fake EMT IDs.
  • Leverage: In "The Bank Shot Job", the crew commandeers an ambulance car to make a clean getaway after the con — which isn't as gratuitous as most examples, since Nate has been shot during the job and needs actual medical attention.
  • Only Fools and Horses: In "Chain Gang", Con Man Arnie has this as a key part of his MO. He offers to sell his mark(s) a Handcuffed Briefcase full of gold chains at half-price, claiming he's lost touch with the intended buyer (supposedly not someone you want to cross) who then conveniently calls right after the money has been handed over. Arnie then persuades them to sell the chains to the buyer at full price (with himself as middleman so the man won't get suspicious), then fakes a heart attack while supposedly waiting for him, and is picked up by his sons in an ambulance (still cuffed to the briefcase), who speed through every red light until they've shaken off the frantic marks — who later get a call from the "hospital" claiming he's died. However, the plan unravels after Rodney — whom he'd previously scammed along with Del, Boycie, Albert and Trigger — sees Arnie being carried away from his latest "heart attack". Learning that their friend Denzil is to be his next mark, they get an ambulance of their own and beat his sons to the punch, leading to a major Oh, Crap! moment for Arnie when he opens his eyes to learn whom he's trapped in a moving vehicle with.

    Video Games 
  • Grand Theft Auto V: Should you pick an experienced driver for "The Bureau Raid", they'll acquire an ambulance as their getaway vehicle, allowing the heist crew members to escape under the radar.
  • Modern Warfare: In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, during the events of "No Russian", Anatoly, Makarov's getaway driver, uses an ambulance to get the surviving Inner Circle members out of Zakhaev International Airport.
  • Spider-Man (2000): After Black Cat is badly injured by Rhino, she gets taken away in an ambulance by fake paramedics working for Venom.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: After Mercury Black fakes an injury to frame his opponent Yang Xiao Long, ambulance workers retrieve him and load him onto an ambulance airship to take him to a hospital and then to his family. However, it is then revealed that the ambulance was actually a getaway vehicle, and that the paramedics that retrieved him were his cohorts Cinder Fall and Neopolitan in disguise.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The ambulance trick used in The Cannonball Run was previously used in the actual race the film was based on. note  Race organizer Brock Yates and Hal Needham posed as paramedics, Brock's wife Pamela acted as the patient, and an actual doctor came along for legitimacy. The crew was able to talk their way out of a ticket at one point, but they were forced to retire when the transmission failed.
  • This happened several times during Iraq's sectarian fighting in the 2000s. A particularly infamous instance involved Sadrist militias driving a commandeered ambulance to a Sunni district in Baghdad where they announced that they needed blood donations. Some locals volunteered to help and were executed for it.
  • During the 2023 Israel-Hamas War, there have been several instances of Hamas fighters traveling in ambulances to try to escape Israeli forces. In fact, it has been proven that Palestinians working for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) were actively participating in the initial attacks, and the cover-up thereof, as double-agents of Hamas. In many cases, official UNRWA vehicles and facilities were used by Hamas for transportation and hiding of hostages, and coordination and execution of attacks.