Animal oxygen masks donated to Ill. EMS

The donated kits include three masks in varying sizes, instructions, a leash and information for local animal hospitals


By Julia Evelsizer
The Pantagraph

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — When fire consumes a home, the loss of a family pet can far outweigh the pain of losing material items.

A donation of 40 pet oxygen mask kits to first responders will help lower the risk of pet casualties.

EMS crew listen to Roger Bell during a training session Friday, in which he described how to use an oxygen masks to revive pets. (The Pantagraph/David Proeber)
EMS crew listen to Roger Bell during a training session Friday, in which he described how to use an oxygen masks to revive pets. (The Pantagraph/David Proeber)

The donation to McLean County Area EMS comes from Invisible Fence Brand, a national pet containment business.

“We understand pets are like family,” said Roger Bell, owner of Invisible Fence Brand of Bloomington and Peoria. “We have donated 12,400 masks, saving the lives of 169 pets.”

The masks are made to hook into existing EMS equipment. While human oxygen masks cup over the nose and mouth, the pet masks are more narrow, shaped to fit over an animal's snout to deliver efficient oxygen flow.

The donated kits include three masks in varying sizes, instructions, a leash and information for local animal hospitals.

Bell described how to use the masks before a roomful of Twin City firefighters Friday at Bloomington Fire Department headquarters.

“Humans are first priority, but if you can save a pet, too, that’s perfect. An estimated 40,000 to 150,000 pets die in fires each year,” he said. “We hope these masks collect dust, but if you need them, they are there.”

Dylan Ferguson, McLean County Area EMS director, said a kit will be placed in all of the front-line ambulances in McLean County.

“With these kits, we know pets will be cared for just as well as humans,” said Ferguson.

Dr. Kimberly Burks, veterinarian at Highland Pet Hospital and Wellness Center in Bloomington, gave tips to first responders on animal care at the scene of an emergency. She brought her American bulldog, Nikko, as a stand-in for the firefighters to practice using the masks.

Between demonstrations, Nikko trotted around the room, collecting pats from the group.

“Smoke inhalation can lead to severely damaged lungs,” said Burks. “Sometimes you can’t tell the animal is affected until days later. They can also suffer chemical and thermal burns from a fire.”

Burks told first responders if they find an unconscious or shocked pet at the scene to first steer the animal away from loud noises and flashing lights. She explained how to close the animal's eyes and ears while administering oxygen.

She said oxygen masks can easily be applied to cats and dogs, but can also save other animals like gerbils and rats.

“Pets are a part of the family,” said Burks. “Keeping them safe will help a family get through a difficult time.”

She also explained how to cool animals, warm them and detect their heartbeat.

Nikko thumped his tail as Normal Fire Department firefighter/paramedic Cody Carpenter crouched to find the dog's heartbeat and scratch his belly.

“It’s important to tend to pets, too, because the family is already heartbroken over losing material things. If they lost a pet it would be like losing a child,” said Carpenter. “Seeing their safe and healthy pet only makes their worse day a little better.”

Copyright 2016 The Pantagraph

Recommended for you

Join the discussion

Copyright © 2020 EMS1. All rights reserved.