New tool help firefighters save pets - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

New tool help firefighters save pets

GREENACRES, FL (WFLX)  If your house was on fire, you would want to know firefighters could save your home and your family. Your whole family. Firefighters in Greenacres now have new tools to rescue even the smallest members of your family.

A firefighter makes his way to the EMS truck, cradling what could be a small family pet.

"Alright, let me check for breathing," says Greenacres firefighter and paramedic John Surina, taking the animal in his arms. "Where did you find him?" he asks the other firefighter. "In the back room?"

"He's breathing," Surina says, placing a small oxygen mask up to the animal. "That's good. I'll just hook up this oxygen mask and put it on."

Friday, Surina and his fellow firefighters used a small stuffed animal to demonstrate how oxygen masks work for pets. Greenacres firefighters say oxygen masks designed just for animals could save your pet's life.

Firefighters say, unfortunately, many animals hide if there's a fire so they're very susceptible to smoke inhalation.

"Unfortunately, sometimes they hide really well and you can't get them out in time," said Surina, "but that's why we have oxygen masks. We can get them out. We can at least attempt to give them some oxygen."

Students from Atlantic West Elementary School in Margate donated seven sets of pet oxygen masks for Greenacres Fire Rescue this week. The masks cost about $65 each; however, as any pet owner will tell you: the investment is priceless.

"I've got a boxer named Bella at home," said Surina, "and she's like a kid. I have a kid, a son, too, but she's also a member of the family. If anything ever happened to her I'd be totally distraught."

Not every animal can be saved, but oxygen masks can help. Three different sizes fit most cats and dogs. The masks are deeper than a human oxygen mask, designed especially to fit snug over snouts and muzzles. Firefighters can even use what's called a bag valve mask to help a pet that's stopped breathing.

"If the animal's not breathing, obviously it's not going to get oxygen to its lungs so I can actually hold this on there," he explained, attaching a bag-like instrument between the oxygen mask and the oxygen supply, "and squeeze the bag nice and slow and breathe for the animal."

Greenacres Fire Rescue hasn't had to use the masks yet. They hope they'll never need them, but they're thankful to have them to save even the littlest life.

"I'd like to say thank you to all the kids at Atlantic West Elementary School down in Margate," Surina said. "You made this possible for us to have this equipment."

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