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Animal masks make rescues go smoother

Veterinarian Dr. Eric Anderson and North Whidbey Fire and Rescue firefighter George Lawson demonstrate the use of an animal oxygen mask on Charlie, a 1-year-old Standard Poodle. - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
Veterinarian Dr. Eric Anderson and North Whidbey Fire and Rescue firefighter George Lawson demonstrate the use of an animal oxygen mask on Charlie, a 1-year-old Standard Poodle.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

Humans aren’t the only ones who need assistance at fires, floods and other emergencies. Animals often need help, too.

But house pets require different equipment than their larger human companions and the thought of going mouth-to-muzzle is enough to make some people a little squeamish, said Veterinarian Dr. Eric Anderson during a training this week at North Whidbey Fire and Rescue’s Heller Road station.

That hasn’t stopped some firefighters in the past, said Fire Chief Marv Koorn, but a recent donation of small animal oxygen masks from Greene’s Gun Shop will fix any mouth-to-muzzle hesitation.

Dr. Anderson met with the paid-on-call personnel for a short training session to familiarize the crew with specialized animal recovery oxygen masks designed specifically for canines, cats, rabbits and other furry critters, and a brief lesson on animal vital signs and oxygen flow rates.

Greene’s Gun Shop donated the equipment because of a recent news segment about a dog that was revived with the equipment, said Greg Roberts of Greene’s.

Roberts has a soft spot for animals, especially golden retrievers, and wanted to make sure the island’s first responders have the right equipment to assist all their on-scene patients, be it two-legged or four-legged.

Without contacting the department, Roberts purchased the masks and gave them to North Whidbey Fire and Rescue firefighter Jim O’Conner.

“This guy is phenomenal,” O’Conner said of Roberts.

The North, Central and South Whidbey departments will each receive a set, which contain small, medium and large-sized masks that look like a slighlty elongated version of the human oxygen apparatus, said Chief Koorn.

The donation doesn’t change the job description of Whidbey Island’s finest; instead it better equips first responders with the tools they need to revive animals on scene without getting too personal with Fifi and Fido.

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