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Lessons learned during the 2008 RNC

While the information contained in this news article was current and accurate when we posted it, it may not necessarily represent current WVOEMS policy or procedure. If you have any questions, please contact our office at 304-558-3956.

Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2008 10:21 AM


Paramedic Spots Fake Ambulance Containing Weapons and Vandalism Items

Numerous Minneapolis-Saint Paul area EMS agencies and the Secret Service, undertook special preparations to handle EMS operations during the Republican National Convention (RNC) held Sept 1-4, 2008. Following is an inside account of the experience along with some lessons to take away for future events. 

On the second day of the RNC, a Twin Cities Paramedic spotted an "ambulance" with unusual generic markings in the city of St. Paul. The medic had attended RNC briefings on the need for heightened awareness.

The medic reported the location of the vehicle he had seen to a supervisor and St. Paul Police were dispatched to investigate. Police found the vehicle unlocked, and inside found a large cache of weapons, bags of urine and feces, and related items to cause criminal damage to property.

St. Paul Police turned the "fake ambulance" over to the Secret Service. This find was invaluable to authorities and went a long way toward keeping people safe.

Fake Ambulance Lessons Learned

We all know the about the potential for ambulances to be used to carry explosives or other contraband into hard to reach areas to harm persons or property. That only happens overseas, right? WRONG!

During the RNC, MNTrac was used to identify ambulances from the five-state area that would be entering, or passing through, the Twin Cities. The MNTrac system identified ambulances and vehicles that didn't belong and provided the crew with information.  Maintaining a high level of awareness needs to become a common, everyday EMS Responder practice; it doesn't just become a concern during large scale events.

In the months leading up to the RNC, the FBI released an official alert making Public Safety and 911 responders aware of the potential use of suspicious or "fake" vehicles, ambulances in particular. This warning went out nationwide and was not specific to the RNC. (See the entire article at

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