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10 weirdest calls of 2020

Bizarre crimes, angry animals, a prank gone wrong, and more - these are the most mind-boggling EMS stories from the past year


Photo/State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture

Sometimes you see one of those EMS headlines that make you, “what?” Or maybe it makes you go, “could 2020 get any crazier?”

It’s been a rough year, and many of us have fallen victim to the fatiguing effects of the “infodemic” so that one wacky or unbelievable story can be a welcome relief from the doom and gloom on our news feeds.

Here are 10 odd EMS headlines that made us go “what,” “how,” “why” and “WOW:”

1. Maine woman treated for rabies after wrestling fox

Eliza Ruth Watson wasn’t about to let a “mangy, stanky fox” take her down in her own garden. When the aggressive animal came running at her, Watson defended herself, and managed to wrangle the fox into a large pot after a round of hand-to-paw combat. Watson was transported to the hospital, where she was treated for cuts and bites to her hands and vaccinated for rabies.

“It’s not like alligator wrangling where you can position yourself to get the alligator a certain way. I’ve never had to wrestle a fox before,” Watson said.

2. Police officers find, save baby born during car crash

“Where was the baby at?” “In her womb!”

That response from a terrified grandmother led two Georgia police officers on a high-stakes search for a premature baby who was born in the middle of a car crash. Crystan Dve was in labor and being driven to the hospital by her mother when their vehicle collided with a gate outside of a Hindu temple – the crash totaled the car and Dve was unable to find her baby in the aftermath. Fortunately, Lilburn Officers Danny Bride and Cepeda Huff located the infant girl in a space under the middle seat, miraculously unharmed. The baby, named Cea, returned home from the hospital less than two weeks later.

3. Ambulance among 8 vehicles chased, rammed by intoxicated man, California Highway Patrol says

The New Year started off with a bizarre bang for multiple motorists in California when a man allegedly decided to treat his pickup truck like a bumper car on New Year’s Day, chasing and ramming eight other vehicles, including an ambulance. Fortunately, no major injuries were reported, and the suspect was taken into custody.

4. Man arrested after reportedly cursing at dispatchers, barking like dog in 911 calls


An American Medical Response crew in Hawaii captured this 4-foot-long ball python.

Photo/State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture

“What do you need, sir?” “I need you to come take me to jail so I can beat y’all little lame [expletive].”

That’s how one 911 call in Clark County, Ohio, started, leading to the arrest of a man who allegedly made another 911 call barking like a dog five minutes after sheriff’s deputies warned him to stop misusing the 911 system. The man reportedly told the deputies he called the first time to complain that someone was turning off his headphones.

5. Hawaii medics capture 4-foot-long illegal ball python

An American Medical Response crew in Hawaii was put in a unique position when they spotted a “suspect” wanted by state authorities – a 4-foot-long, 3-pound ball python. The python, one of a non-native species that is common in the illegal pet trade, was captured by the fearless crew and transported to the Hawaii County police, who handed it off to Department of Agriculture officials.

6. Video: Cow chase leads to helicopter rescue in California

A helicopter crew came to the rescue of a pair of hikers who met an unexpected roadblock at a California park – a wild cow and its calf. The couple tried to go around the animals, but mama cow wasn’t having it, charging them and causing them to fall and injure themselves as they ran away. The helicopter’s sirens were used to shoo the cow away so paramedics could approach. Both hikers were ultimately airlifted to safety and treated at a local hospital.

7. ‘Glitter bomb’ sent to Pa. 911 center

County authorities were not amused when a “glitter bomb” – a package that shoots out glitter when opened – was mailed to the Luzerne County 911 Center, reportedly addressed to a specific employee. The county District Attorney’s Office has launched an investigation, and locals opined to news station WBRE/WYOU-TV that the sender of the sparkly package went too far by involving a government building.

8. Fla. FF-medic survives alligator attack

Firefighter-Paramedic-Alligator Hunter Carsten Kieffer was hunting with two friends when a 12-foot alligator jumped out of the water and crunched down on his arm. One of Kieffer’s friends, who is also a paramedic, used his belt as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, and Kieffer later underwent six hours of surgery to save his arm. Kieffer said he is blessed to still have movement and sensation in all of his fingers.

9. Ky. couple exchange vows in ambulance after groom falls ill on wedding day

One Kentucky EMS crew’s sirens doubled as wedding bells in July when a groom fell ill before he could stand at the altar. After an emergency room visit on the morning of his wedding day revealed the stents in his blocked aorta were malfunctioning, requiring him to be transferred to another hospital for intensive care, Patrick Schulze decided he wasn’t going to postpone his saying “I do” any longer than he already had due to the pandemic. In a Woodford County EMS ambulance on his way to the University of Kentucky Medical Center, Schulze exchanged vows with his then-fiancée Tammy Riley, and their pastor officiated the marriage, making them man and wife.

10. Utah mother calls 911 to request baby formula

With her husband out of town and neighbors asleep, a Utah woman who found herself unable to produce breast milk for her newborn in the middle of the night picked up the phone and called the only other number she could think of to get help – 911. Shannon Bird said she didn’t want to wake up her other kids to go out and get formula, which she didn’t have at home because she normally only breastfeeds, and asked dispatchers if someone could bring her some. Two police officers headed over to a convenience store and picked up a gallon of regular milk, which newborns can’t drink, but ultimately picked up the correct formula at Walmart, averting the crisis.

Laura French is a former editorial assistant for FireRescue1 and EMS1, responsible for curating breaking news and other stories that impact first responders. In a prior role at Forensic Magazine, French was able to combine her interests in journalism, forensics and criminology. French has a bachelor’s degree in communications/journalism with a minor in criminology from Ramapo College in New Jersey.