Local firefighters get training, equipment for pet rescues
Kenosha veterinarian Dr. William Carlisle demonstrates the proper way for emergency responders to locate a dog's femoral artery and check its pulse during a class on pet rescue at the Somers Fire & Rescue Department. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BILL GUIDA )
From January 15, 2012 Kenosha New
Written by Bill Guida
SOMERS - Firefighters called to retrieve somebody's wayward cat from a tree? That's a Norman Rockwell image of Americana once as commonplace as, say, Mom's apple pie cooling on a sill at an open window.
What's less common, though, is hearing of firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians treating somebody's beloved dog or cat for injuries at an accident or smoke inhalation from a fire.
But that's about to change in Kenosha County fire departments.
Always There Pet Care owners Sharon and Jerry Janusz, DogDom International owner and dog trainer Mary Domes and Kenosha veterinarian Dr. William Carlisle have begun providing training for local emergency crews in training injured pets.
The right stuff
During a recent training session for Somers Fire and Rescue personnel, Carlisle used specialized pet oxygen masks and other equipment from an emergency kit made by Wag'n Enterprises to demonstrate the proper ways to carry cats, as well as large and small dogs, to safety without getting bitten by frightened animals in the process, or inadvertently harming them further.
Before having Somers personnel practice on their own, Carlisle showed them how to clear pets' airways, check a dog's heart rate, where to find its pulse at the femoral artery, how to check for circulatory problems by examining tissue inside the mouth and how to perform CPR.
In addition to demonstrating proper techniques on two stuffed animals, Carlisle had the willing cooperation of Domes' golden retriever, Miles, as well as Charlene Peachy and Jana Morrison's respective pugs, Marcus and Paxton.
All the while, Carlisle aimed to educate the emergency responders to important differences in treating and caring for pets as opposed to human patients.
For example, unlike humans, it's normal for a healthy dog or cat to have increased heart rate when inhaling and a decreased heart rate when exhaling, what's known as "sinus arythmia."
A dog panting may be normal. But, he explained, a panting cat breathing open-mouthed is in serious distress. In either animal, bright red mucus membranes are a sign of carbon monoxide toxicity. And, Carlisle said, symptoms of smoke inhalation might be delayed and only later present as coughing, wheezing or an increased respiratory rate.
Carlisle said he thinks Hurricane Katrina was the catalyst that initiated a lot of the changes in terms of pet rescue.
"Anything I can do to aid an animal in need, I feel that's part of my role in life. That's the profession I'm part of. I can't say no to that," Carlisle said.
"When there's a fire emergency and our pets are affected, it impacts not only their lives but the whole family's life. If we can teach first responders and EMTs how to get control of the airway and circulatory system immediately, the prognosis improves dramatically."
He thinks fire departments will be increasingly receptive to the training.
"Ask the majority here, and I think you'll find they have a pet at home," he said. "Seeing people willing to learn how to resuscitate an animal gives me great satisfaction."
Somers firefighter/EMT Eric Zoromskis recalled responding to an apartment fire two years ago on Sheridan Road to find people bunched together, standing over two pets that had gotten out of the building but collapsed on the lawn.
"They were very sluggish. But I was able to apply the masks, and the animals revived," Zoromskis said.
So far, Sharon and Jerry Janusz have donated 32 pet rescue emergency kits countywide, making sure every fire department in Kenosha County has at least one.
"I've had a pet-sitting business for 22 years. I love my animals and the animals I take care of. When you've been in business for this long, there's a point where you have to give back to the community," Janusz said.
"I called around, found some departments had kits, some had parts of kits, some had none. I asked them to send me their lists."
To help support their efforts and provide pet rescue equipment, including specialized oxygen masks, to fire departments, contact Sharon and Jerry Janusz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 262-859-2907. Or contact Mary Domes at 262-942-1860 or via email at email@example.com.