(Photos by Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press)
Dr. Becky Copeland donated nine pet oxygen mask kits to the city’s fire department Monday, citing inspiration from a story in the Johnson City Press in which firefighters resuscitated a small dog at a fire off the Bristol Highway.
Copeland, a Johnson City native and a general clinician with the Quillen College of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine, talked about the intent behind the gifts at a brief news conference inside the Municipal & Safety Building.
“I saw the story about the rescued animal, and this fall I asked Evelyn (Keller, Johnson City Fire Department records specialist) if pet rescue equipment was on the fire trucks,” Copeland said. “She got in touch with Chief Mark Scott and told me they did not have any. I ordered nine kits to go on each of the city’s nine trucks. It’s an exciting idea.”
Copeland said she began searching online looking at various devices being used around the country and located Wag’N Pet Oxygen Mask Kits, which come with three different-sized masks that can be used on dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds and more.
“It’s my understanding some firefighters have been so magnanimous as to try the masks on themselves,” said Copeland, who owns two Maine Coon cats.
The kits were placed in decorative gift bags and placed next to a large Christmas tree. Each kit comes with durable polycarbonate masks featuring dual vents and a rubber-mounted oxygen adapter that enables unrestricted inhalation and exhalation of air. Each mask can also be quickly attached to an “Ambu-Bag” should the pet require manual breathing assistance.
The masks can be used both on conscious pets that have suffered from smoke inhalation and pets that need to be resuscitated after losing consciousness from exposure to the dangerous toxic fumes.
Capt. Lynn Peters accepted the gifts on behalf of the fire department.
“Like humans, animals need oxygen to survive,” he said while demonstrating how the devices work. “We initially used a human face mask on that particular dog this summer, and the guys did compression on the dog’s chest to revive it. The affects on a child losing a pet ... well, life’s full of enough trauma.”
Peters also said that during this time of year, many seniors are alone except for their pets. The new kits will improve firefighters’ chances of saving those pets.
“Dr. Copeland’s donation is just a treasure. It replaces a lot of makeshift things we’ve used in the past.”
Each kit comes with small, medium and large masks. Each mask comes with an air tube that will be hooked up to oxygen bottles inside fire trucks. The kits include a “lead” for animal restraint and control, a Wag’N Instructional DVD titled “Pets Need Oxygen Too” and other informational and training materials.