The Ambulances

I was curious, but not curious enough to ask. I figured it out later

I was visiting Skeppsholmen, an island in Stockholm’s harbor downtown. It was gray and overcast and, because it was a Monday, the Asian museum and other buildings were closed to the public.


I didn’t think to take a picture of the ambulances, but I did snap one of the royal coach.

So I couldn’t figure out why three ambulances were parked outside the museum. It wasn’t as if they were dealing with an emergency. The paramedic crews seemed to be enjoying a break. It seemed like a strange place for it.

I know that in Ottawa occasionally they will shift ambulances due to demand. If all the vehicles from one station are answering calls, an ambulance from another station moves closer to that section to cover. I assumed that was the case here, though it seemed an odd place to park. If a call came in there was really only one way they could go to get off the island. It didn’t seem efficient to me, but who am I to question how Swedish paramedics go about their business?

It was about 90 minutes later that I saw the ambulances again, and when I did their positioning made sense. The one road they could have taken when I saw them was the road they would have taken for a call. Turns out they were on special assignment, with only one possible place they would receive a call from.

As I said, I figured it out the second time I saw them.  They were with a couple of horse-drawn carriages, some mounted infantry and a marching band. All had been taking part in the ceremonies marking the arrival of Canadian Governor General David Johnston on a state visit to Sweden. I knew that because I had seen them earlier. The GG didn’t use the carriages, he arrived in a limousine. I’m not sure if anyone used the carriages, I think they were just there for show.

The ambulances were apparently parked where they were “just in case.” I imagine dignitaries would have had first crack at them, but I suppose they would also have come to the aid of anyone overwhelmed at the sight of Canada’s vice-regal envoy. (That last statement should be taken tongue in cheek. As I said to a Swedish police officer, we don’t make a fuss about the GG at home. We never close the roads for him. He even has to open up his lawn for the public to play.)

I do appreciate that the Swedes are so well prepared for a state visit. I don’t ever recall seeing ambulances at the ready for state visits here in Ottawa. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any though, maybe even a squadron of them. I try to avoid state visits if at all possible. I’m not a big fan of traffic disruptions. Is anyone?


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