Project Breathe

Local firefighters meet with vet tech club members at BRCC

For many people, their four-legged family members are just as important as those with two legs; and when disaster occurs, the welfare of those pets is of utmost concern. The Veterinary Technology Club at BRCC, with support from Invisible Fence, is working to make sure that local fire departments are equipped to save the lives of dogs and cats.

“My father was a fire fighter when I was younger so that sparked my interest in the project,” commented BRCC student and Vet Tech club member, Caitlin Grace. She continued, “I also work in a veterinary emergency clinic and commonly deal with cases of smoke inhalation in pets. I wanted to help bridge the gap between firefighters and veterinary professionals, and help save our pets lives in the process.”

The program, called “Project Breathe,” is offered through Invisible Fence and provides kits including pet oxygen masks for first responders. Caitlin gave a presentation about the masks to local fire departments and immediately received interest and a positive reaction in response.

In the case of a fire, once firefighters have assured human life is safe, attention may turn to pets in the home. The plastic, cup-shaped animal resuscitation masks, were developed for use by veterinarians and seal around the muzzle of an animal tighter than a human mask. This helps firefighters deliver the right amount of oxygen to the pet and also protects firefighters from an injured animal that may try to bite out of fear.

“It is estimated that between 40,000 to 150,000 pets die each year in fires.  We understand the importance of our pets’ lives, and wanted to help first responders be better prepared to save those lives,” said Steve Monaghan, Vice President of the Virginia Distributor for Invisible Fence Brand.

Thus far, ten local fire departments: Dooms Volunteer Fire Company, Middlebrook Volunteer Fire Department, Preston L. Yancey Station, Shenandoah Valley Airport Public Safety, Staunton Fire and Rescue, Stuarts Draft Rescue Squad Inc., Swoope Volunteer Fire Company, Walkers Creek Fire/EMS, Weyers Cave Fire Department, and Wintergreen Fire And Rescue will be receiving masks.