As fires have picked up this winter, crews have run into multiple animal rescues in the past few weeks.
On Tuesday morning, five dogs were rescued from a house fire. All survived the fire, although first responders had to work on two of them while they struggled to regain consciousness.
First responders provided blankets and oxygen to the animals. Buchanan County Paramedic Andrew King said EMTs are not trained to treat animals but are willing to do what they can to help out on the scene of an emergency.
“We can’t transport that animal, we have no training. But we know oxygen is always important,” King said. “Keeping something warm and dry is important, things like that. So we can use those very simple tasks. I know the fire department has had training in the past with working with animals and so really what we’re going to do is support them.”
A few days before Christmas, an apartment fire took the lives of multiple cats. While responders worked to pull animals from the building, a few were found alive and they utilized oxygen masks to help save four of them.
Injured people are treated before attempting to help animals, but King said pets are a concern for owners, even if the person is hurt.
“We’re all animal lovers. At the end of the day, we’re there to help people, but your pets are your family for so many, and so we’re going to do what we can to help people,” King said. “It does make a scene a little more chaotic when people are concerned about their animals. That’s sometimes their focus and so they may be harder to treat because they’re so focused on their animal. They don’t realize their own injuries may be more severe.”
The St. Joseph Fire Department has oxygen masks designated for animals. These are used on scene by both departments.
King said he suggests having someone you can contact in an emergency to help with a pet.