Mesa firefighters get FIDO bags to help save pets

Sep 14, 2012

East Valley Tribune

 

MESA, AZ - Equipment in specially designed FIDO Bags to help treat cats and dogs after a fire will soon be deployed by the Mesa Fire Department.

“Like anything we get, it’s something that provides better customer service,” said Warrant Sprecher, a Mesa Fire Department fire and life safety specialist.
But perhaps more importantly, it will help save pets, he said.
“Incidence is very great,” Sprecher said of house fires with pets who suffer from smoke inhalation. “We see it all the time. This will definitely be a lifesaver. It should increase the save rate for animals.”
The department will use two types of bags—a streamlined version in engines and ladder apparatus and a fully equipped version in Connector vehicles driven by fire volunteers, he said.
A streamlined bag will include an oxygen mask that fits both dogs and cats, along with a few leashes and a splint, Sprecher said. The larger bag includes items, such as bandages and saline solution, that firefighters have in their medical supplies.
“If we know they’re there, we’ll make every effort possible to save them,” he said.
The special oxygen mask is made to fit over the animal’s muzzle, covering both their mouth and nose, Sprecher said.
“By using the human equipment, you’re not getting a sealed oxygen mask,” he said.
Getting oxygen to animals that have smoke inhalation is really important since high carbon dioxide levels in the blood can push oxygen out, he said.
“In a fire, it’s the products of combustion—smoke essentially—that are the most deadly,” he said.
The restraints in the bag are extremely important too, Sprecher said. Trying to restrain an animal that has been through something traumatic can be hard and until this addition, the vehicles didn’t carry any sort of restraint.
Fido Bags, provided by the Fetch Foundation, were donated to the police department, but the pet-specific medical has a local history, Sprecher said.
“The concept began in Glendale years ago and a few other Valley departments also have FIDO Bags,” he said. “Mesa will be the largest department in the state to have bags in all apparatuses.”
The Fetch Foundation, which supplies the bags, is a 501(c)(3) charity based out of Scottsdale that seeks to help sick, injured and homeless pets.
Firefighters will soon begin video training on how to use the equipment in the bags, Sprecher said.
Sprecher admits he knows how important it is that pets get the best possible medical treatment.
“My family has two dogs and a cat and they’re an extension of our family,” Sprecher said. “I know I would be absolutely devastated if anything happened to them.
“Even if we use it once, that’s great for any family,” he said.
For more information about the Fetch Foundation, visit www.thefetchfoundation.com.

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