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By Shelbie Watts, EMS1 Editorial Assistant 

While most calls are fairly routine, first responders dealt with several incidents in 2018 that are so unbelievable, they sound like episodes of a fictional television show.

From flaming spiders to a girl stuck in a tailpipe, here are the strangest calls first responders answered this year.


Rescuers responded to a call about a bear stuck in an old 10-gallon milk can. (Photo/Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources)
Rescuers responded to a call about a bear stuck in an old 10-gallon milk can. (Photo/Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources)

10. 10 rescued after Fla. roller coaster derails

Daytona Beach Fire Department crews responded to the Daytona Beach Boardwalk to rescue 10 riders after a roller coaster derailed, leaving some riders dangling 34 feet above the ground.

9. Firefighters rescue man swinging from top of street light

A rescue crew in Birmingham, England spent an hour using extendable ladders and a hydraulic platform to save a man who had somehow climbed on top of the 45-foot post. Highgate Fire Department officials said they “got there just in time.”

8. Responders save woman impaled by beach umbrella

A woman vacationing with friends in Ocean City, Maryland, was gored in the chest by a beach umbrella that darted at her during a sudden wind gust. Responders cut the wooden pole out, and she was flown by helicopter to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. She later said she felt “blessed” the incident didn’t turn out worse.

7. Train hoppers call 911 after train begins moving ‘really fast’

Christian Hale and Kevin Slone jumped onto a moving train and ended up hanging off the car for 60 miles when the train picked up speed and they were unable to get off. Hale called 911 and frantically explained what was going on to a dispatcher, saying he was “on a train” that was “going really fast.”

6. Firefighters extricate bear with head stuck in milk can

Rescuers responded to a call about a bear stuck in an old 10-gallon milk can, and first tried cooking oil to free the bear’s head, but eventually had to drill three holes in the can so it could breathe while firefighters used the Jaws of Life to pry the can off.

5. Responders rescue hunter who hung upside down in tree for 2 days

La Grande Fire Department responders used an Oregon Trail Electric Co-Op bucket truck to rescue Eddie Voelker, who had been hunting in a remote area and slipped off his tree stand after becoming entangled in his safety harness while hanging upside down.

4. Firefighters rescue woman who got her head stuck in tailpipe

Firefighters had to use a power saw after a young woman got her head stuck in a truck’s oversize tailpipe at a Minnesota music festival, and the local fire chief said it was actually the second time the woman had put her head in the truck’s tailpipe that day.

3. Woman mistakes dynamite for candle during power outage

After the power went out in a thunderstorm, a Connecticut woman recalled lighting what she thought were candles left in the basement by the previous residents, which actually turned out to be explosives. A quarter stick of dynamite exploded in her hand, leaving her at risk of losing one or more of her fingers.

2. Parrot launches swear word rant at firefighter in rescue attempt

The London Fire Brigade was called to rescue Jessie, a multilingual Macaw parrot, after she spent three days on a neighbor’s roof. Jessie greeted firefighter Antic Horoz with a slew of four-letter words after he climbed a ladder to save the parrot, and said, “I love you.”

1.  Attempt to kill spider with fire results in apartment blaze

A Redding, California resident was forced to move out of his apartment after attempting to kill a large wolf spider with a torch lighter. Instead of dying, the arachnid scurried to a nearby mattress, and the flames spread.