Skip to main content

I got the city high as a rogue paramedic in GTA 5

Holy crap, I'm going to bleed out. I mean, having just taken a header off the Vinewood Hills sign, it's a wonder I'm still breathing. But here I am, dazed after colliding with the mud, defeated, destitute, and crawling around the shadowy undergrowth that hugs the bottom of this 50-foot-high, eff-off metal 'W'. 

The emergency services will be here any minute now, I murmur to myself. Any minute now. Any minute now. What a way to go. 

Like their real-life contemporaries, EMS workers in this GTA 5 roleplaying server prioritise crisis calls in order of perceived importance. Fallen players use Bleeter (the game-world's answer to Twitter) and/or their cell phones to alert medical professionals of their critical situations, and pre-trained and whitelisted volunteers respond with varying degrees of readiness. 

Broken leg? Back of the queue. Hit and run? We'll get to you soon. Shot in the gut by a catatonic Russian mobster? Sit tight, we're on our way. I'm not quite sure where on the list being shoved from the summit of a 15-metre-tall hillside tourist attraction stands in the eyes of the paramedics, but I suspect it's near the top. For my sake, it really needs to be. I ain't got long left.    

Given how efficient, punctual and prompt I once was as an opportunistic back-alley doctor-meets-medicine man, there is of course a dark irony about the situation I've wound up in now. If I told you I was aloft the VINEWOOD sign involved in a drug deal, you'd no doubt brand me a scumbag—but I swear I had the best interests of Los Santos' civilians in mind. Let me explain. 

It all started with a delivery job, a bike accident and a helluva long wait. After taking on a courier position in the city, I was determined, more than ever before, to make an honest living in San Andreas. Onerous stints as a lumberjack, a clothes manufacturer and a fisherman failed to hold my interest in my newfound pursuit of classiness, and an inner-city delivery job paid well with minimum physical and mental effort.

After one unremarkable shift, I was en route home on my trusty BMX, and was mowed down by a speeding Banshee in South Los Santos. The driver didn't stop after the collision—this is San Andreas, after all—and I was down and out. I flicked open my phone, dialled 911, and waited. And waited. And waited. And… well, you get the picture.

Upon death or incapacitation in FiveM, the open-source community modification for Grand Theft Auto 5 that I roleplay within, players are made to wait a maximum of eight minutes for medical assistance. The call is placed, the designated individuals respond, administer meds, and you're sent on your way—it's as simple as that. If you run the clock down without receiving help, you awake in the nearest hospital and, as per RP server rules, are sworn to have blacked out and have forgotten the previous quarter of an hour of play. 

Fast forward seven of the most tedious minutes of my life amid my BMX/Banshee hit-and-run, and Clark, a bubbly, southern-sounding paramedic, appeared over my motionless body with a bag of medical equipment and an irritatingly chipper disposition. 

“Hey there, sir, I hope you're well,” said Clark with cringeworthy sincerity. “Sorry for your wait. It's been a busy one, this evening.”

Screw you, Clark. You can stick your damned pleasantries, keeping me waiting, I've a good mind to report you to your superior and—WOAH, WHAT IN GOD'S NAME ARE THESE DRUGS YOU'VE GIVEN ME CLARK YOU BEAUTIFUL SON OF A BITCH?

Hold the bus. Clark isn't a paramedic at all. Not officially, at least. And that's not an ambulance, and this clearly isn't textbook procedure.

“This here stuff is contraband,” Clark continued. “But I bet you're feeling a whole lot better, right?”

Damn right, I replied, as I leapt to my feet in a drug-induced haze. I watched Clark hop back into his unmarked van and speed off into the now stunningly sumptuous evening, running consecutive red lights as he went. Screw this delivery man malarkey, I said aloud to no one in particular, back-alley medicine is where it's at. 

The next day, I scraped together every cent the courier gig had gifted me, and picked up my own off-white Rumpo van. I then travelled to the darkest, furthest-flung corners of the map and gathered all the illicit drugs I could get get my hands on. Meth labs, weed farms, coke warehouses, I hit 'em all. I operated only in hours of darkness and dressed in pristine white from head to toe in something that resembled Charlie Kelly from the Nightman Cometh. 

I made unscrupulous deals with Italian American mobsters who smoked fat cigars and wore sunglasses at night and told me in no uncertain terms that they couldn't fucking stand my Scottish accent. I slung crooked cops a few quid to look the other way. I grew and harvested my own dope. “Don't get high on your supply”, Frank Lopez famously said in Brian De Palma's iconic 1983 gangster flick Scarface. I got high on my own supply. I got in deep. Real deep. 

And then, as if inspired by a hypothetical Nightcrawler outtake, I hit the streets and went to town. I stalked the public Bleeter feed for casualties. I raced the server's official emergency service teams to innumerable crime scenes in my unmarked van. I sniffed out sirens and trauma like a blood hound. I started out with a similar Clark-inspired shtick. 

Hi, mate. That's a sore one, try this, I promise you'll feel better.

Hello, my name is Joe, and I'm here to fix you. Bottoms up! 

Just call me Doctor Love, I'm here to spread joy and save lives. 

Before long, I dropped the call centre one-liners. I was so quick off the mark that folk were sidestepping the seven-minute-ish wait for official assistance, and reporting directly to me. I doled out my in-game phone number like candy, and built a vast network via hearsay and recommendations. I got busy, and I got the job done, stat. Why sit idle for a handful of painkillers when The Good Doc can send you flying with a cart-load of uppers and downers and all-arounders in half the wait? 

I had a rare time, until I didn't. My inevitable downfall wasn't the law, it wasn't a snitch, or even the many, many EMS folk I stepped over to perform my dark artistry. I'd love to tell you I got sloppy, but I didn't, I was damn good at what I did. Believe it or not, I got pinched as a result of my own conscience. My desire to do right, to sell all the contraband I owned and make another stab at clean living is what undid my counterfeit street surgery operation. 

It was a schoolboy error of epic proportions, a Tony Montana postscript, and a Johnny Depp at the end of Blow-style comedown all rolled into one, without nearly the same level of sophistication. 

“I'm selling a load of drugs,” I told one of the aforementioned cigars-and-sunglasses dockland mobsters. 

“Oh, yeah? I know a guy.”

What an odd place to meet, I thought to myself, as I drove up the dirt track slope that ties the Vinewood Hills to the city. I made up the steel ladder of the iconic sign towards my nameless recipient, and admired the wash of neon that stretched out before me. The hum of distant traffic underscored the isolation of the moment. 

“You got the money?” I asked the tall fellow, stood before me, dressed all in black. 

“You got the stuff?” he replied. Before erupting into uncontrollable laughter, digging me in the ribs, and shoving me from our vantage point with the reverse end of his shoe. No matter how sophisticated Grand Theft Auto 5 roleplay scenarios can become, you're only ever moments away from flashes of madness like this one. From the sublime to the ridiculous, so goes the phrase.    

And so here I am, incapacitated at one of the highest points in the entire city, with enough drugs on me to get the entire city high. I've waited six and a half long minutes, and the faint ring of an ambulance's siren is now within earshot. 

The emergency services will be here any minute now. Any minute now. And with them, San Andreas' finest will follow. A quick search of my person and I'm screwed. Like, really, really screwed. I'm going away for a very long time, aren't I?

If only I'd roleplayed as a lawyer. Watch this space, your honour.