Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ajax Fire Trucks Equipped With Pet Oxygen Masks

AJAX -- Ajax pets can breathe easier now that local fire trucks are equipped with pet oxygen masks. The idea for the masks came from Ajax resident Darlene Flynn after she read about pet oxygen masks in an American magazine and thought that would be a great idea locally. "I was in a house fire when I was a child, so I've always had a soft spot for firefighters," said Ms. Flynn. She and her husband, Mike Flynn, agreed that instead of exchanging presents for their 37th wedding anniversary, they would try to get oxygen mask kits for the local fire department. The Flynns are pet lovers and have two dogs, a hound cross and a Jack Russell terrier. In conjunction with the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, Invisible Fence Brand donates mask kits to fire departments across Ontario in exchange for donations to pet-related charities. In this case, the Flynns made a donation to the Farley Foundation, a charity which helps seniors and people with disabilities get required medical treatment for their pets when they can't afford it. Veterinarian Sarah Silcox was on hand last week to show the firefighters how to use the masks. "Any pet who's been in a fire situation, just like people, has the potential to be suffering from smoke inhalation," said Dr. Silcox. Each of the Town's fire trucks will carry one of the mask kits with small, medium and large masks. "For even small pets like hamsters and gerbils, we can place the mask directly on top," said Dr. Silcox. A large mask would then form a dome for a small pet. Fire trucks already come equipped with oxygen masks for adults and children, but the pet masks will fit better over a muzzle. Although firefighters don't receive particular training to resuscitate pets, Fire Chief Mark Diotte said the natural inclination is always to help. Often people will put up signs asking firefighters to search for pets in the case of a fire, but the chief said firefighters always conduct a search of the home for people. In his career, he's seen about a half dozen pet-rescue cases. "I've done resuscitation twice myself ... mouth to nose," he said. Dr. Silcox said vets have the devices and she's seen cases where it would have helped for firefighters to have them, too. "Probably the most need at this point was after the Humane Society burned down," she said. Overall, Chief Diotte stressed it's important for all residents that homes have working smoke alarms. "Remember, it' the same principles of fire safety for pets as it is for humans in the home," he said.

durhamregion.com