I’m sure you’ve all heard of the very odd calls made to 911 over the years, and it constantly staggers me that people can be so incredibly dense and/or so self-absorbed that they don’t realize that a delay in receiving their pizza does not constitute an emergency.

Neither does the need to know how long to smoke a brisket; or that your neighbor’s barbecue grill smoke is drifting over your side of the fence. The fact that your McDonald’s thick shake isn’t thick enough, or that you got the wrong sandwich does not entitle you to call 911, nor does the fact that you’re lonely and have run out of cigarettes mean that the emergency service crew will run on over, throw you a pack of Camels and sit and pat your hand for a while.

Of course many calls to 911 tell tragic stories, and I wonder how the dispatchers can get through their shifts – I certainly doff my hat to them and to the first responders.

I came across a genuine 911 case over the weekend which I consider falls squarely into the category of "go ahead and call 911, in a hurry."

A woman in Ohio, it seems, was having a small technical problem in that a rescued boa constrictor, measuring in length my height of 5-foot-6, obviously had a bit of an attitude issue and having wound its way around said rescuer, in her driveway, proceeded to chow down on her nose. As an aside, what on earth is a boa doing in Ohio, I ask – just a tad north of their normal habitat of Central & South America, I would’ve thought….. but I digress….

“I have a boa constrictor stuck to my face…. hurry, he’s biting my nose.” Now that is an emergency call guaranteed to get the attention of the dispatcher. In fact, it took the dispatcher a couple of tries to believe the caller at all.

Now I would imagine that a five and a half foot boa would certainly give you a very serious hug, so it was rather astonishing to me that not only could she put her hand on a phone and bring it up to her ear, but that she had both the presence of mind, and indeed breath, to make the call.

Naturally the first responders leapt into action, and it was with huge nerveless calm that the rescuer of our rescuer produced his pocket knife and – I’m sure reluctantly – cut off the head of the snake in order to remove the jaws from the woman’s nose.

It’s probably a good thing he didn’t have a Swiss Army knife, as valuable minutes could have been lost as he flipped through the variety of tools contained therein. “Nope, dang it, the toothpick won’t help. Hey Jack, get a load of this hook disgorger will you? Key ring, scissor, pliers, ballpoint pen, whatsit to get stones out of a horse’s hoof – where is it, where is it? Here we go, the large blade ought to do it.”

Note to self: Annie, if you’re going to rescue anything make sure it’s small, cute, and furry – and preferably toothless.


-- Annie Dear lives in Lee’s Summit. Email her at anniedearkc@hotmail.com.