Identical “999 [the London equivalent of 911] twins” working as a paramedic and a police officer in west London say their “telepathic sisterly bond” means they operate together as a “well-oiled machine” when they turn up at the same emergency.
“Knowing what the other is thinking” makes London Ambulance Service paramedic Natalia and Metropolitan Police firearms officer Melissa Croney, both 42, super-efficient when, as often happens, they are called out to the same incident.
Both living in Chiswick, west London, although not together, Natalia, whose partner Dom Green, 34, is a paramedic, while Melissa’s other half Ricardo Martins, 41, also works for the Metropolitan Police, said: “Working with my twin sister is amazing and makes the job so much easier.”
She continued: “We know each other inside out and sometimes don’t even have to speak when we are dealing with an emergency situation, as we know exactly what the other one is thinking.
“All in all, we give great customer service to Londoners!”
Describing themselves as “girly and petite,” they both believe that having the feminine touch has helped them to thrive in a male-dominated work environment.
Speaking on International Women’s Day, Melissa, said: “Being a woman in the emergency services is a challenge and you certainly have to prove yourself a lot more.
“But there is no difference in the way that I perform compared to a man, as we all have to pass the same fitness exams.
“And there are certainly times when I think that a lack of testosterone helps to diffuse tension when things get heated, especially in the world of firearms when it’s very important to be calm and try to communicate rather than be hands on.”
Growing up, the twins were full of energy, spending most of their spare time either on the sports field or in a swimming pool, excelling at every discipline they turned their hand to.
Always close, their bond became even tighter when their parents sadly separated when they were 12.
Natalia recalled: “It was quite a jolt to our lives and it meant that we had to grow up quite quickly and fend for ourselves a lot more, which certainly set us up well for the careers we ended up doing.”
Natalia continued: “We got a lot of life experience at a young age, but what got us through it was that we always had each other and we were always looking out for each other.
“We were a force to be reckoned with.”
After finishing university, where Natalia studied science technology and Melissa law, realizing a humdrum desk job would not suit either of them, they both applied to work in the emergency services.
Both successful, Melissa joined the police as a constable in 2002 and Natalia joined the ambulance service, becoming a paramedic in 2005.
And, despite working in the capital city, which has nearly 10 million people, the twins were both stationed in Hanwell, west London, and found themselves responding to the same calls as often as once a week.
“We would quite often see each other at emergencies like domestic violence, or if someone had collapsed and was unconscious behind a door,” said Natalia.
She continued: “While Mel would be doing the more confrontational stuff, I would be doing the more compassionate things like making sure that whoever was in trouble was OK.
“It was quite odd at first and people would often be quite surprised to see two identical people attending to an emergency.”
Their striking identical looks and impressive team work meant they soon gained renown amongst London emergency service workers – especially as fate saw them, after Hanwell, both being stationed in the same district again.
To this day, they both work in west London, although in districts slightly further apart, and, despite wearing different uniforms, reflecting their respective professions, people still get them mixed up.
“Quite often people will come up to me and say, ‘I didn’t know that you had become a paramedic,’ not realizing that I’m Mel’s twin,” laughed Natalia, who now works specifically in hazard area response.
“And I know Mel once turned up to a road accident and the ambulance crew there started handing her defibrillators, thinking that she was me.”
Mostly, however, the sisters find being twins is an asset in their high-pressured line of work.
Melissa said: “Being women and being sisters means that we can bring a lot to the table in difficult situations, and our natural sibling intuition can help resolve situations a lot quicker sometimes.
“But even just from a selfish point of view it’s lovely seeing my sister so much at work. Being a woman in the police can sometimes get a little lonely and it’s a real comfort to have Nat to talk to.”