Pet oxygen masks a life-saving gift

Pet oxygen masks a life-saving gift

Project Breathe, through Invisible Fence, provides free pet oxygen masks to fire departments to help keep pets safe in house fires. Moriarty Fence Company donated five pet oxygen mask kits to the Chepachet Fire Department to supply each of the two rescues, two fire engines, and the tanker with a life-saving kit.

GLOCESTER – Thanks to a donation from Moriarty’s Fence Company, the volunteer firefighters at the Chepachet Fire Department are equipped with pet oxygen masks to help families with four-legged members.

Lt. Melissa Rhodes, a seven-year volunteer for the department, at 1170 Putnam Pike, said she’s been on calls where pets were involved, and up until now, the department didn’t have a way to help them other than CPR.

Unfortunately, she said, most pets cannot be trained on the family fire escape plan to know what to do and where to do in an emergency situation.

“They’re like kids, they try to hide instead of running outside and get trapped in the house,” she said.

Rhodes said the oxygen masks help pets improve their chances for a quick recovery after inhaling smoke.

“This is another tool we can use to save lives,” she said.

Through the program Project Breathe, Moriarty Fence donated enough oxygen masks for each of the two rescues, the two engines, and one tanker. Chepachet’s kits come in small and large, and can be hooked up to an oxygen tank right on the spot.

“They’re really easy to use. We’re really grateful for the donation,” Rhodes said.

According to Project Breathe, industry sources estimate 40,000 to 150,000 pets die each year in fires, most from smoke inhalation. Project Breathe works to provide fire departments with the life-saving devices needed to help resuscitate pets, providing masks free of charge.

Rhodes said the pet oxygen masks will be used on rescue runs in Chepachet, Harmony and West Glocester. She said the three departments rely on volunteers, and Chepachet Fire Department provides mutual aid during most calls.

Rhodes said she began volunteering as an EMS, and she wanted to be trained as a firefighter to be able to help more people. As a full-time teacher in Burrillville, she said she stays on call most nights.

“For me, it was a great opportunity to help out and learn new things,” she said.

She said she became involved in the department from a desire to help others, and is happy she can extend that helping hand to pets in need. She said volunteering at the department is a hobby she is passionate about, and wants to share with others.

Rescue Lt. Sara Lancia joined the Chepachet Fire Department four years ago at 18 years old to help supplement her nursing school education. She said she finds volunteering rewarding, and recommends it to anyone with a desire to help people and pets.

Members of the public are invited to join EMS and fire training on Monday nights from 7 to 9 p.m. Public safety workers learn about using equipment, including ladders, stretchers and backboards. They’re also trained on the use of the pet oxygen masks.

Chepachet, Harmony and West Glocester Fire Departments are in need of recruits, Rhodes said. She said training is offered through the department. Anyone interested can call the department at 401-568-5200, or attend a Monday night drill.

Lt. Melissa Rhodes displays a large pet oxygen mask to be used on pets suffering from smoke inhalation during a house fire. She said pets often hide during house fires, and the oxygen masks will be used to help resuscitate four-legged family members. (Breeze photo by Jacquelyn Moorehead)