Pet oxygen masks donated to fire crews

Donation made by Emma Zen Foundation

SAN DIEGO - Local firefighters and first responders now have the necessary equipment to help save pets thanks to the efforts of a nonprofit group.

No one can forget the scene in Ocean Beach last December when firefighters had a four-year-old dog named Spyder hooked up to an oxygen mask and administering CPR.

Numerous rescues like this have taken place throughout San Diego County, but now crews are better prepared for any future incidents.

"It's going to standardize the equipment that we use and there won't be a delay in trying to figure out how to put an adult mask or something that works on a human on a pet," San Diego Fire-Rescue Capt. Harold Lemire told 10News.

The pet oxygen mask kit has three different sized masks, and its unique shape and rubber seal gives pets in an emergency the best chance for survival.

"These actually close the joules on the pet and deliver the oxygen directly to the pet's nostrils so it simulates proper CPR," said Debra Jo Chiapuzio, president of the Emma Zen Foundation.

Firefighters are also given proper training on not only how to use the masks but also the best way to check for vitals and administer CPR. The masks also work on birds, cats, dogs and pigs.

"Yes, any normal sized household pets, the most interesting rescue I've seen with the mask is a hamster," said Chiapuzio.

Each kit costs $75 and the nonprofit holds several fundraisers throughout the year to purchase the kits.

So far, Fire Station 28 in San Diego is the first to receive them, but they are hoping to get the kits to every station in the county by the end of the year.

"When you can say to a family, 'We saved your pet,' everything else doesn't matter. That family is so happy and appreciative. They thank you; that gives the fire fighters such a great feeling, it makes them just as excited as if they had saved a human," said Lemire.

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