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Paramedic Mission FAQ by option

Version: 1.3 | Updated: 02/24/2003

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* Preamble 
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Paramedic Mission FAQ
Version 1.3, 2/23/3
©Option (cpt_eleven@yahoo.com). Distribute at will. Do not modify. 

* What?

You've come here because the paramedic mission is driving you crazy. 

Don't worry about that. It drives everyone crazy.

I've heard more than one game designer tell me that one of the aspirations 
of good game design is to get a user emotionally involved - or to use the 
phrase I keep hearing, to make them cry. 

Rockstar has unequivocally accomplished this goal - if by making the user 
cry, they are referring to Tears of Pain, Rage and Frustration™. 

A hallmark of almost all modern game design, for better or worse, is 
repetition. This is less of an aim rather than a matter of style, but in 
this case it's like the style of having rectangular doorways. There might be 
a better way, but maybe not, and anyway nobody even thinks about bothering.

Repetition comes in many forms. It's easy to understand, and it's usually 
easy to program. Sometimes, repetition can even be cool - if there are 
interesting variations in your task, or if what you're repeating is just so 
intrinsically fun that it never gets old - like shooting some guy in the 
head, for instance. That never gets old.

However, most of the time, repetition is evil. It reduces a game to work, 
and sometimes it's absolute torture. Rock bottom is when you're leaving 
teeth-marks in the controller and screaming like you're on fire because you 
just spent 45 minutes doing something extremely repetitious over and over 
again, only to lose all of your work seconds before completing your 
"mission." And it's the 8th time that's happened. In a row.

And with that most fitting image, now you're going to learn about the 
Paramedic mission which is, basically, the heart and soul of everything that 
is evil about task repetition in game design, and the dark, seamy underbelly 
of the monument to gaming that is GTA:VC.

Bad news first. Cheaters go to hell, and outside of cheating, there is 
nothing you are going to read that will help you escape the boundless agony 
that will be yours if you choose to go after the Paramedic mission. The good 
news is, though, that we're going to commiserate with you about it, and 
maybe offer a few pointers that, though they probably wont help you at all, 
could actually give you a small amount of false confidence when trying 

* Why?

There are many FAQs for Vice City. Yet despite Paramedic being the absolute 
hardest mission in the game (IMNSHO), almost none devote more than a few 
sentences to it.

* Who?

Mr. Option. 

Email: cpt_eleven@yahoo.com

* Wait - what is the Paramedic mission exactly?

Theoretically, your task is simple. In any ambulance in the game, press R3. 
Then just pick up patients all over your area and deliver them to the 
hospital in time, without bumping them around too much. 

* And why is it so hard?

You've never tried it, have you.

* Why bother, then?

On completing level 12 of the Paramedic missions, you will become 3l33t.

Also, you will be given the ability to sprint indefinitely.

Finally, you cannot perfect the game (100% of all missions, rampages, unique 
jumps, hidden packages, mini-games, etc., resulting in cool but ultimately 
worthless in-game rewards that will lead you to question the meaninglessness 
and emptiness of your life) without beating it.

* Ok, I'm an obsessive-compulsive freak. Also, I am Rockstar's bitch. How do 
* I do it?

*) First, beat the entire rest of the game.

I mean it. In order to beat Paramedic, you must be able to make that 
ambulance dance like Michael Jackson, prance like Muhammad Ali, and fly like 
George Bush Jr. at a Yale coke party. You must know every in and out of all 
of the actors in the game. You must have a nightmarish level of 
understanding of the terrain on which you will operate. Worst of all, you 
must be as precise and machine-like as the Terminator (yeah, the 1st one, 
not the wussy one that knows why you cry).

Beating everything else in the game is simply the only way to prepare. No 
FAQ can teach you how to drive well enough - but if you beat the rest of the 
game (or at absolute minimum, the "story" missions), you are at least in the 

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. We have to take into account 
all the guys who already beat GTA3 - in fact, there's even the hardcore kids 
who have already beat the crap out of _Paramedic_ in GTA3 (something that, 
in the consensus of letters I get, is considered even harder than Paramedic 
in Vice City, though I'm personally up in the air on that one). If you're 
already a good driver, and your familiarity with Vice Point is decent, you 
may benefit from starting Paramedic early. You should consider this for 
three reasons. One, less gang violence earlier in the game reduces your 
chance of getting caught in a crossfire; two, having the western island shut 
may (though this is not confirmed) eliminate you needing to worry about 
going there; and three, the earlier you get infinite sprint, the nicer the 
rest of your game will be.

*) Know what you're up against.

Frankly, most GTA:VC players opt out once they understand the magnitude of 
the Paramedic mission. 

On each of the 12 levels, you have to rescue as many "patients." For the 
non-mathematicians in the crowd, that makes 78 rescues in all. The ambulance 
can only hold 3 at a time, so that means making trips back and forth between 
the hospital and the field. 

It is impossible to guess how long it will take you to carry 78 "patients" 
on that perfect run, but if we assume 45 seconds for each one, it will take 
you an hour of consistent work to beat Paramedic. If each patient takes ~23 
seconds, it will take you 30 minutes. Realistically, it will probably 
require some amount of time in between.

But that's not the whole story. Unless you are one of those sick bastards 
who are not only way too lucky, but illegally skillful, you will almost 
certainly spend many times that in failed attempts. In other words, you will 
lose, and start over, a lot.

The amount of time the game gives you to pick up your patients is variable, 
and the algorithm which determines it is best described as "coarse." You may 
sometimes, especially early on, get way too much time (by which I mean, 1-3 
extra minutes). Generally you will get just enough time. Sometimes you will 
get screwed. Then you will lose, and start over.

Unlike some other repetitive missions, the clock does not carry over your 
extra time from one mission to the next. It's a mixed blessing; on the minus 
side, you never get ahead, and you are always at the mercy of that crazy 
timing generator. On the plus side, you never get behind, either, and more 
importantly, you can relax into the routine without worrying as much about 
strategy. This can work for you in a variety of ways which we will discuss 

You cannot exit the ambulance, even for a second - doing so will immediately 
end the mission. Even if you only did it by accident, just as you were 
finishing Level 11. If you do it, you will have to start over.

Your patients must not die. Ever. If you run a patient over, which is much 
easier to do than you think, you lose. If someone else runs a patient over, 
you lose. If the patient is an innocent bystander killed in a shootout, you 
lose. Also, even if the patient is riding safely in your ambulance, if you 
jostle the ambulance too much, they die, and you lose. 

Once you lose, you will have to start over. 

It is easy to flip the ambulance. If you flip it, obviously, you lose, start 
over, etc. Even if you don't flip it, your ambulance will get the crap 
beaten out of it during the course of spending an hour barreling around the 
city non-stop. It is impossible to repair it - Pay and Sprays will not fix 
ambulances. If your tire gets shot in one of the constant shootouts between 
mall security guards and gang members, you can't fix it, and you almost 
certainly lose; then you start over.

Did I mention about the starting over?

Naturally, you will have the most problems just as you are about to beat the 
mission. It never fails; it's always during that last 20 patients when the 
"speeding car" AI decides to crash into you from behind and push you on top 
of the person you're trying to save. Or when you will accidentally tap a 
policeman, and then get insta-busted from out of your field of view while 
picking up a patient 30 seconds later. Or when the "it works most of the 
time" random patient placement system puts one on the other island. Most 
certainly, that is when the patient will run directly into your ambulance as 
you are coming to a stop, and kill himself. Or my personal favorite; hitting 
either Triangle or R3 accidentally.

When these things happen, and especially when they happen for the 3rd, 4th, 
or 5th time, that's when you get into those Tears of Pain, Rage and 
Frustration™ I was talking about. Different people deal with soul-destroying 
agony in different ways. Some kick their dogs. Others don't have dogs, so 
they kick other animals - even other people. A few, wealthier ones even kick 
their Playstations. The lucky few who work at or near Rockstar North get the 
chance to actually kick the person or persons who designed this mini-game. 

Although only 78 patient rescues are required for completion, it's generally 
the case that a player will have hundreds of patients delivered before they 
finally attain success, and complete Level 12. 

*) Next, know your tools.

The ambulance is an interesting vehicle, as they go.

It's big and relatively top heavy, like a van. It has very soft shocks. 
Thus, cornering in it is going to be stressful, especially considering what 
will happen if you roll over. The good news is that it is not, actually, 
that bad, and it can be learned, and, with practice, mastered. Putting it in 
perspective, there are many worse vehicles in the game both for handling and 
all-around utility.

It does go very fast, and it accelerates relatively well. You should try to 
look on the bright side and consider this a plus, although in practice this 
means you will work even harder to stay in control. 

It is possible to right yourself as you are tipping over, and even after you 
have tipped over on your side. In fact, it is unusually easy to do this in 
the ambulance. See the section on driving below.

It's exceptionally heavy, which means that all-important breaking distance 
is rather long. How long? After extensive measurement, we've concluded that 
it's basically just a bit longer than you thought it was. 

On the bright side, with all that weight in the places it is, you can do 
decent smuggler's turns on sand, and even bad ones on asphalt. Also, you can 
knock other cars out of the way pretty easily if you have to, though you 
definitely want to avoid that if you can.

The ambulance's saving grace is that it's a tank. It's incredibly durable, 
really. After spending much of GTA:VC having my Infernus catch fire from a 
stray piece of pedestrian, it's really refreshing. You will often put every 
inch of that durability to the test, but in fact it's not unusual for a good 
driver to finish 78 patients without even seeing smoke. It's that tough.

The ambulance has a siren, which will in theory cause other cars on the road 
to get out of your way. Unfortunately, it has two major drawbacks. The first 
is that it will cause you to develop a splitting headache. The second is 
that, as often as not, it causes other cars on the road to get INTO your 
way. The siren is discussed in detail later on.

Sadly, the ambulance does not have a radio. You might not have pictured 
memorizing every single word of the police chatter script, but you will. Oh 
yes, there's a fat woman stuck in an elevator, and you're checking it out. 
It's reasonably funny as they go, but after enough hours of it, you too will 
feel like you've seen the Captain's wife. Or that you're the Captain. You 
may even find yourself calling 911 to confess that you made that mess in the 

*) Know your location.

There are four hospitals in Vice City: in Ocean Beach, Vice Point, Little 
Havana, and Downtown, but Paramedic is generally played at only one of them. 
That is the Shady Palms Hospital in Vice Point, on the north end of the 
eastern island, several blocks south of the mall, just to the north of El 

There are a number of reasons for this. The two biggest are that the area is 
relatively easy to navigate, and many of your pickups will be on the flat 
part of the beach (shark attack?). 

But the letters about this are starting to come in. Everybody agrees that 
you should never try Paramedic on the western island, in Downtown or Little 
Havana (with reports that you will even run into "impossible" patients 
there, i.e. inside the pizza joint). But what I am hearing is that some 
people prefer the hospital in Ocean Beach (in the southeast) to the Shady 
Palms. Try this at your own risk. If you complete it down there, or 
especially if you put a lot of time into both places, I'd love to hear from 
you about how it went. For the rest of this guide, we're only going to be 
thinking about Vice Point.

*) Create and maintain a state of emptiness, calmness, and focus. 

Two things are important when mentally preparing to take on Paramedic. 
First, make sure you have a heavy weapon with plenty of ammo. Preferably a 
rocket launcher, but a flamethrower, chaingun, or even the M4/M16 will do in 
a pinch. Second, don't forget your Zen consciousness.

Unsurprisingly, Zen informs us well about the what the good Paramedic needs 
to know. Some anecdotes (thanks to 
http://www.rider.edu/users/suler/zenstory/zenstory.html) from the Zen cannon 
are helpful:

Whenever anyone asked him about Zen, the great master Gutei would quietly 
raise one finger into the air. A boy in the village began to imitate this 
behavior. Whenever he heard people talking about Gutei's teachings, he would 
interrupt the discussion and raise his finger. Gutei heard about the boy's 
mischief. When he saw him in the street, he seized him and cut off his 
finger. The boy cried and began to run off, but Gutei called out to him. 
When the boy turned to look, Gutei raised his finger into the air. At that 
moment the boy became enlightened.

One day the Master announced that a young monk had reached an advanced state 
of enlightment. The news caused some stir. Some of the monks went to see the 
young monk. "We heard you are enlightened. Is that true?" they asked.

"It is," he replied.

"And how do you feel?"

"As miserable as ever," said the monk. 

Adopt a meditative technique. 

"Do not concentrate on any particular object or attempt to control thoughts, 
emotions, or any modification of consciousness. By simply maintaining proper 
posture and breathing the mind settles by itself without fabrication. When 
thoughts, feelings, etc. arise, do not get caught up by them or fight them. 
Simply permit any object of mind to come and go freely. The essential point 
is to always strive to wake up from distraction (thoughts, emotions, images, 
etc.) or dullness and drowsiness. Letting go of any thought is itself 
thinking non thinking."

Above all, let go any hope of finishing the game. 

This is essential. It is often difficult to discipline yourself not to care 
about the outcome of your actions, just as it is difficult to ignore the 
level number as it creeps upwards. But it is only through the calm 
acceptance of the endlessness of your task that you can ever achieve its 

Because of the uniform nature of the mission, the "clean slate" you get at 
the beginning of every level, and the "generally" sufficient amount of time 
you are allotted for each rescue, your ideal course is to emulate the same 
detached, calm, but focused and well-honed psychological gestalt of a "real" 
ambulance driver. 

(Sickly, from the point of view of a realist, this could mean the Paramedic 
mission is well-designed. This is why you should never listen to realists.)

Make yourself as comfortable is possible. Shut out external distraction. 
Avoid pausing and restarting the game if possible. Allow yourself to 
understand that Paramedic is a game where it is possible, even easy to 
relax, and forget about everything outside of the relatively simple task of 
getting from place to place. 

You must strike the all-important balances between safety and speed, between 
busting through and going around, between stopping close and not too close. 
This is not a race mission; you do _not_ have the hammer down the entire 
time you're playing, and a single (or even a few) traffic accidents or spins 
won't end your game. 

In fact, the best way to describe it is that you have to play Paramedic as 
though you have all the time in the world, and then get good enough at it 
that you really do.

It is worth repeating: let go any hope of finishing the game. Stop looking 
at the clock. Ignore the level announcements. And don't do this by forcing 
your eyes away. Do it by actually ceasing to care.

Perhaps as a kind of karmic restitution, rescuing an endless stream of 
injured citizens of Vice City will now become an end unto itself for you, 
and the possibility of the eventual end of your duty will be a wonderful 

Finally, if the game really starts to piss you off, run people over. It 
makes this awesome sound when you hit them right, and there's just something 
about running people over on the ambulance mission that's so fucking funny. 
The best is when you run over the people you just dropped off at the 

Most of all, and this is important: when some jackass crashes into you, 
killing your patient, or shoots out your tire, or you do accidentally hit 
the button to end your mission, calmly exit the vehicle (if you didn't 
already), walk a short distance away, and produce the heavy weapons we 
discussed earlier. Then, make everybody explode. You can start by blowing up 
the person or persons who cancelled your latest shot at glory, or you can 
watch as they cower and flee while you work your way around to them. There 
is only one guideline in this case: everybody dies. And remember, police 
helicopters are like giant piñatas. When you shoot one down, there is candy 

This will work wonders for your fucking mental focus. 

*) Know how to drive.

If you've completed the story missions, you've had some experience driving 
the nastier cars, but there is actually a surprising dearth of other 
van/truck missions in Vice City, so some basics on large vehicle handling 
are in order.

The first rule is never to jam down the gas. You will learn to tap out 
stately rhythms on the X button, in time with the coming and going of turns 
and stops. Above all, remember, the ambulance can go much, much faster than 
you ever want it to.

Second, the R1 emergency break is your friend. You will use this almost as 
much as you use the accelerator - in fact, even more than you probably 
think. You will tap it repeatedly going into turns, and use it to stabilize 
fishtailing. More importantly, unlike the "main" breaks (the square button), 
R1 is _just_ a break. It will not make you go in reverse once you've 
stopped, and this is very, very important. You are going to learn how to 
stop all over again shortly.

The important thing is to have an intuitive, psychic understanding of how 
fast you can take any given maneuver. This comes with time, and cannot be 
taught or even described in words. But what we can tell you is this, and it 
is worth repeating: the R1 emergency break _is_ your friend. 

Turning while speeding in the ambulance is actually not guaranteed to flip 
you, as it is in many larger vehicles. In fact, the ambulance has a well-
honed turning radius, built, we believe, to compliment its unique 
acceleration and mass characteristics extremely well. You will find it 
difficult to flip yourself without help at lower speeds. Although, as you 
will see, you will have plenty of help.

There will inevitably come times, when, during the course of events in the 
game, for reasons of inexperience, haste, error, or circumstances beyond 
your control, you will find that you have overextended your turn, and are 
beginning to tip over.

Do not panic. As long as you are not in a full-fledged roll, barring dangers 
of terrain and other objects, you will probably survive, as long as you know 
the rules.

The first rule of flips is to stop the flip before it happens. You should 
not, as a general rule, ever be going so fast as to be in danger of 

The second is to stop it _while_ it's happening. This requires you to turn 
_into_ the flip. In other words, if you are tipping over to the left, turn 
left. If you are tipping over to the right, turn right. This may not be 
convenient for you, but usually, flipping over is even more inconvenient. 
Fortunately, the ambulance "wants" to right itself, and with a little push 
from you, it will.

The third rule of flips is to unflip, which the ambulance can actually do 
quite easily, if you've only flipped onto your side. Turn the wheels towards 
the side the ambulance is flipped over on. If the roof is on the left, turn 
left, and vice versa. Then hit reverse. If you're on level ground, the 
ambulance will pop right back on its feet. This, ladies and gentlemen, is 
ambulance magic, and it's one of the few really great things about this 

Now the hard stuff.

The ambulance's soft shocks are its crucial weakness. On rough terrain like 
the beach, cresting hills, bridges, and other obstacles, if you are going 
too fast, you are in considerable danger of trampolining, and going into a 
roll. Rolls are bad - although your odds are good at coming out of one 
alive, especially on open ground, they are still odds, and risk is what we 
seek to minimize here in Paramedic School. 

This means keeping your speed down, even on the beach, and watching those 
landings if you're catching air off of bridges and ramps, and especially, 
caution when crossing between the beach and the road, where there are lots 
of invisible little features in the ground mesh that can send you flying 
into the air at odd angles if you take them too fast.

If you roll, keep your head, and get ready to try to flip yourself back. 
Thankfully, while the ambulance center of mass is high compared to a car, it 
is not _that_ high - you may well get away with it.

Now it's time to talk about stopping. 

This is harder than you think it is. You will have to stop close enough to 
your patient for them to run into your vehicle, but not so close that some 
mishap will occur. You will have to do this over and over again, with 
varying limitations on your visibility and often with a series of hazards 
all around. You'll be doing it in a very heavy vehicle with a relatively 
long breaking distance, and often on the beach, where your traction 
characteristics are vastly different from other road surfaces.

Let's discuss all of the things that would-be Paramedics do wrong when 
stopping. This will elicit groans of recognition from the crowd of veterans. 

The first and simplest mistake - often made on the very first pickup a 
driver ever makes, is the Crackhead. A basic Crackhead involves heading 
directly towards your patient at high speed, then slamming on the breaks 
when you think you're close enough, (naturally) overshooting the mark, and 
splattering the patient all over your windshield. End of mission. Start 
over. This may sound ridiculous, but this mistake is surprisingly common, 
even among people who should know better.

The second is the Fishhead. A close relative of the Crackhead, these are 
especially common on the beach. A Fishhead happens when a driver, chastened 
by their experience with the Crackhead, barrels, not towards the patient, 
but slightly to one side. Then, slamming on both breaks at what feels like 
the right time, the ambulance misses the patient, but fishtails, and its 
rear end whips out towards your victim, splattering them all over the 
_side_ of the vehicle. End of mission. Start over.

The third and perhaps most notorious mistake is the Lizzie Grubman. You 
don't need to be drunk, or stoned, or an arrogant, snobby little Hamptons 
socialite to pull a Lizzie, though these things help; rather, it follows 
naturally from the fact that your primary break (square button) doubles as 
your reverse button - much like the gearshift of a Mercedes-Benz ML430 when 
you're wasted off your face on vodka shots and overpriced reefer. It works 
like this: you successfully navigate around the patient. Now that you've 
passed them, you're holding down the square button attempting to stop. 
Tragically, once you come to a stop, you don't release the button quickly 
enough... The ambulance briefly kicks into reverse, and though you panic and 
try to stop again, it's too late - you've splattered the patient (who was 
running towards you at the same time) all over your rear bumper. End of 
mission. Start over. Screaming out "Fuck you, white trash!" is optional.

We can't forget the subtle and sprightly Deathtard. Deathtards are perhaps 
my favorite of the common ways to murder your patient, because it isn't 
murder at all: instead, the patient is really committing suicide. It works 
like this: you shoot past the patient on either side, in the process of 
coming to a stop, but probably going just a little too fast and/or coming a 
little too close. Just as you are passing them, the patient picks that 
moment to get aggressive, and runs directly into the ambulance, killing 
themselves. End of mission. Game over. Yes, they really do that. 

Now you're wondering how to avoid all these hazards, and guess what. We're 
going to tell you the techniques that, when you master them, will keep most 
of these unfortunate incidents from ever occurring. 

--) Distance

This is obvious, but we're spelling everything out here, and even if you 
think you know this already, it may do you some good to hear it again. Keep 
your distance. *Always keep your distance.* You're never in so much of a 
hurry that you need to violate this rule. *Stop as far away from patients as 
humanly possible.* If you're too far, inch up.

--) E-break. 

The R1 emergency break is the foundation of all breaking maneuvers in 
Paramedic. Whenever you are stopping, you engage this break, and *you keep 
it engaged* the *_entire_ time you are stopped*, until the patient is 
*safely inside.* Use the square button "main break" as well if you 
absolutely must lower your speed quicker, but always disengage it before you 
come to a complete stop. This keeps you from pulling a Lizzie. It also keeps 
you from rolling or drifting accidentally on inclines, and from accidentally 
hitting the reverse or the gas. It even gives you some (slight) protection 
if you get bumped. 

No matter what else you're doing, when stopping, and when stopped, you've 
always got to be e-breaking.

--) The creep. 

The creep is simplicity itself. Using your radar if necessary, approach the 
patient, always at an angle (_never_ head straight for the patient). Come to 
a complete stop at a safe distance, then slowly accelerate forward again 
until the patient begins to move, then immediately apply the e-brake and 
stop again. 

This is what you should generally be using on streets and in tight spaces. 

--) The loop. 

On the beach, or in other wide open spaces, or, if you're in a wicked rush, 
you may try to employ the loop. 

Approach the patient at good speed, heading either to their right or their 
left. Follow the distance rule - not too close. How close you want to come 
to the patient when doing this is impossible to characterize, but you want 
to be finding out by repetitively coming in too far away, and having to turn 

Just as you are about to pass the patient, hit either the e-break, or both 
breaks if you're really being retarded, and cut the wheel _towards_ the 
patient. This should cause your rear-end to whip out the _other_ way (i.e. 
the safe way), and you will "loop" around the patient, while coming close 
enough that they will "activate" and run towards you, and hop in. It goes 
without saying - once the loop is complete, always keep on the e-break until 
the patient is in.

Allow me to illustrate with some lame-ass ASCII art.

|              |  1) You're headed towards them but to the left. You're 
|              |     very close. At this point, you hit the brakes and
|              |     then cut your wheel toward the patient.
|       x      |
|              |
|   ||         |
|   ||         |
|              |

|              |  2) You're skidding past the patient. Because you cut
|              |     your wheel towards them, your ass-end is swinging out
|              |     the other way (the "safe" way).
|   //  x      |
|  //          |
|              |
|              |
|              |

|              |  3) Almost all your speed is gone. You've turned at least 
|     ==       |     90 degrees around, and probably more. The patient 
|              |     is now running towards you. You've "looped."
|       x      |
|              |
|              |
|              |
|              |

--) Use your views. 

R2 and L2 buttons allow you to look around. Whenever you've lost sight of 
the patient, but you know they're close, stop, and stay stopped, and be 
patient, until you locate them. Use the views, and take your time. 

You always want to risk losing on time rather than losing by hitting the 

--) Slow as possible. No slower. 

Your experience with the Paramedic mission should be one of running out of 
time the first few tries, until you work your way up "just" to a level of 
alacrity that is fast enough not to... always finishing with a small minimum 
(30-60 seconds) left on the clock.

Really, this point should be first in the list. Going too fast is simply the 
most cardinal, and common, mistake of Paramedic drivers. Unfortunately, 
there is no exact science to this; that's the problem with the timing 
algorithm being coarse. Sometimes you'll have way too much time, and others, 
you'll have to scramble. But your overall attitude should be one of 
relaxation and patience. Otherwise, you'll make a mistake, and end the 
mission. And start over.

--) Running starts

Many people ask, after picking up a patient, when is it safe to start moving 
again? Do I have to wait until they're fully in the vehicle, or can I book 
the second they touch the door? The answer on this varies, because again, we 
are interested in minimizing risk. If you make a habit of cutting it too 
close, over 78 times, you will make a mistake, and end your mission. And, 
uh, start over. A good rule of thumb is, once their feet have left the 
ground, hit the gas. 

--) To remove your doors, or not?

It's especially wonderful if you have managed to lose your side or back 
doors - this cuts down on the time it takes patients to get aboard. So it's 
only natural to consider intentionally trying to peel the doors off 
yourself. This is a subtle issue. On the one hand, you win on time. On the 
other hand, you add damage to your ambulance. 

Even with the right melee weapons, car surgery is too difficult for many 
players to do reliably, and cumulative damage to the ambulance is too big of 
a risk. But for a skilled player, it is possible to shave off the doors 
while doing very little damage otherwise. 

Most importantly, you do not need to do this. I would say the majority of 
Ambulance veterans win without it. Having a patient skip the time it takes 
to open the door will save you a bit less than 1 second per pickup and a 
similar amount of time for the dropoff. This is not the most likely thing to 
make the difference for you. 

I've gotten a number of comments about this, though, so it only seems right 
to discuss the technique. Some people swear by the sword... and of course, 
it's mighty satisfying to cut loose on that ambulance with a chainsaw (try 
not to get "carried away"). Let's start with something simple, like your 
fist. Don't try this at home, kids. If you want to be fancy, or you're 
worried about chipping a nail, drop by the local mall, pop in the hardware 
store, and nab a screwdriver. Approach your ambulance on flat ground. You 
want to remove the passenger (right-hand, from the rear) side door, and both 
rear doors. Stand directly in front of the door to be removed. Face it head 
on. Press the L1 button to line up the camera. Now, press forward on the 
movement stick, and attack. Three hits should do it. To connect, you want to 
be "running in place," pushing the vehicle. If you're doing it right, you'll
see results on the first hit.

Whatever you do, don't remove the driver's side door. In fact, take pains it 
doesn't get removed during the course of your adventures. Losing it takes 
away a crucial last line of defense against the getting busted (and losing 
the mission).

--) Bang on

The Paramedic mission requires you, in theory, not to jostle your passengers 
too much. In practice, fortunately, this isn't that big of an issue, and 
good drivers are unlikely to have patients dying this way, even with a 
"normal" number of inescapable mishaps, collisions, busting through tight 
spots, and taking jumps and the occasional jaunt down the Downtown bridge 
stairway. In tests, we found it very difficult to get the patient to die 
from jostling before the ambulance itself blew up. 

So, your bigger worry is probably wear and tear on the ambulance. 
Regardless, for both your patients and your car, be reasonably cautious. You 
can tolerate a good amount of banging around, but if in doubt, relax, and 
don't take chances unless the clock is running out. 

--) Squeal like a pig

The police are very dangerous on any mission where you have to stop moving. 
Depending on where you are, you may not see them until they're very close, 
and because the ambulance wont leap from a standing start like an Infernus 
or a bike, you may not have time to escape even if you see the cop coming. 
If you get busted, you lose. 

There are two simple rules for dealing with the police while playing 

1) Know where all the police bribes are. 

2) If you get even one star, find one, and use it... UNLESS, with only one 
star, you expect it to time out before you have to stop. 

--) The Dangers of the Siren.

In theory, the siren (which you can supposedly turn on and off with a quick 
tap to the L3 button) sounds like a good idea. Cars stop and even try to get 
out of your way when they hear it, and you should be able to shoot around 
Vice Point easily without their interference. 

In practice, it can be just as bad as it is good. Good drivers in GTA:VC 
don't follow Ambulance Procedures. They follow Crazy Procedures. They cut on 
sidewalks, ride on dividers, cut up the center line, diagonal across red 
lights, and even judiciously knock down the occasional lightpost or traffic 
light. These are not things that other cars affected by the siren take into 
account. The result is that the car "getting out of your way" will actually 
"get _in_ your way" just as you are attempting to fly past them. This is 

The siren is thus the subject of much debate. It may well be simplest for 
the beginner to eschew it entirely in favor of the driving techniques they 
are comfortable with. It may also be that, with the siren and new, siren-
specific approaches to traffic dodging, you can be more effective on the 
roads. However, this one is really up in the air.

After careful consideration, we recommend the siren only in specific cases: 
bridges, long straight stretches, and wide roads where your path is clearer, 
and the behavior of other cars on the road is thus more predictable. Most of 
all, if in doubt, don't use it. You certainly don't need it to win.

We wont even get into what it does to your head to listen that siren for any 
length of time. Or what inexplicable problem affects the L3-tap toggle, 
making it almost an art to get it turned on, or off, on the first try.

*) Know how to navigate.

Fortunately, in this regard, Paramedic is not the most complex of the R3 
missions, and in fact, the basic approach to making all your pickups can be 
outlined simply as follows:

Always go to the closest pickups, and/or the closest group of pickups, 
first. Within each level, the time counter _is_ cumulative, so it's 
important to build up time initially, in case of mishap, or to handle that 
last patient who for some reason is all the way over in Downtown.

You'll get additional time for each pickup, and then more additional time 
for each group of three patients you drop off. *Always pick up three 
patients.* Otherwise you forfeit the additional "hospital" time bonus.

Always use the map. At the beginning of every level, and at any other time 
when you have the least doubt about where you're going next, hit that start 
button and plan it out.

An important detail about the map is its "position skew." Especially 
apparent with the yellow patient dots, you'll frequently see that the dot 
appears on the map "skewed" away from its actual location; often to the 
south, but in general there is no rule of thumb on how the distortion will 
work. This bug has sent many a person scrambling tearfully into the golf 
course, when in fact the patient is waiting on the road west of the 
hospital. With practice, you will gain an intuitive sense of where the 
patient "really" is from their dot on the map. In general, it's good enough 
to go on, once you know the basics. Also note, as you get closer to the 
patient, the dot becomes more accurate.

Unfortunately, sometimes patients do appear in bad spots. The worst is by 
far when they choose to appear in East Downtown, on the other side of the 
map, along the road which goes under the bridge connecting Downtown with 
Prawn Island. The area north of the mall in Vice Point probably has to take 
the #2 spot, for the simple reason that it's a non-stop gunfight up there, 
and the chances of you taking excessive damage to your ambulance, getting a 
tire popped, or even watching your patient get capped, are excessively good. 
Of course, no one likes to see a pickup on Prawn Island or south towards the 
Malibu either, but nothing makes them especially dangerous.

You'll have to get used to getting into and out of the beach. Pay attention 
to the "green strips" - the narrow, grassy locations where you can cut 
between the easternmost road and the sand. There are several which look like 
shortcuts but aren't, towards the south. Memorize those and avoid them. 
Remember that these shortcuts, while essential, can be extremely 
treacherous, with hidden trees, lots of foliage blocking your view, and 
problematic ground features that can trip you up if you speed over them. 
Always go through them slowly. In general, you should do beach pickups in a 
group, and avoid crossing back and forth more often than you need to. 

Most importantly, if you see a yellow dot right on the other side of the 
beach crossing you want to go through, *choose another way around.* Nothing 
is worse than plunging through some trees and hedges directly into your 
patient, because you couldn't see them. And remember the map skew. They 
might be closer than they appear.

On the other hand, the beach is the only place you can really open up. And I 
don't mean flooring it. The beach has a lot of bumps - you can't pretend its 
flat. But you can go faster. Just remember that it will take you much longer 
to stop, and most of all, *watch out for the drop off before the water.* 
Patients appearing close to the water have a knack for getting people sunk, 
or my favorite, getting themselves smeared when the incline accidentally 
causes the ambulance to roll or slide over them. *Always remember that it 
will take you much longer to stop while on sand.* One final word of advice 
on the beach: when you need to drive past the dirt bike track, do it on the 
"inside" close to the buildings. There are a couple of bumps, but once you 
know where they are it's probably the safest way.

The rest of the advice that's likely to be helpful has to do with navigating 
around the bases of bridges. On the Vice Point side of the bridge to Prawn 
Island, remember the series of shortcuts adjoining the south side of the 
mall: at the bridge base going to the east, and from there to the north. 
*Don't take these fast, in any direction.* You'll flip. Be especially 
careful of the lip as you go west onto the bridge through that same break in 
the road wall. Through a trick of the physics engine or design, we don't 
know, that little bump can send you flying into the air. But you probably 
knew about that already.

Finally, you'll need to be able to handle that dreaded Downtown pickup, 
across the map. Really, it's only when you see one of these that you 
actually need to haul ass. But don't worry. We've got you covered. There is 
one essential thing to keep in mind as you're racing across the bridge - the 

Just underneath you as you are entering Downtown, there is the easternmost 
road on the western island. Your patients will almost always appear on that 
road, and if you take the long way around there and back (and it is very, 
very long) you're going likely to run out of time. 

Here's the Shortcut. Pull a left u-turn as the bridge ends, and hug that 
south wall of buildings. Then, depending on your level of urgency, you can 
shoot straight onto the road, or take your time and negotiate the stairs to 
the right (just be careful not to fall off and roll - hug the wall to the 
right). When you're ready to get back on the bridge, take the stairs back 
up, make a left back into the alley, then a u-turn onto the bridge, etc. The 
thing to remember while trying this: TAKE IT SLOW. Rolling upside-down takes 
all the fun out of it.

Since you probably know what I'm talking about, let's confuse you with
some bad ASCII art:

----------------------------------                     ^
|           ]   |     :     |                         /|\
|           ]   |     :     |<-----------Bridge        |Downtown
|           ]   |     :     |                          |
| Buildings ]   |     :     |                      <----South 
|           ]  <-------------------------Alley
|           ]   |     :     |            (180 onto this)
|           ]   |     :     |
|___________]   |     :     |
|               |     :     |
|-----------    |     :     |    
|      |||||    |     :     |         <---- Then take these stairs,
|``````---------|     :     |`````    <---- or jump straight off the edge
|               |     :     |
|               |     :     |         <---- to get to this street. 
|...............|     :     |.....
|               |     :     |
|               |     :     |
----------------|     :     |-----

It's not pretty. In fact, it's prone to trouble; you can get yourself rolled 
pretty easily pulling this kind of crap, which is why you should never do it 
any time other than for a Downtown pickup, when you probably have no choice.

* But I still can't do it. What now?

The way we see it, you have two choices. Give up, and admit you have no 
skill, or keep trying, and admit you have no life. 

Chances are, if you actually read this far, you will do it eventually, if 
for no other reason than because you can't stop yourself. On the bright 
side, maybe Paramedic will cause you to have an epiphany about the role of 
video games in your life, and you might then go outside, look at the sun 
again, go meet a girl/boy, and/or do something more beneficial for society 
than playing games all day. 

Keep in mind that Paramedic is really, unusually punishing, even for 
Rockstar. In the end, even when you have mastered the art, luck is still too 
big a factor to call this a success as a mini-game. Nonetheless, if you are 
determined to win, and you are willing to suffer, you will win, eventually. 
It's as simple as that. 

Hey, it's not as hard as, say, actually driving an ambulance.

* Shout outs:

These folks either wrote in with thanks, good ideas, smart criticsism, or to 
brag that they beat it on the 2nd try. All of them helped me make this FAQ 
better. You guys own.

* Dave Yeskey
* Shigmiya64
* Andrew Wolfe
* Marc Shappard
* Persuter

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