Richmond Ambulance Authority equipping vehicles with pet masks

Published: Feb. 13, 2020 at 1:14 PM EST
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Having the right equipment to treat victims of smoke inhalation can often save those people from a trip to the hospital — and that goes for animals as well. But far too often, emergency crews don’t have the specific equipment necessary to treat cats and dogs that are suffering from smoke inhalation.

“People do love their pets, they consider them family,” said Assistant Operations Supervisor Peter Meckerlich. “We have in the past used those oxygen masks that we carry for our adult and pediatric populations and actually used that to deliver oxygen to the pet.”

The lack of specific equipment for pets is why the Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) announced on its Twitter that it partnered with the Richmond SPCA to equip each of its emergency vehicles with pet oxygen masks.

“They asked if our veterinarians here at the Richmond SPCA would help them both with the selection of the oxygen masks for pets and training of their teams to administer oxygen to pets,” SPACA Communication Director Tabitha Treloar.

“We can use this to help deliver the pet oxygen, which in many cases can then help to revive the pet such that they return to normal or the can at least be brought to the veterinary office where they can seek further treatment and hopefully have a positive outcome,” said Meckerlich.

The pet masks come in two different sizes to accommodate small-to-medium dog and cat breeds, as well as larger dog breeds. Once the nose or snout is placed into the suction cup of the pet mask, a seal is created with which emergency personnel can then deliver oxygen to the animal

“Our veterinarians reviewed a couple of different prototypes and helped the RAA with the selection of pet masks,” said Treloar.

“The more specific we can use a piece of equipment designed for that animal or human being, the more effective we can be,” said Meckerlich.

The RAA says they are in the process of training all of their personnel on how to properly use the pet masks and administer oxygen and expect to have all of their vehicles fully equipped in the next few weeks. The SPCA has also put together a training video for the RAA.

“Like any other piece of equipment, this is going to be considered standard, it will be there when any crew goes out on the street," said Meckerlich.

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