Saving lives is always the main goal of firefighters when they enter a burning building. But often the family pets are the ones in danger. Kokomo firefighter Tom Abney sees that quite often. About five or six years ago, Abney saved a cat trapped in a fire by giving it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. “The house was burned up, but the residents were more tore up about their favorite cat,” he recalled. “The cat was suffering from smoke inhalation, so I gave it mouth-to-mouth and saved their kitty cat. It was pretty neat.”
Before Friday, firefighters were forced to do what Abney did or use human oxygen masks to try to revive a pet. However, the shape of the animal’s muzzle and the animal’s fur prevent it from getting 100 percent oxygen. Now, thanks to the Kokomo Kennel Club, which donated 10 sets of animal respirators, Abney and other firefighters have a better way to help the injured pets. “I wish they had that back then,” Abney said. “They fit comfortably over their snout and can be attached to a bag valve just like you would with a person. Plus, you don’t have to get so much hair in your mouth.” Julie Howard, secretary of the Kokomo Kennel Club, said the club helps out charities each year and decided to help Kokomo firefighters and pets this year by making the donation. “This our way of giving back to the community and helping animals,” she said. “The animal respirators are fitted with a rubber gasket which creates a seal around the animal’s mouth.” Brad Bray, the head of fire department’s EMTs, said the donation will be very helpful. “A lot of these animals are like family members to these people,” he said. “This is a good idea.
The nice thing, we can use our existing air bags that snap on the mask and we don’t have to buy any more equipment. At a fire scene, human lives come first, but if we have time permitted, we will help the animal.” The masks come in three sizes and will fit an animal as big as a Great Dane or small as a bird or ferret, Bray said. “That made us feel good knowing it’s something they need and can use,” Howard said of the donation. “Each year, hundreds of pets die in house fires from smoke inhalation,” she said. “But with the proper treatment, many can be saved.” The KKC contacted a Florida organization called H.E.L.P., which buys and sells the respirators at cost. The goal is to equip all fire trucks carrying oxygen within Howard County with these life-saving devices, she added. Mike Fletcher may be reached at (765) 454-8565 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright © 1999-2008 cnhi, inc.