Canonsburg ambulance service receives animal oxygen mask kit
June 6, 2013 9:15 AM
Paramedics Kevin David, left, and Steve Carson examine the pet oxygen mask kit donated to Canonsburg General Hospital Ambulance Service by Invisible Fence Brand of Western Pennsylvania.
By Jill Thurston
Canonsburg General Hospital Ambulance Service now has a leg up on saving a pet's life in a fire.
Invisible Fence Brand of Western Pennsylvania last month donated a pet oxygen mask kit containing three sizes of masks designed to fit over a pet's muzzle. The donation is part of an Invisible Fence Brand program called Project Breathe, which has a goal to equip emergency responders in America and Canada with pet oxygen masks.
The masks allow emergency responders to give oxygen to pets suffering from smoke inhalation when they are rescued from fires.
"In the past, we have used ordinary oxygen masks and they don't seal around the dog's muzzle," said William R. Blair, manager of Canonsburg General Hospital Ambulance Service and a 32-year veteran in the emergency service field.
"If you think about the dynamics of the situation, during a home fire, people are already losing their belongings and then to lose a pet, it just adds to the trauma. I think if we can help in that situation, then we should," Mr. Blair said.
The Canonsburg ambulance service covers more than 56 square miles of North Strabane, Canonsburg and parts of Chartiers and Houston.
While humans are the first priority during a fire, Albert Lee, director of Invisible Fence Brand, said in a news release that in many cases pets can be saved if emergency responders have the right equipment.
While no official statistics are kept by the U.S. Fire Administration, Pet Safety Alert Inc., manufacturer of Pet Alert rescue static window decals, estimates on its website that 40,000 pets are lost in house fires each year.
The ambulance company applied online for the kit. The masks can be cleaned and re-used. According to Invisible Fence Brand's website, the company has donated 10,000 kits so far in the United States and Canada.
"Animals are extremely resilient," Mr. Blair said. "A little oxygen and they can come right back around. That's usually all the intervention needed in most cases."
In the event that an animal is not breathing, he said, they can remove the oxygen mask's adaptor and "force" ventilate the pet using a bag valve mask in attempt to resuscitate the animal.