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Toms River EMTs To Carry Equipment to Save Pets' Lives in Fires

Officials: Three pets have died from smoke inhalation from house fires in recent months

A recent fire in Toms River necessitates the use of Pet Oxygen Masks. (Photo: Kevin Monaghan)
A recent fire in Toms River necessitates the use of Pet Oxygen Masks. (Photo: Kevin Monaghan)
With a majority of Toms River's households now containing a pet, the township has decided to equip some ambulances and other first responder vehicles with oxygen masks that could potentially save the life of an animal.

Like people, animals often suffer from smoke inhalation in house fires – and are often rescued by firefighters. But while emergency crews have always been well-equipped to provide lifesaving oxygen to humans, the same masks often do not fit pets.

"We’ll go to a fire and see the firemen bring out not only people, but also the family pets," said Paul Daley, the township's Emergency Management Coordinator and EMS director. "Sometimes these pets have suffered smoke inhalation and are in need of resuscitation. The human oxygen masks don’t fit pets because of their snouts, so we looked into pet oxygen masks."

Township officials liked what they saw. The masks are relatively cheap – only about $100 each – and can be re-used. It's a small price to pay to save the life of a canine or feline best friend, officials said.

"There were three occasions in the past few months where we could have used a pet oxygen mask, but didn’t have them on hand yet," said Daley. "Unfortunately, a family pet dog died."

The first masks were placed in emergency vehicles in Toms River two weeks ago. Now, eight ambulances and two first responder cars are carrying them.

"The Silverton Fire Company carried pet masks on their trucks and we thought it would be great to have on our ambulances, too," said Kevin Monaghan, EMS Coordinator for the township.

The masks come in three sizes, so they can be used for both large and small pets, said Monaghan, and first responders who are carrying the masks have seen a training DVD on how they work.

The masks were purchased under the township's annual EMS budget and can be re-used after being cleaned with soap and water, Monaghan said.

"Obviously, human patients are the focus of our attention when at structure fires," said Monaghan. "However, anything we can do to assist pets will ultimately help the victims deal with the loss of their home."

Mayor Thomas Kelaher lauded township emergency officials for their "innovative" idea to help township pets.

"I’m proud of the effort of our EMS team who worked pro-actively to provide this service to our area," he said.
suz January 08, 2014 at 07:56 AM
Wonderful idea. Pets are part of our families and life saving equipment...a big plus.
NicoleL January 08, 2014 at 08:45 AM
Terrific idea....very happy to hear this. Kudos to all involved!
sha January 08, 2014 at 12:38 PM
Great idea!
Roxanne Jones January 08, 2014 at 01:56 PM
Glad to hear TR is on board! South Toms River started carrying equipment too!
Michie511 January 08, 2014 at 06:56 PM
So happy about this.
Shif January 09, 2014 at 06:20 AM
So let me get this straight, EMS personnel will be able to save my lizard, gold fish and scorpion. This world is crazy
suz January 09, 2014 at 07:30 AM
Not if you love your pets.

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