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Just a few weeks after the Enterprise Fire Department saved a cat and dog from two different house fires, the Coffee County Community Emergency Response Team donated 13 pet rescue kits to equip each first-line fire engine. CERT Coordinator Scottie Johnson and a group of CERT members presented the kits to Capt. Chris Davis last week.
The kits contain a breathing apparatus especially designed for cats and dogs. Both Davis and Johnson said pets are often in need of being located and rescued from burning residential structures. That pets actually need medical care at fire calls is not rare, Davis and Johnson said, because animals are as susceptible as humans to smoke inhalation and burn injuries.
“We appreciate this generous donation,” Davis said. “This is equipment that’s going to help us fill a need, and improve our ability to help prevent the tragic loss of beloved pets caught up in a fire situation.”
Ironically, Enterprise firefighters faced two such situations just in recent weeks. Thanks to firefighters, a beautiful fluffy cat was resuscitated after a fire at her humans’ home in a nearby community where the EFD offered assistance. Shortly thereafter, firefighters responding to a house fire in the city learned that while no people were endangered, two kenneled dogs were. Sadly, one of the dogs did not survive the heavy smoke and heat of the fire, but the other was rescued by firefighters, who administered CPR and revived the stricken pet.
The dog, a 3-year-old named Hazel, and her grateful owner, Jamie Beavers, paid a visit to Central Fire Station recently along with other family members to personally meet and thank the firefighters who saved Hazel’s life.
“She is my buddy,” Beavers said during the visit. “I am so thankful for what they did. I still have the oxygen mask they used on her.”
Davis said the fire crew were extremely happy that they were able to save Beavers’ much-loved furry friend. To resuscitate Hazel, the firefighters actually used one of the last pet masks that had been donated to the EFD years ago. A limited number of masks had been given at that time, enough to have one on each engine.
“Of course, these masks are older. They are one-size-fits all, so they don’t always fit the animals that need help,” Davis explained, expressing relief that the older pet masks worked nicely on Hazel.
“This new pet rescue system comes in different sizes to fit small dogs, larger dogs, cats and even rabbits and ferrets. It’s a far better system … I’m sure it’s going to be more efficient and greatly beneficial. You never know when you’re going to need something like that until you do.”
Besides some lingering anxiety, Hazel is recovering nicely from her experience, Beavers said. She enjoyed allowing each firefighter to pet her while Beavers’ mom Amelia Ware and cousin Brittany Mullins, and Mullins’ husband Logan, grilled chicken and prepared other dishes to treat the firefighters to a special appreciation meal from the family.“We just wanted to show how much we appreciate their help. They say it’s their job, but you can see on their faces even today that they feel good about being able to save Hazel,” Mullins said. “Sometimes our first responders aren’t appreciated enough and we didn’t want to let this opportunity pass without letting them know how we feel.”
Johnson and most of the CERT members involved in this campaign have pets and understand what it would mean to have someone go the extra mile to save their animal companions. “They are like family,” Johnson said.
Johnson has taken a certification course in pet rescue through an animal first aid and emergency response training company called “Pet Emergency Education,” where they purchased the pet rescue kits. He is now qualified to teach the course and Davis said for the very first time, EFD firefighters will undergo training on how to use the pet breathing apparatus, animal CPR and other emergency response techniques for animals.
Johnson and Wendy Cooper, who helped to lead the fund-raising project, said the team was dedicated to the mission or providing these kits to the local fire department and others in the area. They collected money at the annual CERT Emergency Preparedness Fair and through other projects for about three years.
“It’s something that we feel is important,” Cooper said. “We have a great fire department and they are well equipped to save lives and property.” But the CERT members considered it a worthwhile project to help them have the best equipment available for saving pet lives too.
The pet kits are already being added to all fire vehicles that respond first to emergency calls.
In the photo above, Jamie Deavers, center, holds the leash of her rescued furry friend Hazel, as Deavers' grateful family meet the firefighters who saved Hazel. From left are Caleb Harris, Brett Andrews; little firefighter on the truck Kason Mullins; Josh Buckley (kneeling, petting Hazel); Caleb Moore; Jamie Deavers, Hazel’s owner; Brittany Mullins, Braelyn, Colton and Addison Mullins; Caleb Downing (kneeling); Freddie Culver and Capt. Joey Stephenson.