Training teaches firefighters how to give medical assistance to pets

Becky Campbell • Nov 12, 2012 at 8:43 AM

When Jonesborough firefighter Roger Perkins and his fellow first responders respond to an emergency scene, they often encounter a human victim worried about a possible pet victim.

Now, the fire department has a new tool in its arsenal — animal CPR, first aid and medical stabilization.

“People in the community consider their pets to be part of their family just as we do, and we want to be able to provide services for that member of their family also,” Perkins said.

It doesn’t mean the fire department will respond to a pet emergency, but when firefighters arrive at a fire or wreck scene where they also find pet victims, they now can provide medical assistance.

“This is a service we provide on a scene in addition to the original call,” Perkins said.

The training occurred last week when the fire department hosted, and the Airport Pet Emergency Clinic provided instruction for the class. Perkins said he worked with Caroll Allan, APEC hospital administrator, to organize the class.

Two veterinarian assistants, Serria Allen and Jennifer Johnson, showed participants — Jonesborough firefighters and several area K9 police officers — how to approach, assess and treat an injured dog or cat.

K9 officers in the training can use the new skills to provide emergency treatment for their four-legged partner, particularly if something happens on the job.

Of course, all the emergency techniques learned don’t replace the need to get the animal checked by their veterinarian, but can provide emergency medical stabilization so the animal can be transported to the vet, Perkins said.

One piece of equipment that aids in treating an injured animal is already in the hands of Jonesborough firefighters. Perkins said a donation allowed the department to purchase one set of animal oxygen masks.

The device is similar to a human oxygen mask, but is shaped more like a dog’s muzzle and has a rubber gasket to seal it to the animal’s face. The user can attach oxygen to the mask or a hand pumped bag to provide breathing air to the animal.

Perkins said he’s been on fire scenes and encountered animals in distress that need oxygen and now they don’t have to wait for EMS to arrive to treat the animal. Officials hope to put more oxygen masks on fire trucks and with every K9 officer.

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