Operation Life receives animal oxygen masks

Monday, June 15, 2015
Practicing on a stuffed dog, Mike Smith (left) of Operation Life and John Shafer of Greencastle Fire Department learn the ropes of a pet oxygen mask kit. The kits were donated to Operation Life by Invisible Fence of Central Indiana. (Banner Graphic/JARED JERNAGAN)

First-responders from Putnam County Operation Life and the Greencastle Fire Department recently received training in animal rescue oxygen masks.

Operation Life received the mask kits as a donation from Invisible Fence Brand. Stacy Goins, community outreach specialist with Invisible Fence of Central Indiana, was on hand to make the donation and conduct the training.

With the donation, training session and demonstrations, three Operation Life ambulances are now equipped with masks designed specifically for dogs.

Although the number of pets that die in fires is not an official statistic kept by the U.S. Fire Administration, industry websites and sources have cited an estimated 40,000 to 150,000 pets each year that die in fires; most succumbing to smoke inhalation.

In most states, emergency responders are unequipped to deal with the crisis. The donation of these specially designed and potentially lifesaving animal oxygen mask sets enable rescue squads to efficiently administer oxygen to a stricken animal.

Each mask kit is equipped with three sizes of masks to allow rescue efforts on all breeds of dogs. The smallest mask can also be used on cats. Even smaller pets such as hamsters and gerbils can be placed entirely inside the smallest mask in a rescue effort.

Greencastle Fire Department already possesses a set of similar masks, but sent a group of three firefighters to Operation Life to also take part in the training.

Although GFD has not had occasion to use the specialized equipment, veteran firefighter Roy Bumgardner told of an instance prior to receiving the masks that responders used makeshift methods to administer oxygen and save a dog suffering from smoke inhalation.

This donation is part of a national effort called Project Breathe to equip fire stations across the U.S. and Canada.

More information is available at: www.invisiblefence.com/O2.

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